Darrin Drda Part III- The 3 Afflictions and Their Antidotes

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In this portion of the interview I (Chris) ask Darrin about a piece he wrote on his blog entitled We Are The 100 Percent: A Metta-tation for the Masses. I found it a beautifully searing piece. Darrin describes his reactions to the news of violence against Occupiers in Oakland, first disbelief, then rage, then cynicism, then more of an opening, leading eventually to deep compassion.  

Darrin writes:

What slowly came into focus was a moving picture of human beings in pain. Some were in physical agony, half paralyzed by tear gas or projectiles. Some were filled with rage, at both the imbalance of power in the situation and the system that maintains it. Many were fearful of what harm might come to them, their friends, or their allies, and some were simply doing a job they had hoped would garner admiration or at least provide some security during a time of financial uncertainty, perhaps even thinking of their families back home, their own physical and emotional ailments, or the dim prospect of a decent night’s sleep. 


I wholeheartedly appreciate Darrin’s emphasis on the 100 Percent while maintaining a strong stance against the injustices that are so clearly prevalent, even dominant.  


Darrin also references the Buddhist teaching of the three afflictions (aka the three poisons): desire, aversion (or hatred), and ignorance. He developed this theme in particular in a piece called Americosmos: A Mandala of the Unenlightened United States of Affliction (originally published at Reality Sandwich). 

Just like overall framing of The Four Global Truths, Darrin brilliantly applies a Buddhist spiritual teaching to a social-political-economic context. In this case, the United States. Darrin sees each of the three afflictions having a social manifestation in the US: materialism/consumerism (desire), militarism (hatred/aversion), and the media empire (delusion/ignorance). I really recommend reading the whole Americosmos piece. 

Around minute 44, Ian MacKenzie (noted documentarian, mutual friend of Beams and Darrin who actually facilitated the interview) asks about a framework Darrin learned from one of his teachers Joanna Macy on the three sources of transformation: holding actions, structural transformations, shifts in consciousness. Trevor wrote a new piece on this one growing out of our interview. We might think of these three as in some sense the antidotes to the three poisons (particularly when infused with the loving-kindness for the 100% previously mentioned). 

The model helps point a way towards actual integration of activists, permaculture/design types, and spiritual practitioners. I think this is an important topic particularly with what I see to be a tendency towards apoliticism in some of the consciousness raising groups (e.g. integral and evolutionary spiritualities). 

As with the Metta-tation for the 100%, there is a wholeness and health that comes through in this view--while always maintaining a desire for increased justice and compassion.  


To listen to Part III, click here (right-click to download). 


Links to Part I and Part II.

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  • Comment Link David MacLeod Tuesday, 18 December 2012 05:04 posted by David MacLeod

    I enjoyed the discussion in the podcast of Joanna Macy's three sources of transformation: holding actions, structural transformations, shifts in consciousness.

    I would enjoy being part of a group that was effective in doing all three, but I'm thinking it would need to be a small group. It seems that it might be difficult to agree on the specifics on how you would do each one.

    In general I agree with the part of the discussion that considered the benefit of different groupings of people doing different parts of these three approaches - the benefits of the rhizomatic approach.

    In Rob Hopkins' Transition Companion, I was credited (p. 135 - I actually heard it from Cindi Landreth) with the idea that Transition Initiatives behave like a "Crazy Quilt" - we don't do everything ourselves, but we effectively knit together with other groups that are doing different pieces of the work.

    Transition Initiatives do have "Heart & Soul" groups that focus on Inner Transition, but there have been some pretty fascinating discussions on how far to go with identifying with one particular way of doing this work. See Hopkins' blog: http://transitionculture.org/2010/09/28/a-discussion-about-ways-of-knowing/

    Hopkins argues that to make the spiritual aspect explicit in the Transition movement would be self-defeating because it would limit itself to people that identified themselves with whatever faith expression became associated with the movement. I made the argument in the comments that "it needs to be made very clear that Transition is non-sectarian as a whole, but also that Transition acknowledges the important role that spirituality can play in supporting people’s transition to a post-carbon future."

    By the same token, Transition has made a decision not to engage in the "holding actions" that are so often associated with environmental activism. There has been some criticism for this approach, but I think Hopkins makes a good argument: "Transition is determinedly inclusive and non-blaming, arguing that a successful transition through peak oil and climate change will by necessity be about a bringing together of individuals and organisations, rather than a continued fracturing and antagonising. It seeks common ground rather than difference and realises that people who run businesses and people who make decisions are all similarly bewildered and forced to rethink many basic assumptions by these new and challenging times we are beginning to enter. I make no apologies for the Transition approach being designed to appeal as much to the Rotary Club and the Women’s Institute...For me, Transition is something that sits alongside and complements the more oppositional protest culture, but is distinctly different from it. It is a different tool. It is designed in such a way as to come in under the radar."

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Friday, 21 December 2012 21:47 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    David, I love this idea of the "crazy quilt"

    "the idea that Transition Initiatives behave like a "Crazy Quilt" - we don't do everything ourselves, but we effectively knit together with other groups that are doing different pieces of the work".

    I had someone whose view I respect, criticize the notion of "the rhizome" and getting "rhizomatic" as being too heady, to postmodern conceptual. But it's anything but. Deleuze and Guattari, who came up with the concept, always argued that a concept is only as good or useful as "what you can do with it". The rhizome, or the crazy quilt, is in my experience first and foremost a way of being-in the-world, of relating to others, of learning to make connections, to unite forces, then when the time is right, to move on and form new connections (or assemblages in D&G's terms) and so on. It's accepting that you are only one strand in the quilt, and to trust the power of the whole as you support it from your node in the meshwork. It can be a very dynamic and exhilarating way to move in the world. This sort of form (rhizome/quilt) is also very hard for dominant hierarchical/centralized forms of power to control. This is one reason why guerrilla warfare has often been so effective against substantially larger militaries operating in that centralized form. (And that goes back a long way too, it was used effectively against the Romans by many barbarian tribes too. Mongols also used many guerrilla tactics, conquering much more than anyone would have ever foreseen or predicted). So I think the form itself is a powerful one, and particularly appropriate to counter the dominant calcified power centers of our time.

    I think this switch to a way of being that can embrace and effectively move and make connections in that rhizomatic way is a really important one. And of course, one part of making that switch is to also understand it at a cognitive level (ie. Macy's 'shift in consciousness'), which is partially what we're doing here and I wrote a short piece around it when the Occupy movement broke out. But all that in my experience prepares one for the orientation on the ground, which as I said, can be quite an engaging and fulfilling way to move in the world. Hail the crazy quilt!


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