I have a story for you – a very short story with a very happy ending, one that would turn the tide of our current disastrous direction. I even claim that it’s true – truer than anything you’ll ever hear on the news. It Regardless, no one is going to believe it.

And yet I’ll wager that even the scientists among us would agree that what we believe possible has a significant effect on what actually ends up happening.

So, with the world as we used to know it falling apart all around us, with no way to go back and no way forward – the proverbial cliff-hanger – why can’t we believe in the kind of future we all long to see open up for our children and all the coming generations?

That’s what this episode is about: the great change humanity and the earth so desperately need, and how we can make way for it.

Transcript:

The Day of the Great Change

Hello everyone – I’m Trudi Lee Richards, and this is the Day of the Winged Lioness, a podcast on Rebelling Against Death from the Community of Silo’s Message in Portland, Oregon.

Today I have a story to tell you. It’s a very short story with a very happy ending, and it will certainly sound like a fairy tale to anyone lost in the mine field of the rational mind. But it’s true. Truer than anything you’ll ever hear on the news.

I’m going to read it twice – I always wish people would read short things like this more than once, because I never quite get it all the first time. So I’ll read it now, and then we’ll talk a little about why this story is so hard to believe, and how that might change. And then I’ll read it again at the end, and leave you with it.

Here it is the first time.

The Day of the Great Change

No one ever knew exactly how it happened – only that it did: that one day everything changed.

That day, in every place where there had been fear – which was pretty much everywhere – all the people, from poorest to richest, oldest to youngest, happiest to saddest, woke up knowing something had changed. Something was missing – something dark, whose absence brought light and a soft smile of unreasonable joy to every heart.

In places claiming to be “at peace,” where the simmering violence was constantly erupting, shattering life and sanity, worried mothers woke up feeling strangely gentle, tender toward everyone and everything – toward their own bedsheets, toward the trees blowing in the wind, toward themselves.

Anxious fathers woke up thinking of jokes, and looked around for someone to tell.

Children lay dreaming happy dreams, and when they woke, they lay for a time watching the dust motes afloat in the sunlight, and then they got up, made their beds, and went to make breakfast for their parents.

On that day, in every place where there was war, soldiers on the killing fields gasped, looked at their hands and at each other, dropped their weapons and fell into each other’s arms, laughing and weeping. Then they went to find all the others who had been fighting, and when they met, no matter which side they were on, they grinned shyly and told each other their names, and asked if they and their comrades were ok and if anyone needed anything, and gave each other little gifts, knowing they had found the best of friends.

So it was that everywhere in the world, in all the cities and villages where there had been war or violence of any kind, the fearful people woke for the first time ever refreshed from a deep sleep and knowing that they and their children and all their friends and loved ones were safe. In the sweet silence broken only by the trill of birdsong, they lay for a long time smiling, tears flowing down their cheeks, until at last they rose and opened the doors and the windows, and stood in the sun, full of thanks, breathing deep.

And everywhere, all around the whole wide world, all the children ran outside to explore the great magical world together – the world that was theirs to love and cherish and protect for all of timeless time.

So that’s my story.  How was that for you? How did it make you feel?

However you felt about it, I imagine that as you were listening, there was a little voice in your head expressing its doubts.

Whatever the flavor of those doubts – and they might have been anything, from wistful to scornful – it’s pretty certain that they sprang from your rational mind. So that’s what I’d like to talk about now: the good old rational mind.

The Goddess of Reason has reigned supreme in western culture for centuries. She’s given us so many useful gifts: the intellect, critical thinking, science, technology, just the facts. Wonderful things, all of them.

At the same time, those things have saddled us with some difficulties. To put it bluntly, I’d say the fanatical worship of the Goddess of Reason to the exclusion of all other deities is largely responsible for the multifold disasters that now make the need for a Great Change so desperate.

Thankfully, there are unmistakable signs everywhere that the goddess’ stranglehold on human consciouness is at last beginning to loosen.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the Rational Mind. She just needs to be loved with a grain of salt.

Let’s start with a little history. The Goddess of Reason – who undoubtedly means well, despite her limitations – only ascended to her throne in the western mind a few hundred years ago, with the positivist thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment. During the French Revolution some of those intellects found her such a beguiling creature that they proposed her Cult as a replacement for Christianity.

The Cult of Reason was short-lived, but the goddess, of course, was, is, and forever shall be immortal. Both promiscuous and opportunistic, she managed to cement her position as Matriarch of western culture by marrying off her precocious twins, Science and Technology, to the polyamorous Great God Money – and since then the Goddess of Reason has been the supreme and unquestioned authority throughout most of our culture.

Clearly she’s never meant us any harm. On the contrary, her marvelous rational mind has opened important paths for human consciousness. For one thing, technology has opened up incredible vistas displaying the ravishing beauty and fascination of the universe – as witness the latest photographs from the Webb telescope. And our rational ability to analyze, see patterns and predict outcomes gives us the ability to control certain things. We know that 2 plus 2 always gives us 4 – and if I push this lever, I’ll get a treat! Simple rules, cause and effect. Very useful, with far-reaching benefits.

The difficulties begin when we think we can control everything that happens to us by forcing all of reality into the straight jacket of cause and effect. In theory this may seem like a fine idea – but way too often, it ends up badly. Like when we depend on a justice system based on punishment: if you do something that hurts me, all I have to do is beat you up, and you won’t do it anymore. Right? To say such a system doesn’t work is an understatement…

And that’s not the only example of that kind of simplistic and fallacious reasoning. There’s our whole educational system, which tells young people, just learn to push the right levers and you’ll get the treat of a your life: you’ll succeed! You’ll make money, find love, and live happily ever after…

The only problem is, this roadmap to success ignores all the pesky variables that affect human wellbeing – things like socio-economic inequality, lack of time for parents to spend with family, child abuse, parents struggling with addiction, not only to drugs and alcohol but also to prestige, high-powered jobs, or just plain old hard work. And it ignores the deeply human need not just to survive, but to recognize oneself, and be recognized, as a unique and worthy being, someone who can love and give and be inspired, who is creative and full of endless possibilities….

No, our educational system suffers from too many fatal inadequacies whose impact can shatter the tender human heart. But we keep thinking it’s going to work because it makes rational sense. So we keep trying to control our children and train them to control themselves and each other, instead of helping them look inside and find out who they really are… And then we wonder why some kids just seem to go crazy with frustration and resentment and go out and shoot everyone in sight.

And it’s not just the kids – our entire System is obsessed with the promise of being in control. And it offers us plenty of tempting options for taking charge of our lives – from psychotherapy to self-defense training – but they all revolve around one thing, money. Make sure you have plenty of money, and you’ll be fine.

Unfortunately, the system that tells us money is the most important thing in life makes it devilishly hard to actually get rich. And even if it made it easy, we all know the old saw: “money can’t buy happiness.” But when scrambling after money is all the System offers us, what else is there? So we try our hardest! We run after success until we drop, and end up crazy with impossible expectations and unrealizable dreams, lashing out in frustration and despair, anxious and depressed…

And the System has no idea what to do about any of this, because it lacks a deeper wisdom than the rational mind can offer. Instead, it flails about in desperation, brandishing the fear of punishment and the carrot on a stick of material wealth, keeping up the appearance of being in control through mass media hypnosis – while people just go crazier and crazier, finding no way out of the insanity…

It’s clear we desperately need another way forward – a way that isn’t made of fear and darkness. Because fear can never be a valid foundation for action – even when it seems justified, it only drains us of our courage and of the wisdom and energy to act coherently…

No, what we really need is just the opposite: a way forward that is full of light, full of heart, full of unshakable faith in life and in humanity.

A way through this black hole into a new place, a luminous place where all is well…

That’s what my story is about of course. It’s a story that is calling us home, to the place where it is deeply and fully true…

But before we go back to that little bit of heaven, let’s look at a key question, one that has a lot to do with whether or not we find that story believable. That question is this: What does it mean to be human?

In backward places like this podcast, we believe that’s a very interesting question, worthy of deep exploration.

The System, on the other hand, just tells us not to bother our pretty little heads about it.

In a conversation with a philosophical friend many years ago, Silo had this to say about what it means to be human.[i](By the way, if you don’t know – as I didn’t – what he means by the “positivist vision” – positivism was a current of thought during the Age of Enlightenment in 17th-19th century Europe.)

In recent centuries, the positivist vision, has reduced the Human Being to an organism, a rational animal, something that is born, grows, gets trained, works, reproduces, gets sick and dies. You go to your office and sit next to a co-worker, what do you feel about them? That they were born, grew up, got trained, are working with you, probably have children (reproduced), could get sick or maybe already are sick, may die or will necessarily die. What you’re feeling is the System vision of the Human Being: it’s an organism that is born, grows, is trained, reproduces, works, gets sick and dies.

And that’s basically what we’ve all been taught: that human beings are little more than mechanical bodies that fulfill a function until they wear out, when they are disposed of..

Obviously, the Winged Lioness does not agree with this. When someone expresses such a hopelessly empty, mechanistic view of human life, she can’t help thinking of everything she loves, all the ordinary things that make her swoon with delight – soft wind in the trees, thunder storms, butterflies, falling water, singing together, a baby’s first smile…

Clearly the human being is far greater, immeasurably vaster and deeper and brighter, than a mere mechanical body that is born, grows, is educated, works, and dies.

Later in that same conversation with his philosopher friend, Silo describes what he calls “the real Human Being.” Here’s what he says:

The real Human Being is the one who goes towards infinity, who discovers and manipulates the atom, who transforms the universe into bits, who decodes and can manipulate the genetic code at will, and in doing so will further transform their own nature; the human being who, when told that technology is generating unemployment, is willing to restructure the organization of society in order to free the human being from work and allow technology to continue its development; who rebels against being seen merely as a rational animal that is born, grows, reproduces, gets trained, works, gets sick and dies; who looks at their body and considers it a primitive antiquity for the development of their consciousness; who rebels against death… The human being who is not yet defined by philosophy, psychology, or the social sciences… That human being, the real human being, is already appearing.

Silo spoke those words that more than 25 years ago – and today they ring truer than ever. It’s as if the worse things get in the world, the more caring humans bring their own light into the darkness. We find real human beings everywhere, all around the world, as well as around us in our daily lives, and right inside us. And this is wonderful. Because the real human being is the one who will find a coherent way forward when the System finally is no more.

And the downfall of the System has clearly begun. That System we all grew up in and have lived our lives in has already begun to collapse all on its own, succumbing to its own contradictions in a kind of slow-motion train wreck, as witness the unraveling of so many institutions that no longer work the way they used to.

This falling apart affects us all. Even if we abhore the way the System dehumanizes us, we all still live inside of it, as it lives in us. The System is something like a very crafty giant ego, crooning that it only wants to serve humanity and make life better for us all – when in reality all it really wants is to control the world so it can live forever.

Because like everything human, the System is deathly afraid of Death.

We all know about the fear of Death. Most people I know say they’re not afraid of it, just of the unpleasantness of getting there – regardless, the fear of Death is arguably our most fundamental, instinctive fear, and our death-phobic System has reinforced that fear in us since we were born. By its very refusal to talk about Death or address it directly, it’s made the Fear of Death loom enormous inside us, the veritable elephant in the room. Whether we like it or not, that fear is in us all, and makes us long for safety.

And right alongside our longing for safety, is a deeper longing, the mother of that longing. It’s a longing for something we can’t even name, but that we know we’ve tasted – for something pure and shining and wonderful, deep within us. Something that never dies.

So we all have these two impulses inside us: the fear-driven longing for safety, and the joy-driven longing for a deep, pure truth, a deathless reality that can never, ever be touched by fear. These longings live side by side, and can even reconcile.  After all, who can blame a mortal body for its very healthy, instinctive fear of death? And who could experience all the joys of life without their precious body?

Somehow, fear and joy seem to go hand in hand – like love and grief.

But joy is hard for the rational mind – it just doesn’t get joy. It’s much more at home with fear. Maybe that’s why System invented itself in the first place. Fed up with its own rational mind’s endless yabbering about Death being the end of everything, our dear System took its mind aside. Look, said the System. I need help. Can you please figure a way out of here??? Why of course, smiled its clever mind. Leave it to me.

At first the System’s rational mind tried to just ignore its fear of death – who was its own child, after all, and a handful at that – hoping it would go away. But ignoring its fear just proved to the fear what a really fearful fear it was, and it swelled up even bigger with self-importance. That was when the System’s mind remembered reverse psychology, and asked its fear for help. And its fear jumped right in and set to work.

Endlessly inventive, its fear came up with all kinds of ways to keep us safe from Death: pills and potions, common sense things like hand washing and seat belts; all kinds of ways to distract ourselves – drugs, entertainment, shopping, prestige, fame; and beautiful things too, like love, children, family…

In fact I’d venture that our whole consumer society is fundamentally geared to keep us safe from the fear of death. We’re not like those unfortunate souls in India, where death is always in your face, with families regularly carrying the bodies of their dead through the streets on their way to the burning ghats. Here we hide death, keeping it invisible, out of sight, out of mind, mainly by being too busy to look at it. From the day we wear our first disposable diaper, to the day we release our worn-out carcass to the death industry, we’re so busy consuming and producing that we have no time to think about a little thing like death – until it comes along and erases us from memory.

And the System likes it that way. That’s how it keeps itself going, by keeping us plugging away at our jobs in its vast consumption-production machine. To keep us from getting restless, it whispers to us that this is all there is: life is just stuff, material goods and services, production and consumption. Forget about looking for some kind of airy-fairy “meaning” – humans are nothing but clockwork drones made to keep the mammoth hive running…

Thank goodness it’s not the System but we humans who are immortal – or have the potential to be. It gets clearer day by day that the whole hive has begun to decay from within, and is inexorably falling apart. At first it was little by little, and now, more and more, it is by lots by lots….

And thank goodness too that humans are more than mechanical worker bees. Human beings have souls, have longings, feel joy and pain and compassion and such deep, all-encompassing love that they don’t know what to do with it. Human love – for each other, for the world, for all of life and living – is like a reservoir that’s been filling and filling and is nearing the bursting point – so that soon, very soon, something will have to give.

And this quiet welling up of love and compassion in the world is not about to stop. Despite all the nay-saying of the more fanatical devotees of the Goddess of Reason, the clear trajectory of human evolution has always been upward, toward building a more loving, compassionate world together, a world of hope and joy and meaning. There’s clear historical evidence that since primitive times human beings have been becoming less and less violent. Not that long ago, for instance, cruelty to animals was socially acceptable – now it’s something shameful, unthinkable.

We human beings are changing, and we will continue to change, for the better. Even if – gods forbid – we have gone too far at this point to avoid a catastrophic setback, even so, humanity will not disappear, but will continue to evolve, and our unfolding consciousness will continue to follow its upward spiraling path toward its destiny, toward the open future, toward the light.

In the Internal Landscape, Silo writes:

Namer of a thousand names, maker of meanings, transformer of the world, your parents and the parents of your parents continue in you. You are not a fallen star but a brilliant arrow flying toward the heavens. You are the meaning of the world, and when you clarify your meaning you illuminate the earth. When you lose your meaning, the earth becomes darkened and the abyss opens.

I will tell you the meaning of your life here: It is to humanize the earth. And what is it to humanize the earth? It is to surpass pain and suffering; it is to learn without limits; it is to love the reality you build.

I cannot ask you to go further, but neither should it offend if I declare, “Love the reality you build, and not even death will halt your flight!”[ii]

So we’re on the road together, friends. Sooner or later the System we’ve always known will be a thing of the past, and when it falls, so will our most widely held beliefs – including the belief that money and power will save us from Death. And perhaps, then, even our belief in Death will dry up and simply blow away…

Here’s how Silo describes the human being of the future:

The human being of the future will not want to win and own things; they will want to feel, create, build, learn without limits. They will not want to possess, to have, to control. That human being will understand that there are millions of ways to develop emotion and thought, that there is an unimaginable diversity of ways of feeling and thinking. Now the vision of the human being is very behavioral and reduced, but in the future, all will be well.[iii]

That world, where all is well, will be the world the Great Change ushers in.

Which brings me back to my story. Before I read you the story of the Great Change again, I want to something lovely and unexpected that happened to me just this morning – something that felt like a little foretaste of that change:

I titled it “Endless Love”:

Today I woke up, checked my phone, and finding no message from my son, set about worrying.

This is of course nothing new – as the mother of three grown kids, I’ve spent more tortured hours than I like to admit in that absurd pastime.

This time I was worrying because my son had borrowed our car for the weekend, had failed to return the car as planned, and now wasn’t answering my texts and phone calls. As always, I reminded myself that he was only going to die once, and that now was probably not that moment. And as usual, this subterfuge comforted me for a bit – but not for long. Then I was back at it, pinned like an insect to my imagination, which proceeded to unfurl the most horrible scenarios before my inner eye…

Lying there struggling not to think such thoughts, I was surprised to hear someone begin singing in the street below my window. They were singing at the top of their lungs, and they did not sound drunk or demented, like so many here in the city center. This voice was happy and free, and the singer was singing without restraint, a song I dd not recognize.

Getting up, I looked out the window and saw down below me a young man with a backpack, walking carefree down the sidewalk, singing and strumming his guitar, his voice full of gladness…

And suddenly it came to me that this young man could easily be a son of my own. Because everyone is someone’s child…

The thought filled my heart with happiness. How lovely to see this young man as my own child….

And then I thought, why not see every person I meet as my own, beloved child? Every single one, no matter what their age, appearance, or circumstance…?

And at that my heart opened, overwhelmed with joy and gratitude, and the love flowed in – so much love that there was room for nothing else. And my fear dissolved in the joyous flood of that endless love.

Not long after that the phone rang, and there was my son’s sleepy voice, apologizing that his plans had changed…

That young man singing was such a gift – it felt like it came directly from that future that we all long for. And maybe it is just that simple – maybe if we just open our hearts and see our beloved in everyone we meet, that will be enough to open the way for the Great Change.

So now I’ll read you that story one more time:

The Day of the Great Change

No one ever knew exactly how it happened – only that it did: that one day everything changed.

That day, in every place where there had been fear – which was pretty much everywhere – all the people, from poorest to richest, oldest to youngest, happiest to saddest, woke up knowing something had changed. Something was missing – something dark, whose absence brought light and a soft smile of unreasonable joy to every heart.

In places claiming to be “at peace,” where the simmering violence was constantly erupting, shattering life and sanity, worried mothers woke up feeling strangely gentle, tender toward everyone and everything – toward their own bedsheets, toward the trees blowing in the wind, toward themselves.

Anxious fathers woke up thinking of jokes, and looked around for someone to tell.

Children lay dreaming happy dreams, and when they woke, they lay for a time watching the dust motes afloat in the sunlight, and then got up, made their beds, and went to make breakfast for their parents.

On that day, in every place where there was war, soldiers on the killing fields gasped, looked at their hands and at each other, dropped their weapons and fell into each other’s arms, laughing and weeping. Then they went to find all the others who had been fighting, and when they met, no matter which side they were on, they grinned shyly and told each other their names, and asked if they and their comrades were ok and if anyone needed anything, and gave each other little gifts, knowing they had found the best of friends.

So it was that everywhere in the world, in all the cities and villages where there had been war or violence of any kind, the fearful people woke for the first time in years refreshed from a deep sleep, knowing that they and their children and all their friends and loved ones were safe. In the sweet silence broken only by the trill of birdsong, they lay for a long time smiling, tears flowing down their cheeks, until at last they rose and opened the doors and windows, and stood in the sun, full of thanks, breathing deep.

And everywhere, all around the whole wide world, all the children ran outside to explore the great magical world together – the world that was theirs to love and cherish and protect for all of timeless time.

That day is coming, my friends. It is coming: the day of the real Human Being. On that day we will go to our sacred places all around the planet. And some of us, perhaps you and I, will go to a Park of study and reflection, like our own Red Bluff Park in northern California or our own Hudson Valley Park in New York State.

I will go to Red Bluff Park – that beautiful, heat baked place at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, where the unruly spirit of Mount Lassen dreams, and lofty Mount Shasta gleams in the distance. There many of us, dearest of friends old and new, companeros on the Path, will come together, hearts full to overflowing. And we will dance and sing and play the ukelele and the flute, and feast and frolick and rest in the shadow of our gleaming Monolith that reflects every cloud and every bird and all the suns of all the infinite worlds. And we will rejoice and be happy, knowing that Life is forever, and this is only the beginning.

And you, yourself – yes, you, dear friend! – are invited.

Thank you for listening, wherever you are. If you’d like a transcript of this podcast, or would like to find out more or continue the conversation in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out – I’d love to hear from you. You can either visit my website, wingedlionpress.org, or write to me diirectly at wingedlion@gmail.com. Until then, as a Buddhist friend I once knew used to say, “May your house be free from tigers.”

Music:

  • Cascade for Recorder and Piano – IRCarus Ensemble, Portland, Oregon, 2021
  • Song of Peace – IRCarus Ensemble, Portland, Oregon, 2021
  • La Marseillaise – copyright free – https://www.soundclick.com/music/songInfo.cfm?songID=14030685
  • Bedoobebe – IRCarus Ensemble, Portland, Oregon, 2021
  • Air on the G String, BWV 1068, J.S. Bach – courtesy of Musopen.org.
  • Follow Me – IRCarus Ensemble, Portland, Oregon, 2021
  • Cello Suite #1, BWV 1007, J.S. Bach – courtesy of Musopen.org.
  • Prelude in C, BWV 846, J.S. Bach, arranged for guitar – courtesy of Musopen.org.
  • “Silo,” Chris Wells, Songs for the Sala, A Global Collaboration, https://salasongs.bandcamp.com/album/songs-for-the-sala

Links:

  • Communities of Silo’s Message: https://silosmessage.net
  • Hudson Valley Park of Study and Reflection: https://www.hudsonvalleypark.org
  • Punta de Vacas Park of Study and Reflection: http://www.parquepuntadevacas.net
  • Red Bluff Park of Study and Reflection: https://www.redbluffpark.org
  • The Asking: TheAsking.org
  • Silo: His Message, His Work, and His Public Life: http://www.silo.net
  • Winged Lion Press: http://www.wingedlionpress.org

Contact Trudi Lee Richards:  

  • Email – wingedlion@gmail.com
  • Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/trudi.richards
  • Instagram – wingedlioness00
  • Twitter – @trudi_lee_rich
  • Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/user/TrudiRichards

[i]Control and Evolution of Consciousness” – excerpt from Talk No. 4 – Silo & Enrique Nassar, 4/19/1997

[ii] Silo, “The Internal Landscape,” Book II of Humanize the Earth, http://www.silo.net/en/collected_works/humanize_the_earth

[iii]Control and Evolution of Consciousness” – excerpt from Talk No. 4 – Silo & Enrique Nassar, 4/19/1997

Day of the Winged Lioness Podcast: The Great Change
Trudi Lee Richards

Trudi Lee Richards

Trudi Lee Richards, one of the poet-bards of Silo’s Message, is the author of "Ambrosia," "Confessions of Olivia"; "On Wings of Intent, a biography of Silo"; "Soft Brushes with Death"; and "Experiences on the Threshold." Exactly two of her poems have ever been published: "Fairies of the Forest," which appeared in the Palo Alto Times "Youth Said It" column in 1957, and "The Great 21st Century Poemic," which appeared in the April 2021 edition of Global Poemic (globalpoemic.wordpress.com). She also edited and published the independent San Francisco newspaper "Human Future" from 1989-1997, and before that co-founded "La Mamelle," a '70s San Francisco arts publication. A graduate of Stanford University, she helped raise several humans from infancy, and is now enjoying their friendship. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon.