Guimaraes townscape
Largo Republica do Brasil, Guimarães looking towards Igreja Nuestra Senhora da Consolação e Santos Passos.

The 19th Northern Winter Solstice Epistle
December 2016

True adults are those who have learned to continually develop
and exercise their capacity for transformation ... The more we grow, the greater
becomes our capacity to empty ourselves of the old so that the new may enter
and we may thereby be transformed.

~ M. Scott Peck ~


Despite having begun this from December 8, i've been having difficulty in writing this year's epistle, so it's late. I suppose i'm still conventional enough to want not to break the tradition i started 19 years ago. The only way i can do this is to eschew my usual year-in-review claptrap, which i'm not sure is of interest anyway to anyone but me, if only to remind me of what transpired. The older i get is the more that escapes memory, though remote insignificances come readily to mind.

What restrains me is the realization that one year on, we are no further in moving towards addressing existential issues that threaten the survival of humanity like climate change, pollution, inequity and injustice, and species extinction. In fact, we seem to have exacerbated the decline by the political choices and trends evident across the world. In periods of instability like now, people tend naturally to operate out of fear and will therefore look towards strongmen, demagogues and those who will defend against perceived enemies, exclude whatever is deemed other, and protect perceived interests. This is most evident in the revival of white nationalism in the USA and Europe. Divisiveness and exclusion, however, are found equally in Sudan, Syria and Myanmar. Instead of growing, we seem to have regressed to an earlier evolutionary stage when the reptilian brain controlled behavior and determined responses.

This is not say we have not always had problems like this, but this time is different inasmuch as time itself for us to redress these is running out.

It is nothing to me personally, since i will be long gone by the time the shit hits the fan, but those who have children and grandchildren should take thought as to whether there will be a world to leave for them. If there is, it will not be as we have known and enjoyed it. I don't mean to be such a wet blanket at this time of supposed good cheer but at the best of times it was difficult for me to join in celebration and revelry, much less now. On the other hand, maybe everyone is right to be caught up in instant gratification, petty grievances, and be distracted by baubles and folly. There is not much anyone can do. So carry on as you were, whether it was shopping til you drop, eating yourself silly, or whatever floats your boat. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow is not yours.

What you are, the world is. And without your transformation, there can be
no transformation of the world ... unless in the very essence of our being there is a revolution,
a mutation, I do not see how a good society can come about.

~ Jiddu Krishnamurti, 1895-1986 ~

We know how difficult it is to change ourselves. How much more difficult it is for widespread change to take place? I have nothing better to do so i will continue with the slight hope that the idea of a Planetary Index will take hold in time and at scale to salvage what is worthy of what is left of our brief civilization. I say slight because we are all too invested and embedded in moneytheism to allow even the inkling of an alternative way of managing resources to see the light of day. There are a few positive impulses like proposals for a universal basic income in selected jurisdictions, providing the homeless with homes, universal health care in developed countries, but these are not enough to turn the tide. Nothing short of a systemic shift away fungible units which are manipulated and accumulated, which limit and constrain every worthwhile effort, which corrupt and corrode every transaction, will succeed. Fungible units and their pursuit appeal to the worst in human nature, vesting power in a few, and condemning the rest of humanity and indeed the biosphere to certain decline.

At this point in history, the most radical, pervasive, and earth-shaking
transformation would occur simply if everybody evolved to a mature, rational, and responsible ego.

~ Ken Wilber, 1949 ~
Part of why i left Chiang Mai where the air is unbreathable for 3 months of the year.


Wat Suan Dok
From this - Wat Suan Dok, Chiang Mai, Thailand ...


Igreja Sao Francisco
... to this - Igreja São Francisco, Guimarães, Portugal.


Rua Retiro sign Entrance to Rua Retiro Rua Retiro east Rua Retiro west Rua Retiro west

My quiet cul-de-sac, Rua do Retiro in the Oliveira do Castelo area, showing entrance, street sign, looking east, looking west, facade. My unit is on the first floor, left entrance on ground floor).


Do not let yourself be disturbed by what is to come;
rather, be in that which is still around you and which enters with
an immeasurable past into the present that is yours.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~


It's a precious opportunity we have, to be alive as human beings. It has
been said that the chance of having a human life is something like being picked up as
one grain of sand out of all the grains on the beach. It's such a rare chance and yet
somehow ... some error arises ... present in each one of us — not fully appreciating
what we have just in being alive.

~ Charlotte Joko Beck ~

Awareness is all. Know that you are. Bliss. Joy. Here. Now.


Guimarães, Portugal, Year-end 2016

These annual epistles have been archived for ready retrieval:
1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Quotations from Wisdom for the Soul: Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing except where otherwise noted.

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