Thursday, February 22, 2007

SECRET #6: The Universe is Your Personal Slave

The metaphors we use about the world powerfully shape how we relate to the world.

If I see my current challenges as a test I will react to them one way - if I see them as a curse I will react another way and if I see them as a blessing - still another way.

I remember my first thoughts after I broke my arm. “Thankyouthankyou!” For some reason - those were my first thoughts. I knew my arm had just broken but I also felt that there must be some incredible gift in this for me to find. And there was in the end. But that’s another story.

If I see my wife as a gift I will treat her one way. If I see her as my ‘ball and chain’ I will treat her another way.

If we look at the planet and see resources, we will treat it one way. If we see relatives, we will treat it entirely differently.

* * *

If you could only use one word to describe the person in the following situation - what word would you choose?

This person's only job is to the bidding of their master. They are unpaid for their work. If your work displeases them, they can lock you away for the rest of their life. You own their home. Their work brings great wealth and benefit to their master but none to themselves. The only time the master and this person talk is when the master wants something. The master isn't really that interested in people's story.

What word would you choose?

Maybe - slave?

Or maybe you might choose another one.

* * *

So, let’s look at one of the central metaphors of the Secret.

The Genii.

One of the things I actually admire about the Secret is how they are incredibly respectful of people’s religions and speak in very open terms about spirituality. I think they did a wonderful job of that.

But, it doesn’t change the fact that the central metaphor of the movie is that of the genii. A slave in a bottle whose only job is to give us what we want. Whatever we want. He seems to have no opinion of his own.

Such a seductive view. So wonderful! Such food for our narcissm. Finally, we think. someone who understands just how important we are.

Now, ignoring for the moment that most genii stories are, in fact, cautionary tales along the lines of 'be careful what you wish for' and encouraging people to be cautious of the temptation to have too much power without the wisdom to weild it . . . there are other concerns I have with this point of view.

This view of the universe - that it is some singular force that exists only fulfill our wishes (come on - what else have you ever seen a genii do except fulfill wishes) - is central to the way we’ve come to see the world - as our slave. It’s there to give us what we want. Its resources are - of course - for us to use.

Nature is a slave. It has no opinion.

The spirit world is also our slave. It has no opinion.

It’s one of the tragedies - to me - of monotheism. In monotheism, there is only one God and one force. In most traditional cultures - while there is an acknowledgement of the central life force - there is also a deep understanding that the spirit world is just as diversely populated as the material world. Some of those creatures you can trust and some you can’t. Some are benevolent and some are mischievious.

But they are real.

But we need to back track.

Central to civilized, white, western thought is this focus: how do I get what I want.

Central to the thought process of traditional and life affirming cultures is this focus: how can we support everyone in getting their needs met.

These are two very different orientations.

If you’re only agenda is to get what you want - and this (let’s be clear) is all that the Secret talks about - then you can move very fast. You can leave a lot of “collateral damage in your wake”. You can treat people as less than human. You can use and exploit. So long as it gets you what you want.

One woman sent out an email describing the movie as: “The Secret is about THE LAW OF ATTRACTION, the power of thought, visualization and your inalienable, DIVINE right to have, Be and do whatever your heart desires; it is our birthright.”

My main critique would be to lift up that word “whatever”.

After all, what if something I want would cause harm to others?

And who is included in this group of others?

For example: what if I believe that only the experiences and opinions of other white, male, land-holding slaveowners matters (a stretch I know - could never happen)? If that were true - then I would be able to disregard the opinions of women and people of colour (and certainly indigenous people). But I’d also be able to ignore (more to the point would never even stop to consider) that the animals and land around me might have opinions about my actions. And what about the spirits of the land?

Whose needs matter?

* * *

Consider this quote from page 212, Derrick Jensen’s book Endgame:

March 6, 1974, Ayn Rand addresses West Point cadets, something she considers the greatest honor of her life. When someone had the impertinence to “express an unpopular view” and ask her about the United States’ basis on the dispossession and genocide of Indians, she responded, “They didn’t have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant [sic] them rights which they had not conceived and were not using. . . . What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive [sic] existence, their ‘right’ to keep part of the earth untouched [sic], unused [sic] and not even as property, but just keep everybody [sic] out so that you will live practically like an animal [and how else would she expect an animal—which is what we are—to live?], or a few caves above it. Any white person who brings the element of civilization has the right [sic] to take over this continent.”[i]

If we come from a place that all our needs are equal - we are suddenly in a place where we need to move much more slowly, as we build up a consensus.

And perhaps we would act very differently if we saw nature as full of relatives not resources.

Nature, Nurture and Culture

By Wangari Maathai, Resurgence. Posted November 12, 2004.

A Nobel Peace laureate says cultural revival may be the only thing that stands between the conservation or destruction of the environment.

Mount Kenya is a World Heritage Site. The equator passes right on its top, and it has a unique habitat and heritage. Because it is a glacier-topped mountain, it is the source of many of Kenya's rivers. Now, partly because of climate change and partly because of logging and encroachment through cultivation of crops, the glaciers are melting. Many of the rivers flowing from Mount Kenya have either dried up or become very low. Its biological diversity is threatened as the forests fall.

"What shall we do to conserve this forest?" I asked myself.

As I tried to encourage women and the African people in general to understand the need to conserve the environment, I discovered how crucial it is to return constantly to our cultural heritage. Mount Kenya used to be a holy mountain for my people, the Kikuyus. They believed that their God dwelled on the mountain and that everything good – the rains, clean drinking water – flowed from it. As long as they saw the clouds (the mountain is a very shy mountain, usually hiding behind clouds), they knew they would get rain.

And then the missionaries came. With all due respect to the missionaries (they are the ones who really taught me), in their wisdom, or lack of it, they said, "God does not dwell on Mount Kenya. God dwells in heaven."

We have been looking for heaven, but we have not found it. Men and women have gone to the moon and back and have not seen heaven. Heaven is not above us: it is right here, right now.

So the Kikuyu people were not wrong when they said that God dwelled on the mountain, because if God is omnipresent, as theology tells us, then God is on Mount Kenya too. If believing that God is on Mount Kenya is what helps people conserve their mountain, I say that's okay. If people still believed this, they would not have allowed illegal logging or clear-cutting of the forests.

After working with different Kenyan communities for more than two decades, the Green Belt Movement (GBM), which I led until joining the new Kenyan government in January 2003, also concluded that culture should be incorporated into any development paradigm that has at its heart the welfare of the people. The Green Belt Movement's mission is mobilizing community consciousness for self-determination, equity, improved livelihood security and environmental conservation – using trees as the entry point. When we began, we believed that all that was needed was to teach people how to plant trees and make connections between their own problems and their degraded environment.

But in the course of struggles to realize GBM's mission and vision, we realized that some of the communities had lost aspects of their culture which had actually facilitated the conservation of the beautiful environment the first European explorers and missionaries recorded in their diaries and textbooks.

Culture is an important part of humanity. Development agencies, religious leaders and academic institutions are increasingly recognizing its central role in the political, economic and social life of communities. A focus on culture is important to environmentalists as well as to traditional communities. Too often, when we talk about conservation, we don't think about culture. But we human beings have evolved in the environment in which we find ourselves. For every one of us, wherever we were, the environment shaped us: it shaped our values; it shaped our bodies; it shaped our religion. It really defined who we are and how we see ourselves.

Cultural revival might be the only thing that stands between the conservation or destruction of the environment, the only way to perpetuate the knowledge and wisdom inherited from the past, necessary for the survival of future generations. A new attitude toward nature provides space for a new attitude toward culture and the role it plays in sustainable development: an attitude based on a new understanding – that self-identity, self-respect, morality and spirituality play a major role in the life of a community and its capacity to take steps that benefit it and ensure its survival.

Until the arrival of the Europeans, communities had looked to nature for inspiration, food, beauty and spirituality. They pursued a lifestyle that was sustainable and that gave them a good quality of life. It was a life without salt, soap, cooking fat, spices, soft drinks, daily meat and other acquisitions that have accompanied a rise in the "diseases of the affluent."

Communities that have not yet undergone industrialization have a close connection with the physical environment, which they often treat with reverence. Because they have not yet commercialized their lifestyle and their relation with natural resources, their habitats are rich with local biological diversity, both plant and animal.

However, these are the very habitats that are most at threat from globalisation, commercialisation, privatization and the piracy of biological materials found in them. This global threat is causing communities to lose their rights to the resources they have preserved throughout the ages as part of their cultural heritage. These communities are persuaded to consider their relationship with nature primitive, worthless and an obstacle to development and progress in an age of advanced technology and information flow.

During the long, dark decades of imperialism and colonialism from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, the British, Belgian, Italian, French and German governments told African societies that they were backward. They told us that our religious systems were sinful, our agricultural practices inefficient, our tribal systems of governing irrelevant, and our cultural norms barbaric, irreligious and savage. This also happened with the Aborigines in Australia, the Native Americans in North America and the native peoples of Amazonia.

Of course, some of what happened, and continues to happen, in Africa was bad and remains so. Africans were involved in the slave trade; women are still genitally mutilated; Africans are still killing Africans because they belong to different religions or ethnic groups. Nonetheless, I for one am not content to thank God for the arrival of "civilization" from Europe, because I know from what my grandparents told me that much of what went on in Africa before colonialism was good.

There was some degree of accountability to people from their leaders. People were able to feed themselves. They carried their history – their cultural practices, their stories and their sense of the world around them – in their oral traditions, and that tradition was rich and meaningful. Above all, they lived with other creatures and the natural environment in harmony, and they protected that world.

Agriculture, democracy, heritage, and ecology are all dimensions and functions of culture. Agriculture is the way we deal with seeds, crops, harvesting, and processing and eating. One result of colonialism was the loss of indigenous food crops such as millet, sorghum, arrowroot, yam and green vegetables, as well as livestock and wildlife. Like culture itself, the possession of cattle as a sign of wealth or the growing of one's own food were trivialized by colonizers as indicators of a primitive mode of living. Loss of indigenous food and the methods to grow it have contributed to food insecurity at the household level and diminishment of local biological diversity.

People without culture feel insecure and are obsessed with the acquisition of material things, which give them a temporary security that itself is a delusional bulwark against future insecurity. Without culture, a community loses self-awareness and guidance, and grows weak and vulnerable. It disintegrates from within as it suffers a lack of identity, dignity, self-respect and a sense of destiny.

By the end of the civic and environmental seminars organized by the Green Belt Movement, participants feel the time has come for them to hold up their own mirror and find out who they are. This is why we call the seminars kwimenya (self-knowledge). Until then, participants have looked through someone else's mirror – the mirror of the missionaries or their teachers or the colonial authorities who have told them who they are and who write and speak about them – at their own cracked reflections. They have seen only a distorted image, if they have seen themselves at all!

There is enormous relief and great anger and sadness when people realize that without a culture not only is one a slave, but one has actually collaborated with the slave trader, and that the consequences are long-lasting. Communities without their own culture, who are already disinherited, cannot protect their environment from immediate destruction or preserve it for future generations. Since they are disinherited, they have nothing to pass on.

A new appreciation of culture can give traditional communities a chance, quite literally, to rediscover themselves, and to revalue and reclaim their culture. This is no trivial matter of reviving pottery or dancing, or whatever limited ideas of indigenous culture some Westerners may still have.

Of course, no one culture is applicable to all human beings who wish to retain their self-respect and dignity; none can satisfy all communities. Humanity needs to find beauty in its diversity of cultures and accept that there will be many languages, religions, attires, dances, songs, symbols, festivals and traditions. This diversity should be seen as a universal heritage of humankind.

Cultural liberation will only come when the minds of the people are set free and they can protect themselves from colonialism of the mind. Only that type of freedom will allow them to reclaim their identity, self-respect and destiny. Only when communities recapture the positive aspects of their culture will people relearn how to love themselves and what is theirs. Only then will they really appreciate their country and the need to protect its natural beauty and wealth. And only then will they have an understanding of the future and of generations to come.

Wangari Maathai is Kenya's Assistant Minister for Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife. Winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, she is the founder of Kenya's Green Belt Movement.

A few years ago, this article caught my eye . . .

VILLAGERS who protested that a new housing estate would “harm the fairies” living in their midst have forced a property company to scrap its building plans and start again.

Marcus Salter, head of Genesis Properties, estimates that the small colony of fairies believed to live beneath a rock in St Fillans, Perthshire, has cost him £15,000. His first notice of the residential sensibilities of the netherworld came as his diggers moved on to a site on the outskirts of the village, which crowns the easterly shore of Loch Earn.

He said: “A neighbour came over shouting, ‘Don’t move that rock. You’ll kill the fairies’.” The rock protruded from the centre of a gently shelving field, edged by the steep slopes of Dundurn mountain, where in the sixth century the Celtic missionary St Fillan set up camp and attempted to convert the Picts from the pagan darkness of superstition.

“Then we got a series of phone calls, saying we were disturbing the fairies. I thought they were joking. It didn’t go down very well,” Mr Salter said.

In fact, even as his firm attempted to work around the rock, they received complaints that the fairies would be “upset”. Mr Salter still believed he was dealing with a vocal minority, but the gears of Perthshire’s planning process were about to be clogged by something that looked suspiciously like fairy dust.

“I went to a meeting of the community council and the concerns cropped up there,” he said. The council was considering lodging a complaint with the planning authority, likely to be the kiss of death for a housing development in a national park. Jeannie Fox, council chairman, said: “I do believe in fairies but I can’t be sure that they live under that rock. I had been told that the rock had historic importance, that kings were crowned upon it.” Her main objection to moving the rock was based on the fact that it had stood on the hillside for so long: a sort of MacFeng Shui that many in the village subscribe to.

“There are a lot of superstitions going about up here and people do believe that things like standing stones and large rocks should never be moved,” she said.

Half a mile into Loch Earn is Neish Island. From there the Neish clan set forth to plunder the surrounding country, retreating each time to their island. Early in the 17th century, the MacNabs retaliated from the next valley, carrying a boat over the mountains, storming the island and slaughtering most of the Neishes.

This summer Betty Neish McInnes, the last of that line in St Fillans, went to her grave — but not before she had imparted the ancient Pict significance of the rock to many of her neighbours.

“A lot of people think the rock had some Pictish meaning,” Mrs Fox said. “It would be extremely unlucky to move it.”

Mr Salter did not just want to move the rock. He wanted to dig it up, cart it to the roadside and brand it with the name of his new neighbourhood.

The Planning Inspectorate has no specific guidelines on fairies but a spokesman said: “Planning guidance states that local customs and beliefs must be taken into account when a developer applies for planning permission.” Mr Salter said: “We had to redesign the entire thing from scratch.”

The new estate will now centre on a small park, in the middle of which stands a curious rock. Work begins next month, if the fairies allow.

* * *

Consider the words of Martin Prechtel as he describes the process of making a knife.

Prechtel: Technological inventions take from the earth but give nothing in return. Look at automobiles. They were, in a sense, dreamed up over a period of time, with different people adding on to each other’s dreams — or, if you prefer, adding on to each other’s studies and trials. But all along the way, very little, if anything, was given back to the hungry, invisible divinity that gave people the ability to invent those cars. Now, in a healthy culture, that’s where the shamans would come in, because with every invention comes a spiritual debt that must be paid, either ritually, or else taken out of us in warfare, grief, or depression.

A knife, for instance, is a very minimal, almost primitive tool to people in a modern industrial society. But for the Mayan people, the spiritual debt that must be paid for the creation of such a tool is great. To start with, the person who is going to make the knife has to build a fire hot enough to produce coals. To pay for that, he’s got to give a sacrificial gift to the fuel, to the fire.

Jensen: Like what?

Prechtel: Ideally, the gift should be something made by hand, which is the one thing humans have that spirits don’t.

Once the fire is hot enough, the knife maker must smelt the iron ore out of the rock. The part that’s left over, which gets thrown away in Western culture, is the most holy part in shamanic rituals. What’s left over represents the debt, the hollowness that’s been carved out of the universe by human ingenuity, and so must be refilled with human ingenuity. A ritual gift equal to the amount that was removed from the other world has to be put back to make up for the wound caused to the divine. Human ingenuity is a wonderful thing, but only so long as it’s used to feed the deities that give us the ability to perform such extravagant feats in the first place.

So, just to get the iron, the shaman has to pay for the ore, the fire, the wind, and so on — not in dollars and cents, but in ritual activity equal to what’s been given. Then that iron must be made into steel, and the steel has to be hammered into the shape of a knife, sharpened, and tempered, and a handle must be put on it. There is a deity to be fed for each part of the procedure. When the knife is finished, it is called the "tooth of earth." It will cut wood, meat, and plants. But if the necessary sacrifices have been ignored in the name of rationalism, literalism, and human superiority, it will cut humans instead.

All of those ritual gifts make the knife enormously "expensive," and make the process quite involved and time-consuming. The need for ritual makes some things too spiritually expensive to bother with. That’s why the Mayans didn’t invent space shuttles or shopping malls or backhoes. They live as they do not because it’s a romantic way to live — it’s not; it’s enormously hard — but because it works.

Western culture believes that all material is dead, and so there is no debt incurred when human ingenuity removes something from the other world. Consequently, we end up with shopping malls and space shuttles and other examples of "advanced" technology, while the spirits who give us the ability to make those things are starving, becoming bony and thin, which is one reason why anorexia is such a prob-lem: the young are acting out this image. The universe is in a state of starvation and emotional grief because it has not been given what it needs in the form of ritual food and actual physical gifts. We think we’re getting away with something by stealing from the other side, but it all leads to violence. The Greek oracle at Delphi saw this a long time ago and said, "Woe to humans, the invention of steel."

* * *

My second critique would be the use of the word “birthright”. That’s a very dangerous word. After all, many kings ruled their people by “divine right”. Many Americans still believe that the United States government exists due to “Manifest Destiny”. Many pioneers certainly believed that they were entitled to take the land from the Native Americans.

Of course, today it’s so different.

But it’s not really. Just more hidden. The reality is that we still feel deeply entitled to live a lifestyle that most of us know is destroying the world.

If you don’t understand that yet . . . well. I’m sorry.

What if the universe wasn’t a single genii waiting to fulfill our every whim? What if it was a dynamic ecosystem that needed to be courted and negotiated with?

Call and Response

An idea . . . - astonishing possibility!
Conception

Fire in the head

The love at first sight.

The seed waking.

This first birth inside happens inside you.

You carry it in your belly.

The second birth happens in the hearts of the Others

When it is welcomed into the world.

It must be wanted.

It must find the right place.

Babies die when they’re not touched you know.

Or grow to become twisted men

Monsters

A Mockery of the ancestral impulse.

There are stories i could tell you.

All possibilities must be offered up to the universe

With eloquence

And their response waited for

After all, the response shapes everything.

This is where you learn to dance with what’s real

Call and response

Patience is required here

There is an old etiquette here -

Permissions to be gained

Protocol to be followed and

Blessings to be invited

Consent to be given

From everything.

The rock that wants to be a part of the wall

Will carry half of its weight you know.

If you ask it.

It’s true.

Don't rape the universe with your ideas

And force the birth of unwanted children.

Do not force your possibilities onto the world

Offer them up instead - with open hands

An idea is only an idea

A bright spark

Until it lives in the heads, hearts and hands of the Others.

Do not rush this birth -- it knows its own timing

Would your throw this spark with no one to catch it?

You must see what has heart and meaning for you

And where the universe replies.

There are others involved here -- their response matters.

For the child there are many possibilities

For the elder only a few

You must learn to discern real hopes from false ones.

The shadow side of knowledge is not ignorance

It’s theory.

There are abstract worlds were trees stand in isolation

With roots that merely lay like ropes on top of the earth

Where the world changes in brilliant flashes

And everything is possible.

And then

There's this world,

With its harsh limits

Asking you daily just how seriously you take them.

You must learn to discern real hopes from false ones.

The shadow side of knowledge is not ignorance

It’s theory.

Stories are first lived and then told

But they lose something in the telling

A life story takes a lifetime to live.

It cannot be told in less time.

Everyday you are telling your story to the universe.

Everyday you are part of this larger story.

This is what we have forgotten.

The aborigines of Australia say that

They cannot sing the sacred song lines of Australia

While driving in a car.

More time is needed.

Remember this:

With every step you enter a new space

A larger story

Of which you are not the center.

No, you'll never understand someone's life story
Try as you might.

No one will understand yours

Try as they might.

Painfully - most will have no interest.

You will come to know the look of disdain.

You will find yourself alone in this common experience.

Other people have their own lives and agendas

That have nothing to do with you.

This is -- I'm ashamed to say -- a revelation to me.

These are not your pawns to play with

You're not a child anymore.

There are worlds inside people I will never understand

Are you trying to help because you feel that

If you don’t you may disappear?

Your possibilities will destroy you

They will exaggerate your influence.

How many men and women

Have come to ruin saying

“It should have worked. Why couldn’t they see?”

But, the truth is, with every step you enter a new space

A larger story

Of which you are not the center

There are others involved here -- their response matters.

Your job is not to create.

Your job is to call -

With eloquence

With an intense etiquette

Respect in your belly

It’s not charm that’s needed here.

It’s graciousness.

It’s forthrightness.

Take time and care

In crafting your invitations.

The universe does not understand your words

Ritual and feeling are the language here.

It wants to help you, but spiritual etiquette requires that you ask.

Your job is not to create.

Your job is to call.

Your job is to wait for the response.

This is no false dichotomy of your will

In the face the Divine.

It’s not just about you and your voice.

When i was young and foolish

I thought my voice not to be the most important

(to be honest - I thought my voice to be the only voice there was.)

Ugly demands were made

Clumsy, jagged and jangling

Reeking of desperation

(and i think this must be the most unbearable stench in the universe)

How often it was not an offer from my heart

But a cry for help

The echoing of emptiness.

And how my fear of dying from emptiness has bred entitlement

A clutching and grabbing at everything.

And then resentment -

And petty rebellions! - the major wars for minor causes.

Enemies at every corner

Who would keep me from what i want.

Protocol is how people want love.

Why not give it to them?

Why withhold your love?

No, this is not a backroom negotiation

Between you and the Lord

This is an acknowledgement of community.

That our voice is one amongst many

In the family of creation.

Life wants to express through creation

And each voice, every creature

Is an expression of this.

Offer everything up in the spirit of humility

“If this be for the highest good of all involved

May it be so.”

Slow down

Stand up

Inside yourself

Your equals surround you

Seemingly endless allies at every turn

For did any hero ever achieve a worthy cause without allies?

What hero was so foolish as to refuse allies

Or offend them with stinginess?

Did Fionn rescue Grainne without his sword,

Without the Great Grey Sea Lion or the little mouse?

A pine needle can spring a forest to cover your retreat

And slow the advance of enemies.

Volcanoes can erupt

Oil can vanish leaving corporations bewildered

Water can leave its well dry - offended by fences.

There is a place you can stand

That will carry your voice

Clean and sweet smelling

Irresistible

To the ears of allies.

You are not alone here in a world begging to be rescued.

You are shoulder to shoulder in a community of equals.

After all, with every step you enter a new space

A larger story

Of which you are not the center

There are others involved here -- their response matters.

Toss them softly

Place them gently

When you can.

The times will come when fierce urgency will not allow

Such niceties.

Remember this:

If you don't hold to your own center

You will need to be the center of another’s story.

You will try to weave yourself into their life

With sweet gifts and charming words

But lying at the bottom of this dark and dank need to give

Will be a cry for help.

If you need help - ask.

If you have a gift - offer it up.

But do not confuse the two.

This is simple but it is not easy.

Are you seeing what people really need

Or just what you're wanting to give?

And why do you want to give it?

Is it because you are desperately afraid?

You're trying to save a world

That doesn't want to be saved

That doesn't need to be saved

Because this world is not afraid.

Perhaps we misunderstand and think that simply because we can use something that we understand it.

Perhaps the universe is not a genii.

Perhaps the world is not full of resources - but relatives.



[i] Rand, Ayn. For what it’s worth, she absolutely emphasizes the word white in the last sentence.

2 comments:

Hannah said...

Amazing...both the Green Belt piece and the stone story. Respect for the sacred...even if it's not OUR idea of what is sacred. That could produce a powerful shift in thinking (and behavior) if people could just... get.... their minds... opened around it.

The part of the Secret that touched me the most deeply was the two people who recovered from serious health conditions. Now that is some powerful juju...using minds and hearts to overcome what could have been for both of these people, an ending. I've also seen people with serious illnesses become stronger and more powerful, more on purpose, because the short sweetness of life was in their faces..... even as some of them succombed to death.

Okay, but back to the slavery idea. It leaves out the relationship part. Y'know, the reason why we're all here together. Maybe it's not just about asking for what we want, and the universe responding, but that there is a dance. The universe sends us some options, some opportunities, and it's up to us to make choices that bring us towards evolution. Evolution means working together towards a mutually inspiring, mutually successful end. That can be messy and take a long time to resolve... and requires patience.

I've noticed that in my life, the harder I try to manifest what I want, the way I want it, when I want it, the more I suffer. But when I sit back, drop my sorry ass attitude, opportunities come to me. And it's usually some way to serve a community or group in need I hadn't thought about.

Eilalean said...

Eloquent powerful writing Tad, important words. Thanks much for doing this blog. My thoughts on it are few and simple. The New Age thought system is a failed epistemology. (epistemology...the study or theory of the origin, nature, methods and limits of knowledge) It is a failed philosophy and thought system whose bottom line rests in dysfunction. The dysfunction of not wanting to look at and accept and integrate the shadow side of Life. Creatively devising many structures of magical thinking so we will not have to look in the eye the fact that we are currently living on a planet whose ecosystems are dying, the dominant Western paradigm which is taking over the world is a meaningless and empty culture without soul and it offers a culture of abuse, death and violence, our Leaders seem to like it that way and We the People don't know what to do about it and it terrifies us to know we live upon a planet of such ugliness and feel for the most part powerless to do much about it. We don't even dialogue about it much. Sad thing is, if we would choose to look at it and face it, together, it at least might make us all feel a bit better.
The reason I view the New Age as a tragedy has several arenas. 1. It takes authentic spirituality and mysticism and mixes these Grand Traditions with a sickingly rotten dysfunction. Like pouring mud on Roses. It putrefies what is authentically pure with it's toxic poison.
2. The New Age appears to hold the Lineages of "Healing". But because of it's aversion to one of the most important facets of healing...to integrate the shadow...and it's fear of holding and accepting and sitting with pain....it makes a mockery of healing, and thieves True Healing from our Communities. It creates another force of cutting broken glass which must be overcome if authentic healing is to be brought forth into our communities. 3. And I feel a large personal grief at all the new age people I can't sit down and have deep conversations with, and get my needs met for authentic soulful connection with others, because I find their minds are always short circuiting into that damn magical thinking which is so shallow and sometimes doesn't even own Itself. It makes me sad.
Being 53 years old, I was there at the New Age at it's beginning. I was a part of it. It was the main part of my life for nearly a decade or more. But I saw it grow into a dysfunctional animal that was a false replacement for mature and wise development of the Whole Human. There's some other kind of psychotic need underneath it all. Sometimes on the rare occasion I even go into new age environments today....I don't hear and feel Light and Love.....I feel Souls screaming, trying to make the pain go away, while wearing a Mask. It is false illusion masking as Light. It is Selfish and destroys True Love that is waiting to be born in authentic Community. False illusion of any kind of answer. And no, I haven't seen the Secret. I tend to psychically puke when I go into those environments.
There is still the night time sky full of Moon and Star. There is still that timeless feeling within our Breast where lies that Silver Chord to Creation and beyond. There is always that Mystery of Love Within. The Mystery of God will never be known in a book, or a seminar, it will never be packaged or sold, and rarely known. The Great One, as always, remains Hidden within. Formless and timeless, blessed you will be if ever it breathes upon your Heart. Silent and Quiet, rarely known. That is all. That, and the collective pain we share as humanity upon an aching planet in convulsion, is All....

Love from Alaska, ~E