Friday, November 18, 2005

Dear Ideal Reader

My ideal reader is self-aware, and awakening to the global eco-crisis and thus the biggest challenge for our species since the invention of agriculture. This reader is hungry for dialogue, for companionship in the struggle, for honest feedback on their thoughts and actions and ready to move through denial and despair to a measure of clarity about this mess we’ve created and empowerment to clean it up. Our Mother can take care of herself. With divine help – the divine within that gives life from within to all Creation – we can learn to be a sustaining presence in the web, rather than a cancer spreading throughout it, and thus aborted through Her self-regulating systemic wisdom.

Ultimately, my ideal reader dwells at my root, as I described the animal almost twenty-five years ago: There is an animal deep within me who carries me. It has never split from nature, and does not worry about messing up another creature's habitat. It always knows what to do, through what we call instinct: a bodily kind of knowing. It knows its place in the great web of creation in which it is enmeshed. It doesn’t worry about theology, or images of God, for it sees God's face in all the natural world. This animal is divine, was worshipped in the infancy of our race, and must still be honored if we are to keep the connection with our deepest selves, our oldest roots, and the Earth, our Mother. There can be no new religion, New Age, or evolutionary leap forward that does not take with it this animal, for it contains and carries us. If we lose its image, we perish.

Since then, I have journeyed from pantheism to panentheism, and from identifying as a “pagan Quaker” to a Christian Universalist (still Quaker). The best teachers of how to live on the earth remain the dwindling little bands of “primary” peoples upon whom our rapacious technological facility preys. It is not just other species I want to preserve, but these precious ways of knowing how to live in the varied corners of the earth – including the small farmer everywhere. But to journey back to my earlier insight, many of us will need to travel the path of the axial religions which were born out of human failure: when we first became priestly and hierarchical in urban centers with differentiated castes, turning our backs on shamanic vision and sustainable lifeways.

“Journeying back” to the pivotal realization of my animal self does not mean, however, that I propose we return to a hunter-gatherer mode of existence. The journey is a psychospiritual one. The outer cultural journey, thought we know some of the elements, crucially devolution of the global economy and regrounding in the local, learning faster than we’d like to live without fossil fuels, is not back but achingly forward into something I hope all of us who blog here can help build. And I’m not referring to a “virtual community.”

NEXT: Ecospiritual values of Eastern Christianity and a parable. I plan to post weekly, usually Fridays.

I look forward to reading your blog about how you think we can live fuller and more spiritual lives in our diverse and interdependant world.


In the words of Wendell Berry: "... the earth is what we all have in common, that is what we are made of and what we live from, and we therefore cannot damage it w/o damaging those w/ whom we share it.... there is an uncanny resemblance between our behavior toward each other and our behavior toward the earth."
Robert: You have touched the core of my issue and expressed it in moving language. I look forward to following your exploration of it and contributing when I can. Thanks for coming out, as the animal you are! Clark
nicely done. the intentions of this piece, particularly the beginning, remind me a lot of what i studied in terms of the socratic dialogue. you might like "mystical musings," an entry i posted on my blog a few nights ago about rumi and sohet - or divine/mystical dialogue.
will look forward to reading your page.
Bob, as always, you are an inspiration, and your thoughts about the interplay between spirit and ecology form new dendrites in my mind!

The contrasts of images in this posting are really potent. The completion of the Tehri dam is a great illustration of the run-away pace of economic growth in the developing world (look to China for a more deliberate and possibly somewhat more sustainable development plan). A defeated Sunderlal, is heartbreaking, but still he and other courageous ones inspire us with hope and ideas for alternative yet comfortable lifestyles. The question that comes up for me: does "sustainability" include our wild "four-legged" friends, the winged creatures, and the vibrant oceanic wilderness that still exists (if greatly diminished) throughout our Earth?
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