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 25 October 2023

Indigenous Languages: Vessels Of Well-Being

This blog is being written in the middle of the inaugural NSW Aboriginal Languages Week (22 – 29 October 2023.)

In writing this blog I pay my respects to the Elders past and present and the emerging leaders of the future. I recognise and acknowledge the Gumbaynggirr people upon whose land I reside, who have cared for and been the guardians of the lands, rivers, mountains, and ocean for thousands of generations.

The importance of ancestral language is crucial to the wellbeing of whole cultures, to individuals, and to all aspects of human endeavour. Yet, to European colonisers this was not recognised, with many indigenous languages throughout the world having been outlawed, decimated, and often exterminated. The dominant culture of the country I now live in (Australia,) and that of the land of my birth (Aotearoa/New Zealand,) introduced the English language and made that the official language of each country. As a boy growing up in Aotearoa I recall being told by teachers, family members, and officials, that Māori (the indigenous people, and language, of Aotearoa) was dying out, and that it was pointless learning the language because it would have no relevance in the coming years.

Coincidentally, wherever in the world the colonising powers dismantled the indigenous language the health of the First Nations peoples inevitably suffered. Still, today the health of indigenous peoples, whether in North America, Australia, Aotearoa, or the Pacific Islands, lags well behind that of non-indigenous residents of those same countries.

Language Revitalisation

Beginning in the second half of the 20th century many indigenous languages began to be revitalised. The Welsh example is commonly referenced.

As far back as 1563, the Act of Union under Henry VIII saw Wales governed solely by English law and the use of the Welsh language in courts and other government offices banned. By 1961 only one-in-four Welsh people could converse in the Welsh language, although some pockets of high numbers of speakers did remain.

From 1925 onwards though, a number of events took place that led to todays’ significant revival of the language. The Welsh political party (Plaid Cymru) was founded in 1925 with the promotion of the Welsh language being its primary focus. In 1936 the British government attempted to set up a RAF training camp at Penyberth. The locals were incensed, and the resulting protest became known as Tân yn Llŷn (Fire in Llŷn) after the peninsular on which the camp was to be cited. One of the protesters wrote that the British government intended turning ‘essential homes of Welsh cultureidiom, and literature" into a place for promoting a barbaric method of warfare.’

Three decades later the flooding of the Tryweryn valley to create a reservoir to supply Liverpool created tensions around forced removal of locals and the destruction of the valley. Graffiti proclaiming Cofiwch Dryweryn ('Remember Tryweryn') could be seen in many surrounding locations – always written in the Welsh language. These events, and others, kept alive local aspirations to retain language and culture. In 2011 the Welsh language was granted official status for the first time in four and a half centuries. Notwithstanding this, concerns around its health remain, with possibly less than 20% of the population speaking Welsh.

In the land of my birth, the Māori language was banned and those speaking it at school punished for doing so. However, since the 1970s a revitalisation has taken place, kindled primarily by the establishment of pre-school language nests (Kohanga Reo) in the early 1980s. In 1987 an Act of Parliament established Māori as an official language of the country.

Although the number of people stating that they are able to hold a conversation in Māori remains low, there are many young people who are now growing up bilingual. In 2017 Rotorua (the city in which I was born) became the first city in Aotearoa to declare itself bilingual, so that both Māori and English would be promoted.

In the city in which I now live (Coffs Harbour) the Gumbaynggirr Giingana Freedom School opened its doors (although in reality, a lot of the learning takes place on country rather than indoors) in early 2022. The school is the first (and presently the only) bilingual Aboriginal language school in New South Wales. The vision of the school is to be ‘Strong in: language, culture, purpose, identity, motivation, and education.’

This vision fits neatly into the theme of Aboriginal Language Week – ‘Languages Alive, Culture Thrives.’

When cultures thrive, the well-being of the cultures members also flourish.

Culture and Health Thrives

A recent review of research attests to this statement.1 Although many of the revitalisation efforts world-wide are aimed at language promotion and use, a number of other benefits also accrue, including health benefits. The authors of this study summarised their conclusions by stating that, ‘The published literature supports the hypothesis that active use or learning of an Indigenous language has positive health benefits.’

Two aspects of health that showed exceptional health benefit were those of mental health and suicide prevention. In these two areas, around 80% of research programs showed a positive effect of language revitalisation.

What is worthy of further note in this review is that use of Indigenous language has positive benefit, regardless of proficiency level.

Nature Thrives Too

When Indigenous language comes alive, cultures thrive – and so too does the natural world in which we live.

Indigenous cultures have co-evolved with the animals, plants, rocks, rivers, insects, mountains, and oceans of their place. In that time such cultures have come to intimately connect with those places and to learn their ways. Indigenous languages have spoken of these connections for hundreds of generations. Within the languages there is a wealth of knowledge, recognition, and wisdom about place.

When Indigenous languages get lost or destroyed then the knowledge of the natural relationships also get lost or destroyed.

Additionally, Indigenous languages not only provide knowledge about nature, but also offer us a different way of thinking about nature.

For example, Galina Angarova, a Buryat woman living beside Lake Baikal in south-east Siberia, explains that her language (Bargu-Buryat, a variety of the Mongolian languages) has no word for environment.2 In the Bargu-Buryat language one word has the meaning of state of being (or self) and the environment. Galina describes how this single word ‘signifies a unity and non-separation between a human and their environment.’

Far from being of no value, Indigenous languages are vitally important for individual and community well-being, as well as being essential in the preservation of the planet’s natural biodiversity.


1. Whalen et al., Health effects of Indigenous language use and revitalisation; a realist review, in International Journal for Equity in Health, (2022) 21:169

2. Galina Angarova is the Executive Director of Cultural Survival, an NGO that has been advocating for Indigenous people’s self-determination, culture, and political resilience world-wide since 1972. Listen here to a podcast with Galina speaking of being raised in an intact Indigenous culture and the values she inherited from within that culture.

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Pondering Being Alive

"Be the poet of your life."

What is being alive? What does aliveness mean? What is the connection between life and alive?

This blog ponders these questions. Nothing more.

Life can, rather prosaically, be defined as that period between birth and death. Rather humdrum that. Perhaps we should animate it somewhat, so that life becomes an animated corporeal existence. Is that any better?

The English word life comes into the language from the Proto-Germanic word leiban meaning the body, or simply life. That’s rather circular, isn’t it?

What if we dig deeper? The Proto-Indo-European (PIE) antecedent is the word leip which has the meanings of to stick, or adhere. This starts to give life a bit more substance. This now suggest a continuance, and a wish or desire for something (or someone) to remain.

Life then could be said to be a desire to remain in and of the world, and to continue doing so, at least unto death.

If that is life, then what is it to be alive?

Life is a noun, whereas live is a verb. To live, then, is the acts, behaviours, deeds, and manners of something that has life.

Ah, but what of that small prefix – a?

It is only one letter, but it is of profound significance.

In English, the prefix a may denote a variety of meanings. It could mean in, on, or into. It can also act as an intensifier, or to mean of.

A further meaning expands on all these and suggests engaged in.

So, to be alive is more than simply that period of time between birth and death.

To be alive means to be actively engaged in life, and to be fully immersed in the interconnections of all things.

How do we do that?

Friedrich Nietzsche1 has a simple reply: ‘Be the poet of your own life.’

Be the poet. Play with rhythm, rhyme, cadence, and alliteration in your life. Experiment with metaphor, allegory, and legends. Follow and learn from archetypes, symbols, and ancient pathways.

To be a-live though, does not mean that the poem that is your life must have meaning. Being alive is the meaning. As Alan Watts2 noted:

‘The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.’

Simple really. Engage in life.

Come alive!


1. Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) was an influential German philosopher. His most well known work is Also Sprach Zarathustra (So Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None) published in four volumes between 1883 and 1885.

2. Alan Watts (1915 – 1973) was an English writer, speaker, and philosopher, noted mainly for his popularising of Buddhist, Taoist, and Hindu philosophies to Western audiences.

Wednesday 11 October 2023

Michael Dowd - Farewell to a Shambhala Warrior

Michael Dowd
This week's blog mourns the death of Michael Dowd, creator of the resource-rich website, who died on 7 October 2023. Michael was a writer, a lecturer, a preacher with the Unitarian Universalist church, and an advocate of eco-theology. He is best known by many around the globe for his extensive body of work related to post-doom.

Michael was surely one of the warriors of the Tibetan story of Shambhala.

This legend tells of how, when the Earth is in danger, the realm of Shambhala emerges. Shambhala is not a place; it exists in the hearts and minds of the Shambhala Warriors. You cannot identify these warriors by any external appearance. They wear no uniform, and they do not display insignia. The only way to recognise a Shambhala Warrior is by the two weapons (or implements) they wield. (Listen here to the legend retold by Joanna Macy, as it was told to her by a Tibetan monk.)

One of these weapons is compassion. The other is insight into the inter-being of all things.

Michael Dowd had a firm grasp on both these weapons. Just two weeks before his death he gave his final sermon to the Flint, Michigan congregation. Fortunately, for us, this sermon was recorded. It is a sermon in which, as you watch and listen, you notice that he wields both these weapons with highly trained skill.

Appropriately, this sermon is titled ‘Being theCalm in the Storm- no better label could epitomise how Michael lived his life and how he wished for all of us to be able to live in these troubled times. No matter whether you are a theist, an atheist, or a non-theist, this final address by Michael is one for all of us.

When you listen to his interviews with others, or watch his YouTube clips, his grace and wisdom are readily apparent. The range of people he interviewed (all available on his website) is staggering. As a resource and as a link to other people’s work, Michael Dowd’s website is possibly unsurpassed. It is a testament to his dedication, not only to his subject matter, but also to his endeavour to provide the best resources available for anyone wishing to find out more.

Michael Dowd coined the term post-doom, and in doing so opened up the possibility of living with compassion, joy, an appreciation of beauty, and love, even though understanding that the world as we know it has entered the global, and quite possibly final, collapse phase of an unsustainable boom-bust scenario. His website ( contains dozens of interviews with people from all over the world who understand the nature of the predicament we are in, yet who live their lives in a meaningful and joyful manner.

Michael too, understood this very well. It is telling that in his final sermon he offered us three tools for “being the calm in the storm” of these troubled, and disruptive times: 1. Nurture your personal intimacy with life, 2. Honour your and our mortality, and 3. Attend to what matters most.

Michael leaves us with a wealth of resources: interviews, podcasts, book readings, videos, talks, and documentaries. These resources cover everything you ever wanted to know (and a lot more besides) about the state of the world and how best to negotiate it.

Surely, Michael was, and remains, a Shambhala warrior.

Farewell Michael. 

Thursday 5 October 2023

Enough Already!

Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller
In a recent article Tom Murphy, professor of physics at the University of California provoked our thinking by writing, ‘I would say that perhaps we should quit while we’re ahead, but WE are not ahead at all. We should quit before WE get further behind.’1

Provocative words indeed. Tom is writing about how WE (humans) are ‘just a small part of the greater community of life.’ Somehow we have forgotten this, and we do not know how to quit pretending we are not.

Somehow we must have the courage to shout ‘Enough Already!’

The expression Enough Already has its roots in the Yiddish-speaking communities of New York. It is an expression that can usefully be applied to how we live upon the Earth, and how we live with the greater community of life.

Enough and Already

Enough is a compound word deriving from the Old English word ge meaning with or together. It is similar in meaning to the Latin word com.

The second part of the word (nough) originates in Proto-Indo-European words such as nok and nek which connote notions of to reach and to attain.

Putting this together we might define enough as having attained together. Enough suggests arriving at a point of sufficiency where we have attained what it is we sought after.

When we look closely at the word already, we can again discern two parts to it. We know the first part – all. It means everything, completion, fullness, whole, entirety.

The second part, also we know – ready. It denotes done, prepared. Nothing more needs to be executed to make it ready.

Thus, already can be defined as fully done or wholly prepared.

Enough Already!

So, what of the full expression – Enough Already!?

It is impossible to obtain any other meaning from this expression than one that says, ‘to reach the point at which we are completed prepared and there is nothing more that needs to be attained.’

What if we were to fully engage with this notion of Enough Already!?

We might then understand, as Lao Tzu did two and a half thousand years ago, that, ‘He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.’

Someone who had a similar understanding to that of Lao Tzu was the American author Joseph Heller – author of the classic 1961 novel Catch 22.

Heller and Vonnegut

When Joseph Heller died, his good friend and fellow author, Kurt Vonnegut (author of Slaughterhouse-Five,) wrote in his obituary of a party that the two of them attended. The party host was a millionaire. As the two of them talked, Vonnegut opined to his friend that the millionaire made more money in one day than Heller’s book (Catch 22) had since it had been published.

Joseph Heller looked at his friend and said, ‘Yes, but I have something he will never have.’

Vonnegut naturally asked, ‘What is that?’

To which Heller replied, ‘Enough!’

It is a discerning tale.

Enough Needs, More Wants

This concept of attaining enough applies not just personally, but also socially and culturally. Individually we may be able to recognise when we have enough and our needs are fully satisfied. However, we are constantly bombarded by others who want to persuade and coerce us into wanting more and more. That surely, is the credo of the PR/advertising fraternity.

So, our whole social and cultural value system is designed to never be enough already.

And, never being enough means we are constantly, and continually, exploiting and laying waste the Earth. The exploitation of the Earth goes hand-in-hand with our mistreatment of one another and the systematic corruption that enables this to happen.

We may, as Tom Murphy suggests, already be behind.

We should quit.

We could imitate Joseph Heller and recognise that we have enough.

Joseph Heller grew up in the Yiddish-speaking community of Coney Island in New York. Perhaps that is where he picked up the notion of sufficiency.

We too, like the Yiddish-speaking residents of Coney Island, must shout out, Enough Already!


1. Tom Murphy, Are We Lucky? accessed 5 October 2023.