Developing the Capacities of Spiritual-Earth Presence
What we are going to be involved within this second series of The Soul of America: New Beginnings, is very simple, really simple, — but it involves starting with an image of a unity of heaven and earth. And how to live in harmony with that unity. The image is difficult only because of layers of assumptions that have to be dissolved. I want to begin with looking at some of the assumptions of the Christian religion, my heritage. The religion itself may not hold these assumptions, not in its depth, but they are what we are accustomed to and what the teachings say.
Religion separates the Oneness of God, or Source, and the realm of the divine – spirits, angels, the dead, from the Earthly realm – while confusing that by saying ‘God is everywhere’. A Two-ness does exist, but it only SEEMS to be a division.
Supposedly, we are here, mortals; the spiritual worlds are elsewhere, and religions become the arbiter between the worlds, establishing the doctrines and regulations for, more or less, sometimes, seeming to join the two worlds – faith, belief, codes of behavior, Sacred Texts to live by, prayer, sacraments, rituals. But, it is always a ‘one-way’ direction of the between – how we have to do certain things – live certain ways, pray, perhaps meditate, know the laws of the religion, practice those laws, be aware of the documents of the religion, and be subject to the priests who are the directors of how we act – in order someday, to switch where we are, from the place of the mortals to the place of the spirits; that someday arrives at the end of life.
Sometimes, when the religion is deeply practiced, mystical experiences occur and are even present in daily living. There are very few individuals who have bridged the gap, so we have the impression that doing so occurs only rarely and to those who undergo severe inner training.
The division between ‘here’, and ‘there’ – Earth and Heaven just SEEMS to be a division; in reality, it is not. It is not that we have been fooled by religion. It is more that this ‘system’ of division has been perpetuated for so long that no one even typically thinks differently. Jesus, the bearer of the Christ is the primary future template. When we are like him, then when we are ‘here’, we are also there’ – “I and the Father are One.” Many, though, look for ways in which we can be more responsible with and in our own spirituality.
There is a kind of middle place – that is, one that is still within religion but attempts to, perhaps we can say, introduce certain practices of spirituality – usually, though, without developing a very clear picture that they are on the border of a very different way of being human, and draw back. I am thinking, for example of “Centering Prayer”, where there is meditation and coming to a place of experiencing something that is ‘beyond’, let’s call it. But, nothing is done with it. That is, you engage, return, and live your life in a defunct civilization, feeling perhaps strengthened and perhaps able to help others live ‘closer’ with the spiritual worlds.
And, we might think of certain ‘adjuncts’ to religion – like yoga, retreats, dream practices, adding practices from other spiritual traditions, and other ways of ‘bolstering’ religion. And, there is also some interest in moving more toward, I would call it ‘psychologizing religion’, with the hopes of ‘humanizing religion’. I am here thinking of The Living School of Richard Rohr and his associates.
Esoteric spirituality does not make such divisions. To say it another way, religions hold to a division between spirit and matter or soul and matter, while esoteric spirituality speaks, sometimes, not always, and certainly not all approaches to esoteric spirituality – but some speak in a way that assumes spirit as matter, rather than spirit and matter. And, for the most part, the unity is not spoken of in this manner, but, rather, esoteric spirituality assumes that we, through discipline and meditation and practices, can experience the spiritual realms, leaving the question of spirit as matter, or spirit and matter more open.
Various forms of meditation promoted by esoteric spirituality all require leaving the body to be within spirit – which also includes, leaving the world/earth. The inherent connection between body/spirit, and thus earth/spirit is never indicated. So, at certain times, we can ‘dip’ into the spirit worlds, get a taste of what is ‘there’, but not much more – that is, I don’t know anyone who is able to describe, to track the worlds entered into, for example, with Centering Prayer, and directly work with what occurs when the ‘world returns’. Perhaps the mystic does live within the spirit worlds and this world on an ongoing basis. Still, something is left out – the Earth.
Even esoteric spirituality excludes Earth from the spirit.
Perhaps there is speaking of particular places – Sacred Places – certain natural places, such as where Mary has appeared, or, say, Our Lady of Guadalupe which are considered ‘holy’, and certain built places, for example, Chartres Cathedral. But Earth Herself is not considered spirit.
Hold on, don’t let emotional reaction close you off, for we are now getting close to where we will be working together.
First, I do want to emphasize, emphatically, that none of what I am saying is a criticism; it is only descriptive, and necessary to picture to try and assure that some who may be thinking, and probably worried, that what I will be describing has nothing to do with anything religious or spiritual. It is not within the assumptions of religion; and it is also not really within the assumptions of those borderline places, nor is it even within any known esoteric spirituality. True, when I speak of the ‘Spiritual Earth”, such speaking does not derive from any of the three ways considered above.
I find it necessary, though, right at the beginning, to emphasize that in wanting to seriously consider Earth as spirit, this will not be the Earth of our usual sensations. It is not possible for Earth, as it is considered in usual awareness, or within the awareness of science or technology, to be the Spiritual Earth. It is not that there is ‘another earth’, somewhere, but Earth is quite complex; invisible aspects of the visible earth can be entered without leaving visible earth, and can be experienced without much difficulty. Our engagement will be with the ‘imaginal Earth’. The imaginal realm exists between the sensory realm and the spiritual realm; it partakes of both, as living imagining, that is, imagination that is real, just as real as looking at a tree or a mountain, or a flower, or grass are real sensory experiences. And, at the same time, it is as real as any deep spiritual awakening.
To the extent we can become a bit free of the now-promulgated assumptions of religion, imaginal Earth will open to experience. The surprise of this first writing may be that it is not materialism that blocks perceiving the imaginal/spiritual earth, but religious assumptions. And, another part of the difficulty is that we are not ‘material’ enough; we have settled only into the materiality that can serve us — and lack the capacity of serving the imaginal Earth in such a way that She opens to our presence.
Spiritual Earth? What does this mean? The Beginning of a Manifesto
The Drought of Earth
Linda Rael – Albuquerque Fiber Artist
Spiritual Earth does not exist for us, for the kind of consciousness that inhabits us. We cannot return to the view of Earth lived by the Original people who were inseparable from Earth. We have separated, as has each part of the world separated from their indigenous (Earth-Spirit) people.
I have not been orienting you, dear readers, toward a return, though it is terribly necessary to know and to deeply feel what happened and what continues to happen to indigenous people here and its result, for there is a concerted effort to erase all memory, first, of a Spiritual Earth, and second, to enact a world that completely forgets earth; we all see it happening, so this is not a new revelation.
The strange part is our seeming powerlessness to do anything significant about it. Ecology and climate initiatives, as well as all forms of ‘helping’ earth, while important, will not stop what seems to be a kind of suicide, for destroying physical earth certainly kill us, first eradicating the fullness of awareness and consciousness, and then physically. We are already in advanced stages of deterioration.
The various forms of ‘helping earth’ could actually be transformative ideas – IF THEY WOULD SEE THAT WHAT THEY ARE TRYING TO DO CAN ONLY BE DONE THROUGH THE TRANSFORMATION OF PHYSICAL ENERGY INTO SPIRITUAL FORCE – THAT IS, IF THEY WOULD ONLY CONCEIVE WHAT THEY ARE DOING AS A SPIRITUAL PATH — THE SPIRITUAL PATH OF THIS TIME!
The mass genocide of ourselves through earth destruction reveals that now is the time for a new idea with power. Ideas do have power, for such large ideas are not the product of ordinary consciousness. Think of the power of Buddhism, or Christianity or Islam, or Judaism. They had power to really change the world; that is the way they all started. Now, for most, they have become massive self-interest movements. Movements that started as world-changing ideas are being captured at the level of their organizations and also at the level of individual participation. The social organization of religions have far outstripped the original spiritual intents, and have forgotten that ideas with power require sacrifice and suffering to be world-transformative. All spiritual paths demonstrate that this is true.
The prime indication of the degeneration of ideas that have the power to change the world is the prevalence with which they have been masticated, eaten, and digested by the now all-pervasive Western idea – the idea that the ‘me’ is first, that everything is about the illusion we call ‘me’.
A new idea that could have power – we are not here for ourselves, we are here, though, and what does ‘here’ mean – here means ‘earthly’, that is something so apparent. We cannot see the spiritual importance of what is right beneath our feet.
The Original people definitely recognized the “Great Spirit”, and that was, for them, cosmic. But, they also were bodily present in such a way that all of their energy did not go toward the satisfaction of their needs, wants, desires, and fantasies. It went toward honoring Who they come from, and they knew that this Who was right beneath their feet. This recognition required continual sacrifice and suffering — they are the primary tools for transforming physical energy into spiritual presence.
Sacrifice and suffering have to do with the remarkable way in which we can utilize the energy of our physical bodies to transform ourselves and the world. Energy belongs to matter, there is nothing whatsoever spiritual about energy, in spite of ‘energy’ being a ”New Age” idiom for folks trying to do spiritual things materialistically and for the benefit of ‘oneself’.
Sacrifice and suffering as I am speaking of them have absolutely no connection with the degraded sense that we have to seek it out, as a Christian view often fall into. No, it is here, always, and can be our primary alchemical tool of transformation.
Energy is a physical function of matter, all the way from the atom to the human body; and with earth, it is clear it is a function of Earth-as-matter – oil, gas, water, electricity, atomic energy. And as physical function, energy is wholly mechanistic and belongs solely to the cause-effect world.
Energy itself, including human energy, can do absolutely nothing of a spiritual nature. But, we humans, who are subject to the cause-effect laws of energy, have something within us that can orient that energy, or certainly the surplus of it within the body, toward awakening something that does not belong to the order of mechanism at all. For example, the eight-fold path of Buddhism is a way of re-orienting suffering that utilizes body energy to develop capacities of being here, being in the moment.
For our energy to be the agent of transformation into our spiritual nature, it has to be oriented in an unnatural direction. Fasting, for example, awakens another pathway for natural energy than maintaining the body, which now has deteriorated into the useless energy of sugar added to nearly every food. – the ‘me-me’ food. (When you go shopping, look at the label of everything you buy and notice how much sugar is added; if it has more than 1 gram of sugar, put it back – that is a little sacrifice, but already an indication of an idea with power.) Think small when imagining sacrifice.
Suffering can also be oriented toward the awakening of something tangible but unphysical, but, we are completely oriented toward, not exactly stopping suffering, but drowning it in medication or looking at suffering that is not of a physical nature, so-called ‘mental illness’ in terms of the laws of cause and effect, the laws of energy. A wholly new imagination of suffering, one that does not fall into self-mutilation, is needed.
Sacrifice and suffering are the primary modes of Earth presence, Wisdom, and has nothing whatsoever to do with self-effacing. Sacrifice and suffering are primary gestures of beauty.
Spiritual Earth, then, is not given – it is a spiritual path, not unlike any other great spiritual paths at their inception. It may, however, be the path of this time, a path, unlike any other spiritual path.
No one, though, is watching out for or looking and longing for someone to sacrifice, that is, to dedicate his or her very being to the “path of Earth”. No one is watching out for or looking and longing for someone to undergo any suffering necessary to develop the capacities necessary to ‘see’ the Spiritual Earth. And no one will come along and declare the new path. The new and unusual nature of this path is that human beings have to come to it on their own. There will be no “New Church of the Earth.”
Never Tired of Looking at Each Other – Only the Mountain and I
Flocks of birds fly high and vanish;
A single cloud, alone, calmly drifts on.
Never tired of looking at each other—
Only the Jingting Mountain and me.
Unlike the InDios, we fear the Earth, and as well, we fear animals. We fear them because they are spirit
presences! As long as they are around, we are continually reminded that Earthly presences
are more than we are — more animated, more alive, more spirit-filled, more soul-filled…. and embodied, and thus
more HERE. A landslide or a mudslide can kill us in an instant, as can a lion, a bear, a wolf. Who then is the real power?
The dulled response is to pretend that mountains and nature and plants and animals are ‘over there’ and are ‘less’ than
us, but there is no ‘us’ but only a concept “us”, just as there is no ‘over there’ when we meet the mountain or meet the
animals within the soul place where we are already together but don’t know it since our lives are disembodied.
A performance artist, that is, someone who meets the world in the way just described, re-members the one-ness place.
Marina Abramovic is such an artist, and if we enter into her meeting the soul of another and open that same way to meet
Earth, that, is through divine body encountering divine body, then we are truly HERE, embodied and human.
Spend time with this remarkable performance artist, and after doing so go outside and meet an Earth presence.
The creatures left — during and after the demise of Earth — are not human, no hu-mus, no ongoing experience of
embodiment, for embodiment only happens when body meets body. One way, perhaps the only way to meet this
situation, provided it is still possible to detect one’s humanness, is to meet Earth as Marina Abramovic meets a person.
In 2010, more than 75,000 people stood in line at Marina Abramović’s MoMA retrospective for the chance to sit
across from her and communicate with her nonverbally in an unprecedented durational performance that lasted more
than 700 hours.
Mariana Abramovic speaks of how she sat and met, really met, literally thousands of people when
she practiced her art at the Museum of Modern Art. That such an event took place there — at a museum —
already suggests that she is visiting something, enacting something going or gone extinct — the Earth-Us.
She says that one very simple thing is necessary to meet another as One: Breathe! I suggest she means ‘belly-breathe’,
that is, breathe deeply, not as we do, shallowly, which is head-breathing. Remember, in an earlier blog, it was
mentioned that the Original people noticed that babies belly-breathe, so they helped them continue
doing so all through life.
Perhaps enter into a ‘breathing-practice’, where it is possible to meet ‘breathing’. For breathing is one of those
“more than us” moments that we have usurped and have made into us, that is, something we do. That is, breathing is
spirit/soul presence accompanying us and not an act that is “ours” alone. Such a practice is awfully easy; close your eyes,
sit in the Silence, start extending the belly and letting air enter, noticing as you look at the inward darkness within,
it comes closer and closer.
In breathing, we are visited by “Holy Breath”. When She comes, it is a moment of coming alive — not
unlike someone who seems to have drowned and is suddenly visited by “Holy Breath”. We would
feel something like the person awakened from drowning, at least a sense of awe at the presence of
Holy Breath, and we would also recognize our response of love as the soul/spirit being we are
breathes out to meet Her.
(Photo by Geraint Smith)
Taos Mountain, The Sacred Mountain of the Pueblo Indians — at Sunset
It is sacred because they met and continue to meet it in sacred embodiment
(Anasazi Kiva, Bandalier National Monument, near Santa Fe, NM)
Earth Creates Herself
In the last installment, I made this comment:
“The separateness of Earth began codification with the astronomer Kepler — who only ‘scientised’ what had already emerged for “educated” humans.
He brought about the calculations that created the movements of the earth as separate from the other planets — he showed how to plot her ways
as if she were separate from the Wholeness of the cosmos……..”
There was, however, a tradition in Europe that did continue an inner, contemplative connection with Earth. Noticing such a tradition becomes an important
thread within our weaving, for also in the last installment I pondered the necessity of being fully, wholly, Earth-present while somehow bringing such depth
of consciousness into intimate relation with present intellectualized consciousness if the later is to change. I want to begin to approach such a new
wholeness. For one thing, all the speaking done thus far remains within intellectual consciousness, though the attempt certainly intends to bend that
mode out of shape as much as possible. Now, though, it becomes necessary to, at the same time, open imaginal consciousness.
I am pretty sure that in spite of speaking of ‘spiritual earth’ and stretching into life as ceremony, as well as coming to realize we live within a certain
contrived belief system of causal (cause-effect) consciousness, readers still sense, experience, and imagine “Earth” from within intellectualized sensing and
perceiving. Hopefully, you feel differently, and now we want to begin to activate that inchoate feeling into particularized ‘feeling-knowing’.
The contemplative tradition that remained and practiced ‘spiritual-earth’ presence was Hermetic alchemy. Robert Fludd was a significant
leader and researcher into this alchemy. Here is what Robert Fludd said
It is for the vulgar mathematicians to concern themselves with quantitative shadows: the alchemists and Hermetic philosophers,
however, comprehend the true core of natural bodies.
By the select mathematicians who have been schooled in formal mathematics nature is measured and revealed in the nude; for the spurious and blundering ones, however, she remains invisible and hidden……
But here lies the whole difficulty, because Kepler excogitates the exterior movements of the created thing whereas I contemplate the internal and essential impulses that issue from nature herself; he has hold of the tail, I grasp the head; I perceive the first cause, he its effects.
Robert Fludd’s retort to Johannes Kepler’s book Harmonices Mundi.
Here is one of Hermetic Alchemy’s imaginations of Earth:
In this alchemical emblem, we see earth-as-completed – the trees, mountains, hills, ground,sky, town, and at the same time Earth nurtures her child as the
children of earth are nourished by the animals. Spiritual Earth remains an imaginal figure, that is, invisible, that is, remains unnoticed and unknown
by those who see the earth as separate from soul and soul as separate from Earth. Earth nutures and nourishes —- herself. That is, Earth — spirit/soul
Earth continues as act of self-creation! This “Earth” does not operate within the laws of causality (cause-effect) — there is nothing outside of Earth that continues
or can continue to create Earth. The self-creation of Earth by Earth occurs spontaneously and magically. We can ‘see’ her in action if we ‘see’
through imaginal presence. But, we, as we Americans’ have eyes only for seeing what is already done and follows the laws of causality — while
we may believe in a separated ‘spiritual’ realm somewhere and a separated soul realm within. The InDios spoke with Father Sky, Mother Earth, tree
spirits, spirit birds, spirit animals, spirit sun, spirit moon, spirit stones, spirit wind, spirit rain………..all who are inseparable from Earth, visible only
through the heart.
Here is a work of art and an attachment to a really quite remarkable artist, Rafael Trenor, who is working through imaginal vision to make creations
of the creating Soul of the World. The image here strongly resonates with Robert Fludd’s. The opening picture of the Kiva at Bandalier National
Monument can also be seen as Earth creating Herself.
Link to Rafael Trenor’s Art – The Soul of the World