Peak Oil, Part Three

Here is my response to Peak Oil theory:

From its beginnings, America has been torn between idealist and materialist urges. I came of age in the late-1960s and early-1970s, the most recent era in which idealism carried any weight within American culture. It was an exciting time. Millions of people, to varying degrees of sincerity, were actively seeking answers to questions about the nature of existence and the right way to live. I was convinced that the nation had taken a turn from which it could never retreat. But I was wrong. Americans got tired of the constant questioning and upheaval. So we elected Ronald Reagan, who told us that it was okay to go after money again. He spoke as if it were a moral virtue. And people responded. Thirty years later, we live in the most materialistic age that humankind has ever seen. I’ve lived through this period with increasing dismay. With the growth in our level of material comfort, there has been a simultaneous, requisite decay in our ideals and spiritual vitality. I’ve tried for years to picture what might reverse the trend, but I’ve seen nothing that will do the trick. The economic system has seemed immune to stock market crashes, bubbles, massive debt, scams, and corruption. But I believe I see now what’s going to stop the machine: It’s going to run out of gas. I think we’ve already entered the era of decline. A lot of people feel it. And just as the last 150 years–the era of fossil fuels–has represented a tremendous historical change, so will the period we’re entering. I have to say that I welcome it. And I know I’m not alone. I’ve talked to others who see the same thing and feel the same way.

The thing is, it’s impossible for us to turn things around so long as the money machine remains at the center of our day-to-day life. “You cannot serve God and Mammon.” That’s an uncompromising statement, and it’s a truth, a universal truth. The money machine depends on people not questioning the frantic lives they’ve been leading. Keep up! Keep up! Otherwise you’re gonna get thrown under the wheels! It’s nuts. As the machine continues to break down, we are going to be facing huge issues on how we survive. We can work it out, though. There are people working on it now at a grassroots level. The good part in all this is that, regardless of the difficulty, life will at least be real again. We live in an age of tremendous delusion, propaganda, and shallow thought. All the stands of the so-called conservatives and liberals have hardened into a mindset that is dysfunctional. I don’t mean to frighten people. It doesn’t frighten me. I see it as a great opportunity—the only one we have. The alternative is to go over the cliff with the current system.

This is just a tiny scratching of the surface. For a more thorough introduction to Peak Oil, I recommend Richard Heinberg’s book The Party’s Over. Also his website. The Post Carbon Institute’s website is another good source of information and links. I’m seeing in the mainstream media more and more references to Peak Oil, as well as a constant stream of articles that, while not mentioning them, bear out its theories. It’s going to be a common topic in the near future. People need to educate themselves about it. Finally, I should add that there are issues of greater importance to me than Peak Oil. I’m not a “Peak Oilist.” Since I was a young boy, my primary concern has been enlightenment. But we can’t be enlightened so long as we’re chasing after money–there is no such thing as “enlightened self-interest”–so I see Peak Oil as a great ally on the path.

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3 Responses to “Peak Oil, Part Three”

  1. Kelley Says:

    If you truly seek enlightenment, understand that the very nature of life and God is perpetual self-transcendence. Understand that you are here to eschew all physical attachments: alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, materialism, etc. Anything that you crave or are addicted to keeps you on the wheel of life–you cannot permanently ascend until you let go of all Earthly cravings. Even rock/syncopated music–it all drains energy through your base chakra, creating negative karma and keeping you tied to the physical plane (everything is energy). In your writings and interviews, I get a sense that you are a sincere student of the universe, but that you may be stumbling toward the left-hand path of ego, stubborn wrong-thinking, and intellectualism. You are connected to your higher (true) self through your heart, not your mind. “Mental enlightenment” is a perversion of Gautama Buddha’s teachings. Enlightenment comes through the heart. “I die daily” is an allusion to the path of enlightenment: one should kill off a part or manifestation of ego or physical attachments every day–kill the ego creation/lower self bit by bit.

    • markbittner Says:

      I’ve always believed that enlightenment comes through the heart. I’ve never believed anything else.

  2. Frank Says:

    Just read “The Party’s Over”. Thanks for the tip.

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