September 4th, 2019

The main thing is to love others as yourself. That’s the main thing, and it’s everything. There’s no need for anything else at all. It will immediately be discovered how to set things up.

Dostoevsky, “The Dream of the Ridiculous Man”

They say if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. The question becomes not how but why. Why are we doing this? Why is this happening?

Every day, it seems more and more like everything is going to pot. At times like this, it’s best not to get lost in the details. Opioids, racism, healthcare, education, gun control, climate change… these are not separate issues. At the bottom each of these problems is the key to solving all of them. It’s the one reason why we’re here.

The key to solving all our problems is what every major religion teaches. It’s the key to science, technology, and any successful business. It’s the defining characteristic of humanity. For two million years, it has been the one thing humans have done more than any other species.

The key to humanity’s success is cooperation. The fancy, perhaps outmoded word for it is love. Either way, it simply means we are all in the same boat.

Love (empathy, compassion, caring) is the felt recognition of our interdependence, our unity. One example is patriotism. Love is what makes us human. Human means “earthling.” Our first loyalty is to the Earth. Commit to anything less, and you’re basically a cancer. That is what civilization has become.

All we need

Why do we forget that we — all humans, all species — are all in this together? Because we’re scared. Behind hate and/or selfishness is always fear. To be afraid is to think you’re alone: that the rest of the world is against you. Fortunately, that’s just not true. The only people against you are other scared people, afraid for themselves.

This is why the solution is always love. Our salvation is cooperation. It’s what got us this far. All we need to do is to get back in the boat.

When choosing a leader, choose the one most about love. The details are unimportant. It’s not about how we get there. The first thing is to be going in the right direction.

Waking up

Each day, the world looks more and more like a nightmare. What if it really is one?

When you wake from a nightmare, you realize that all the problems, monsters, “bad guys” — the whole situation — was all in your head. It was all just a dream.

To say life is a dream is just another way of saying that we’re all in this together. You could just as well say we’ve been “digging” into our own body. To dig at each other is an autoimmune disease.

Fortunately, there is more in the ground than a hole. We are more like one big tree. And like they say, the tree in winter is still growing. Let’s take a look at the roots.

What does M.W. stand for?

I teach and write about nature. I’m writing a book on wild mushrooms, and a year ago or so, one of the titles I was considering was “WM.” On the cover, it would look like this:


But it could just as well be


like a mountain mirrored in water.

“WM” reflects the fact that when you look at a mushroom, you’re seeing just half the picture, like seeing a tree without the roots.

With mushrooms, however, it’s more like seeing the fruit and not the tree. The tree in this case is a fungus and the fruit are mushrooms. The largest living organism on earth, in fact, is a single fungus in Oregon. It covers 3.5 square miles, is several thousand years  old, and puts up thousands of mushrooms each year.

The lesson’s more

The moral of the mushroom is the need to shift not just “from me to we” but from we to me. We are not just connected; we are the same thing.

Another way to look at “MW” is with a saying that’s thankfully used not so much any more: namely, that “behind every great man is a great woman.” Women are indeed the roots, the tree, the backbone of society. Men, as the branches, the arms, or the fruit, have for too long been all that we see. But the power of an iceberg doesn’t come from the tip. The ocean is stronger than a mountain.

We are the world

Around age 12, I decided to save the world. Being Jewish, my model was Moses. In the Haggadah, the Passover prayer book, Moses is named, in passing, only once. As I later learned, there’s a reason for that.

Around age 24, I studied astrology. I learned that Jesus was born in Pisces, at the dawn of a new age. We are now entering Aquarius, the age of cooperation. Like they say, “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

It’s not my job to save the world. It’s ours.

Carrying the torch

I’m almost 52. After 40 years in the wilderness, the world I know is ending. This is the Apocalypse. But the world is us. Apocalypse means “uncovering,” and this is the opportunity: to realize that we can save ourselves. We, the people, have had the power all along.

A leader today must be a flowering of hope from a groundswell of despair. It isn’t about who’s on top. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

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