My personal myth
The informing myth for my life & work is in the reweaving of the three threads of the human cultural diaspora. In our physical diaspora from our origins on the plains of Africa, we have passed through three main cultural modes or expressions. I see each of these expressions as essential aspects of a complete human experience, when held in balance.
The first is the Western scientific/industrial. Its main focus is the exploration of the outer world. It wants to know, to discover, to categorize, to conquer. It has given us an understanding of the origins of the universe as seen through the lens of the hard sciences, as well as a body of knowledge about human physiology, psychology, and the plant & animal kingdoms. It has produced such useful developments as electricity, internal combustion, and antibiotics. In its shadow expression, it has also brought about the subjugation and oppression of many different kinds of people, the pollution of the air & water, and the overconsumption of resources. It is primarily concerned with the needs of the individual, not those of the group.
The second expression is the Eastern mystical, in all its myriad forms. These include Buddhism, Taoism, Sufism, and Hinduism. All are concerned with the exploration of inner worlds. They have given us the meditative arts and trance states. They have allowed people to know their own minds and to develop a more peaceful & engaged presence in the world. Their translation to societal models has produced civilizations of great wisdom & compassion, such as that of the Tibetan people. The shadow expression of this mode is the hermit monk who is withdrawn from the world of people, content to dwell in meditative bliss, and who will not successfully defend himself if subject to attack from the outside.
The third expression is that of the Indigenous. These are the people who stayed close to the Earth and the old ways. The primary concern of this expression is neither knowledge of the outer nor the inner world, but rather the value of relationship. Its people are in touch with the spirit world, as well as the world of animal totems and ancestors. They have kept alive the ancient skills needed to survive without the contrivances of the Western world. This mode of expression can be seen in many parts of the world in slightly different form, but the same in essence, from Africa to the Amazon to the Arctic. It is often unable to describe its own special magic. It may need observation from the outside to illuminate how, for example, a Kalahari Bushman hunter can place an arrow through the heart of a leaping gazelle with primitive hunting equipment that can’t reliably hit a target when shot by an expert Western marksman. The shadow side of indigeneity is its adherence to unhealthy ways of holding power and reinforcing tribal norms, manifesting in practices such as female genital mutilation. It is primarily concerned with the needs of the group, not those of the individual.
For the last hundred thousand years, humans have been moving apart through this physical and cultural diaspora. Now, the time has come to reweave these threads. We see the world shrinking as people are brought together through technology. At the same time, we see a yearning for different ways of experiencing the world. We see this as strongly in America as anywhere. Those raised primarily in the Western scientific/industrial mode are hungry for the Eastern mystical practices, and for the earthy wisdom of the Indigenous. They long to know their inner worlds, and to be connected in deeper relationship to the Earth and the spirit realms.
Unlike some of my contemporaries, I don’t view our journey through the Western mode to be an aberration or a mistake. As stated, I see the desire to know the outer world to be an essential aspect of a full human consciousness. It is only when it isn’t balanced by the other modes that it takes the perverted form we’re all too familiar with. We may know how to split atoms, but without the meditative reflection of the yogi, and the concern for the earth and for future generations, how can we use that knowledge for its highest purpose?
I see this my work as a place where the greatest aspects of these three modes of human consciousness can be honored and practiced, and where the shadow sides can be illuminated as well. By weaving these threads back together through our work, our spiritual & medicinal practices, and our relations with the land and with each other, we can engage our full human potential. We can move past the limitations of our species to the next stage of human spiritual evolution.
I can’t claim to know entirely what this looks like in full. I can only hold a vision: of a people who know the value of both light & of shadow, of knowledge & of mystery, of doing & of not doing. I hold a vision of a people who are equally of the earth and of the stars, complete within & without, and living fully in service of a cause greater than themselves.