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February 15, 2011 by Staff Reports 4 Comments If you care about a post-carbon world, you've already taken the red pill. An image that I come across often when meeting people in the peak oil world is taken from the movie The Matrix.
We hear about peak oil, climate change, or the economic crisis and because a light has gone off in our minds, we are driven to consume all that we can related to the subject. However, few of us are surrounded by people who agree with us about the state of the world. Or perhaps your interlocutor might get that something is up, that the infrastructure that we know is starting to wobble and show signs of cracking, but they are in denial about it right now, hedging their bets and bargaining with the future. Yet, we are still called to ask how we hold the view of reality that the red pill has afforded us, while surrounded by those still living through the vision of either the blue pill or no pill at all. Those who have tried, out of frustration, exasperation, care or fear to warn others, will know that simply trying to metaphorically yell in someone’s face about what you believe is going on will not result in any positive result. This lack of agreement from others can touch something that can be deeply unsettling for us.
Since this truth applies to all beings everywhere and at all times, we just can’t avoid discontentment in our lives. We are called to build an inner, personal resilience in our minds like the resilience that the Transition Town movement is modeling for us to create in our communities.
Sit in a comfortable posture and breathing naturally, bring your awareness to the breath entering and leaving the nose.



As your mind quiets down, bring to mind the situation or person that causes you concern, such as a good friend who you feel is not wanting to hear your news. As you breathe in, visualize that you are breathing in what you perceive as her denial, lack of hearing, confusion and fear.
Then as you breathe out, exhale all that your friend will need to overcome his denial or lack of wanting to hear, and come to his own clear decisions. As a way to prepare for Tonglen, it can be helpful to reflect on equanimity, the idea that all beings regardless of background are the same as you in wishing for happiness and not wanting to suffer. None of this means that we do not continue in our efforts to help create the post-carbon world that we and our friends aspire to. Will the message that I want to deliver be heard if I say it in in the way that I’m planning? Or do I need to ease my way into the discussion, meeting people where they are and allowing them to discover things in their own time? I see educating friends, family and others about post-carbon living as an ongoing practice. About Staff ReportsTransition Voice is the online magazine on peak oil, climate change, economic crisis, and the Transition Town movement. David, found your comments while searching for the Stages of Dying metaphor to pass on to a fellow Climate Project presenter in Texas.
I am familiar with Thich Naht Hanh’s teachings, and indeed have found that they have enriched my Tibetan practice. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.
This might not be such a bad situation if you’re lucky enough to find yourself surrounded by like-minded people all of the time. Whether it is family members, colleagues, or just people who we meet at parties, sooner or later we find ourselves in a conversation that doesn’t bear any resemblance to our felt reality.
They are necessary emotional phases that we can all go through when dealing with change, comparable to the the Five Stages of Dying as explained by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.


Through having people not acknowledge what we have to say we are forced to face uncertainty. This personal resilience can look at pain in the face, breathe it into the heart, hold it, cradle it and breathe out the needs that those around us are looking for.
Fortunately for us, Tonglen is now widely taught in the West as a way to build patience and strength in compassion, defined in Tibetan Buddhism as the wish for beings to be freed from their suffering. But by practicing it during a formal meditation session we enable ourselves to build strength in working with individual people or situations through utilizing the power of visualization.
Continue doing this, allowing the resistance in your heart to be chipped away a little bit more each time. This gives us an even foundation to work from even when dealing with a difficult person or people. And just as in a practice of meditation, just when you think that your patience is fine-tuned enough or your heart is open enough, someone will come along and show you that, well, you may still have a little bit further to go, whether in this lifetime, or in the next one, should you choose to follow that far horizon.
When encountering peak oil, climate change and economic crisis for the first time, someone may experience denial, anger, bargaining  and other emotional states, as Martenson explains. It can make the person you’re trying to educate dig their heals in around their view. That’s the part of your heart which is closed to people around you who you feel do not understand peak oil, climate change and their implications, whether you are aware of it or not. We recognize that there is a common thread running through us all and that at heart, even if we appear to have different points of view, even if we are struggling in communicating, we all wish for the same basic things in life. And, true revolution to a post-carbon, just, sustainable world needs all the open-heartedness we can muster! Imagine the resistance in your heart being chipped away at by your friend’s confusion as you breathe it in.



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