Dreaming Our New Reality

The old man sat quietly alert on the rock outcropping near the top of the hill.  The dry air, warmed by the late morning sunshine, stirred lazily around him, ruffling his white hair, and caressing his closed eyes.  Behind him, at the foot of the hill, the tribe patiently continued daily tasks as if nothing were going on.  They were awaiting the old man’s return.  Before him spread the expanse of grassland.  In the distance, a herd of bison nibbled on the sere grass, vainly searching for a few green blades.  None of this caught the attention of the old man.  His focus was inward, away from the arid, heat-permeated landscape surrounding him.  The old man was sensing rain.  Within his trance, he could see the dark clouds approach, feel the damp breeze on his skin, notice the slight drop in temperature, smell the droplets of a deluge, hear distant rumbling thunder.  The rains were coming.  He KNEW that, knowing in a way that belied the logic of drought surrounding him, of grass waiting like tinder to catch the first spark.  The old man had been there since dawn, going ever deeper into his trance, sensing ever more strongly the coming of rain.

Towards sunset, the grazing bison looked up.  The breeze had stilled for the moment; dark clouds began to form on the horizon.   The bison stopped grazing.  They began to circle, calves in the middle for shelter.  The old man paid no attention. The dark clouds grew, and the wind began to pick up.  Lightning split the sky, and thunder rumbled over the bison.  Clouds obscured the setting sun as the storm increased its force, soaking the dried grass and the parched earth.  The bison lifted their heads in welcome to the rain.  Now the wind blew strong over the old man, who was still sitting quietly.  A clap of thunder woke him from his trance.  A deluge from the sky washed over him as he stood up and began the walk to the encampment.  Dancing children approached him, frolicking in the rain.  The old man entered among the people.   “It rained,” he said.

The old man had been dreaming rain.  He was the tribal shaman, trained from adolescence in the ability to enter the invisible realms the aborigines call “dreamtime”.  From those spaces he would heal, divine, and call to the tribe what was needed.  Rain was needed at the moment.  He was an expert in these skills.  

These skills are not, however, potentially limited to shamans.  Each of us possesses the possibility of using our focus, our imaginations, our understanding and creative inner gifts to do, individually or collectively, what the shaman had done.  We can create ceremony, sing what we wish to create, draw it, sculpt it, write it, or sit in focused meditation.  We can even simply speak the truth we wish to see.   We do not need to be trained shamans operating alone.  Collectively, our smaller individual acts coalesce into a larger effect.

There are certainly many intertwined issues that face us in this moment.  An election is over, but we cannot all sit back and relax and assume that the “old normal” will now return.  The “old normal” is gone; what will ensue from the current chaos will be the result of what we collectively dream.  We have work to do.  What do we wish to see?  For example, most of us wish to be free of the coronavirus.  Do we wish to see everyone mandated in masks?  Do we wish to see everyone required to receive experimental vaccines and tracked to make sure we do?  Do we believe that governing from the top to “take care” of everyone, controlling them even as they are relieved of responsibility for addressing things themselves, will be desirable? 

One priority is the well-being of our planet.  The coronavirus is one virus. Even if it is manmade, as some say, more are in waiting from nature if we do not address the healing of the earth.  It is interconnected.  I believe we wish to see ourselves, generally, healthy, free to interact with each other, living in cooperation with nature on a healed earth, inhabiting a healed social order in which we can care for and trust one another.  I believe we would like an economic order in which everyone can provide for him/herself and his/her family with the work of hands, heart, or mind.  If these things are what we wish, we need to envision these things instead of trying to figure out what we need to require others to do and how we will make them do it.  We need to cooperatively envision the result, not the means.

There is temptation to turn passive, believing that there is nothing we or anyone can do to affect the present or the outcome of things.  Such a stance leads to being taken over as a source of energy for ways which are not ours.  There is also temptation to believe that raising anger and marching in the streets, perhaps rioting, will change things in the direction we wish them to go.  The fact is that if the negative challenges are met directly, head on, the result will be more of the same, perhaps dressed in different clothes.  We must use the indirect way, the way of the old man who “saw” the rain and then it came.  Each of us has a piece of the future to imagine. Each of us has a creative way of expressing that (and yes, even cleaning a house can be a creative expression, when it is done with the loving consciousness we envision).   What is your thought?  How do you wish the world to be?  How can you dream that and express your dream?  It takes us all.

We live in a world bounded by time.  Humans have created this concept and been caught in its web.   Time cannot run backwards.  We cannot return to the time before COVID-19, or the time before 9/11, or the time our grandmothers tell stories about.  We must live in and act in the present, with all its problems that surround us, and also with all the beauty that still exists if we pause and relax long enough to notice it.  What our future will be depends on how we orient ourselves now.

May we awaken to the creative power we all embody, and to the focused, reverent application of that ability.  May we all dream a world which includes a healed Earth restored to its beauty and harmony, and a social structure which recognizes the full humanity of all of us and supports just, compassionate, and reverent ways of interacting.  We are the shamans.   It is time we worked. 

Peace, Diane

Form and Content

There is an old idiom, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” It derives from the times in which people drew water, heated it, put it in tubs to bathe, and then tossed it out when the bathing was done. It means to retain the old values, those handed down from millennia, as the forms of things are so rapidly changing. The “baby” is the eternal values, the “bathwater” is the forms that no longer work. I am passionate about this. Of course, the forms need to change. If they did not, there would be no growth, and no growth means the end, death. However, that does not mean also abandoning the values and truths that those forms contained.  One of the areas in which the baby is in danger is religion.

 Religion is under attack.   Although no one has proposed to abolish the First Amendment,  laws are being advanced which require people to pay for and participate in actions which are contrary to their beliefs, and the public viewpoint of those who express religious beliefs is that these people are racist, biased, ignorant, possibly violent, and utterly unfit to hold public office; those who are supported by religious people are also deemed less desirable for office, as they are seen as being influenced by religious positions.  The worst examples of those who claim to be religious are publicized.

Religion has a bad name with people who see religion as harmful, the cause of societal ills, and who choose to be either agnostic/atheist, or “spiritual” but claim no form and often no company or group/congregation.  Religion is also under attack by the state, which would like to see all people believe and act the same because it is easier to govern that way. The state insists that any kind of religion not interfere with what the state says is right to do. Both, I believe, are confused.

Religion consists of two aspects, form, and content. Form is the structures in the physical world which define the expression of the content. Form codifies how a given people perceive and how they are urged to act upon the underlying aspects they perceive as eternal.  Forms are human and belong to the physical world. Forms are many and varied and sadly, their adherents often tend to quarrel about which one is better.  Forms are human;  they exist in time and space and are amenable to the effects of each.

Content is the core reality, the unembodied source that form encodes.  It is that core which mystics, saints, seers, master shamans, prophets, and bodhisattvas understand and have borne witness to for eons. Content is universal and crosses all expressions.  Content is not judgment, punishment, or condemnation.  It is loving, in an eternal sense.  Content belongs to the realm which has no boundaries of time or space. Content is like water or air – here on Earth, it needs a structure or form to contain it. Therefore, in the physical world, forms, or practices, have been made to hold it. Some forms have lasted longer than others. Some forms have also altered over time, even shifting shape from the basic content they were designed to hold. Of course, change is necessary – but so also is continuity.

Many people profess a form and are sometimes quite active in it and devoted to it and are good people. Yet, if all they have is form, and they do not understand or connect with content, what they have is essentially an empty vessel. It is no longer the whole.  An empty vessel, an empty form, is simply that. It is not religion as a whole.   Empty form is not connected with the core which gives it meaning, and thus can draw people into conflicts, judging and behavior oppressive of others. 

Some people have an understanding only of content – those who are “spiritual” without having either a private or collective form or practice in which to contain their content. For these, over time, the content tends to dissipate, as will air or water not in containers. These folks may have touched the essence of being and been thereby enriched, but without a container, a form, a practice, the essence will not be enduring for them.

There are many forms. Try the names of all the world’s religions. Privately created and regularly practiced forms are still others.   Positioning forms as subservient to the state, or trying to eradicate them, serves to weaken that which contains the content.  The content is essential to our survival and the survival of our planet.  Happily, more and more people are beginning to seek for and connect with eternal content to fill their forms, private or communal.

There is no need to ban or weaken religion.  There is also no need to agitate for the forms of one religion over another, or for the prevalence of the one position of the state.   There are win-win solutions if we only look for them. Each faith form is an expression, in a different language, of the same essential and ethereal content.  Better to recognize and respect all the forms and focus ourselves on perceiving and understanding the universal content and striving to live our lives accordingly.    That is progress, not the requirement of the state (or, in a theocracy, one form which is the state) for all to think and act the same.

It is time for people to come together in cooperation and respect, and to heal the Earth and ourselves with understanding and the creative energy from which we draw our being.   It is counterproductive to expect others to express their understandings in the same way we do, or to have the state decide and regulate expression of the truth.

Peace, Diane

Transition

Transition

A long time ago, I was told, “Do not be afraid of the spaces between existences (times of transition).  It will feel like you are dying, but you are not.”  I recall those nearly forgotten words now.

We are in a time of transition, one which affects us all and the Earth itself.  No matter the culture or philosophy one follows, a transition is a time of collapse or tearing down what exists – a time of chaos – and rebuilding in a new direction.  Women who have gone through childbirth are in an excellent place to understand this.  Childbirth involves pain and stress for both mother and child, although the memory of it fades as mother and child become bonded in a new way.  It is the tearing down of what was – one forming body existing inside another body – and a rebuilding in a new way, mother and child separated and unique but still bonded.  It can be a dangerous time, but still a time of great promise and blessing.  We are in such a time now, socially in relation to each other, and physically in relation to our Earth.  The outcome of this time depends on how we can connect with our spiritual roots and create with the energy we receive.

Some of us are longing for the time that was, and believe that if all of us just obey strictly the official rules, we can return to that time with which we were familiar and things will be the same as before.  Within that group, there is an almost desperate adamancy that everyone should obey official directions and behave consistently in lockstep; there is no space for disagreement.  These are the people that accost others in parking lots for not wearing masks, or who reprimand people in stores who stand a few inches off the six-feet marks.  They tend to speak in heroic terms of those who are telling us the rules. There is certainly value in consistency and cooperation, but this premise of mandatory sameness as a way of return to the past leads only to disappointment and more desperation.  We cannot return to the time that was.   It has retreated into the past and has already morphed into memory.  It had to go.  This is a time of transition.

There are also those – perhaps the majority of us – who are unsure if draconian rules are really necessary and are not sure if the virus – the precipitator of the transition – is as deadly as it is reported to be.  However, in the midst of chaos, feelings of exhaustion and a certain jadedness leave them too tired to make effort to change things.  These of us are content to ride things out and accept whatever may emerge.  There is a tendency here to hide one’s head in the sand, ostrich-like, and simply refuse to believe that what emerges can be anything else but acceptable.  Doesn’t humanity have all this wonderful technology to save us?   Haven’t things always settled down before?  The weak point here is apathy. The tendency is to follow along wherever we are led (which is usually by other humans).  That tendency leaves us quite vulnerable to anything that may come along, even things that may be regretted later.

Then there are those who are quite aware of the processes of using energy, and who see in this crisis of transition an opportunity to create something profitable for themselves.  These are usually people already in some position of power, often silent power, such as corporate and banking millionaires (I will not categorize by saying all), scientific masters at subduing nature, popular or Machiavellian political personages, even those who wear the mantle of philanthropy.  They are the forces behind the push for mandatory masks, universal vaccination with digital tracking, more use of technology to capture our actions, thoughts, health and finances, and A1 controlled social systems.    Although the central focus is, “What’s in it for me?”  (and that focus will be denied if challenged) they possess a refined knowledge of negotiation and collaboration among themselves.  They are powerful, and actively try to create what they want.

Among us are also those who engage in vigorous, visible and often violent resistance to what they understand lies beneath stories in the news and on the internet and the rules formed ostensibly to control the spread of the virus and create compliance within society as a whole.  “We have to prevent chaos,” the enforcers of law and order may say, but chaos is an integral part of transition.  The protestors see what may be coming; they see that what very possibly may be created is contrary to what most of us, awake or not, value and want.  They take to the streets, march and perhaps riot. They may attack those they see as the oppressors, use strong language, directly confront the wrongs they see, and try in any way they can to oppose.  They do not understand the energy.  Protests are initially useful to call attention to something; after that, they simply reinforce what we do not want.   The focus on the protest donates energy to the thing one is protesting.  It would be better to focus on creating and modeling the change which is desired.

Yet another group – few but growing – either possess or are quickly learning the skill of dancing with the ineffable energy which surrounds us all and from which we emerge.  These fellow humans recognize what is going on and are aware of the dangers humanity may be facing as a result of the outcome of the transition.  However, because they understand creative energy, life force, they refuse to donate energy to those things by giving them their attention.  They recognize what currently exists – the chaos and transition and the various energies contained within it – but refuse to join the worry about it.  This is different from the group that is too jaded to act, but who still maintain a level of worry.  This last group understands the necessity of remaining as upbeat as possible, and of responding with as much love and non-judgment as they can.  That doesn’t mean that they agree with everything or that they think anything goes. They simply refuse to directly oppose, and instead focus on modeling what they believe to be the most just or loving way they can.  They are also the ones who love the Earth and model what will heal her (and truly, thereby save us).

These are broad categories, and, because everything and everyone does not neatly fit into boxes, they are not strictly definitive.  However, they are good examples of the way various people are responding to the pandemic, the chaos, and the transition.  I think we can each recognize ourselves, at least a little bit, in these extremely broad outlines.   We are all helping to shape what comes from the transition.  There is not one of us who does not affect it.  The final result will emerge from our combined visions and actions, mixed together into a new manifestation.   Much of the result will come from those of us who understand energy; it will be reinforced by the attitudes and actions of those who do not.  Not one of us can truthfully say, “It’s not my responsibility.”  Not one of us can avoid choosing, actively or passively, a path.

Now, when there is time amidst the chaos, let us take time to reflect on the path we are choosing, the results which may emerge from that path, the talents we have and those skills we want or need to learn, who our allies will be, and whether or how we wish to benefit each other and the Earth.

If we do not like what uncover as we reflect, there is time still to consciously change to a stance we would rather have.   We are all able to do this, but releasing apathy is prerequisite to being able to consciously choose or change or create.  Let us wish each other well.

Peace,   Diane

Abuela, Marita and theBaby Gopher

Early last week, I was listening to a friend describe how she had watched a cougar catch a baby gopher.  What she observed, she recounted, did not strike her as predation – the strong perpetrating upon the weak – but as the flow of the life force itself.  This is not the usual perception, and it gave me food for thought.  The child’s story below (also for adults) is the outcome of the pondering.  I share it with you; it is my take on the incident described by my friend.  Perhaps you will have your own take and can write your own story.  

Abuela, Marita, and the Baby Gopher

The old woman sat quietly on the round, weathered, moss-covered rock beside the path.  Her eyes were half closed, and her face wore a look of deep content as she raised it to absorb the rays of the late afternoon sun.  The path ran through a thicket of luxuriously full pine trees which adorned the thicket with their dark green needles and fresh aroma.  Quaking aspen, their long trunks covered with black-striped white bark, punctuated the thicket with their flaming yellow crowns.   The woman was waiting expectantly.  The child would be there any moment now. She breathed in the calm of the forest as she waited.  Footsteps were audible long before the child gave voice. 

“Abuelita, Abuelita,” her granddaughter’s voice called out, as the fleet-footed seven-year-old rounded the bend in the path. 

 “I am here, Marita,” the grandmother responded. “I was waiting for you.”  

“Abuelita,” the child cried out, racing into her grandmother’s welcoming arms.  “Abuelita, I saw a bobcat.” 

“How wonderful!” responded the woman.  “You saw him, and he did not harm you.  That is a good sign.”  

“But Abuelita,” protested Marita, “he had a dead baby gopher in his mouth.  He was going to eat it.”  

“Why do you think that was?” asked her grandmother. 

“I think the bobcat was hungry,” asserted Marita.  “He was hungry, so he killed a baby gopher.  But the baby gopher had not done anything wrong.  Why did it have to die?” 

“What do you think?” again queried Abuelita. 

Marita thought for a moment.  “I guess,” she finally offered, “that if the bobcat did not eat the baby gopher, he would go hungry and he would die.” 

“Probably,” agreed the grandmother, “if the bobcat did not eat, he would die.” 

“But why does someone have to die?” demanded Marita.  “If we die, we aren’t alive anymore.” 

Abuelita looked at Marita.  “You are wearing a beautiful jacket,” she commented. 

“Thank you, Abuelita.”  Marita looked proudly at her favorite jacket. It was made of a soft, sky-blue denim cloth, and lined in flannel. “But I wanted to know why either the baby gopher or the bobcat had to die.” 

“Take off your jacket, Marita,” instructed Abuelita.  

Puzzled, Marita complied. 

“Now turn it inside out.” 

Marita put her hands deep into the sleeves of the jacket and pulled them out until only the flannel was showing.  The flannel was pretty, too, checkered with bright red and navy. 

“Look,” pointed out Abuelita.  “Does your jacket look the same now, or is it different?” 

“Of course, it’s different,” declared Marita.  “It’s designed to be that way. It’s a reversible jacket.”  

“Did the beautiful blue side go away?” Abuelita asked. 

“Yes, replied Marita.  “But it’s not really gone, it’s just inside and you can’t see it anymore.   What does my jacket have to do with a bobcat or a baby gopher?”   

“Look around you, Marita.  Look at all the beautiful, wonderful life around you.  For example, look at the pine tree beside you.  Where did it come from?”  

“From a seed in a pinecone, of course,” answered Marita. 

“What will happen to the pine tree one day?”   

Marita thought for a moment.  “One day it will die, and turn into a log, and then into the dirt on the ground,” she said. 

“Where did the pine tree go?” asked Abuelita. 

Marita didn’t answer. 

“It is like your jacket,” explained Abuelita.  “On the one side, there is beautiful, wonderful life, and the pine tree is alive here.  When you turned your jacket inside out, you couldn’t see the beautiful blue anymore.  But it was still there.  On the other side of being alive here is another side of being alive, just as beautiful.  Because we don’t see it, we call it death and think it is not alive.  But it is alive, even if we cannot see it.” 

“Oh,” murmured Marita. 

“Most people think that dying is the end.  But it is just turning the jacket inside out.  There really is no death, only life.  Do you understand?”    

“Kind of,” Marita hesitated. “It is like my jacket.  I like to wear it blue side out, but I could wear it the other way, too.” 

“Good!”  exclaimed Abuelita. “Do you feel better about the baby gopher now?” 

“Yes, agreed Marita, “but are you going to die, too?” 

“One day that will happen, Marita,” averred her grandmother, “but not soon.  And when I do go to life’s other side, I will still love you.  And then one day you will meet me again.”  

Marita gave Abuelita a big hug.

Why this particular story?  There are many stories to explain death to children.  However, this story is about more than death, or our perception of it.  It shows also how strong is the connection between the two sides of the coin of life, and how ephemeral can be the veil between the two.  Perhaps it is time we learn to access that unseen realm, and from it gain the strength, motivation, and knowledge we need to restore the life-sapping imbalances surrounding us on Earth, on this side of the veil.

Peace, Diane