The Salt of the Earth – An Astonishing New Film About the Tragedy and Beauty of Our Planet – and A Mysterious Saying of Jesus


This amazing film, playing in theaters now, is a documentary about the life and work of the great Brazilian photographer and photojournalist Sebastiao Salgado, who is now in his 70s.

The film was made by German avant-garde filmmaker Wim Wenders together with Salgado’s son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado. The trio visit many of the places in the world Sebastiao had photographed (all in black and white only) and accompany him on his photo shoots, asking him questions, eliciting his reflections.

Salgado had originally studied to be an economist – he earned a Ph.D. in economics – and has a deep understanding of the conditions that result in the environmental disasters and accompanying social disruptions of war, violence, starvation, exploitation and genocide. In the film, the authors intercut Salgado’s images, many of which are emotionally devastating to see, with his reflections on what he sees and documents. These reveal him to be a deeply compassionate witness of the “heart of darkness” in the human presence on this Earth. Not only disasters of war and destruction attract his attention but as an inveterate traveler the inhabitants of the remotest regions of the Earth – the Sahel, the Arctic, the deep rain-forest – where he would often spend many months, documenting not only the place but the people of the place, especially the children.

In the middle of his life Salgado seemed to have reached a turning point, where he could no longer tolerate witnessing and documenting the awesome and brutal destructiveness of human beings towards life. He stopped being a disaster photographer and became a nature photographer – accompanied by his son, one of the two film-makers of this documentary.  Here he revels in the magnificent color and beauty of plants and animals of all kinds, and the ordinary people in their mode of being living close to nature, as the “Salt of the Earth”.

He and his wife had inherited a piece of land in his native Brazil that had been completely denuded of plant life and deteriorated soil in his absence of many years as a global traveler (also because he was fleeing political repression in Brazil). They decided to restore the land with irrigation and ecological restoration practices, thereby in a dozen years or so generating a luxurious farm with greenhouses, producing food and produce in abundance and beauty.

The Sermon on the MountCarl Bloch, 1890

Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch

“Salt of the Earth” is a mysterious phrase that scholars have puzzled over. It occurs in one of the sayings of Jesus – in the Sermon of the Mount, (Matthew 5, 13) where Jesus is addressing his disciples, calling them “salt of the Earth”, but warning them, in the next line, “if the salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is henceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of man.”

In the immediately following verse, Jesus gives a second metaphor to describe his disciples: “Ye are the light of the Earth. A city that is built on a hill cannot be hid.”

In ancient times, before the advent of refrigeration, salt was of course the main means of preserving food like meat and fish, and bringing out the flavor of food.  Salt was also a necessity in lands far from the sea, where the salt essential to human health and diet needed to be carried from afar. Salt or saltiness is that quality that preserves and brings out the life-force and zest in a situation or event.  “Salt” is also symbolically a  quality of skeptical realism, as in the expression to take an idea or information “with a grain of salt.”  Perhaps the Master Jesus is saying to his disciples that unless you can convey the new teaching of salvation with  excitement  and zest, but also with down to earth realism, you might as well forget it – you won’t convey its real value.

New Book of Poetry: Diving For Treasures

diving for treasure_cover

Diving For Treasures

Ralph Metzner, Ph.D.

Paperback book $15 signed by the author Add to Cart

These poems were written over a period of about 30 years, in the course of my travels in America and Europe, teaching courses and workshops in consciousness expansion, meditation, psychedelics, shamanism, alchemy and emerging new worldviews.

Some of these poems were recorded on a spoken voice CD called Spirit Soundings with sonic and musical accompaniment by Kit Walker and friends. The Song of the Pearl is my adaptation of a 5th century Gnostic hymn describing the soul’s journey from incarnation, through birth and growth, and ultimate return to the origin.

Epilog I: Gnostic Themes in The Song of the Pearl
Epilog II: The Road to Language
Epilog III: A Riddle with Six Answers

The Next System Project – Comprehensive Thinking About the State of the World

thenextsystemThis multi-year initiative brings together leading activists, scholars and policy systems thinkers to review long-term threats and concerns around economic inequality, ecological threats and political dysfunction.

More than 350 key institutional, academic and community leaders have joined Gar Alperovitz and Gus Speeth to launch this project and endorse its aims.

See thenextsystem.org to watch the launch video and add your name.

“Signaling the need for a serious national conversation about the deep long-term challenges facing the United States, including urgent needs to address compounding wealth inequality, avert looming environmental disaster, rebuild democratic governance and undo persistent racism and discrimination…”

In a paper on New Economic Possibilities for the 21st Century that can be found on this website the authors describe a number of the most innovative and creative alternative systemic approaches that they have identified. These include: worker-ownership and self-management, localism in food production, social democratic governance systems, participatory economic planning, “beyond growth” ecological economics, socialist-style reclaimed public ownership of public lands and assets, bioregionalism (my own favorite life-supporting systems approach to food and farming) and several others, with many variations.

Overall, this is a worthy set of initiatives into which to invest our creative and productive energy – a set of antidotes to the loss of hope and initiative that afflicts so many of our fellow citizens in all countries in view of the escalating planetary disasters looming before us.

Latest Book by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman’s Introduction

my appealMy Appeal to the World is the 110th book published by the 14th Dalai Lama, for whom no doubt book publishing is a much-needed source of revenue for his government-in-exile.

The sub-title is In Quest of Truth and Justice on Behalf of the Tibetan People, 1961-2011.

The book consists of a collection of the fifty annual statements His Holiness has made every March 10, in commemoration of the greatest uprising of the Tibetan people against the Chinese military occupation in 1961.

“Every year his annual statement provides a summing up of the past year and an assessment of the state of the Tibetan community of exiles – including their government-in-exile, the government of the world, and the state of the planet.”

The book has an introduction by noted Buddhist scholar and translator Robert Thurman, President of Tibet House, USA. The introduction can also be read in Thurman’s podcast at bobthurman.com. I got to know and befriend Bob Thurman in the late 1960s, when we were both involved, for a short while, in Leary and Alpert’s community experiment in Millbrook, upstate New York. I respect and admire Bob Thurman for his lucid and powerful expositions of the Buddha’s teachings and for his steadfast support for the Dalai Lama’s non-violent peace mission in our time.

In his introduction, Robert Thurman writes :

“His Holiness the Great Fourteenth Dalai Lama has never given up seeking the (de facto if not necessarily de jure) freedom of his people and the restoration of their livelihood and culture in their homeland, and has steadfastly refused from calling for violent intervention. He even, for the last forty plus years, has maintained a “middle way” approach toward the de facto Chinese annexation of Tibet, calling for a genuine autonomy for all his people, a true freedom for Tibet within China, under a “one country, two systems” arrangement.”

The 14th Dalai Lama is one of the great world teachers of our time and in a world of escalating war, violence and environmental destruction, his calm and compassionate voice and presence are ever more relevant and inspiring.

 

New Book! The Expansion of Consciousness – Revised Edition

ExpCon_CoverRev2015

The Expansion of Consciousness – Revised Edition (2015)

by Ralph Metzner, Ph.D.

Paperback book $20 signed by the author Add to Cart

PDF $20 download after payment Add to Cart

German Translation available here

In Part One (which is unchanged from the first edition) I describe how the transformation teachings of alchemy, originating in the sacred science of ancient Egypt, persecuted by the Church in the Middle Ages, and ridiculed by scientific modernism, were revived in the 20th century by the work of two Swiss scientists: C.G Jung, who identified alchemical symbolism as the objective language of the psyche; and Albert Hofmann, whose discovery of LSD reconnected the broken link between spirit and matter – the mysterious link known traditionally as the Philosophers’ Stone.

In Part Two (which is completely re-written) I describe a seven-stage octave series of transformations of collective consciousness starting in 1945, with the peace treaties and atomic bomb explosions that marked the end of World War II. The first three stages of the octave of societal transformations culminated in the tumultuous 1960s – which saw fundamental expansions of consciousness in all areas of culture and society – but also the unresolved assassinations of four leaders, two white and two black.

The synchronous expansive movements came to a crashing halt with the repressive politics of the Nixon years, as counterculture became underground culture, and the use of psychedelic substances became stigmatized and illegal. The expansive momentum of the 1960s never re- covered. With the as yet unsolved criminal attacks of 9/11/2001, which cannot even be publicly discussed, a fateful blow was struck at the American polity and the global economic and political order.

Table of Contents:

I The Quest for the Alchemical Philosopher’s Stone

II Transformations of Collective Consciousness:
An Octave of World History from 1945 to 2001

Do – 1945-1952

Re – 1953-1960

Mi – 1961-1969

Fa – 1970-1977

Sol – 1977-1984

La – 1985-1992

Si – 1993-2001

September 11, 2001 – The end of the octave and
the end of an era

References

New Book! Allies for Awakening – Guidelines for Productive and Safe Experiences with Entheogens

Allies for Awakening_cover“Entheogenesis” means “the growing realization that we human beings and the world around us are much more than simply material organisms living and evolving on a material planetary body.” We are multi-dimensional spiritual, cosmic, noetic, psychic and physical beings.

This monograph is based on my 50 years of experience as a participant-observer in the international underground sub-culture involved with entheogenic, consciousness-expanding substances. My intent is not to prove or promote any particular method or treatment of any condition, but rather to discuss the uses and values of “entheogenic” substances, when the explicit intention or purpose is for spiritual awakening, psychotherapy, healing, increased understanding and the enhancement of creativity.  Buy a signed copy here.

The evaluation of entheogens needs to be in terms of how productive these experiences are of healthier approaches to the issues of living in these times, in this world. The central insight that emerges from entheogenic states and is confirmed by the perennial spiritual traditions of East and West, is that at every level, from macro-cosmic to micro-cosmic, from atoms and animals, to trees and planets and stars, Spirit dwells within created forms and expresses through them.

Table of Contents:

Introduction

One: Intention and Preparation
Psychotherapeutic individual sessions in a medical clinic
Growth-oriented sessions in a non-medical group context
Peyote ceremony of the Native American Church
The Peyote Way Church of God
Traditional mushroom ceremonies of the Mazatec Indians
Amazonian mestizo ayahuasca ceremonies
Brazilian religious ceremonies with ayahuasca

Elements of hybrid entheogenic group ceremonies
1. The circle structure
2. The invocation of spirits
3. Articulating and clarifying intentions or questions
4. Ceremonial altar or table. Amulets and talismans
5. The role of prayer, mantra and mudra
6. Chanting, singing and music
7. The council format and talking stick practice
8. The role of the elder, leader or guide
9. Egalitarian group structure with rotating leadership

Two: Spirit Medicine Practices
Effective and dissociative/dysphoric dosage levels
Individual factors affecting intensity of experience
LSD
Mescaline
Peyote and San Pedro cactus
Ibogaine and Tabernanthe iboga
Psilocybe mushrooms and psilocybin
Ayahuasca or yaje
Jurema and Mimosa tenuiflora
A note on neurotransmitters
Selected psychoactive tryptamines
Selected psychoactive phenethylamines
Ketamine
Salvia divinorum, “Sage of the Diviners”
Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica

Three: Precautions and Safety
Confidentiality
Pre-existing conditions and contra-indications
Emergencies requiring outside interventions
Sexuality and entheogens
Menstruation and the use of entheogens
The problem of over-idealization and grandiosity

Four: Closing Ceremony and Integration
Closing the circle and giving thanks
Integration and the telling of stories
Celebration
The place of entheogens in ongoing practice

References
Epilogue
Four Elements Medicine Wheel Prayer
Invocation of All the Spirtts of Great Nature
Giving Thanks to the Four Great Planetary Spirits

Bill Moyers Explains How “Public Trust Litigation” Could Force the EPA and State and Federal Governments To Do Their Jobs


The non-profit organization “Our Children’s Trust”  has been spreading the word about a new version of an old idea that goes all the way back to the Civilization of Rome, the “Doctrine of Public Trust” (or “Public Trust Doctrine“) that states that the government is a trustee to protect these natural resources (air, water, land) to protect them, for this generation and many generations down the line.

Mary Christina Wood is a University of Oregon Law Professor that has modernized this theory, and published a book on it, “Nature’s Trust.” In it, she explains that it’s because the very government agencies that are supposed to protect our natural resources have been captured by corporate raiders and lobbyists that these agencies treat as clients rather than the polluters they are charged with regulating in the interests of the public.

According to Moyers, this concept, called “Public Trust Litigation” is catching on. As Wood explains in the video (at 2 min 19 sec):

“Every suit and every administrative petition filed in every state in the country and against the Federal Government asks for the same relief, and that is for the government, whether it’s the State of Tennessee, or the State of Oregon, or the Federal Government, to bring down Carbon Emissions in compliance with what scientists say is necessary to avert catastrophic climate change. And so, the remedy in the suits pending is for the courts to order a plan. Simply order the legislators and the agencies to do their job in figuring out how to lower carbon emissions. So the courts would not actually figure out how to do that, that’s the *other* (legislative) branch’s job. It’s just that they’re not doing it, and they probably won’t without pressure, before we pass crucial tipping points.”

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