LIGHT OMEGA

Dec. 13, 2004Articles and commentary regarding world events
EARTHLIGHT:
MAN'S EVOLVING RELATIONSHIP WITH NATURE


There is but one sky, and it embraces us all,
There is but one earth, and it shelters us all,
There is but one wind, and it nourishes us all,
There is but one Life, that is lived by us all.


* * * * *

     Humanity's relationship to the earth is meant to be one of harmony and respect for the sacred. This sacred earth, this holy vessel of God's life, is Divine light merging with Divine form. Have we known this always? Have we forgotten it? Has it slipped to the background of our awareness because we have been too busy to see?

      The answer is complex, for we in the West, imbued with the Judaeo-Christian tradition, have had to go through a long evolution in order to understand the principle of one Life - something that Native peoples have known since the beginning of time. This is not because a mistaken path was taken. Rather, it is because the evolution of Western consciousness has progressed along a different spiritual current than that of Native peoples - one which needed to pass through the awareness of 'mastery' in order to return to the will-to-share and to the perception of unity. This Western path, moving through complexity and through the union of opposites, is meant to join in a circle the 'drive toward mastery' with the perception of unity, bringing us back (and forward) to the sensibility which Native peoples have devoutly anchored for millennia. This singular quest, so essentially human, has been the source of our expansion as well as the source of our separation from truth. For as we have achieved greater mastery, we have also lost the unity which is essential to our nature and to the nature of our relationship with the earth. Whether this had to be to the extent that now is, is a question of mystery and of reflection. For we have departed sufficiently from our original nature so that both we suffer and the earth suffers as well.

      Today, there is an ever-growing hunger for the reunion that awaits us, and so it will be, despite the fact that many in high office continue to make decisions that are contrary to the purposes of this joining. What is at stake here is not whether this will happen, for it is bound to happen as spiritual life progresses. What is at stake is how much harm to the earth and to people will take place in the meantime.

     In the Book of Genesis, we see the current toward 'mastery' in its incipient form, resonating in the word 'dominion', where man is given 'dominion' over the earth and its creatures (Genesis 1:26):

     And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

     But what does 'dominion' mean? For centuries, and increasingly in the presence of advancing technology, 'dominion' has meant subjugation of nature to the growing appetites of society for greater comfort, greater convenience, greater speed of implementation of our own 'will'. But subjugation or 'power over' is only one possible interpretation of 'dominion'. It is the interpretation that derives from and that parallels the original, Hebraic perception of God as the supreme Power of the universe - God-as-omnipotent. This is what is revealed to us in Genesis, as if God were saying to us in that time:

     "Just as I, God, have power over human life and reign supreme, so shall you, man, have power over the kingdom of nature and reign supreme."

     The word 'dominion', used here, reflects and mirrors the original interpretation of God's relationship with man, establishing a symmetrical meaning in man's relationship with nature. This orientation has prevailed in the West for a long, long time, despite spiritual developments to the contrary. For even as time has passed and our understanding of God's being has expanded, the consciousness of man, though constantly evolving, has also remained fixed in its attraction to power and to mastery in relation to the earth. And so the evolution of consciousness has often not made itself visible in the actual practice of the way we treat nature. This is particularly true within the last century, as Western society as a whole has become more secular and more mechanized. Nevertheless, in terms of spiritual progress, the Judaeo-Christian current has already moved us forward, from the perception of God-as-Power to the perception of God-as-Love. This change occurred with the advent of Christianity two thousand years ago. What opened up then did not leave the former perception of God behind, but rather incorporated it within a larger whole. In a parallel vein, our interpretation of the biblical word, 'dominion', and our relationship with nature, was meant to evolve as well.

     If we recognize God-as-Love, and if we are in a parallel relationship with the realms of nature, the concept of 'dominion' must symmetrically change and soften as well, no longer reflecting the attribute of dominance, but rather of 'wise stewardship'. Such a redefinition ceases to emphasize God as omnipotent but as wise and loving Father, knowing what is best for his children. 'Wise-stewardship' reflects our changing understanding, through love, of God's relationship with man, mirrored in our own relationship with the creatures of the earth. In this second stage, the practice of wisdom and of loving-kindness toward nature becomes part of what God-as-Love gives to his children - a stewardship based in love. Of course, this is not what has been practiced over the centuries. Quite the opposite has been true as society has moved further away from the sacred. Yet it has been there in principle, evolving out of a growing consciousness of God as a loving God. This consciousness of love still waits to be integrated with man's physical life upon the earth.

     Today, we have taken yet another step in the direction of spiritual evolution, and are at a new place, going through another translation of the being of God. Beyond God-as-Love, there is, today, the growing awareness of God as the 'ground of all Being' - That which unifies every living thing. Thich Nhat Hanh has described this as ''Interbeing' - the awareness that "everything is in everything else." Because of this, there is the growing possibility for no longer seeing ourselves as separate from each other or from the life of the earth. This emerging awareness does not exclude love at its foundation, but rather adds to it the understanding that we are all part of one self - the self of God. Awareness of the unified self of God which includes all creatures, takes us beyond the practice of loving-kindness as an aspect of 'wise stewardship', to the practice of loving-kindness because the 'other' is part of ourself and of the one Life of which we are a part.

     Clearly and sadly, it is visible that so-called 'developed nations' have yet to realize much of either of the latter two stages of this flow of spiritual evolution. For many, the drive toward mastery has become sufficiently overpowering in its attraction that neither the consciousness of God-as-Love, nor the consciousness of God as the 'ground of Being' has replaced the consciousness of God-as-Power in relation to nature and in relation to the original use of the word, 'dominion'. Nevertheless, the ultimate joining of 'mastery' with 'unity' lies ahead for all of us, even for those who presently remain unaware of this as a goal.

     The degree to which our relationship with the earth has become unbalanced due to greed, combined with unconsciousness and indifference to the suffering of others (See: Bhopal - Human Rights in Toxic Shock), has brought sorrow to many. It has also been the cause of frequent warnings by Hopi Elders, by Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Matthai, winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, as well as by others. This lack of balance is a clear signpost of the time we are in - a time of danger for the earth and for the people on it. Though there are an increasing number of people who have become advocates for the earth, the forces which seek 'dominion over' are still powerful. They have sought to regulate economic priorities of government and society so that often, only very limited growth can be made toward regaining balance, sometimes none at all, and sometimes only a step backward may be seen.

     The importance of 'balance' in relation to the earth cannot be overstated. And the importance of asking the question, for each of us, of what kind of sacrifices we might be willing to make to renew and regain balance, cannot be overstated either. Would we drive slower to maximize fuel efficiency, share transportation more often, use less energy in our homes, conserve water, remove ourselves from the top of the food chain, care more about what we put into the earth, reduce our need for air conditioning, and in general, attend less to how things and people 'look' rather than to who they 'are'? Would we, in a word, be willing to become less self-centered and more centered in the heart that we share with all of life?

     This is the basis for a new attitude toward one another. It involves a new priority to be given to participating in the one Life of which we are a part -

- with other human souls, wherever they may be, and whoever they are, for those who have less are also our brothers.

- with the creatures of the earth who are our 'little brothers', so that they benefit from our respect and care.

- with the earth itself, so that we do not take it for granted, nor ask from it more than it is wise for it to give.

     When the perception of oneness has achieved greater focus within our collective consciousness, then the desire to share and the ability to share will become something that happens of its own accord, emerging out of a growing sense of unity. In the meantime, we must each endeavor to dismantle those attitudes within us that separate us from others and from our oneness with the earth. We must become better friends to all of life.


* * * * *


"Nobel Winner Maathai Sounds Alarm Over Planet." (Dec. 10, 2004)
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1210-03.htm

'Climate Witnesses' Testify About Effects Of Global Warming." (Dec. 11, 2004) http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1211-01.htm

"U.S. Firmly Anti-Kyoto as U.N. Climate Talks Start." (Dec. 7, 2004)
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1207-02.htm

"Bush Sets Out Plan to Dismantle 30 Years of Environmental Laws." (Dec. 5, 2004)
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1205-02.htm



Hopi Myth of Creation

     The following account is based on a review of the writings of Frank Waters, author of the "Book of the Hopi" and several other books on Native American spirituality. I include it here to illuminate some of the central ideas of the Hopi and of other tribes who have never left their sacred calliing to remain guardians of the earth.

     "The Hopi myth of creation begins with the creator and endless space. Like many other religious and scientific views of the emergence of earth and man, the Hopi belief of creation began with the creator, Taiowa.

     Taiowa created Sotuknang first, followed by Spider Woman, then a set of twins. These first people created by the creator were in tune with the creator in a way which modern day people are not. The first Hopi people were committed to their creator and only wished to do as the creator commanded them.

     The Hopi believe that the human race has passed through three different worlds and life ways since the beginning. At the end of each prior world, human life has been purified or punished by the Great Spirit due mainly to corruption, greed and turning away from the Great Spirit's teachings. The last great destruction was the flood which destroyed all but a few faithful ones who asked and received a permission from the Great Spirit to live with Him in this new land. The Great Spirit said, "It is up to you, if you are willing to live my poor, humble and simple life way. It is hard, but if you agree to live according to my teachings and instructions, if you never lose faith in the life I shall give you, you may come and live with me." The Hopi and all who were saved from the great flood made a sacred covenant with the Great Spirit at that time. We Hopi made an oath that we will never turn away from Him. For us the Creator's laws never change or break down (Evehema, 1996).

     The first of these three worlds gave the Hopi people a simple life with the animals. The second world produced further developments such as crafts, homes and villages. The third world proved to be a great world with mass multiplication, advances in society such as big cities, countries, and a higher form of civilization. This proved to be too difficult a barrier to carry on the wishes and plan of the creator. The more advanced a society became, the more the people became preoccupied with their own earthly plans. Those who remained close to the creator and his plan recognized that the more advanced society became and the longer people remained on earth, the harder it was to keep the wishes of the creator.

     In this third world, the creator allowed for the world to be destroyed by flood. The Hopi who believed were guided by Spider woman to safety and then the earth was flooded. After a long period of time in safe keeping, the Hopi people were instructed as to how to journey to the fourth world, known as Tuwaqachi, or World Complete. Once the journey was complete, the people were instructed that although this new world is not as beautiful and easy as the previous worlds, it has everything the people need and allows them great choice. The manner in which the people choose will determine whether or not this world must be destroyed as the previous three, or whether the Creator's plan will be carried out by the people.

     A gift given to the Hopi by the creator was the ability to communicate with each other, even though they did not speak the same language. They could do this through a closeness of spirit which allowed them to see and talk to each other through the center on the top of their head. They had this ability because of the continuance of singing praises to the creator.

     The Hopi believed there is a consequence to every action. There is also a distinct difference between the balance of nature on earth and human nature on earth. Human nature has some characteristic flaws such as greed, hatred, and violence. The Hopi believe that human nature has destroyed three previous worlds due to a lack of respect for nature by humans as well as a lack of respect for one another, as well as a lack of respect and reverence toward the Creator.

     The following is a message from Chief Dan Evehema to mankind: "We are now faced with great problems, not only here, but throughout the land. Ancient cultures are being annihilated. Our people's lands are being taken from them, leaving them no place to call their own. Why is this happening? It is happening because many have given up or manipulated their original spiritual teachings. The way of life which the Great Spirit has given to all its people of the world, whatever your original instructions, are not being honored. It is because of this great sickness called greed, which infects every land and country, that simple people are losing what they have kept for thousands of years. Now, we are at the very end of our trail. Many people no longer recognize the true path of the Great Spirit. They have, in fact, no respect for the Great Spirit or for our precious Mother Earth, who gives us all life. We are instructed in our ancient prophecy that this would occur. We were told that someone would try to go up to the moon: that they would bring something back from the moon and that after that, nature would show signs of losing its balance. Now we see that coming about. All over the world there are now many signs that nature is no longer in balance. Floods, drought, earthquakes, and great storms are occurring and causing much suffering. (Evehema, 1996).

     There needs to be a revival of the spirit and wisdom of our ancestors. Whether Hopi, Jewish, Christian, or agnostic, there needs to be a consensus among humankind that there is a symmetry in our world which must be obtained and preserved. We, as a worldwide society, need to recognize this delicate balance and use the "center of the top of our heads" to ensure our earth's healthy existence as well as humankind's existence within its boundaries."






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