Sacred Soil

by Shephali Patel

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Photo: Aya Okawa

The Birth of Soil

Soil is born from the cycle of life and death. Soil is about 50% air and water, 45% minerals, and 5% organic matter. Soil mineral is formed from the wearing of bedrock that is birthed from core of the earth. This weathering takes thousands of years and much of our present day agricultural soils are more than 10,000 years old. But before there was an Earth, there was just universe.

The universe was originally composed primarily of the lighter atomic elements hydrogen and helium. The rest of the heavier elements, including carbon and oxygen, were fused in the hearts of the giant floating nuclear reactors we call stars. When a massive star is dying, it becomes hotter and hotter; its pressure-fueled expansion culminating in a violent explosion, a supernova. These massive explosions blow the heavier elements in the star’s core out into space, where they are incorporated into the formation of other planets, moons, and stars. The minerals within and on the earth come from stars that died when the universe was young. All living matter on Earth is composed of this ancient debris. And stars are still dying and exploding. Every year, 40,000 tons of cosmic dust rains down upon us, erasing all validity of human-conceived borders. This cosmic dust settles everywhere, particularly in our soil. The chemical elements in the cosmic dust are taken up by plants, which are then eaten by us. Our bodies are constantly being rebuilt and nourished by dying stars.

The Life of Soil

Soil is a living entity. It is composed of a thin skin over the surface of the earth called the pedosphere. The pedosphere exists as the interface of:

  • lithosphere (Earth crust and upper mantle)
  • atmosphere (air in and above soil)
  • hydrosphere (water below, in, and above soil)
  • biosphere (living organisms)

The pedosphere can exist only when there is dynamic interconnection among all forms of life and its supporting mediums. Soil, the pedosphere, is a revolving sphere at the heart of interlaced cycles of life.

Soil is not just a living body, but also a place. Soil is a physical meeting place for the key processes that support life. It is a physical place where we can experience living interconnection. Within the 50% of air and water and 45% of mineral that comprises soil, lives the 5% of organic matter in various stages of death–living, dead, and very dead. All three are inextricably linked in a biogeochemical process of nutrient and element cycling across land, sea, and air; where everything is transformed, consumed, and shared all at once. The consumption and excretion of the dead frees up nutrients and molecules needed to fuel life. Communication and sharing among plant, microbes, and fungi manages and moves these elements. This is the foundation for all ecosystem health. The process requires such a diversity and density of life that there can be over a billion living organisms in just one teaspoon of soil–only a small fraction of which we have identified. These billion organisms and plant parts are part of the only 20% of organic matter that is alive.

To be able to understand the existence of soil is to understand that so much precision, symbiosis, and harmony goes into supporting just 1% of the solid living earth. That understanding is a call to remembrance– that we are loved like that.

The Death of Soil


With one spray of noxious pesticide, one extra pound of synthetic fertilizer, and another round of unrelenting tillage, we can unintentionally wipe out all future hopes for joy, health, and the tiny friends we have co-evolved with for millennia.

We are loved like that. And there we go, 93% stardust and magic, walking around both alien and native at once, in constant calculation of what belongs. Building walls and guns against what doesn’t. And many times what doesn’t belong are the living beings we don’t understand and can’t see. The grace that moves invisibly through our lives. When we breathe in the soil bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae, serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain increase. The bacteria makes us feel calm and happy. That pleasing sweet, metallic scent of the earth after it rains is released by soil actinobacteria. Seventy-eight percent of the top 150 prescription drugs in the U.S. and 70% of all new drugs are derived from plants and soil-dwelling microfauna. With one spray of noxious pesticide, one extra pound of synthetic fertilizer, and another round of unrelenting tillage, we can unintentionally wipe out all future hopes for joy, health, and the tiny friends we have co-evolved with for millennia.

Most of the times, what doesn’t belong are living beings we can see and don’t want to understand. Our soil is soaked through with the blood of the wolves that scared us but kept rivers and forests healthy. The soil is glutted with the murdered bodies of entire civilizations of people who knew it first and best. Only to have its insides then persistently gutted to resurrect the dead in their ghostly forms of coal and oil. Scientists say that more carbon resides in the soil than in the atmosphere and all plant life combined. Soil is all skin, thin and naked, absorbing our sins. Yet, despite the abuse, she is still holding her breath for us while we are stuck in this deranged wetiko dream. But you can’t hold your breath for long, when the air is being stamped out of you. Under that dark skin I can hear a muffled “I can’t breathe” that pushes through the sidewalks and reverberates in the streets.

The Soul of Soil

The soil teaches that we are loved. And also where we fail in loving back. When I first learned to read the Bhagavad Gita in Sanskrit, I learned to read it in two weeks and by the third week the pages in the brand-new book began to inexplicably disintegrate without being touched, and the book immediately looked like it was over one-hundred years old. The tiny pieces of pages would fall into the ground whenever I picked it up or carried it in my bag. Even tightly wrapped in its cloth covering. Pieces so tiny and thin that they would disappear into the ground and become part of it so that I couldn’t find them again. This is how I first realized that the Word lives in the soil.

Every day I go to the farm and take my familiar position. Kneeling down on one knee, head bowed down to work, I run my fingers through the dirt, combing through its pages. The wisdom of the soil starts with what I can see and then speaks to me about the Mystery that I can’t see with my eyes. Transplanting young plants, I follow their roots as they are embraced and gently clothed in soil. I know that though I cannot see it there is an orbit of bacteria and fungi protecting and communing with the plant. There are thin strands of mycorrhizae with fingers gently wrapped around plant roots, radiating out into all directions to forage for nutrients and relay messages that these roots cannot quite stretch far enough to reach. The unfolding drama of the living attracts more life –nematodes and protozoa, which then attract other nematodes and arthropods, which call out larger invertebrates, etc. Orbits expanding out like ripples in the water. The echo of the infinite taking shape. Beyond the field, the trees sport roots wrapped in mycelium connecting and communicating with the entire forest through an organic internet far more effective, intricate, and complex than our own–making all things whole and together even as they stand separate. I am again reminded that our salvation and spirituality lies in our interconnection. And that I am both whole already and at the same time always in a state of becoming whole by learning how to revere what is holy. The soil is calling for me to reimagine how I pray and love back–together, connected, sharing.

Next to the row of new transplants, an uncovered row of planted seeds looks like a mala unhooked and laid down on the ground. The cultivation of my devotion and awareness has always belonged inside the soil. So does my redemption. When I pull my hands from the dirt, they are stained in life, death, sacrifice, happiness, and healing. The compost is where I begin to take real responsibility for my existence and actions on this planet. I mark my penance with the work of my hands, turning and spinning that garbage until I help make medicine. Help, because it’s not me making anything. I am just learning from the masters; from that 1% of living, moving soil. It is their living and dying and love-making that produces a heat that transforms garbage into black gold. These tiny, unseen, unloved beings possess the power of alchemy. To make it truly medicine for all, the decomposing organic matter has to rest at a continuous temperature of at least 131º F for a minimum of three days at the core of the pile. So, even in this pile of trash and cast-offs, it is deep in the heart that the transformation and healing takes place. I have to make sure every square centimeter gets to spend some time resting in the cocoon of its own heart. Only then can it be applied to the open wounds of the earth and taken in through the open wounds of mouth, eyes, nose, ears, and skin. Composting works hand-in-hand with time. The time it takes to hopefully learn that in order to heal my insides, I have to be able to heal what is outside of me too. And to heal what is outside of me, I need to learn how to heal myself.


Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

The Word follows me inside, embedded into the creases of my fingers. Writing organic matter on the board, scribbling it into my notes, seeing it in books–the words organic matter inevitably morph into OM. All of existence conspired to culminate and begin in OM. In a world where the OM is stripped away what do we have left?

The gift of our lives comes up through the core of the earth and, bursting forth from the core of stars, right into the blazing core of our souls, if we let it. Which means all ground is sacred ground no matter what or where. It is we humans who decide when it is not sacred when we choose to desecrate it. When something is sacred we don’t want to or need to trade it in for a Plan B on Mars or carbon credits. We will protect and sacrifice for this home that is living body, place, teacher, and sanctuary. A temple to pour our love, suffering, gratitude, and remorse into. A place where we learn to breathe together again and slowly open our eyes to all of our gifts and their fundamental nature. That they are grace and miracle and love in a more-than-human world. That they cannot be possessed and that their value increases with how much we cherish them and offer them to others. That our greatest contribution as a species is to humbly know everything as Gift and, with dignity, surrender, and awe to practice upholding “sacredness” so that we are not complicit in stripping away the OM of the world.

It is somehow easier to see that the Mystery lives in everything when you are nose to ground. So I go back outside. I kneel once more, putting hand to ground so that it is soil pressed against soil in prayer. We live in holy times.

This essay was originally printed in Parabola Magazine, Fall 2017

Growing Trees to Grow People

In a world becoming increasingly engrossed in technology and consumption, it is essential to bring people out of isolation and instead back to community. The living Earth sustains its inhabitants, including humans, who can still become grounded in place and regain inherent, vital connections despite certain obstacles of the modern age.

Situated among the bush growth of the Koreelah Forest, the community at Peace Valley center their work around such goals. They envision their site as an opportunity for place-making and regenerative, healing work between people, other beings of nature, and the land.IMG_1756Peace Valley was established to address a growing need for natural spaces of solace and reflection for urban dwellers. Joy Foley, the founder, began the Australian bush retreat at Bindarrabi Community, a developing ecovillage on a piece of their common land. After several phases of building, expanding, and fortifying their structures, Peace Valley now functions as a camp and event center. It continues to host volunteers and guests who engage in practices of simple living and shared activities such as meditation, gardening, walks, and swimming.

By putting the idea of “gift economy” into practice, no one is excluded on a financial basis from enjoying the Peace Valley bush retreat area. Among the restorative permaculture onsite, Peace Valley is also working to set up an edible grove of native Australian trees, as they believe in “growing trees to grow people.” The indigenous tree and plant propagation of flora such as hoop pine, silky oak, and acacia seed is one of several efforts to maintain indigenous biodiversity in the region, in addition to removing invasive plant species.IMG_1700Foley recalls the “deep calling to reforest, revegetate, reconnect, and simply be in love with nature, with life, and with the earth” that “strengthened in me.”

It is vital to promote access to the natural world, especially for those who are the furthest removed from it. In particular, as young people grow up more and more enclosed in artificial and technological surroundings, we must find ways to overcome the distance from our shared home and its abundance of gifts and wonder. The ability to receive the gifts that nature, as well as others, in our innermost selves, all have to offer, is what sustains life and gives so much purpose.australiapeace valley logo

Emma Szymanski

Whales and Peace

by Elizabeth Asch

Elizabeth Asch is an artist and animal communicator who has been working with Earth’s ancient species—the whales, elephants, and horses, among others in the animal kingdom—studied with the highly regarded animal communicator, Anna Breytenbach. According to Breytenbach, human and animal communication is not only possible, but also ought to be encouraged as a method of reestablishing the bonds between humanity and other living beings. If people would approach animals to confer with them from a position of respect and mutual acknowledgement as beings who share in this state of existence and in this place (Earth) as a home, perhaps we could reconnect, mend, and cooperate in the fundamental ties between all diverse life.

Below, Elizabeth Asch shares a written reflection from an expedition to the waters of the Caribbean island of Dominica where she swam with the largest mammals in the worldwhales.

* * *

Picture a battered, 30’ motorboat on a vast, flat sea, hot sun and blue sky overhead.  Several miles distant is the small Caribbean island of Dominica, whose mountains hold the only visible clouds at their peaks.  Motor turned off, all six men aboard hold one hand up to shade their eyes while scanning the horizon for the white spouts of water which signal a surfacing whale.  Not knowing if I will recognize such a plume, never having seen one in person anyhow, I instead use my internal body radar; while tuning in to my instincts, I slowly turn my body to see if I can feel a pull in any particular direction.  A feeling in the pit of my gut tells me to stop and I too raise my hand to my eyes to see, and sure enough there it is.  Two of the men see it too and, pointing arm extended, shout “Blow!”

 

Today is Day 3 of our nine-day expedition.  I am accompanying three researchers whose life mission is to decode the clicking language of dolphins and whales.   These three passionate men travel the world to record and film sperm whales, or as they are known in French cachalots, the largest of the hunting whales.  The size of a city bus, or even a double-bus, the cachalot swims from the surface down to eight thousand foot depth.  I learned to free dive in order to take this trip and the deepest I have gone is a mere 65 feet.

 

Before leaving I offered to write an article telling what the cachalots have to say about peace for my friends at GPIW.  The last couple of days though, I have just been getting to know the whales and their beautiful home.  Until this trip, elephants were the largest animal I have played with and I remain impressed by their size and the vastness of the landscape in which they live.  The endless, blue ocean home of the cachalot is a whole new world for me and I’m still adapting.

 

I connect with a large male I call Bruno.  One good place to start a conversation with a fellow predator mammal is eating, so he has been showing me food and hunting.  He shows me a nearby ledge in a cold, mostly dark part of the ocean where giant squid and other large fish hang out.  While one or two sperm whales churn the water with their powerful tails, others swim along and scoop out the animals to eat.  Still others swim open-mouthed, and in fact at one point while I am in the water swimming about thirty feet down, Bruno silently appears directly behind me.  I can feel some Presence and although I believe I am alone in the water with my human friends, when that body radar tells me to look back all I see at first are big, white things which turn out to be the teeth in his open jaw.  I laugh aloud because I know this is the whale who has been explaining cachalot hunting to me, and here he is to demonstrate.  I am certain he isn’t planning to eat me, he’s just showing me how it’s done.  After I notice he dives as silently as he appeared.

 

When I ask Bruno about peace he shows me more scenes of living in the water.  When I ask other whales, they show me the same thing.  I think maybe they are dodging the question, or maybe I didn’t ask it clearly – – he thinks we are still on the mundane.

 

I ask about war and they show me scenes of individual whales fighting, like Moby Dick.  This is warfare maybe but not war.  They say they don’t make war.  They did something like it millions of years ago in their evolution, but they don’t do it anymore.  As a species they have forgiven us for driving them close to extinction back when whale oil was humans’ main fuel, although there are always some humans who find ways to provoke some individual whales and get killed for it.  But retribution as a species?  Not their concern.

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Finding no answer from the whales about peace I ask the elephants.  They seem to sidestep the question too.  Elephants and whales are the largest mammals of their two elements, land and water, and some people say the most evolved.  Perhaps they just don’t know about peace, perhaps it is so natural to them that they can’t address how it is done.  They both seem to evade and avoid us humans as best they can, and especially when we aim to make war with them.  In response to my query, my elephant friends show themselves out on the savannah like they are every day, aware of each other’s presence, and grazing, grazing, grazing and dozing, enjoying the beauty and bounty of their home.

AC headshot Nkarsis

I ask birds, insects, and fish, and any wild animals I can think of, and still no answer.  Can it be that, as folks always tell me, “You ascribe too much intelligence to the animals.  They don’t think like we do.  They don’t have the mental capacity” for big questions?  I am intrigued.  I know this isn’t true, and yet all I get in response is the feeling inside of how it feels to be one of their kind, living in awareness of the other ones nearby, and in their beautiful homes.  Over and over, in the water, in the sky, on the land, underground, my only answer is scenes of life, of family, of just being.

 

Finally I ask my horse friend.  Ginger has been my guide for thirteen years.  I tell her my dilemma.  About how I arrogantly offered to write about whales and peace, and how I am completely stuck.  No whale nor any other species has answered my question, “How do you keep peace, what can my people do to find peace?”  I show her the responses I have and she laughs at me.

AC Ginger sleeping

“You have your answer.  That is peace,” Ginger tells me.  Peace comes from within and only from within.  It comes from each and every one of us, at every moment.  Look for the awareness of peace within yourselves, and feel it in those around you.  From there it spreads and spreads and spreads.  First you feel it in yourself.  Then you feel it in those closest to you and you begin to feel it in other the individuals from other species who are also nearby.  Inner peace for yourself connects you to all humans.  Then feeling it in other species connects you and your species to your fellow beings, and to the planet.  This is how it spreads and spreads.

 

Find the silence within.  Connect with the peace in others.  Moment by moment by moment, now and now and now.

Nkarsis Photo

Unity: The Eagle and the Condor

Message from the Kogi

by Emma Szymanski

This past March, the Global Peace Initiative of Women organized a five-day retreat in Costa Rica with 20 young ecologists and environmental activists from different regions of the United States. Mentors from various spiritual and indigenous traditions guided the program in exploring the convergence of spirituality and ecology, as well as the intersectionality that must be taken up in addressing the multifaceted, global crises beyond climate change. Participants met to discuss the shifts in consciousness and relation to the Earth through a long-eschewed spiritual lens, in the context of the environmental movement in the United States.

This was one gathering in a series of meetings (see highlights of last year’s Costa Rica gathering here) with young people around the world that GPIW has organized over the last few years. This initiative grounds its efforts and expression in the idea of Mother Earth’s essential sacredness, as well as in the cultivation of inner wisdom or self-awareness as a means of healing and restoring bonds with both the natural world.

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Participants of the “Inner Dimensions of Climate Change” retreat — opening day at the Earth Charter International headquarters in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Earth’s biodiversity, including the cultural diversity and vitality of the global human community, manifests as incomprehensibly complex systems in motion. These systems are fundamentally deserving of respect, care, and awe. Reciprocity and mutual flourishing, two elements often found among coexisting species and communities in the natural world, in a way represent the crossing of thresholds that embody any healthy living system. En route to transformation, may we first and foremost seek the paths toward harmony and shared prosperity by learning to face inward—not selfishly, but instead as liminal beings whose inner dimensions illuminate a collective source of wisdom, so often unseen and inaccessible in today’s world of distractions and artificiality.

We were honored to be joined by Pacha K’anchay, a young Kogi leader who traveled from the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Colombia to deliver his people’s message. Trained in the teachings of community elders, Pacha kindly imparted profound wisdom unto the group on the opening evening. His words, and those of Mindahi Munoz, a resident scholar at the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary, are translated into both English and Spanish below. As you read, consider how you yourself might recognize the animate, dynamic essence of the natural world. Perhaps you may let that energetic force flood your individual mind, if only for a few moments, as one living, beating, breathing being among innumerable others.

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Top row, from left to right: Mindahi Bastida, Pacha K’anchay, and Geraldine Patrick.

“Eagle and Condor”

English

Pacha K’anchay:

From the lands of Central America, where the beaks of the condor and the eagle unite, we meet here, offering a tribute to the ancient and ancestral peoples who walked on this land.

Which today, as spirits, provide food and are the nature of this land. They are the songs of birds, and they still live in the sounds of our waters, and they still have a community.

And this spirit has allowed many beings to learn, to unite in knowledge, and today, there are many ways of wanting to join with nature.

We are here to make a call to the conscience and to the heart of all human beings, so that we can once again synchronize our heart with that of Mother Earth’s.

From the things that are real, from forgiving the person next to us, and from understanding the time in which we find ourselves, it is time to unify ourselves among our peoples.

It is time for nations to understand that millenary wisdom was left on Earth for humanity to uphold herself.

And we were given forms of thought so that in each territory there would be peace and balance and harmony among the beings that live there.

From the heart, we send a message to all the beings that can see this message, that from your heart you may feel the need for a transformation, to protect life, to unify with nature.

Many today have spiritual faculties, and the thought is growing; others, from the reason and with scientific faculties, can aide so that nature, our Mother Earth, continues and lives for a long time.

From our heart we have come here to give thanks for life, to unify ourselves with the essence of thought.

We are in the time of prophecies where the Sun sends his messages and the Earth manifests her changes.

We are in the time of birth pains, moving towards a time in which we reconnect with our interior.

The prophecies of our ancestors are fulfilled today. The prophecies were told so that today, we who are alive in this historic moment, may again synchronize ourselves with the Earth and with the Universe.

From the peoples of South America of the lands of the condor, from the people of the eagle.

We also lift up unity to Tibet, the Himalayas, to the great territories found all over the planet to unify ourselves in the heart of Mother Earth for life.

This is how, here today, in nature, among family and among the hearts of the people, we send to you, from our heart, all the strength to unify ourselves in this web of life.

From the heart of the lands of the eagle and the condor, Abyayala, in the center of what is now called Costa Rica, we raise this call to the unity of the peoples for life. HAYAYA

Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz:

Greetings! We greet you with our hearts from the lands of the central highlands of Mexico, here in Costa Rica.

I greet my KJUADA, Pacha K’anchay. Eagle and condor, here in these millenary lands.

The time of our voice has come, our time has come.

Nothing and no one will speak for us any more, nor will they sit to discuss what they will do with our peoples, with our territories.

The dawn is approaching, the birds are saying so. The quetzal will return to these lands and to others.

We also want to greet the distant lands: the dragon and the Phoenix, because one day we will join them, also.

We send this message because we all have something to contribute.

Human beings have created the problem, and now we are going to create the solution, together, in a process of unification where we learn ‘to be’ in this ‘collective way of being’.

In the ‘way of being’ from which we departed many times over the past seven thousand years.

The dawn is approaching, and we are in a process of transition. We are here for the new dawn.

MOXINGUINTINI KJUADA MOXINGUINTINI KJU. KJAMADI. Onward with everything, with life, for the life, and for life.

Español

Pacha K’anchay:

Desde las tierras de Centroamérica, donde se unen el pico del cóndor y del águila, nos encontramos aquí ofreciéndole un tributo a los pueblos milenarios y ancestrales que caminaron por acá.

Que hoy, como espíritus, brindan alimento y son la naturaleza de esta tierra. Que son los cantos de las aves, y que aún viven en los sonidos de nuestras aguas, y aún tienen comunidad.

Y ese espíritu ha permitido que muchos seres aprendan, que se unan en conocimiento, y hoy aparecen muchas formas de querer unirse más a la naturaleza.

Estamos aquí para hacerle un llamado a la conciencia y al corazón de todos los seres humanos, para que podamos nuevamente sincronizar nuestro corazón con el de la Madre Tierra.

Desde lo real, desde perdonar al que tenemos al lado, y desde comprender el tiempo en el que nos encontramos, es el momento de unificarnos entre pueblos.

Es el momento de que las naciones comprendan que la sabiduría milenaria se dejó en la tierra para que se sostuviera la humanidad.

Y se nos dejaron formas de pensamiento para que en cada territorio hubiera paz y equilibrio y armonía entre los seres que ahí están.

De corazón enviamos un mensaje a todos los seres que puedan observar este mensaje, de que de corazón sientan la necesidad de una transformación, de proteger la vida, de unificarnos con la naturaleza.

Muchos hoy día tienen facultades espirituales y el pensamiento va creciendo; otros desde la razón, con las facultades científicas, pueden aportar a que la naturaleza, nuestra Madre Tierra, continúe y perviva en el tiempo.

De corazón aquí hemos venido a agradecer por la vida, a unificarnos con la esencia del pensamiento.

Estamos en los tiempos de las profecías en donde el Sol envía sus mensajes y la Tierra se manifiesta con sus cambios.

Estamos en el tiempo de dolor de parto hacia un tiempo en donde estamos volviendo a conectarnos con nuestro interior.

Las profecías de nuestros ancestros hoy se cumplen. Se dijeron para que hoy nosotros, que vivimos este momento histórico, podamos sincronizarnos nuevamente con la Tierra y el Universo.

Desde los pueblos de Sudamérica de las tierras del cóndor, desde los pueblos del águila.

También elevamos la unidad hacia el Tíbet, el Himalaya, hacia los grandes territorios que se encuentran en todo el planeta para unificarnos en el corazón de la Madre Tierra por la vida.

Es así, como hoy aquí, en esta naturaleza, entre la familia, entre el corazón de los pueblos, les enviamos a ustedes, desde nuestro corazón, toda la fuerza para unificarnos en este tejido de vida.

Desde el corazón de las tierras del águila y el cóndor, el Abyayala, en todo el centro de que hoy llaman Costa Rica, elevamos este llamado hasta la unidad de los pueblos por la vida. HAYAYA

Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz:

Saludo! Les saludamos con el corazón desde las tierras del altiplano central de México aquí desde Tepantí, desde Costa Rica.

Saludo a mi KJUADA, Pacha K’anchay. Águila y cóndor, aquí en estas tierras milenarias.

Ha llegado el tiempo de nuestra voz, el tiempo nuestro.

Ya nada ni nadie hablará por nosotros ni se sentarán a discutir qué harán con nuestros pueblos, con los territorios.

Ya se acerca la alborada, los pájaros están mencionando. El quetzal volverá por estas tierras y por otras.

También queremos saludar a las tierras lejanas: al dragón y al Fénix, porque un día nos uniremos también con ellos.

Enviamos este mensaje porque todos tenemos algo que aportar.

Los seres humanos ahora hemos creado el problema y ahora vamos a crear la solución, juntos, en un proceso de unificación donde nosotros estamos aprendiendo a ‘ser’ en este ‘ser colectivo’.

En ese ‘ser’ que muchas veces se desvió desde hace siete mil años.

Ya se acerca la alborada, y estamos en un proceso de transición. Estamos por el nuevo amanecer.

MOXINGUINTINI KJUADA MOXINGUINTINI KJU. KJAMADI. Adelante con todo, con la vida, para la vida, y por la vida.



Forty days after the Paris Climate Conference

 

Gaia“We are called to return to the root of our being where the sacred is born. Then, standing in both the inner and outer worlds, we will find our self to be part of the momentous synchronicity of life giving birth to itself.”

 —Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

 

Reflections and Experiences   by Angela Fischer

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Panel with Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Angela Fischer, Swami Atmarupananda, Rev. Richard Cizik

 

In listening to each other’s experiences we recognize that we are all different. We perceive the worlds through different colors while truth shines through the veils of every single experience and yet is beyond them – it just is. There is subjectivity and a relativity to all experiences, those of the outer worlds as well as those of the inner worlds, the visible and invisible. And still there is much more than we can ever imagine that we can listen to, that speaks to us. I share here a fragment of a personal experience. May it serve to fill in a little piece in this great kaleidoscope.

As I write down these reflections it’s been forty days since a group of nearly 20 people – spiritual teachers, young leaders, and contemplatives from different spiritual traditions and regions of the world came to Paris. As a delegation of the Global Peace Initiative of Women we joined many NGOs and civil society leaders from around the world at COP 21, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

We gathered to share and discuss spiritual perspectives on climate change and give attention to its inner dimension. This included an afternoon event at the Climate Generations Area with a panel of faith leaders, contemplatives and young activists.

Unlike the outer events that were well documented, I would like to share some of my inner experiences from our time in Paris – experiences perceived by the heart.

We all have these experiences, but, as we all know too well, the inner worlds that are invisible to our outer eyes have become covered and obscured from our human perception in today’s world. It is difficult to even speak of the inner world as it has been so neglected and is no longer valued in our culture. And as feeling is not valued as much as thinking, and as we define ourselves more through doing rather than being, by sharing inner experiences we are always taking a certain risk of being misunderstood or – depending on the audience – even risk a response of doubt or disrespect. Perhaps one of the reasons we rarely dare share them.

Angela Fischer

Yet as it was important to us as a group to offer a unique contribution to this event, an emphasis on the inner dimensions of climate change, approaching the question as to the roots as well as solutions from an inner perspective, so I feel that speaking about inner experiences along with what we were outwardly engaged in might round off the picture.

During my first morning in Paris, several hours before we were to sit at a Tibetan temple to pray for the Earth, I strolled with my husband in the Jardin du Luxembourg, situated close to our hotel. We walked among trees, flowerbeds and statues, among people enjoying their Sunday morning sports and families who were out to walk like us. I wanted to greet the place, the Earth here, which I always do, silently, when I travel and my feet first touch the ground of a new place. It is similar to showing our respect when we enter the house of a friend we visit, like taking off our shoes and thanking our host for being welcomed as a guest. And as we came to Paris for a climate conference, I felt a particular need to feel the Earth in Paris, not only in the beauty of her buildings and cathedrals, but first in a spot of nature.

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Sometimes, in an initial greeting, there is a response, in the form of a feeling or a sense of the spirit of the place. I can feel being welcomed by the Earth through a particular fragrance in the air or a special tree that draws my attention. This Sunday morning in Paris it was a sudden cry that cut into my thoughts and abruptly took me straight into a different realm of perception. It woke me up. I was drawn into a deeper awareness and immediately knew this was a response and it was a call at the same time.

Instinctively I turned and looked up toward the treetops, high above where the cry had come from. I spotted an exotic and colourful bird, definitely not native to Europe. Perched on a branch it cried out three times, first a cry to draw my attention, then two more times, a strange and piercing call before it flew off. I wondered if it was a formerly caged bird from a far off continent that had escaped its cage, and now lost was searching for a place to stay in this unknown and chilly winter landscape. No one else seemed to notice it, though this cry was very loud and unusual.

A tremendous feeling of someone lost filled my heart. A bird is a symbol of the soul – that inherent part of each of us that has wings to fly and is not bound by gravity or limitations. It is free and belongs to the infinite sky. I felt the soul of the world, of which we are all a part, like a bird that is lost, estranged in a cold environment and unable to find its way. It felt an urgent call, the Earth was signalling for my attention. I could sense it in the cry of the bird calling us to relate to the Earth as a soul, as a sacred being whose divine essence and origin we have almost forgotten — a soul astray calling to us to include this relationship, this love and remembrance in all that we were here to do at this conference. This experience, with a language other than words and explanations used the symbolic world which can take us effortlessly into the realm of divine presence. I was thankfully made more present and attentive than I had been before.

As I followed the reports and watched what was taking place at the conference I realized that most participants, sincere and willing to make a difference to contribute to change for the planet with great effort, were nevertheless mostly concerned about themselves, about humanity. It seemed so much to be about what we as humans are doing, what we are thinking, what concepts we develop, how we are acting, and how we could be rescued. But what about the Earth herself? Was the Earth really present, even though there was much talk and action related to the planet? Did we feel the Earth as a being, with her anguish, her yearning to be related to? As a being that is made of light like us, that connects us all, that nourishes us, that we are a part of? Did we listen?

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From a political perspective, the final outcome was a success —also due to much engagement of indigenous and environmental groups who gave a foundational energy to it — so much so that eventually they came to an agreement that all nations could sign. This process called for a tremendous amount of energy, and the many who worked and put their heart into this deserve our great respect. One could argue that — although the agreements on the necessary outer actions to be taken are far from sufficient — but since an agreement of all parties was a first priority aim, there was little or no space left for other concerns such as inviting in the presence of the Earth. To come to this consensus was work enough. However, if we look deeper things do not work in this way and are not as linear as we are accustomed to thinking. Could it not be the other way around? Is it that our approach is mainly from our human perspective, human centred, focusing on our own limited goals, and because it excludes the “presence” of the Earth that we need so much energy for agreements, so much effort to overcome our greed and competitiveness and antagonistic demands. I am convinced that if we had included the Earth, to which we are all interrelated and connected, and allowed her to be present in us, felt her suffering, acknowledged the light that we share with her, we would have spared much energy that we put into negotiations about our human needs and could have seen results far more easily.

Ashaninka tribal leaders - Peru
Ashaninka leaders – Peru               Photo Eliane Fernandes

The Earth was present. But she was not much present in the perception of the people–not present in a relationship. Shortly after returning home from the gathering I wrote to a friend, ” All the time in Paris my focus partly was on feeling the Earth, staying in close contact, listening to her soul – underneath the asphalt and the concrete, underneath the ceaseless talking and speeches and chatting, within the walls, the stones, the dirt, the numberless cars and traffic jams, and under the hopes and the dispair, the busyness, the talks and negotiations, the agitation and rage and the suffering. And she was there. She was waiting. She gave her love. I felt the Earth communicating her presence to me, her longing, her waiting. This was very touching”.

Climate Generations Area COP21 Paris

There was one experience in particular of this presence that left a deep imprint in my heart. It was when we walked with a small group of friends through the “ Climate Generations Area,” the space for civil society and NGOs that had been set up in a huge airplane hangar, where we were scheduled to have our panel discussion the next day. It was a crowded place with many events going on at the same time, noisy, chaotic, filled not only with exhibitions, talk and exclamations, but with the countless thoughts, emotions and the sorrows of people. It was like a big fair. Places like this are often difficult for me, and usually I am completely focused on coping with the overstimulation. But here in the midst of this noise and chaos there was suddenly a great silence in me. I turned my attention inwards and there was the Earth. She was here in this place, even though no one noticed. I listened. She conveyed not through words but again more through a feeling, how much she loves us – despite everything. In this place of so much action, of thinking, of outer engagement, far away from stillness was the depth and silence of the Earth’s love. It was as if she said, “I am here, I am so much waiting for you. Where are you? ” She was waiting for us to relate to her.

 

A second time when I felt the love of the Earth so fully was when our group went to pay respects at the memorial site for the victims of the Paris shootings. At Place de la République we prayed silently while some offered moving chants from the Lakota, Buddhist, Hindu and Christian traditions. Even from across the street as we approached the memorial I could feel waves of love flowing through me and everything surrounding me, through all people, through stone and concrete, through a stray cat as well as the mild breeze of the early evening. The memorial site welcomed us as a place of sadness, of tears— and as a place of tremendous love. The grief of so many before us had been transformed into love, and this could be felt easily, but there was more to this love. I had the physical sensation of a love that rose from beneath my feet from the depths of the ground through the Earth flowing warmly to my heart.

Also here I felt the love of the Earth.

 In this place where I sensed a violent rupture in the fabric of life, a deep wound that caused much grief and suffering, not only here but also in many other places of the world, I felt a tremendous love at the same time. The intensity of this love came from the Earth herself. I felt it in the cells of my body. I thought that it must be heart breaking and heart opening at the same time for many people who come here. In the midst of this great sadness I was left in awe at the wonder of this limitless love that is just present, prepared to transform and heal if we really opened to it.

The search for solutions to the crisis of our planet, and to climate change, is in large part based on suffering and deep wounds. It is not only we humans who suffer; it is the planet who suffers. Our planet Earth is being attacked every day, the Earth is being raped and plundered, violated and depleted on a daily basis. Humanity has forgotten the Earth is sacred, long forgotten this sacred relationship. The Earth suffers at this loss of relationship, and more and more, I hear people who tell me they hear the cries of the Earth.

To acknowledge this suffering is a first step in transforming it into love — a first step to access the tremendous love that is there waiting for us.

Winter trees

How can we do this? We can allow for space, listen to the Earth, relate to her and allow her to relate to us— and to feel. Feeling belongs to love. Without feeling, without acknowledging the pain, without feeling the grief, there is no love. When we allow for it, the suffering can be transformed, and then the love can flow into it.

At that moment when I felt the suffering as well as the love, the clarity and simplicity of what we all know but so often forget was deeply affirmed: there are no real solutions without love. No negotiations will be possible, will be fruitful and lasting if love is not present; not only love for our human fellow beings, but love for the Earth.

We all know that we need love and need to love. Great teachers of all traditions have stressed the importance of love and of relating to the Earth. We like to hear this, it gives comfort to the heart, we can agree so easily. And yet, while these teachings guide us and point us in the direction of where we need to go we must, in the end, go on our own two feet. We need to live the love, live it in our beating heart, coursing through our blood, pulsating in our cells. We must feel the pain and the joy and the heartbreak that comes with love and relationship. And sometimes it is also helpful to listen to each other so we don’t only understand it in an abstract way, but experience the love with the Earth concretely, how it speaks to us, how it touches us, what it feels like when the suffering is included. I am always moved listening to someone who experienced this relationship, this love. It reconnects us.

In beautiful and manifold ways all the friends on our panel stressed, explicit or implicit, from their different perspectives and traditions how important and crucial love is, when we are referring to the inner dimension of climate change. With gratitude I listened to the presentation holding the spark of hope in my heart and a prayer that the energy of love in these messages may spread everywhere, to the Earth and to those who were sitting day and night in the midst of negotiations for an agreement by the nations of this earth.

It is sad to realize that many of the decisions, politically as well as personally, are made out of fear. The need for action as a response to climate change is often emphasized through arguments of threat: “We are in danger. We are threatened to not survive.” We fear weather catastrophes, we fear the climate refugees, we fear hunger or those who are hungry. We act out of fear and fear divides and separates. What might happen if we were motivated not by fear but by love, not by separation or division, but by a sense of oneness?

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Of course it would have been naive to expect all decision makers to fall in love with the Earth immediately or motivations changed instantly. But it is not naive to hope – acknowledging the oneness and interconnectedness of life – that by activating the feeling quality in our hearts of love for and from the Earth, recognizing Earth as a living and sacred being, could have added something to the whole and the whole of the process. By connecting with her light from the light within us could become an interwoven part of the way we work as humans, now and in the future and may bring about effect.

Which kind of effect—that of course, we will never know, as it is not in our hands, as it is not about us. Life remains a great mystery that we cannot plan for nor limit or define. We leave our prayers and experiences to that which goes far beyond ourselves. We leave it to love. We leave it to the great mystery of love. We offer it to God.

Angela Fischer