My teachers have mostly followed the Soft Path, the way of the Feminine. This is an Earth based way, and the first responsibility of those on the path is to care for the community of all beings. Community is a much used, and increasingly, ill-defined term. Traditionally, a community was a small group of people who lived in a limited range, and all the other beings and organisms who shared that range. Those people likely shared a worldview and a set of cultural practices, and if someone from outside the community chose to join, he or she probably adopted the values and practices of the community.
Every now and again individuals or groups, or even entire communities, met, or joined with, people from other communities. Sometimes this resulted in conflict. Perhaps more frequently such meetings were treasured as opportunities to share knowledge, culture, and even genetic material, and benefited all.I believe it is important to remember that the Boston Marathon is one of the events that draws us, the people of the world, together. This past weekend we had the good fortune to participate in another meeting of cultures, as we were blessed with the presence of two dear friends from Bangladesh.
Of course, most of us no longer live in such clearly defined communities. The global movement of people and resources both supports and undercuts the maintenance of community. The accompanying displacement of people and cultures is part of the story of our human heritage. Displacement has intensified in the past five hundred years and has now become the norm. Colonial enterprises, including what has become known as “Neo-liberalism,” continue to cause massive cultural and environmental suffering around the world, eroding sense of place, our connection to ecosystem and culture, and our deeply experienced participation in All That Is.
Often, people come to see us for aid with life crises that are rooted in colonial practices. It does not matter whether the person or family is Indigenous, for most often the forces operating on them are global and the underlying issues are spiritual. Collectively we suffer greatly from the loss of place, a lived connection to the non-human world, isolation from human others and the Ancestors, and a detachment from the experience of being embedded in All That Is. We know this, yet the work of reconnecting can seem daunting or even hopeless.
Last night we conducted a healing ceremony for several people, none of whom were physically present. Thanks to Skype, e-mail, and the telephone, we were able to know the needs and wishes of these good folks. In ceremony, we asked the aid of the innumerable beings, the attention and support of all who inhabit our local landscape, in body or spirit, to bring healing to those who had requested it. The world, here, is awakening after a long winter slumber. Yet we were left with a profound sense that the trees and the landscape were watching and joining with us. This sense is fundamental to the Soft Path. It may well never be quantifiable in the eyes of Western science, but Western science is only one way of experiencing and understanding the world. All too often, this narrow view is used to discredit other ways of knowing.
On this Earth Day, I am reminded that the suffering of our world is largely the result of a profound spiritual crisis. We are invited by the Creator, the Ancestors, and the spirits to awaken to the richness of our connection to All That Is, and to our responsibility to Pachamama and one another. May we do so.
Vera Wabegijig also posted today about these issues. Her’s is a good post, and I hope you will read it.