"When I speak of the spiritual, I refer to the recognition within everyone that there is a place of mystery in our lives where forces that are beyond human desire or will alter circumstances and/or guide and direct us. I call these forces 'divine spirit.' When we choose to lead a spirit-filled life, we recognize and celebrate the presence of transcendent spirits."
In order to be free, you simply have to be so, without asking permission of anybody. You have to have your own hypothesis about what you are called to do, and follow it, not giving in to circumstances and complying with them. But that sort of freedom demands powerful inner resources, a high degree of self-awareness, a consciousness of your responsibility to yourself and therefore to other people. Alas, the tragedy is that we do not know how to be free — we demand freedom for ourselves at the expense of others and don’t want to waive anything of our own for the sake of someone else: that would be an encroachment upon our personal rights and liberties. All of us are infected today with an extraordinary egoism. And that is not freedom; freedom means learning to demand only of oneself, not of life or of others, and knowing how to give: sacrifice in the name of love.
∆ Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time
You also have to develop a kind of faith in your own learning capacity — a belief that even though you may not know all of what you need to solve a problem, if you tackle just a piece of it and learn from that, you'll learn enough to solve the next piece — and so on, until you're done.
Solitude is something you refine and develop and create. And again, I think crucially, it has to do with refining our ethical intelligence. It has to do with refining our capacity to see where our impulses are coming from, to what extent those impulses are just driven by conditioning and habit and fear, and to what extent we can somehow open up a nonreactive space within us from which we can respond to the world — respond to our own needs, too, but in a way that’s not driven by familiar habit patterns, which are often rooted in attachment and fear and other things. So solitude, the practice of solitude, is the practice of creating an inward autonomy within ourselves, an inward freedom from the power of these overwhelming thoughts and emotions.
To pause and abandon solutionism, step back from the project of progress, and dance into a different set of questions: What does the Anthropocene teach us as a destabilizing agent that resists our taming? How can we show up in our movements of justice if “the ways we respond to crisis is part of the crisis”? What happens when we unfurl into a space of slowness and relinquish human mastery to a wider cosmic net of relations?
We are fractions of a whole, fractals within fractals, capable of affecting systemic change by changing ourselves—a spiral that leads both outward and in.
Ecosystems are like human societies: they’re built on relationships. “Our success in coevolution—our success as a productive society—is only as good as the strength of these bonds with other individuals and species,” Simard wrote. “Out of the resulting adaptation and evolution emerge behaviors that help us survive, grow, and thrive.”
The really hard problem of consciousness is the problem of experience. When we think and perceive, there is a whir of information-processing, but there is also a subjective aspect. As Nagel (1974) has put it, there is something it is like to be a conscious organism. This subjective aspect is experience. When we see, for example, we experience visual sensations: the felt quality of redness, the experience of dark and light, the quality of depth in a visual field. Other experiences go along with perception in different modalities: the sound of a clarinet, the smell of mothballs. Then there are bodily sensations, from pains to orgasms; mental images that are conjured up internally; the felt quality of emotion, and the experience of a stream of conscious thought. What unites all of these states is that there is something it is like to be in them. All of them are states of experience.
"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance." (Alan Watts)