november 2021 – goodnews editorial

Legalize it! 

Switzerland intends to legalize the non-medical use of cannabis. For a pilot trial, certain pharmacies and CBD-shops will be allowed to sell it, in various strengths, to a select Swiss-wide cohort. The aim is to gain experience over a three to five-year period, “…that a regulated market be created for the cultivation, production, trade and consumption of cannabis”. One third of the adult Swiss population have tried cannabis at least once. A majority wants to see it regulated like alcohol. Luxemburg allows its citizens to grow up to four marijuana plants per household. Seeds are freely available for purchase and are taxed. Activists in countries like Spain (Catalonia) or Italy have experimented with growers’ clubs, another reasonable extension for the liberation of a plant growing naturally all over the world. In Canada, buyers need proof of age for legal purchase. The Canadian government estimates that legalization has led to a reduction of the illegal cannabis market by two thirds. A similar model is envisaged for Switzerland. So far, there are no provisions for letting users grows their own. Overall, market regulation is welcome, also for reasons of quality control. The Swiss Farmers’ Association has made sure only Swiss bio hemp is used in the upcoming pilot trial. All legal cannabis is to be grown outdoor, a pipe dream. How long it will take to achieve normalization for psychedelics is everybody’s guess. Big pharma is trying to make a decisive grab here. If they succeed, only licensed therapists will be able to administer genetically altered and patented psilocybin, for instance, within an equally patented set and setting, allowing for ‘replicability’. What could go wrong? Mexico wants to regulate traditional plant use. Individuals and groups pursuing spiritual interests will be controlled, do-it-yourself revelations actively repressed. Compared with a city like Seattle, where all psychedelics are legal, we have a long way to go.

Concerned, and with warm autumn greetings,
Susanne G. Seiler


Eye Spin Out

It was another arty choke
That smoky asphyxiation
Your oxygen deprivation
One of my most favourite sensations
Give the bong’s cone a poke
I’m in need of fresh inspiration
Take me on a mood elevation
At times – a cause of desperation
The ritual can leave me broke
A huge problem across our nation
The government’s sadistic taxation
We must put an end to this situation
The time has come for another toke
Protest the man and this aberration
Change the dial on the radio station
We want to grow our own, no agitation

Leaf van Amsterdam

october 2021 – goodnews editorial

Language barriers

We Swiss are very fond of our dialects. We believe that they are ours to keep. We police them. To prevent anyone from learning them (though a few courses exist), we scrupulously make sure that our most vulnerable immigrants are not provided with enough lessons to educate them beyond a very basic linguistic level. More language classes are needed for the shy vendor of Surprise (a mag sold by the homeless) outside our local supermarket, who has no colloquial practice with natives like me. He was trying to tell me that my bike rack was not up. Very thoughtful. My friend Brigitte, who immigrated to Switzerland over forty years ago and has long since held a Swiss passport, complains that to this day she is always picked on because of her language. Her Swiss German is not Swiss German enough, her German not German enough. And where in Germany is she from? Quite impertinent, of course ‘without meaning any harm’. Even without an office or law to keep Swiss German dialects clean, Germans and Austrians must follow an embarrassing protocol if they want to make themselves at home with us. Swiss German is taboo! Please only understand, don’t speak our language, you wouldn’t be able to anyway, hardly anyone who didn’t grow up here can. There is a grace period, for reasons of civility, for German-speaking foreigners who do not live right on the border. The fact that Swiss work colleagues repeatedly fall back into their dialects with their countryfolk instead of using the German language is part of it. But we don’t want to impose ‘proper German’ on our former neighbours beyond what is necessary. What are they thinking? Brigitte asked me, in disgust. That their German is that good? Our fellow citizens from the north and the east have long opened to our dialects. They understand us well. So why strain the German language any longer? While they regale us with their own language, we speak ours, giving them a better chance to integrate and interact with us. And, as a bonus, we may be a little humbler. Or should we all speak English? Learning languages is worthwhile. Unless you live in Switzerland, where everyone automatically seems to think they know everything better than you do.
Too bad, that.

Linguistically yours,
Susanne G. Seiler


Eternity

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.

William Blake

september 2021 – goodnews editorial

White privilege

Coming into Switzerland, only two foreigners were checked in the entire compartment of my delayed intercity train. They were sitting on the other side of the isle, right next to me, two Lebanese living in Germany, on their way to Lucerne. Since both men spoke some German, the two hulky Swiss border policemen relented. The Lebanese were worried about missing their connecting train, and I couldn’t convince them they were allowed to take the next one instead. “Switzerland is very strict,” said the man sitting closest to me, “we better buy a new ticket.” Fortunately, the Swiss conductor came on board and was able to help. Shocked at how sure I was of my rights, whereas the two foreigners preferred to cower right away, I got off. Once again, I was shamefully aware that I need not fear the authorities, the police, or anyone else, that I belong as a matter of course and can make myself heard any time. I don’t need to tread softly, to walk on my inner tippytoes, to pull myself together as soon as I enter the public sphere. The scruples of my friends who live here as secondos (2nd generation migrants) are unknown to me. As a natural born citizen, I’m not indebted to my country, and I do not feel pressured into doing more than my share. I don’t have to keep a low profile. Most immigrants prefer not to sign petitions or other neighborhood initiatives, showing how urgently we need to give them an official voice at the communal level. At my grandchildren’s school parties, which take place in Zurich’s multicultural 4th District, where forty-five percent of the population are immigrants, we eat delicious dishes that parents from thirty nations have cooked for us. Separate yet together, we sit by ethnicity, in a friendly and neighborly way, at long tables. We Swiss know that we can knock on our neighbors’ doors at any time if we need something, a cup of flour, an egg, to make a phone call. Unfortunately, for “the others”, it is not so easy. I am much looking forward to the next party, to be held soon, after a long break. I will talk with strangers and with my neighbors again for sure, no matter where they come from. They have a harder life than we do.

With urban greetings to the country,
Susanne G. Seiler


Resolution

There’s the thing I shouldn’t do
and yet, and now I have
the rest of the day to
make up for, not
undo, that can’t be done
but next time,
think more calmly,
breathe, say here’s a new
morning, morning,
morning,

(though why would that
work, it isn’t even
hidden, hear it in there,
more, more,
more?
)

Lia Purpura

august 2021 – goodnews editorial

Motivation and how to get it

My friend Max, a philosopher in his spare time, says what we need to motivate ourselves is a kick in the pants. Wikipedia defines motivation as what makes humans or animals initiate, continue, or terminate a particular behavior at a particular time. Drives such as hunger, thirst, and procreation define our hierarchy of needs, meaning we prioritize certain urges. Motivation is a mixture of inherent and libidinal behavior, an impulse of an instinctual, genetic, and mental nature. There are two types of motivation; science calls them intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic is anything that comes from the outside and we do only because we get something in return, in our case money, love or status. Here, motivation is desire, and desire leads to slavery. We make ourselves dependent on the expected reward and omit or forget to do what brings us joy. Of course, we can undertake meaningful work, for which we are rewarded; most of us need to make a living, after all. That would be one motive. We can also accept a little slavery in return for doing what we want the rest of the time. The heart, that lonely hunter, is looking for true or intrinsic motivation, the desire to create, the spark or impulse that pushes us to do things that delight, satisfy, and liberate us for their own sake. And what if I am too lazy or indifferent? The ancient Greeks already knew that man seeks what pleases him and avoids what causes pain. Thanks to the close relationship between motivation and feeling, music, movement, dance, and – esthetic – pleasure have an arousing effect. They stimulate us but, coming from an outside source, they also lead us back to where we started. Science has no precise answers to the question of what drives us outside of the expected reward schemes either. The latest theories hold that the subconscious and its motivations cannot be deciphered, and it is the strength of the intention that matters. Our intentions serve self-regulatory purposes and help us develop a will, in turn leading to greater competence. But first we need that kick in the pants.

Dapperly yours
Susanne G. Seiler


Maputo Olive

Your poem nails home horseshoes
wears hat, mounts steed
does not look back.
And longing strives but cannot cross
the field. Like Zeno’s arrow.

From now on, the miles
are marked with milestones
of sapphire and a bush
of flowers each
a different fragrance, each a note
from your music that wore a hat
and spurred my wistfulness

Into the terraced night.
  

Tad Ipadeopla

july 2021 – goodnews editorial

Critical Mass

How many Swiss citizens does it take to change a light bulb? (As you may know, we recently shot down a law involving CO2 that should have helped us on the way out of our environmental misery.) Now I wonder: how many active citizens does it take for a society to change? Really only six percent? Is that how many of us need to jump on our bicycles, take to the streets, demonstrate, march, hold up banners and call for international solidarity until we can make our demands more concrete? How many people would have to agree among themselves? And could they? (If two conservatives meet, they are happy; if two lefties or greenies meet, neither is left or green enough for the other.) And even if they agreed, would they be capable of creating the consensus needed for change to happen? The climate is everyone’s headache. Coastal cities, mountain villages and arid areas are bracing themselves, African and Asian climate refugees are on the run. Homeowners are worried, storm follows storm, heat wave follows heat wave, fire follows fire, flood follows flood, landslide follows landslide, eruption follows eruption, earthquake follows earthquake and still there is no jolt going through our society. I go on vacation by train (flying is even more ineffective now) and try to keep my footprint small in other ways as well. I express my love of nature and of the environment in many ways, but it is not enough, even if hundreds of thousands of us behave this way. Change doesn’t just happen bottom up, it must also come from industry, from government, from businesses, from manufacturers and farms. Is the climate perhaps not sexy enough? How critical is the mass? Where and how can people be turned around? Where are the advertisers and public relationists who’ll give the fight for Mother Earth and against mass extinction a more winning image? One that creates in us an urgent desire to invest large sums of money in the environment and to earn money from this project. Repeat after me: My weather, my climate, my world!

Heatedly, yours
Susanne G. Seiler


A Vendor of Dreams
(After Ben Okri)

Vendor of Dreams
You are a recorder of rag-ridden destinies,
a pimp-impressario.
You sell us phantasies in cloud-packets.

Our favourite dreams are of incidents at
The shrine, masquing with masquerades,
Placating the jealous gods
After all, it is only Lactogen,
a quiet hallucinogen.

Night, and you must pay for the
murdered sleep of the world.
In your best nightmare
you unscrew your head
and hide it under your armpit,
to escape the wrath of creditors.
But you can’t keep away the flies.

Niran Okewole

june 2021 – goodnews editorial

Orthorexia nervosa

Besides anorexia and bulimia, a third eating disorder has been officially recognized, I recently read. You may well be familiar with it already. Orthorexia is about the obsession with healthy food, a relatively common disorder nowadays, though often unrecognized. Most of us would like to lead a healthy lifestyle. There is nothing wrong with that, although opinions differ widely on what that might entail. Some people cannot do without meat, fish and dairy, while others eat few or no animal products at all. I don’t need to explain to you what vegan means. In the past, people were obsessed with food because they did not have enough to eat; today we suffer from oversupply, often produced under questionable circumstances. For me, healthy food is locally grown, does not come from factory farming and is as natural as possible. I refuse to eat animals that were born just to die – for me! Though I have a sweet tooth, I try to avoid sugary stuff. I don’t always manage to drink enough, but I drink little alcohol and keep my psychoactive habits under control. Things turn unhealthy when people strictly investigate every bite to make sure that nothing «bad» goes down their throats. When all food can only be organic, and they have to decline when they are invited to eat at friends’ houses who don’t do as they do. Most likely because shopping at the health food store exceeds their budget. This I can well understand, because I too can’t afford to gold-plate every morsel of food I eat. Except for eggs and fish. They must be local and certified in order to reduce animal suffering. Since I eat healthy in general, I allow myself an exception now and then. Rudolf Steiner already said that it is better to drink a glass of wine than to think about it all the time. My motto: the secret of good health doesn’t lie in what you eat, but in what you don’t eat. Exceptions confirm the rule. To think that one can control one’s health through nutrition alone seems to me to be too short-sighted; enjoying your food is just as important, and enough movement and good relationships too, of course.

Healthily Yours
Susanne G. Seiler


A Center

You must hold your quiet center,
where you do what only you can do.
If others call you a maniac or a fool,
just let them wag their tongues.
If some praise your perseverance,
don’t feel too happy about it—
only solitude is a lasting friend.

You must hold your distant center.
Don’t move even if earth and heaven quake.
If others think you are insignificant,
that’s because you haven’t held on long enough.
As long as you stay put year after year,
eventually you will find a world
beginning to revolve around you.

   Ha Jin 

may 2021 – goodnews editorial

Editorial: Conformity vs individuality

Were live in constricted and regimented times, with little room for otherness, not even in the comfort of our own home. Each posse or group, large or small, has its own uniform, the young, the hipsters, the successful, the nerds, the good mothers, elegant society, the bums in the park. At home, we work at keeping our body fit while having our mind set on the right furniture, clothes, diet, reading, series, shows, holidays. We work hard to belong, to be able to reassure each other that we are not mistaken, chose the right path in life, determine our own lives, are moving forward, spiritually, emotionally, physically, materially. The countryside as well as foreign countries are our escape. People are more conservative away from the big cities, but there is more room for singularity as well. It is not people, however, that make country life attractive but the immediacy of nature in all its glory. Mother Earth surrounds us, carries us and strengthens us. The moment we venture abroad, we become paying guests. Our hosts indulge us and keep an eye on us, so we may act for a brief moment as if we lived in a fool’s paradise. At least we manage to escape the conformity of our daily lives from time to time this way. Though there is more individuality in the world than ever, individualism is in high demand. Everything is integrated, no matter how consistently you follow your star. Lucius Werthmüller did not to follow fashion or fall prey to groupthink. He stayed true to himself while his lifestyle edged from the fringe towards the center of society. I think of him with deep regret. Kind and competent, he has become a role model for me through his unexpected death, earlier this month. If only he were just Luci, like before.

We miss him very much.

Sadly, yours
Susanne G. Seiler


Late Echo

Alone with our madness and favorite flower
We see that there really is nothing left to write about.
Or rather, it is necessary to write about the same old things
In the same way, repeating the same things over and over
For love to continue and be gradually different.

Beehives and ants have to be re-examined eternally
And the color of the day put in
Hundreds of times and varied from summer to winter
For it to get slowed down to the pace of an authentic
Saraband and huddle there, alive and resting.

Only then can the chronic inattention
Of our lives drape itself around us, conciliatory
And with one eye on those long tan plush shadows
That speak so deeply into our unprepared knowledge
Of ourselves, the talking engines of our day.

   John Ashbery

Obituary for Lucius Werthmüller

Lucius Werthmüller † 22.5.1958 – 9.4.2021

We are deeply saddened to inform you that Luci Werthmüller, our friend and companion, quite unexpectedly passed away on April 9.

It is hard for us to believe. We were still in email contact during his last days: he was cordial as always, committed, authentic, straightforward. We mourn with his family and friends.

As the President of our Foundation, a task he fulfilled prudently and competently after Dieter Hagenbach’s demise almost five years ago, Luci leaves a deep vacuum in our lives.

For close to thirty years, we came to know and appreciate him as a true friend, a visionary and a loyal companion in numerous projects. It was an unbelievable opportunity to work with someone as friendly, benevolent, helpful and unselfish, and we will sorely miss his mischievous humor, his profound expertise and – last but not least – his palpable connection with the spiritual world.

As President of the Board of our Foundation, Lucius Werthmüller invested a lot of love and energy in Gaia Media projects. The gaiamedia goodnews is published monthly. In cooperation with the Swiss Medical Society for Psycholytic Therapy (SÄPT), the psychedelics consultancy, close to his heart, has been very popular ever since September 2019 and has experienced an unexpected upgrade and pertinence with the intensified scientific research into the therapeutic potential of mind-expanding substances in recent years.

With the opening of the gaialounge and the ethnobotanika store, in September 2020, Luci laid the foundation for our mission – to create a place where people can meet and share ideas in the fields of consciousness, ecology, spirituality and the exploration of consciousness-expanding substances. Luci was highly motivated to contribute to a new understanding of nature within our cultural niche. His commitment also finds expression in our gaia media library and in the workshops, lectures and cultural events to take place there.

With gaialounge, one of Luci’s core interests finds its fulfillment, and we are honored to carry the torch of this involvement out into the world.

Thank you for your love of the cause, your commitment, your persistence, your patience.

We will miss you infinitely.

For the Board:
Dr. Pierre Joset
Kerim Seiler

april 2021 – goodnews editorial

Lessons Learned – Knowledge Earned

Learning is the intentional or incidental process of acquiring new insights, knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, attitudes and preferences, says Wikipedia. Humans, animals, but also plants, fungi, bacteria, viruses and certain machines or their software are capable of such attainments. From the cradle to the grave and perhaps beyond, we learn in many different ways. Science distinguishes between non-associative learning, such as schooling by habit, or sensitization: a (hopefully only slightly) burned child won’t touch a hot stove again. Active learning asks for a conscious effort; associative learning, operant and classical conditioning are a form of learning by way of positive or negative stimuli; observational learning involves what we glean from others; imprinting is a behavioristic concept often applied to animals, and one-shot-learning is an evolutionary mechanism not only applied to the computer world. Young dolphins are taught not to aggress humans by their mother’s fin in one fell swoop. Playful learning, often referred to as learning by doing, is something we all know. Practice makes perfect, many skills accumulate through repeated experience, a prime example being sex. Another important example of a kind of training we all experience is enculturation, whereby we are habituated to our particular culture by our environment. Episodic learning refers to avoidance behavior such as disliking dogs because of a bad experience; multimedia learning may be used in acquiring a new language by depending on both visual and auditory experiences, as well on interpersonal exchange. The list goes on, but all learning patterns share one particularity, a learning curve telling us how well we learn. It often looks like a bell: our learning gains momentum, reaches a plateau and decreases again. Just as often, we benefit most in the beginning, like when taking medication, where our body initially responds well but later reacts but slowly. We’ve all had the opportunity to learn some new behaviors recently. They didn’t exactly inspire enthusiasm, but we keep at it, because we hope to get rewarded further down the line, and that lies at the core of all learning.

Cordially Yours,
Susanne G. Seiler


Walkers with the Dawn

Being walkers with the dawn and morning,
Walkers with the sun and morning,
We are not afraid of night,
Nor days of gloom,
Nor darkness–
Being walkers with the sun and morning.

Langston Hughes

march 2021 – goodnews editorial

Editorial: Spirituality

For me, spirituality means first and foremost adhering to certain ethical standards: being truthful, walking in peace, not breaking my word, and being there for others. Naturally, I don’t always succeed in this. To be spiritual means to be concerned with questions of the spirit, of the mind. At first, this can be all kinds of things, but it starts with being interested in matters that go beyond one’s own person and immediate situation in life. In this sense, small children are deeply spiritual; they treat all and everything they encounter as infused with being, leading us to concern for the environment is an important part of spirituality. To try to understand the world in its materiality as an extension of the self and to handle it with care. Reflecting on oneself and the world as well as engaging with the divine, cosmic or universal are also steps along the way. The ancient Greeks held the striving for what’s beautiful and good in the highest regard. These can be things, values or attitudes such as the search for truth, for liberation and for the right measure in all things. There are many people who draw their spirituality from their religious faith. Others are guided by the perennial philosophy, the wisdom of the world. Most people do not want to kill, but to live in peace, to honor their parents and families, to pursue a meaningful occupation and to grow old in dignity, if at all possible. In my experience, people are the same everywhere, only their customs vary. What spirituality cannot be for me, however, is to tell others by commandments or dogmas what or how they must believe, or which feelings are allowed, and which are taboo. It is not in practices like meditation, mindfulness or contemplation that the spiritual proves itself, but in everyday life. Good deeds are not enough; it is the attitude that counts. And even if one exchanges ideas with like-minded people, in their spirituality, everyone is on their own.

With spring greetings, yours
Susanne G. Seiler


Light of the moon
Moves west, flowers’ shadows
Creep eastward.

Yosa Buson

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