Books

SPIRITUAL POWER: HOW IT WORKS: Book preface by Llewellyn Vaughan – Lee

When I was twelve, my family moved from London to a house in the country only a few miles from the town of Glastonbury and its mythical Tor. Many times as a teenager I scrambled up the steep slopes of this strange hill to the small chapel on the top. I wandered through the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey with its beautiful octagonal “Abbot’s Kitchen,” or sat in the stillness beside the Chalice Well. Driving from London to our house we would pass by Stonehenge, where one could stop and walk among the ancient stones. These were in the days before new-age tourism, before fences and kiosks. The Tor, the ruins, the well, and the ancient standing stones beside the road, were as they had been for centuries—mysterious but also just present. This was a landscape that held the rich magic of centuries, of ancient peoples and sacred place.

Later, in my late teens, I would come to know about ley lines, the energy patterns in the Earth, and how these sacred sites were at a confluence of many such lines. Even the small parish churches from the Middle Ages that dot the English countryside were built on older sites, part of this inner energy grid. Here the worlds came together, worship and wonder woven into the land. At that time I spent a few weeks in Chartres Cathedral, mainly studying the maze—a pattern on the floor that guides the pilgrim on a journey of initiation.(1) Built on a site sacred to the Black Madonna, this Gothic cathedral was a pinnacle of sacred geometry and stained glass; and one night when a pilgrimage came from Paris—each person holding a candle, linking hands around the building, and then standing in the empty interior—I knew the power of the place. Here there was an ancient wisdom, long forgotten in our present time. Sacred space, sacred land, and esoteric teachings had aligned the hidden energies of the Earth and the heavens.

At Chartres there had been a medieval mystery school that taught the sacred sciences: geometry, music, astronomy. The initiates knew how to channel the spiritual energy of the inner worlds, the power of the sacred that can help awaken an individual pilgrim, but also nourish the whole community and the land itself. This was a spirituality that was not confined to personal transformation, but part of a deeper understanding of spiritual energy, how it belongs to the whole of humanity and the Earth itself.

The Tor that I climbed as a teenager, Stonehenge, and Chartres Cathedral whose maze is a model of the universe, are part of a global network of sites of spiritual power—the ancient power grid of the planet. Many of these sites have been looked after by Indigenous peoples. From the Golden Mountains of the Altai in Siberia, to the “Heart of the World” of the Kogi in the Sierra Nevada, there is a web of sacred sites that traditionally hold the balance between the inner and outer worlds. Many shamans and others believe that in caring for these sites we can restore our reverential relationship to the sacred and spiritual realms, and thus help the forces of nature rebalance the world.

Soon after visiting Chartres I met my teacher. Sitting at her feet in a small room in North London I came to know of another dimension of spiritual power, the presence of spiritual masters who work in the inner worlds of light. The work of these masters is not only to help the spiritual development of their disciples, but also in service to the whole of humanity and its evolution. In the Middle East and India the existence of such spiritual masters has long been recognized. However, when in the last century different spiritual traditions came from the East, for some reason this element rarely made the transition. As a result in the West there is little understanding of the existence of these masters or their work in the world—it does not belong to our collective spiritual consciousness. Our focus on the individual, and understanding spirituality as being primarily about personal transformation, has blinkered us to this vaster dimension of spiritual work.

In Sufism there is a tradition of the awliyâ, the friends of God. They are a fixed number of evolved human beings who look after the spiritual well-being of the world. “He has made the awliya governors of the universe… Through the blessing of their advent the rain falls from heaven, and through the purity of their lives the plants spring up from the earth,”(2) In Judaism there is a similar tradition of a group of evolved human beings who help keep the spiritual balance in the world. They are known as the Lamed Vav Tzadikim, or “Righteous Ones.” In this tradition every generation has 36 such saints on whose piety the fate of the world depends. These holy people are hidden, nobody knows who they are.

Now, the fate of our world hangs in balance. Our planet is dying, ravaged by our exploitation and greed—soil made toxic, waters polluted—we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of species, or Anthropocene, the first mass extinction caused primarily by human beings. In just a few decades since I first struggled up the Tor, touched the standing stones, our world has lost part of its wild beauty, become more of a clear-cut wasteland caused by our present materialistic nightmare. Some say we have passed the “tipping point” of irreversible climate change, while others hope for a scientific solution, some “green economy” that can allow us to continue this dream that is destroying the fragile web of life. And the Earth itself is crying, her body and soul calling out to all who might listen, what the Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh calls “the bells of mindfulness.”

And those of us who hear Her cry are responding, searching for “a new story,” one that is not based upon economic progress but real sustainability for all of creation, a story that supports the Earth and Her many communities.(3) This is a story that will restore reverence to the Earth and reconnect our souls to the sacred within creation, a story that will save our planet. Some have even already begun to articulate such a story: a beautiful and compelling vision of the entire universe as a single, inextricably interconnected, living whole, returning to us a sense of wonder that nourishes our body and soul.

But for this story to come alive, to step off the pages of our imagination into living reality, we need spiritual power—both the ancient power and magic of the Earth, and the esoteric wisdom of the masters. We need the knowledge of the wisdom keepers of the ancient traditions, of the Indigenous people’s who walked this land and spoke with its spirits for centuries. They hold the knowledge of the “original instructions” that were given to humanity from the beginning. They can help us to remember the old ways, when everything was sacred, when the standing stones were alive, when the power of sacred space was understood, when heaven and Earth, the Sun and the stars, were bonded together and the names of creation were known.

And we need the power and understanding of the spiritual masters who know the alchemy of light and love, and how to work with the higher energies within the individual and the cosmos—how the individual is a microcosm of the whole—in Sufi symbolism, the lesser adam in relation to the greater Adam,(4) and how spiritual power works not just for the journey of the individual, but for the whole of humanity and the Earth. Because working with love and light is most closely aligned with my own Sufi path, it is this knowledge that this book mainly seeks to uncover. This tradition holds many secrets, some of which are needed at this time of transition.

When I first wrote this book, over a decade and a half ago, it was guided by a vision of this new story, this awakening Earth, arising through the debris of our dying civilization like green shoots coming through a barren and bleak wasteland. And there are such hints of a global awakening or Great Turning—in individuals and groups envisioning the Earth and humanity as a living unity—where we have moved beyond the image of separation into the consciousness of oneness as our collective awareness. And yet we are also witnessing an accelerating destruction of the ecosystem, an ecocide that is devastating the inner and outer worlds. And in our present civilization there is increasing divisiveness, with an ever smaller percentage holding greater wealth and visible power. As this old story holds a tighter and tighter grip on the world and its resources, as its seductive vision of materialism drags even more people into its soulless nightmare, the question remains whether this story driven by greed and desire needs to completely self-destruct before something new can be fully born? Will the whole fragile structure of our world fall apart as we descend into a dark age, or can the world turn before it is too late?

I believe in the ancient powers of the Earth and the work of the masters, but also see the wreckage we are causing, and how it may last for centuries. This book does not make any promises, but rather opens a doorway to a different way of being, to an understanding of spiritual power that can take us to the future that is waiting, whenever we decide to walk through this doorway. It is not a “how to” book, providing instructions how to work with spiritual power. Rather it hopes to expand our awareness to include a dimension of spiritual work that is rarely part of our collective spiritual conversation. In particular it looks at the relationships we need to make, relationships with the inner world of the soul and life itself.(5) The new story of humanity will be formed from patterns of relationship—with each other, with the inner worlds, and with the Earth.

In recent years there have been important steps towards reconnecting with the original wisdom of Indigenous traditions, which are vital if we are to understand how to care for the Earth as a living interconnected whole. Spiritual work that belongs to the inner dimensions of light and love is less well known—traditionally it has been more hidden. But this aspect of spiritual power has an important part to play in our collective evolution. We need this energy, this magic and light, to help humanity to awaken from its nightmare. As I describe in these chapters, much work of preparation has been done, but the world today also hangs by a thin thread.

—Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, October 2018 Purchace Book Here

Footnotes
1. When the pilgrim had traversed the winding path of the Chartres maze, often on their knees, they would reach the center and turning, see the light coming through the mandala of the western rose window, symbolic of an awakened heart. This study of the maze produced the book: Chartres Maze: A Model of the Universe? by Keith Critchlow, Jane Carroll, and Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.
2. Hujwiri, Kashf Al-Mahjub, p. 213.
3. For further resources on this subject, see Vaughan-Lee, Changing the Story: www.workingwithoneness.org/articles/changing-the-story/ and www.workingwithoneness.org/uncategorized/changing-the-story-the- need-for-magic-2/
4. Man as microcosm is also imaged in Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic image of Vitruvian Man, with the square and the circle symbolizing Earth and heaven.
5. The phrase “inner world” refers to subtle states of consciousness that transcend the known physical universe. This concept may be found in religious, metaphysical, and esoteric teachings, which propound the idea of a whole series of subtle planes or worlds or dimensions which, from a center, interpenetrate themselves and the physical planet in which we live, the solar systems, and all the physical structures of the universe. This interpenetration of planes creates a multi- dimensional universe with many different levels of consciousness. © 2019 The Golden Sufi Center.

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LOOKING INTO THE ABYSS: Dispair, reconciliation and the Courage to Love by Justine Huxley

Justine is the director of St Ethelburgas Centre for Peace and Reconcilliantion in London and has just published: Generation Y, Spirituality and Social Change

In the last few weeks, we’ve all in our own ways been digesting the news that we have less than 12 years before climate chaos hits.  In the last 7 days, we’ve also been hit with reports that animal populations have been reduced by 60%, that the oceans are significantly warmer than scientists realised, and seen Brazil elect a president who has been described as a ‘global danger’.
It seems we have entered a new phase in our journey of self-destruction, and the ecological and social collapse we have suspected to be on the horizon is now coming to meet us.
The culture of astonishing denial that has pervaded the mainstream has made it almost taboo to talk about such things. The reactions of those unable to face reality can close us down or render it pointless to talk honestly.  But in recent weeks, we sense a sea change: the time for reticence is over.
Mainstream media and also the scientific community for years have been ‘softening’ the facts – always presenting them with relentlessly upbeat messages that we still have time.  The idea is deeply embedded that people must be protected from hopelessness and despair for fear of creating panic or even greater paralysis (Deep Adaptation, Jem Bendell, Cumbria University).  But those messages are now sounding increasingly hollow.  We need to act fast, absolutely, but even if we pull out all the stops, the likelihood is we are going to see more migration, poverty, hunger, conflict and war than we have ever known.
Protecting ourselves from hopelessness no longer serves us.  As many enlightened activists have told us (such as Scilla Elworthy, nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize), only if we walk towards the  darkness and not away from it, can we be transformed and be of real service to others or the world.
Many different kinds of responses needed – and I honour those responding with everything from civil disobedience to deepening our relationship with Earth as sacred.  We all need to follow our own hearts prompting.
For me, the theme of reconciliation is naturally to the fore.  I cannot shake off the image of an individual facing a life-threatening illness.  Confronted with a potentially terminal diagnosis, making rapid outer changes in lifestyle is immediate, driven by the determination to live.  But surrendering to the real possibility of death is behind the deeper change – change which could be viewed through the lens of reconciliation.  Reconciliation with our own mortality and with how our individual life has been lived often leads to reconciliation with our family, to making peace with our enemies, and to decisions – made with a sharply awakened consciousness – about which values to live by if time might be limited.
I’ve seen awe-inspiring change made by people in these situations.  I’ve seen people drop grudges and let go of fixed patterns overnight, in a way that seemed almost unbelievable to those around them.  I’ve seen people give up long-held defences and open to the beauty and spontaneity of life. It’s as if a secret reveals itself about what it means to be human.  The seriousness also catapults us beyond the limits of the physical body and into the journey of the soul. Something much bigger than our own individual life makes its presence felt – whether we call that God, or experience it through the power of human love and our existence in a web of  relationship with others.
All this happens when we are brave enough to go beyond denial, to embrace despair and be changed by it.  And miracles are possible in this space – miracles that include but are not limited to physical recovery.
Sitting with this theme of reconciliation, I feel a call to reach inward – to ask my own heart how I can love more fearlessly – not just those close to me, but our whole human family and those around the world whose lives are already being torn apart.  How can I allow my heart to be broken by it all – by the beauty of what we are destroying, by the melody of a solitary blackbird, or by those pregnant moments before first light, as a dark winter night awakens into day. How can I live the knowledge that mystery is present even in the midst of what is falling apart?
I also feel a call to reach outwards –  to colleagues, activists and spiritual companions – to make space for retreat and discernment.  Not to give up on outer action, but to explore in parallel this inner work of reconciliation and see if we can source the resilience that comes only from being in touch with the depths.  How can we prepare honestly for what is coming? How can we act with integrity, and keep acting from that place, even on the days when it all seems futile?  How can we meet this with the full depth of our spirituality – with both the ferocious passion and the ruthless inner detachment that real service demands?
To those willing to look into the abyss – may our love and connection with each other and with Earth make this a time of meaning –  and sustain us in the times to come.

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DIE WISE by Stephen Jenkinson

Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul.

If we care about the world that is to come after us then we need to die wise.
A book about grief, dying, and the great love of life.

 

 

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Four Element Breath Exersise from Sufi Chivalry by Pir Zia Inayat Khan

Aligning with the Four Elements:

If you would befriend the four element greet them each morning after rising.
Stand before an open window or outside.

Turn your entire attention to the breath.
Breath in through the nose and out through the nose 5 times.
This is the breath of Earth.
The direction of its current is horizontal, like the ground spread out before you.
Its colour-yes as your inner eye opens you will find that even the breath has a colour- is ochre.
Feel the bones in your body: these are the stones in you .
Sense your flesh: this is your loam.
Hear the rumbling call addressed to your skeleton by the granite and sandstone in the ground,
and the answer your skull and bones intone. The qualities of earth will show themselves to you,
God willing, and you will touch the virtues of patience endurance and humility.

Next breath in through your nose and out through your mouth 5 times.
This is the breath of water.
Its direction is downward, as water flows.
Its colour is green, the colour of the sea of oasis and the genius of water himself Lord Khidre.
Feel the pulsing flood of blood and lymph surging through your arteries and veins.
See how the waves in your veins are a piece with the storming, gushing frothing deluge
that tumbles across continents and seeps into all things.
Witness the unbounded generosity of water.

Now breathe through your mouth and out through your nose 5 times.
This is the breath of fire.
The direction of its current is upward, the direction of the flame’s flicker.
The colour of the fire breath is red , the red of burning coals and tongues of fire.
Feel the heat of your body, how it warms your flesh and sends its radiance into the surrounding space.
The sunlight warms all that it touches.
The whole of the earth and all who walk upon her are bathed in the sun’s glow,
warmed to the marrow of your bones.
Fire is vision in the mind and ardour in the heart.

Finally breath in through the mouth and out through the mouth 5 times.
This is the air breath.
The current of air is zigzag, moving inscrutably this way and that.
Its colour is the blue of the sky, the azure of sublime immensity.
Feel the sky engulf your body, rendering it insubstantial- pure breath.
Give yourself over to the exaltation of freedom from every earthbound encumbrance.

When you have finished, return to your natural respiration, sensing the presence of earth, water,
fire and air balanced within you.

Saracen Chivalry

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Darkening: A Four Point Plan by Llewellyn Vaughan- Lee

The sacred moment of dying:

“However you look at it we are a dying civilization. We are , for the first time, one species that has almost destroyed a whole ecosystem.
We need to witness it with awareness and not pretend it is something else, because then we start to go into fantasyland, and we do not honour the dying that is taking place And all of the species and all the animals are giving themselves to this dying.
And if we are old enough and wise enough, and mature enough and stable enough in our (spiritual) practice, to witness this dying, maybe we can also be present with what is being born, or may be born later. We hold the seeds of the future. But if we are not prepared to welcome and witness the dying of our civilization how can we honour what is being born”

Darkening: A Four-Point Plan

One of the first responses I received to my recently published book, Darkening of the Light: Witnessing the End of an Era, was that it was “a tough read,” and “I wish he would have been clearer as to what steps we can do in our complex lives to try the best we can to return the soul of the world to its former strength and beauty.” Normally I am reluctant to tell people what to do, as we each have our own inner wisdom, our own guidance and way to reconnect with the soul of the world. But this request struck a chord and in a moment of inspiration I came up with a “Four-Point Plan” to respond to this darkening.
The subtitle of the book, Witnessing the End of an Era, is really the first of the four points: Witnessing—an awareness of what is happening in the inner and outer worlds. It means a state of awareness that sees without judgement, without expectation, without wanting anything, and in particular without wanting anything to change.
This is a very, very important esoteric spiritual practice—to witness, to watch. In Sufism the witness is called shahid. Part of our spiritual practice is just to watch—to witness. Initially you watch your self, you become aware of your self just through witnessing. You watch your reactions; you watch the patterns you live by. You don’t try to change them, because only too often when you try to change patterns you use the same attitude of consciousness that created them—then you just create a variation rather than any real change. It is actually a very important step “on the spiritual path not to want anything, not to try to change, but just to be aware. This gradually creates a quality of consciousness, or awareness, separate from the ego and its patterns, desires and fears—and is the beginning of bringing the consciousness of the Self into your life.
The work of witnessing that we practice on an individual level can also happen on a global level. Sufis have been called “a brotherhood of migrants who keep watch on the world and for the world.” We watch what is happening in the inner and outer worlds. The outer world is of course more visible, more directly perceived. But as mystics and spiritual practitioners we also have access to the inner worlds, the world of our individual soul and the world soul, the anima mundi. For example, through meditation you can begin to be aware of how the light within you changes, when you have access to more light, greater inner clarity. You may also become aware of how certain outer actions or inner attitudes effect your inner light, or how your generosity or loving kindness changes, grows or lessens depending on your behaviour—what Sufis call your adab. Just as you can be aware of these changes within your self, so you can become aware of changes within the Greater Self—your soul and the world soul.
We watch our self and we watch the world. Nothing is separate, everything is interconnected. And in today’s world it is much easier to keep an awareness of what is happening in the world. For many years I have begun each day with a practice of inner and outer awareness. I like to get up early, and I begin with a cup of tea, followed by meditation, followed by prayer.  In my morning meditation I create a receptive space and inwardly ask if there is anything I need to see or be aware of during the day—I am inwardly attentive. Then, after praying for others, I listen to the news on the radio or read the news on the Internet to see what is happening in the world. So I begin my day attuned to the world. This was something my teacher Irina Tweedie taught us—she was often awake in the night and would listen to the BBC World Service on the radio, and she said it was like seeing a game of chess, an invisible hand moving pieces around the board of the world. In this way we can see things happening in the world not from any judgemental point of view but just from an awareness—a witnessing.
Then, as the first light comes, I go for a walk. I am fortunate to live in nature, and my walk beside the wetlands with the changing tides is a way to consciously connect to the natural world—to begin the day aware of its beauty, its rhythms and quality of presence. Through these simple practices I start the day with an attitude of witnessing, a communion with the world which is also an inner prayer. I am aware of the interconnected world of which I am a part, and I bring my consciousness into this inner and outer web of life.
We are part of this living world. Thich Nhat Hanhsays very clearly: “We will survive and thrive together with our Mother Earth or we will not survive at all.” Part of our next step in evolution is an awareness of this living unity, this oneness which is life itself. We are now a global community, and I think as responsible global citizens we need to be aware of what is happening in the world, whether it is the oil spills in Nigeria or the nuclear disaster that is still unfolding in Japan. Nothing is somewhere else, everything is in our backyard, and we need to hold an awareness of what is happening—like a light shining in the darkness.
Although as a culture we only value action—doing—there is a power in witnessing that can stop something getting worse in a particular way, the light of consciousness can hold back the darkness. While there is an outer awareness of our ecological devastation there is little awareness of what is happening in the inner worlds, which is part of the reason I wrote Darkening of the Light. And during the last five or six years I was made to witness this tragedy unfolding in the inner worlds, what I have called the loss of the light of the sacred. I saw what was being lost and it was so painful for me that I would block it out, sometimes for months at a time. I did not want to see, but something made me witness the inner effect of our outer actions—how the outer ecological crisis is reflected by an inner crisis that is even more tragic because it is unreported, unacknowledged, hardly witnessed. The darkness of our culture of greed and global exploitation, of forgetfulness of the sacred, is covering the light of the inner world, of the world soul.
Witnessing is more important than we realize. There is a mystical tradition that we are the eyes and ears of God in this world. Ibn Arabi says “the mystic is the pupil in the eye of humanity” because the mystic sees with the single eye of truth. In Shakespeare’s King Lear there is a very moving passage towards the end of the play, when the ageing king and his favourite daughter Cordelia are imprisoned, and he talks about how they will hear what happens at the court:
Who loses and who wins, who’s in, who’s out—
And take upon’s the mystery of things
As if we were God’s spies.
Like Lear and Cordelia, we are God’s spies, aware not only of the outer play of events, “who loses and who wins,” but also the inner truth, “the mystery of things.” And part of the inner truth that is overlooked at this time is the effect of our outer actions and attitude on the world soul, the anima mundi. This also needs to be witnessed.
The second of the four-point plan is Grief. Over the last few years, as I have witnessed what is happening to the inner worlds, I have felt deep and at times almost overwhelming sorrow—the sorrow at how the sacred is being neglected and the light being lost. Recently, when I was on a recent panel at Bioneers with Joanna Macy and Dekila Chungyalpa, they each spoke about how environmental work at this time evokes an extreme feeling of grief, as those involved witness what is happening to the natural world, what is being needlessly destroyed and in some instances lost forever. They said that for people in the environmental community the grief is sometimes too much to bear. But Joanna specifically said it’s really important to acknowledge the grief, to feel what is happening.
While witnessing is an objective act, feeling sorrow or grief engages us in a different way. There is the enormous grief over what we are doing to this beautiful planet, and there are places in the world where it is like an open wound. For example, on Midway island in the Pacific, one of the most remote places on earth, tens of thousands of baby albatrosses are lying dead, their bodies filled with plastic from the Pacific Garbage Patch. Chris Jordan has filmed this, and he writes about his profound grief for the life that is lost. But he also says how he:
came to discover that grief is not sadness. Grief is love. Grief is a felt experience of love for something lost or that we are losing. That is an incredibly powerful doorway. I think we all carry that abiding ocean of love for the miracle of our world.
Grief draws us towards love, opening us to our love for the world. And nothing is more potent or vital at this time than our love for the Earth. Love for the Earth, the most fundamental connection of our heart and soul with our planet, has to be the foundation for ecological work, in both the inner and outer worlds, to quote Thich Nhat Hanh:
Real change will only happen when we fall in love with our planet. Only love can show us how to live in harmony with nature and with each other and save us from the devastating effects of environmental destruction and climate change.[ii]
I think it requires a certain maturity to be able to feel and hold the tremendous grief at what we are destroying. But it means our hearts are engaged, our love for the Earth is present. This is our Earth, which has given us so much, and this is where our children and our grandchildren will grow up—and what we are doing is almost unspeakable. It is a betrayal of life itself. And we need to feel this, to grieve and to love.
But once you understand that the outer world is just a reflection of the inner world—which is an ancient esoteric teaching—well, sometimes I am glad that no one can see what I have been shown in the inner worlds and what this means. My own journey, my witnessing, has made me see what I find most tragic: the pollution and desecration of the inner worlds. Twenty years ago where there were still inner places of beauty and sacred meaning, now there is just a wasteland; where there were flowers, where there was still a spring, now something has been lost that cannot be replaced in our generation—and I don’t know what it will take to redeem it.
What for me is most tragic is the loss of the light of the world soul in the inner worlds. This light of the soul is what is most precious within our individual self and within the world soul. Without this light we cannot see, cannot find our way—the sacred meaning of life becomes covered over, obscured, almost lost. And seeing the inner worlds polluted, desecrated by our greed and endless desires to such a degree that this substance, this light, has been diminished—in some instances almost extinguished—has evoked an almost unbearable sorrow, the sorrow of my own soul for what is being lost. And this sorrow, this cry from the depths within me, brings to the surface the most primal cry of the soul, a prayer to God: “Remember the Earth, remember the Earth.”
The first stage is Witnessing, the second is Grief, and from this grief comes the third stage, Prayer. Prayer is the soul’s most basic response. It is our cry to God, to our Beloved, in times of distress. And my sense is that this primal cry from the soul is also the Earth’s prayer—the Earth is crying to God through us—our prayer is the voice, the calling of the Earth.
Each in our own way we pray, we cry within our heart. It can be the simple prayer of placing the Earth in our hearts and offering it to God—with our love, our grief, our sorrow at what is happening we lift our hearts to our Beloved. Or it can just be the few words of “Beloved, help!” or “Remember the Earth.” Prayer is born from need, and the Earth is in need of our prayers. Grief has opened our heart, our sorrow has cried out and this cry is our prayer.
I feel very strongly that grace and the power of God are needed to heal and transform our suffering planet. Too much has been destroyed, too much darkness is present for humanity alone to redeem the wasteland we have created, the light we have lost. Only through love and the presence of the Beloved can our world be healed.
I found it poignant that at the end of the interview I had with Oprah, she asked me, “Do you have one thing—main thing you want to say?” And something within me responded and said, “Yes! That the world belongs to God.” We have forgotten that the world belongs to God—in our hubris we think that we are the masters of creation, the lords of the world. But I don’t think that with all our effort we can heal the world—the destruction has been too great. We don’t have the understanding, nor do we have the power. Only through grace can the necessary healing be given.
The forces of darkness are destroying this world, whether you call them multi-national corporations, the oil business, or pure greed and corruption. In the last few years these forces have become more globally dominant and are now rampaging over the face of the world. Personally I am convinced that they are forces of darkness. Not only are they enacting ecocide but they go against everything that is sacred in life. They are destroying our fragile web of life, and also attacking the inner world, the light of the sacred and the world soul.  They are merciless in their exploitation. What we do not understand is that the outer world can regenerate itself much more quickly than the inner world. Nature can push back, “rewilding” can take place. But when the light in the inner world is diminished to such a degree, it is very, very difficult to regenerate. This is particularly true at this time, as we have lost much of the wisdom of how to work with the inner world. How many shamans are left who really understand how to heal the inner, particularly in our present culture that denies the very existence of inner worlds—that does not even know about the world soul?
In the face of this darkness and our own ignorance, our prayers are needed. We cannot fight the growing darkness, its tentacles are too pervasive, its grip on (or within?) our culture too strong. But we can pray—we can cry out to God. And we should never underestimate the power of prayer, the power of this primal connection and communion with the Creator, with the Power that is behind all that exists. In the moment of real despair our cry can be heard and real help and healing be given, the miracle of rebirth can happen.
And from this prayer we can also discover the action that needs to be done. Action is the fourth stage. We live in a world that needs us to act, to respond outwardly just as our prayers are an inner response: in the words of the Shakers, “Hands to work and hearts to God.” The problem with most action at this time is that it comes from the same mind-set that created the problem, the same conditioning and values that are destroying our world. This is why first we need to pray, so that we are aligned with a different set of values, a consciousness that is not conditioned. First prayer, then action.
Through prayer our hearts and minds can become aligned with the real need of the Earth and its wisdom which is deeper and older than our surface solutions. Hopefully we can be open enough to be guided towards the real work that needs to be done, rather than continuing the distortions of our present culture; a culture which rarely sees sustainability referring to the whole of creation, but rather as sustaining our present materialistic, energy-intensive lifestyle. Through prayer we can respond from a place of real wholeness, and a deeper knowing of the patterns of interconnection that run through all of life. Then our hands can work together with the energy of life, an energy that can restore and heal, that is responsive to life’s needs rather than just our desires.
Personally I do not feel now is the time for big projects. I don’t think there is yet the power, the energy or knowledge to support them. I think they will too easily get caught in the ideologies of the past, the mechanisms and framework of how our present civilization is constructed. I like the work of the English “recovering environmentalist” Paul Kingsnorth who says we have to accept that it’s over, this civilization is over. There is no point in trying to patch it up. It won’t work, and too often then you just feed energy in to the same ideology—you think you are doing something when you are just spinning wheels going nowhere. Yet action is required, and we should begin with what is small but essential, as when Mother Theresa says “small things with great love.”
To counter the darkening caused by the global corporations we need to return to what is most essential, the simple acts of care and loving kindness towards the ecosystem and each other. This is where healing will be born, in the small communities that are already growing around the planet—a return to simple human values that are not based upon greed. To act in our communities with care and concern—caring for a sick friend, cooking a meal with real love and attention—living with right action, mindfulness and common sense, and not being caught in the monster of consumerism that devours so much of our energy and light. How can we live simply and mindfully, with reverence for all of life? How can we once again learn to listen to life, the Earth, to our hearts, so we act in harmony with the real forces that underlie creation? How can we return to the values that sustain our souls as well as our bodies? What do we really need, rather than what we want? And how can we contribute, how can we help others and the Earth? How can we live the generosity that the Earth continues to teach us?
From this awareness, and the actions to which it gives birth, life can regenerate, organically, holistically. Life evolves and is a living organism that can recreate itself. But this will not be an easy transition, because our world is so out of balance. Our civilization has been running on empty for too long, our way of life too unsustainable. If we continue  our future is too bleak, the inner emptiness too desolate. In pursuit of a few material pleasures we will have lost what is most precious and most meaningful in our existence.  We will have to confront our fears and our weaknesses, find courage that we did not know we had. Nor do we know how long this transition may take. We may be just creating the seeds for a future that will blossom in a hundred years or more. But with grace, commitment and care, with a heart open to grief and to love, life can once again regenerate—together we can create a way of life that is truly sustainable. The light of the sacred will rekindle, and once again the soul of the world will sing the song of creation: the hidden mystery within all of life.   Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

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Dwelling: A Spiritual History Of The Living World by Linda Hogan

 “People, animals, land — the alive and conscious world — populate this exploration of the human place within the world.
I write out of respect for the natural world, recognizing that humankind is not separate from nature.
Some of this work connects the small world of humans with the larger universe, containing us in the same way that native ceremonies do,
showing us both our place and a way of seeing.”

Linda Hogan

“Perhaps there are events and things that work as a doorway into a mythical world, the world of first people, all the way back to the creation of the universe and the small quickenings of earth, the first stirrings of human beings at the beginnings of time. Our elders believe this to be so, that it is possible to wind a way backwards to the start of things, and in doing so find a form of sacred reason, different from ordinary reason, that is linked to forces of nature. In this kind of mind, like in the feather, is the power of sky and thunder and sun, and many have had alliances and partnerships with it, a way of thought older than measured time, less primitive than the rational present. Others have tried for centuries to understand the world by science and intellect but have not yet done so, not yet understood animals, finite earth, or even their own minds and behavior. The more they seek to learn the world, the closer they come to the spiritual, the magical origins of creation.

There is a still place, a gap between the worlds, spoken by the tribal knowings of thousands of years. In it are silent flyings that stand aside from human struggles and the designs of our own makings. At times, when we are silent enough, still enough, we take a step into such mystery, the place of spirit, and mystery, we must remember, by its very nature does not wish to be known.”

“John Hay, in The Immortal Wilderness, has written: ‘There are occasions when you can hear the mysterious language of the Earth, in water, or coming through the trees, emanating from the mosses, seeping through the undercurrents of the soil, but you have to be willing to wait and receive.’ Sometimes I hear it talking. The light of the sunflower was one language, but there are others more audible. Once, in the redwood forest, I heard a beat, something like a drum or a heart coming from the ground and trees and wind. That underground current stirred a kind of knowing inside me, a kinship and longing, a dream barely remembered that disappeared back to the body….

 

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The Wild Speech Of The World, quotes from: Becoming Animal by David Abram

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“To our indigenous ancestors, and to the many aboriginal peoples who still hold fast to their oral traditions,
language is less a human possession than it is a property of the animate earth itself,
an expressive, telluric power in which we, along with the coyotes and the crickets, all participate.
Each creature enacts this expressive magic in its own manner, the honeybee with its waggle dance no less than a bellicose, harrumphing sea lion.

Nor is this power restricted solely to animals. The whispered hush of the uncut grasses at dawn, the plaintive moan of trunks rubbing against one another in the deep woods,
or the laughter of birch leaves as the wind gusts through their branches all bear a thicket of many-layered meanings for those who listen carefully.
In the Pacific Northwest I met a man who had schooled himself in the speech of needled evergreens; on a breezy day you could drive him, blindfolded,
to any patch of coastal forest and place him, still blind, beneath a particular tree — after a few moments he would tell you, by listening,
just what species of pine or spruce or fir stood above him (whether he stood beneath a Douglas fir or a grand fir, a Sitka spruce or a western red cedar).
His ears were attuned, he said, to the different dialects of the trees.”

“How monotonous our speaking becomes when we speak only to ourselves! And how insulting to the other beings
– to foraging black bears and twisted old cypresses –
that no longer sense us talking to them, but only about them, as though they were not present in our world…
Small wonder that rivers and forests no longer compel our focus or our fierce devotion. For we walk about such entities only behind their backs,
as though they were not participant in our lives. Yet if we no longer call out to the moon slipping between the clouds,
or whisper to the spider setting the silken struts of her web, well, then the numerous powers of this world will no longer address us –
and if they still try, we will not likely hear them.”

“All things have the capacity for speech — all beings have the ability to communicate something of themselves to other beings.
Indeed, what is perception if not the experience of this gregarious, communicative power of things,
wherein even obstensibly ‘inert’ objects radiate out of themselves, conveying their shapes, hues, and rhythms to other beings and to us,
influencing and informing our breathing bodies though we stand far apart from those things?

Not just animals and plants, then, but tumbling waterfalls and dry riverbeds, gusts of wind, compost piles and cumulus clouds,
freshly painted houses (as well as houses abandoned and sometimes haunted), rusting automobiles, feathers, granite cliffs and grains of sand, tax forms, dormant volcanoes,
bays and bayous made wretched by pollutants, snowdrifts, shed antlers, diamonds, and daikon radishes, all are expressive,
sometimes eloquent and hence participant in the mystery of language.
Our own chatter erupts in response to the abundant articulations of the world: human speech is simply our part of a much broader conversation.

It follows that the myriad things are also listening, or attending, to various signs and gestures around them.
Indeed, when we are at ease in our animal flesh, we will sometimes feel we are being listened to, or sensed, by the earthly surroundings.
And so we take deeper care with our speaking, mindful that our sounds may carry more than a merely human meaning and resonance.
This care — this full-bodied alertness — is the ancient, ancestral source of all word magic.
It is the practice of attention to the uncanny power that lives in our spoken phrases to touch and sometimes transform the tenor of the world’s unfolding.”

Human language, for us moderns, has swung in on itself, turning its back on the beings around us. Language is a human property,
suitable only for communication with other persons. We talk to people; we do not speak to the ground underfoot.
We’ve largely forgotten the incantatory and invocational use of speech as a way of bringing ourselves into deeper rapport with the beings around us,
or of calling the living land into resonance with us.
It is a power we still brush up against whenever we use our words to bless and to curse, or to charm someone we’re drawn to.
But we wield such eloquence only to sway other people, and so we miss the greater magnetism, the gravitational power that lies within such speech.
The beaver gliding across the pond, the fungus gripping a thick trunk, a boulder shattered by its tumble down a cliff or the rain splashing upon those granite fragments
— we talk about such beings, the weather and the weathered stones, but we do not talk to them.

Entranced by the denotative power of words to define, to order, to represent the things around us,
we’ve overlooked the songful dimension of language so obvious to our oral [storytelling] ancestors.
We’ve lost our ear for the music of language — for the rhythmic, melodic layer of speech by which earthly things overhear us.”

From Becoming Animal By David Abram

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Blackfoot Physics by F.David Peat

“The modern version of The Tao of Physics. . . We gain tantalizing glimpses of an elusive alternative to the thing we know as science. . . . Above all, Peat’s book is an eloquent plea for a fair go for the modes of enquiry of other cultures.” –New Scientist

One summer in the 1980s, theoretical physicist F. David Peat went to a Blackfoot Sun Dance ceremony. Having spent all of his life steeped in and influenced by linear Western science, he was entranced by the Native American worldview and, through dialogue circles between scientists and native elders, he began to explore it in greater depth.

Blackfoot Physics is the account of his discoveries. In an edifying synthesis of anthropology, history, metaphysics, cosmology, and quantum theory, Peat compares the medicines, the myths, the languages the entire perceptions of reality of the Western and indigenous peoples. What becomes apparent is the amazing resemblance between indigenous teachings and some of the insights that are emerging from modern science, a congruence that is as enlightening about the physical universe as it is about the circular evolution of humanity s understanding. Through Peat s insightful observations, he extends our understanding of ourselves, our understanding of the universe, and how the two intersect in a meaningful vision of human life in relation to a greater reality.

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Love Letter To The Earth by Thich Nhat Hanh

‘While many experts point to the enormous complexity in addressing issues ranging from the destruction of ecosystems to the loss of millions of species, Thich Nhat Hanh identifies one key issue as having the potential to create a tipping point. He believes that we need to move beyond the concept of the “environment,” as it leads people to experience themselves and Earth as two separate entities and to see the planet only in terms of what it can do for them. Thich Nhat Hanh deems it vital that we recognize and respond to the stress we are putting on the Earth if civilization is to survive and shows that mindfulness and a spiritual revolution are needed to protect nature and limit climate change.

Love Letter to the Earth is a hopeful book that gives us a path to follow by showing that change is possible only with the recognition that people and the planet are ultimately one and the same.’

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Voices of the First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime by Robert Lawlor

An Excerpt from Voices of the First Day: Awakening In the Aboriginal Dreamtime by Robert Lawlor

Robert Lawlor explores the rich legacy of Aboriginals to the world. Here is an excerpt on meaning.

“The earth holds an infinite profusion of seeds. Seeds contain forms and worlds yet to germinate; the roots, leaves, and flowers of the entire plant are invisibly enclosed in the seed. Paradoxically, the unborn potential of future life is fused, within a seed, to primordial patterns that were laid down in the very beginning. The seed’s capacity to engender new life seems to derive from the imprint of patterns carried through the ages.

“This image of the earth with its seeds is comparable to Carl Jung’s description of humanity’s collective unconscious: both hold the entire heritage of primal patterns that are continually reborn through nature’s seasons. Like seeds, myths, ideas, and images are dispersed throughout the world on the winds of thought, the waters of emotion, and the fires of passion.

“The Australian Aborigines speak of jiva or guruwari, a ‘seed power’ deposited in the earth. In the Aboriginal world view, every meaningful activity, event, or life process that occurs at a particular place leaves behind a vibrational residue in the earth, as plants leave an image of themselves as seeds. The shape of the land — its mountains, rocks, riverbeds, and waterholes — and its unseen vibrations echo the events that brought that place into creation. Everything in the natural world is a symbolic footprint of the metaphysical beings whose actions created our world. As with a seed, the potency of an earthly location is wedded to the memory of its origin. The Aborigines called this potency the ‘Dreaming’ of’ a place, and this Dreaming constitutes the sacredness of the earth. Only in extraordinary states of consciousness can one be aware of, or attuned to, the inner dreaming of the earth.

Lawlor explains that these people have grounded their culture in remembrance of “the first day” and a myth of creation which has lasted over 150,000 years. The Australian Aborigines are very cognizant of the presence of their “creative ancestors” and their contributions to their tradition. They have rejected many of the values the dominant culture cherishes such as agriculture, architecture, writing, clothing, and the subjugation of animals. Instead of money, the Aborigines cherish kinship, community, and the importance of the law of the Dreamtime. In fact, they  have no concept or word for time or the accumulation of possession.”    Quoted from book review in Sprituality & Practice

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