Magazine article Tikkun

Hope, Yes; Optimism, No

Magazine article Tikkun

Hope, Yes; Optimism, No

Article excerpt

Hope, Yes; Optimism, No

Matthew Fox

Matthew Fox is president of the University of Creation Spirituality and cochair of Naropa University, both in Oakland, California. He is the author of twenty-two books including Original Blessing and Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh.

I am not an optimist when it comes to our species waking up at this millennial time. However, I am not cynical or pessimistic either. What I am is hopeful. What are some signs that give me hope?

First, the very depths of the peril we face. I believe that nothing moves humanity like necessity. So I take hope when Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute says we have twelve years left to change our ways as a species--provided we can educate people about the reality of our ecological peril. That means getting people out of their addictions to making money, watching TV, and succumbing to the seductions of our society's multiple distractions.

I also take hope from the spirit within people, which includes the potential to be awakened by awe, wonder, gratitude, and reverence. If we could make awe, wonder, gratitude, and reverence more available to more people we would be nurturing what Thich Nhat Hahn calls the "seeds of peace" and what Erich Fromm calls "biophilia."

Studying the new creation story and relating it to our professions can assist us in awakening awe and wonder. I have come to appreciate today's biology which teaches that we all have a reptilian brain inside of us. It makes sense and even helps to explain much of human history. The crocodile comes out time and again. Much of capitalist energy, unfortunately, is based on crocodile energy. The reptile in us sees things as win/lose, us/them, private property at all costs.

How do we tame the crocodile energy now that it has been named for us? Meditation can teach us to put a leash on it; the growing availability of meditation practices is another sign of hope. Maybe the great genius of the Buddha was to have shown us some ways to let go and let be. Meditation can move us beyond the crocodile to other brain patterns of which we are capable, such as the nurturing ones from the mammal inside us. To link the intellectual brain with all its power of imagination and reason to the crocodile brain helps to explain a lot of human history. …

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