Together-Action in the Darkness of Hurricane Sandy

Now, people are used to Facebook, their modes of interacting with their real and virtual social networks have changed.  The New York times has written a good article on this topic here.  Have you ever thought what would happen to modern life if Facebook was impossible to reach for a time?  It was quite nice last night during the passage of Hurricane Sandy over New Jersey. People came together to talk and sing in ways that are quite transcendent and natural. Kind of like camping.

But where danger is, grows the saving power also. I am in a philosophical mood. Why is it that people are so much nicer to each other when the power goes out? When it’s cold, and when it’s dark the moon can obsess you, leading to the fear of being alone. The Id takes over in new and strange environments. The human animal emerges from a long slumber. We respond to the darkness with instinct. The howl of wind brings us back to a time in our not too distant path when each moment was full of real danger. Our social network was real, the tribe, the clan, the family. Now, in the Modern, we are presented with a simulation of that network. We bury ourselves in digital facsimiles of life to over come the loneliness of being. It is events like the Holy Trinity of storms that is Sandy that restore my hope for humanity. When the lights are out, the stars come out.

In Brown Hall last night, I talked rock climbing with friends and came up with the idea of starting a rock climbing club at Princeton Theological Seminary.  Then, I went to Alexander Hall.  There, I sung songs and fellowshipped with people by candlelight.  It was quite nice to sing songs by firelight.  I then called a friend and had a conversation about The Question Concerning Technology and transhumanism.  Around midnight, I went back to my dormitory  Hodge hall, and had a discussion about The Question Concerning Technology, Christianity, war, and peace until about 2:30 am.  In other words, I reached out to my peers to cultivate real, deep, and lasting relations through honest conversation about substantial topics.  It was so nice for people to relax their usual stressed modes of being in the light and reach out to each other in an otherwise dark and cold night.  This is what seminary is supposed to be like.

Together-Action is a term that I learned about at the Cambridge Zen Center.  According to the article cited in this paragraph, “Together is already a pre-existing condition. We are also this wide, interconnected experience. We are all originally pulsating dynamically moment by moment, moment by moment. Together-action is not something we create. Whatever we practice as together-action is just to remind ourselves. In the disciples poem, he says, North of one place, south of some other place, in the middle enough gold for a country. That really means, where you are right at this moment, and what you are doing at this moment. Many times during this weekend, I’ve heard people ask each other, How is your Zen center doing? And people sometimes say, Oh practice is very strong at our Zen center, or Practice is not so strong in our Zen center, or There’s arguing in our Zen center, or, There is some kind of problem. But, How is your Zen center doing, does not mean how is your Zen center doing. It means, How is your practice? What are you doing just now?”  We are always intimately linked together on one interdependent web of Being-in-the-World.  Sometimes, it takes a storm to remind us of this unified network.

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About kayaerbil

I am a Berkeley educated chemistry Ph.D. who is moving into the area of working on developing appropriate technology for communities that are subjected to socio-economic oppression. The goal is to use simple and effective designs to empower people to live better lives. Currently, I am working with Native Americans on Pine Ridge, the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. I am working with a Native owned and run solar energy company. We are currently working on building a compressed earth block (CEB) house that showcases many of the technologies that the company has developed. The CEB house is made of locally derived resources, earth from the reservation. The blocks are naturally thermally insulating, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Eventually, a solar air heater and photovoltaic panels will be installed into the house to power the home and keep it warm, while preserving the house off the grid. A side project while in Pine Ridge is a solar computer. I hope to learn about blockchain encryption software for building microgrids. In addition, it is an immediate interest of mine to involve local youth in technology education.
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