The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Is Our Commuter Hierarchy Upside-Down?

In 1865, the U.K. Locomotive Act required, in the case of multiple-wagoned road vehicles, that a man bearing a red flag walk at least 60 yards in front of the vehicle. Furthermore, vehicles were restricted to 4 m.p.h. in the countryside, and 2 m.p.h. in cities.

Since this and other restrictions were lifted towards the end of the century, our commuter hierarchy has been turned on its head.

No matter where we go (in cities or in countryside) it is hard to escape the realisation that the car is king. Roads are designed primarily for the private motorcar. Footpaths are shunted off to the side, if they exist at all. Cycleways are often an after-thought.

The hierarchy nowadays is clearly the car is at the top, followed by the cyclist, with pedestrians at the bottom of the pyramid of privilege and right-of-way.

Yet, if we think in terms of vulnerability then, surely, we have the hierarchy upside-down.

Consider a collision between a private car and a cyclist, or a private car and a pedestrian. We all know who is going to come off worst.

The physics alone should tell us. Damage done in a collision can be attributed in big part to the kinetic energy (KE) of the colliding bodies. KE is easily computed if we know the mass (m) of the body and the velocity (v) at which it is travelling.1 Kinetic energy is measured in Joules. The greater the number of Joules, the greater the energy. Consider these measurements:

The average mass (weight) of a private car is 1300 kg. Suppose a car is travelling at 50 km per hour (13.9 metres per second) then the kinetic energy of the vehicle is approximately 125,000 Joules (J). Travelling at 30 k.p.h. (8.3 metres per second (m.s.)) turns out to be approximately 45,200 J.

A male cyclist, on the other hand, weighing 87 kg (the average weight for an adult Australian male) and cycling at 20 k.p.h. has a kinetic energy of approximately 1,400 J. At 25 k.p.h. the kinetic energy is over 2,200 J. For an average Australian woman, the equivalent kinetic energy is 1,200 J and 1,900 J respectively.2

Now, consider a pedestrian, walking at 5.5 k.p.h. (1.6 metres per second). The kinetic energy of an average Australian male pedestrian is about 110 J. For an average female pedestrian, the kinetic energy is about 90 J.


Imagine a car with a kinetic energy anywhere from 45,000 J to 125,000 J colliding with a cyclist with between 1,200 J and 2,200 J. Who is going to be damaged the greatest?

What about a pedestrian with kinetic energy of only around 100 J?

Surely, if we are serious about lives, potential damage, and harm, then we should be upending our commuter hierarchy. The car is king does not make sense in terms of vulnerability.

It Doesn’t Make Sense in Other Ways

Nor does giving the private vehicle its high esteem and privilege make sense in other ways.

The private vehicle is possibly the most environmentally damaging piece of technology that an individual can own. We have known for decades the damage from exhaust fumes. We know too the damage that the road network has on local ecosystems, as well as the sheer amount of land given over to parking and roading that our addiction to the motor-vehicle requires.

Plus, our addiction to the private vehicle as a means of transport has seen our weights rise, so that now obesity rates in some parts of the world are at epidemic levels. We have sacrificed well-being for comfort.

Should we not be thinking it is time to turn our commuter hierarchy up the other way, so that we privilege the most vulnerable? 

Time to bring back the red flag.   


1. The formula for those interested is KE = ½ mv2

2. Using an average bicycle weight of 8 kg. The kinetic energy will vary from person to person. Significantly, for a child the kinetic energy is much less.

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Play The Game (An Allegory)

Hu stood with the rest of his team on the goal-line. He watched as Col, from the opposing team, lined up his kick.

Hu glanced up at the large score-board above the main stand. The digital clock ticked off the seconds. Two minutes remained. Hu would hear the referee’s final whistle go in the next couple of minutes. Hu looked back at Col.

Col was eyeing up the goal-posts, imagining the flight of the ball in his mind.

Above the main stand, the score-board blazed its message. Hu’s team was trailing by thirty points.

“We’ve lost mate,” Hu heard his team-mate standing beside him say. “No way back from this one.”

Hu turned back and watched Col begin his run-up. From Hu’s perspective the kick looked good. Sure enough, the ball sailed cleanly through the uprights.

“Thirty-three points down,” Hu muttered. He caught the ball thrown to him by the ball-boy and jogged back towards the half-way line.

Hu Manitee was the captain of his team. Just before he kicked off to resume play he called to his team-mates. “C’mon guys. Keep pressing.” He kicked the ball, and his team-mates sprinted past him following the flight of the ball. Hu followed up.

A maul formed. The ball came out on the opposing team’s side. Hu saw the ball pass quickly along the back-line until it got to the winger, Col Lapps, the captain of the opposing team.

Hu wasn’t fooled by Col’s feint and tackled him firmly around the legs. The tackle was so strong and vigorous that Col lost hold of the ball and it bounced into touch.

The final whistle blew.


The write-up in the sports section of the local newspaper the next day praised Hu’s team in defeat. “They played to the whistle,” the reporter wrote. “Although they suffered their heaviest loss of the season, Hu Manitee and his team-mates impressed with their enthusiasm, fair-play, and team support.”


Hu’s willingness to continue playing the game, even though knowing his team is going to lose, is an allegory for the manner in which humanity could approach Existential Collapse.

Existential collapse is no longer a question of If? but When? That (western) society as we know it will collapse is a given. We just do not know when the final whistle will blow.

Hu and his team exhibit some healthy examples of how to approach inevitable defeat (collapse):

1.     Remain buoyant. Do not let despair take hold.

2.     Focus on the game (life.) Life remains meaningful.

3.     Support your team-mates. Do not allow difference to descend into blaming or name-calling.

4.     Tackle well and hard. Resist those behaviours and practices that intensify or hasten collapse.

5.     Follow the ball. Set goals, even small ones; and even if those goals may not be achieved or fulfilled.

6.     Stay on the field. Don’t give up and walk off. Someone (human or other-than-human) wants and enjoys your presence.

7.     Be real. Don’t pretend the score is other than it is. Don’t stop your team-mates from checking the score-board.

8.     Smile. There is no point in putting on a sad or angry face.

9.     Remember the spectators. Many species rely upon humans playing the game in a healthy way with integrity. Don’t think that just because human extinction is highly probable that we can lapse into a laissez-faire, couldn’t-care-less, approach to the world. Some species may survive collapse.

Tuesday 12 October 2021

Celebrating Thay and Interbeing

One of the world’s most respected and revered teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh, this week celebrates his 95th Continuation Year.

Born in 1926, Thay (as he is affectionately known) trained as a Buddhist monk in Vietnam. He became actively engaged in seeking peace in that war-ravaged country early on in his life. That experience enabled him to coin the term Engaged Buddhism and develop the ideas of a Buddhist life that not removed from the world and its sufferings.

In 1966 Thich Nhat Hanh created the Order of Interbeing – an international community of Buddhist monks, nuns, and laypeople. The term interbeing has come to be associated closely with Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings. The English word – interbeing – is an attempt to translate the Vietnamese term tiep hien. Tiep means in touch with, and hien can be translated as realising or making it here and now.

Interbeing then, can be thought of as the interconnectedness of all things.

For most of his later life, Thich Nhat Hanh lived in the southwest of France in Plum Village Monastery, which he and another Vietnamese monk, Chan Khong, founded in 1982.

In late 2018, Thich Nhat Hanh returned to Vietnam to spend his remaining days at his ‘root temple’ near the city of Hue in central Vietnam.

A Meditation/Poem for Thay

I offer here, a short meditation/poem in celebration of, and dedicated to, Thay. I have called it:

“Thay and Interbeing.”

Standing, I feel the earth’s support

Sitting, I rest in peace

Kneeling, I thank the trees and birds

Lying, I wonder at the clouds

Breathing, I inhale the breath of life

Taste the air, smell the flowers

Touch the earth, hear the wind

See the world as a whole

I inter-am

I live because you all give.

Tuesday 5 October 2021

Spirit of Nature, Nature of Spirit

Photo: Solveig Larsen.
Hint: Flip photo 90degs
What do we mean when we speak of spirituality? To some it has a very specific meaning, often related to a particular religion. To others it connotes something mystical, yet not theistic.

I use the term spirituality occasionally within this blog, so it is useful for me to clarify how I use the term.

First, spirituality is not synonymous with religion. Since the 14th century the word ‘religion’ has come to mean a system of faith in, and worship of, a divine being (or beings.) Most religions (especially those that posit a Supreme Being (call this God if you like), seek and find spirit predominantly in a transcendent manner.

The word ‘spirituality’ is related to our breath (cf. inspire, respire) and thus can be thought of as meaning ‘the breath of life.’ Therein is a clue to a more complete understanding of spirituality. When we breath, we breath in, and we breath out. We take in, we give out. Breathing is an inward and an outward process. This is as true for spirituality as it is for breathing.

Transcendence is the outward aspect of spirituality. Inscendence is the inward aspect.1 Transcendence seeks connection with a one-ness (whole-ness) that is more than the individual self. Inscendence, on the other hand, is a deep exploration of our soul.2 It is a discovery of other-than-self that is unique to each of us.

Transcendence gazes heavenward, outside of ourselves. Inscendence plants our feet firmly upon, and in, the earth.

Both are needed. Neither is complete without the other. They are like trees. The topmost branches are continually seeking the light, growing towards the over-arching sky. The leaves in the canopy gain energy from the abundant sunlight. Meanwhile, the roots of the tree delve deep into the fecund and dark soil, gaining nourishment from the nutrients therein.

Our true spirituality is that tree: seeking sunlight and planting firm, stable, roots in the soil.

The insights available to us from this simple metaphor are those that many mystics, ‘teachers,’ gurus, philosophers, and more latterly, eco-psychologists, have been exploring for centuries.

Sadly, many within western-styled cultures never gain these insights. Many continue to live within what Bill Plotkin3 terms the middleworld (not to be confused with middle-earth of ‘Lord of the Rings’ fame.)

Inhabitants of middleworld neither seek transcendence, nor discover inscendence. A completely middleworld existence is one remaining trapped within a materialistic world that has many facets – some quite contradictory. Most importantly, irrespective of the particular brand of materialism, middleworld is disconnected from nature. This may be overt through a deliberate exploitation of nature, or it may be neglectful of the harm done to nature by an anthropocentric understanding of the world and the place of humans within it.

Such disconnect fails to comprehend the spirit of nature.

Of the two aspects of spirituality (transcendence and inscendence) the easiest to aspire to (or seek, or hope for, or discover) is transcendence. Gazing upward and seeking the light seems an innate thing to do. Some religions even call it ‘enlightenment.’ It is also a comfortable, and comforting, thing to do.

Going the other way, towards inscendence, however, seems counter-intuitive. Why would someone deliberately seek the darkness? For centuries we have been told that the darkness is where demons, dragons, ghouls, and witches, live. Not a place for ‘good’ boys and girls to visit.

Yet, it is the deep, dark, abode of demons that may be precisely where we need to travel to. It is a journey that many of our most enduring, and perceptive, mythologies speak of. From Beowulf to George and the Dragon, from the descent of Inanna to the underworld to the modern story of the Phantom of the Opera, our fables and myths speak of the hero or heroine descending into dark places, there to confront, and mostly overcome, their personal demons.

It is also why many of our most revered spiritual masters and teachers have gone on solitary journeys, to seek their unique, soul-infused, purpose. Buddha sat beneath the Bodhi tree for forty-nine days. Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and nights. Muhammed meditated in a cave high in the mountains. Confucius shut himself away for three years.

Nature-based societies also recognise the importance of solitude and experiencing the darkness with many rituals and ‘rites of passage’ being steeped in such practice.

Our spirituality is bound up with nature. Our nature is spiritual. We are as much spiritual beings as we are natural beings. We are in and of the earth. Our feet keep us grounded. Our eyes enable us to look outward.


1. The cultural historian and student of the world’s religions, Thomas Berry, describes inscendence as a descent into our pre-rational, our instinctive, resources.’ in his 1988 book, Dream of the Earth. He goes on to state that the world needs our inscendence far more than it needs our transcendence at this time.

2. Soul – another word that requires further explanation and exploration. For another time.

3. Bill Plotkin, Nature and the Human Soul, New World Library, Novato, California, 2008.