Danger on multiple fronts. But on Friday, September 8, 2017, during a calm at storm’s center, an extraordinary conversation took place.
Here I’ll tell you the context, the content, and implications for what follows next.
On that day, Hurricane Harvey, a devastatingly destructive storm, was winding down in Texas. Hurricane Irma, an unprecedented Category 5, was wreaking havoc in the Caribbean, headed towards Florida. At the same time, Mexico experienced a 8.1 earthquake. Given other news, that one received relatively little attention in the States.
Another potentially deadly event got zero media attention. Careful research on the part of science savvy folks here had us on high alert: solar flares are emitting coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Were one headed towards Earth to strike close to home, electronics would be fried. Computers, TVs, radios, kitchen conveniences – all toast.
So the morning before, the ordinary list of tasks and errands were instantly scrapped. Shift into crisis mode.
Make the rounds, turning off and unplugging major electronics.
Bring a large metal trash can in from the garage. Empty and bring up two smaller ones from the basement. Get out the bubble wrap and a box of heavy-duty aluminum foil. These are the makings of low-cost, home-made Faraday cages designed to insulate radios, computer tablets and medical equipment from radiation.
Despite a recorded history of CME events, little predictive science is available. Apparently it’s not known how to calculate their rate of speed and therefore exact arrival time. Nor can the path from sun to Earth be accurately traced. So where impact will occur is, at best, uncertain.
On the one hand, it could be a false alarm. On the other, it could be ruinous. So – better to be safe than s***-out-of-luck. We hunkered down to out-wait danger.
Even for this rural setting, the house was unusually quiet. No humming computer fans. No beeping microwaves. Ah.
With nothing else to do, I took out my sewing kit and began altering a $3 pair of resale pants. The one we respectfully call “Old Avatar” busied himself with a black ink pen, working to solve one of the mind-boggling math puzzles in his Second Degree Black Belt Kakuro book.
The circumstances offered an unusual opportunity for conversation.
Most times, OA is busy “Other-where.” Though physically here, he’s preoccupied, mentally computing and warrioring on multiple dimensions, far beyond my comprehension. The times when he’s fully HERE are rare and precious.
So I tested. “May I ask you a question?”
“What is it?” he asked.
I said, I am increasingly concerned by the direction Jordan Peterson seems to be taking. Is he correct that the foundations of Western culture are essentially valid? Perhaps more to the point, can a viable future be built on that foundation?
I pointed to the cascading events that had just shut our computers down. How can careful thinkers persist in hoping their work will reverse the tide of irrational events? Sometimes it seems as if nature and humans are racing to see which of them will destroy us first.
He nodded. We’re just getting started. What’s going on today is only Act One. This time has been predicted in the foundational scriptures of which Dr. Peterson speaks for thousands of years. The war is already going on – it has been for a very long time. Christ described it, as do the prophecies he came to fulfill, as a battle for hearts and souls. Read Ezekiel again. And Isaiah.
Yes, I nodded. I think often of Ephesians. The battle going on is not only against flesh and blood, but against rulers of darkness – against evil in high places. The realms of the fearsome battle OA has waged his entire life, at terrible cost to himself, are invisible to humans. But their affect on human lives is very real indeed.
I wanted to know, What will come after the shit hits the fan, when we start to rebuild after the collapse of the world as we know it? Will there still be Bibles? Will people still be able to read?
Yes. You have a Bible, don’t you?
Of course. The same one I’ve been working with for thirty years or more, though we have yet to purchase a waterproof box for its safekeeping.
So the foundation IS valid? Yes. It will prevail? Yes.
But this doesn’t mean the familiar past we’re attached to will remain. The problem, OA said, is that people have been taught never to give up hope.
But people urgently need to rethink and define their hopes. What is your Motive, Purpose, and Intent? What is your WHY? What motivates your hope? Is it intuition or laziness? Love or fear? What is your HOW? What are your action plans for fulfilling your hopes? And WHAT precisely do you intend to achieve as the results of your actions?
Certainly, hoping it is possible to prevent conflict is a false hope. Refusing to take sides, refusing to take a stand and fully engage in the war we’re already in the midst of, is a choice for the wrong side. That’s the problem with people of peace. And those who have been led into believing Christ was a man of peace are gravely mistaken.
To the contrary, Christ stated plainly, I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against mother, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. It is a matter of having to make basic choices. Which side of the war between good and evil are you on? Even those closest and most dear to you make wrong choices. The choice to serve truth requires leaving those who oppose it behind.
Now, Christ commended peacemakers, OA continued. That’s different. They are his children. But someone has to have their backs. That’s why there are righteous warriors. Think of Archangel Michael . . . protector of innocents.
“People forget.” And here OA’s voice trembled with emotion, as if remembering a painfully personal loss. When they arrested him, to be taken away and killed, Christ instructed disciples without swords to sell their cloaks and use the money to buy a sword.
Then OA took a different tack. He described the necessary role of a “righteous warrior,” one who has the back of true peace makers. A farmer plows his field, plants and harvests his crops. He teaches his children, loves his family, and mends his fences. Day in and out, he does whatever it takes to support those he loves. And when an enemy approaches his gate, he defends them with his life. It’s all woven into the single fabric of life.
Yes, I nodded. “A time and place for every purpose under heaven.” No stick-figure either/or stereotypes.
I remembered an earlier conversation we had about false hopes generated by “people of peace.” What’s needed now, he told me, isn’t pacifists. Trying to reason with an evil enemy is like pissing on a forest fire. What we need now is a generation of warrior monks. Though they serve wisely, with peace in their hearts, at the same time they’re ever alert – competent to protect against intruders, whatever the level.
OA continued, People misconstrue the words, “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.” No fault or prohibition is implied. A soldier who fights for a living hopes to retire and die in bed. A righteous warrior, however, fights the good fight right up to his last breath. It isn’t a reproach to say he’ll die by the sword. Standing firm in his truth even to the very end earns him an honorable and worthy death.
Here, I flashed on another unanswered question. But we were interrupted by a pair of thirsty, winded dogs let in after a walk. We took a brief break. Getting a snack of red wine and cheese curds from the kitchen, I gathering my thoughts for the second part of our conversation.
When we settled in again, I brought up the article just finished for Prabuddha Bharata, a premier yoga journal, one in existence for over a century, dating back to the introduction of yoga to the United States in the 1800s. The Editor’s suggested topic: “It would be nice if you could address the issue of increasing polarisation across the world.” The time frame: “as early as possible!”
Writing it was intense, I told OA. I felt inspired . . . as if it were writing me. I watched as it flowed through me. Wow.
Part of the Wow was that it flashed on me how this article meshed with Jordan Peterson’s work. In essence, my approach offers a yin compliment to his yang presentation. Put another way, Dr. Peterson is necessarily – skillfully – treading across a very narrow tightrope. He is a professor teaching inside an traditional institution – the University of Toronto. As a practicing clinical psychologist, he’s a member of a socially accepted, highly valued profession. Devoted to his wife and children, he’s a complete insider. As such, he’s obliged to be exceedingly careful as to how he presents himself, especially in controversial matters. Accepting certain roles in society requires acting within their boundaries. His effectiveness depends, at least in part, on being acutely careful not to exceed them.
I have no such constraints. Though I earned a Ph.D., the system could not contain me. I can’t say the sacrifices were optional on my part. Character, as they say, is fate. But they did leave me free to explore and develop along lines that can’t be contained within the limiting boundaries of empirical science-based institutions and professions.
When I first started following Dr. Peterson’s work, I kept adding posts to this website, rethinkingsurvival.com. No matter what his topic, the conceptual model I work with – the meta-map of reality maps – confirms his ideas, at the same time adding strength, clarity, depth and perspective to them. This article, on the other hand, was an opportunity to go beyond that which he has developed. It completes what he has started. The yoga tradition has no problem with subtle energy sciences or with metaphysics. For this reason, Editor Swami Narasimhananda welcomed my article. He understands quite well where I’m coming from.
OA was skeptical, of course. He holds me to a very high standard. “We’ll see,” was his only response. I reminded him of an earlier post (one of the few he’s taken time off from his Other-where sojourning to read). Also invited, it’s called “How Bad People Become Leaders.”
His comment on that one: “Not bad for a human.” That’s an okay recommendation, coming from an exceedingly ancient Old Avatar.
So, I told OA, Here is what flashed on me. I should complete and compile these blogs into a book. Because of sacrifices I’ve made, I’ve been free to go places Dr. Peterson hasn’t. As a result, I am able to supply missing puzzle pieces in support of the valid tradition he defends. As as outsider, I am free to say things that need to be said, things he understands which are outside his boundaries.
Maybe he’d even write an introduction. Perhaps promote it on his Patreon website. That would be an outstanding win-win for everyone.
Again. We’ll see.
So, obviously the computers are back up here. The CME did hit. According to the single article I found, a coronal mass ejection aimed toward Earth had been projected to cause auroras in the U.S. as far south as Ohio and Indiana. As it turns out, the biggest solar flare in a decade did cause radio blackouts – but in Brittan.
So I’m left asking, Where do we go from here? We dodged the bullet for now. So I’ll continue to write as remaining time permits. But without false hopes for the future. I’m reminded, after all, that hope is one part of a triad. It’s best balanced by equal parts of faith and charity. That is to say, continue to hope for the best (whatever that may be), but prepare as we did, for the worst, with complete faith in the will of a loving God who has his children’s backs, no matter what is to come.