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.
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
An Orientation To the Practical Work; Getting through the Crisis of All Crises
It has been a long time since the last post. Sometimes nothing comes. The truly astounding contemplative artist, Agnes
Martin, would never paint unless something arrived in imagination, fully formed. One time she waited three years without
painting anything. I began to feel it might be that long or longer before writing another post. It is time for a turn.
It is time to begin work with the very large concern — what to do, following upon the endeavor of finding the inner sense
of the soul of this land of America lived by those who were/are the land.
The difficulties with this endeavor — as it heads toward action, are many. The most apparent difficulty is that of our collective
consciousness. The kind of mental/intellectual consciousness we now live, without awareness, produces only more of itself.
As will become apparent once I start posting some of the new forms of ‘spiritual-earth’ contemplation, these contemplations
also have their own difficulty — that of being unable to ‘meld’ with the world of usual consciousness, producing a radical alteration
of consciousness. These contemplations are inspired by the way of life of the InDios, and produce astounding change, but
leave one living even more uncomfortably — while seeing more clearly.
Contemplation/meditation forges ways into fuller forms of consciousness. Contemplation/meditation alone cannot
alter anything in the world. To paraphrase James Hillman, who said of psychology, “We have had a hundred years of psychology and
the world is getting worse” — we have had thousands of years of contemplation and meditation and the world is decidedly getting worse.
Contemplative/meditative consciousness is vastly different than our usual, everyday consciousness. Contemplative experience
has to ‘translate’ into usual consciousness, which it cannot do as there is no language-bridging deep awareness into usual consciousness.
in the instance of ‘spiritual-earth’ awareness, we become awake with earth as spirit-presence and find ourselves painfully noticing more
and more deeply that America lives believing earth does not matter, while those who still know in their heart that earth/matter does matter
have no adequate tools of consciousness to do anything.
We speak of contemplation/meditation as if it were non-verbal, which it is not — we just don’t recognize the language and cannot hear it once
we return from the worlds of contemplation. We cannot remember in sufficient detail what happened because its ‘language’ does not translate
into ego-language. Further, in our time, meditation/contemplation is captured by usual consciousness, for one looks for the ways in which
practices can serve oneself. Attempts to orient contemplation/meditation to the world, as was tried, for example with TM meditation are
not effective. The David Lynch Foundation (that master of dark cinema who is also a primary advocate of changing the world through transcendental
meditation) took on the project of training one million young people in TM, and also supported setting up large group meditations in
the two enormous domed halls at Maharishi University in Iowa, holding 1500 people each ….. and the world is getting worse.
What made the founding invaders of this land violent and destructive, genocidal rather than friendly? This concern has kept me quiet these many weeks.
The invaders had already entered intellectual/mind consciousness which, when spiritually unrefined, as it was, turns quickly into ego-centered-consciousness
— trying to make everything ‘better’ for oneself. We are now at the apex of this invader genocidal-violent consciousness. This kind of destructive
consciousness develops through education and reading and thinking-about in the absence of coordinating outer and inner life through
earth-oriented contemplation. Individualized consciousness replaced communal earth-awareness — a moment in time where it becomes
utterly necessary to continue earth-awareness through contemplative means — but that did not happen.
So, think of the invaders as ‘educated’, not necessarily formally, but they came to know through the head, even way back then, while the original
people of this land were not educated — they were earth-initiated.
There was a time when Earth was not at all considered to be a separate planet. Earth was an aspect of the presence, movement, beauty, of ALL
the planets the sky, the stars, the sun and the moon –together with the presence of the human, together with the presence of nature and all her
creatures, a whole, in conjunction with the whole of the universe. And people experienced themselves as aspects of wholeness. The indigenous soul
never leaves this wholeness, life as initiation. Education without the accompanying earth-initiation severs this kind of awareness.
The separateness of Earth began codification with the astronomer Kepler — who only ‘scientized’ 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. If you follow this mode out until now, we see it is the same attitude that originates our belief
that we are separate from each other, separate from the earth, separate from the cosmos. Kepler calculatively creates the greedy earth. And following upon this
separateness comes causal thinking. This kind of thinking follows the greedy-ing of earth, epitomized by natural science and gradually invading all
consciousness with causal thinking, made completely practical as technology. Not that this kind of consciousness should not exist — it should not
exist without earth-presence consciousness, both melded into one form, a new form of consciousness – neither contemplative per se nor
calculative causal thinking consciousness per se.
The original people of this land did not live according to causal consciousness!! They were very aware of change and being agents of change in the world
through ceremonially tending Earth creating and re-creating herself. We will reveal how such change can occur — white magic rather than the black magic
of ego-centered greed consciousness. We think we see the earth and the world and we are only looking at greed.
The Iroquois are intimately linked with the roots of peace. The path of peace ( peace is not the opposite of war – think of it as the path of harmony) connects with the legend of Dekanawida (The name means “two river currents flowing together.” – we will see that these are the rivers of life and death.)
When Dekanawida grew to manhood he built his canoe of white stone (this is an image of going to the world of the dead — this is where we got to in the last two blogs — Coatlique). His intent was to stop the shedding of blood among human beings.
He crossed Lake Ontario in his canoe of white stone and approached the land of the Iroquois. The five Iroquois tribes were at war with one another. When they saw Dekanawida’s boat of white stone, they were filled with wonder.
Dekanawida brought the message of peace to the tribes. The message has three parts: Righteousness – justice between men and nations; Health – soundness of mind and body; Power – the authority of law and custom. (In the U.S. Constitution, which was modeled on these three principles – they became Life (Health), Liberty (Righteousness), and the Pursuit of Happiness (Power) ). These principles were to be worked out among the tribes in the Longhouse (This became Congress) – where there are many fires. The five nations live as one household – under one chief mother; the women have the power to name the chiefs. The Mother of Nations is called “New Face.”
This was the plan. But, it was not easy. The tribes practiced cannibalism at that time. Dekanawida went to the house of the ‘man who eats humans’. He climbed to the roof of this man’s dwelling and looked straight down the smoke hole. The man below was looking into the water of a kettle – he was about to cook a man. He saw Dekanawida’s face reflected in the water and he thought that it was his own face. He had never seen such wisdom and righteousness. He thought –“now I will no longer kill humans and eat their flesh”. He then asks if there is anyone who can tell him how to make amends. Dekanawida came down from the roof and sat with him. “The New Mind” has come to you – to heal the memories by working to make justice prevail and bringing peace to those places where you have brought pain.”
Dekanawida names this man Hiawatha (He who combs).
Dekanawida sent Hiawatha to visit Atotarho – a great and evil wizard. Hiawatha combs the snakes out of Atotarho’s hair… there is much more to the legend – this is the part we need to work with.
Dekanawida was an initiate who tries to introduce new spiritual principles – by going through the depths of soul (that is, one has to go inward and down – down to the region of Coatlique, for example –remember, her head is a vicious snake and she wears a skirt of snakes) – in fact, the Iroquois are related to the Mayans).
Hiawatha is a soul-being between two initiates – Dekanawida – good, and Atotarho – evil. He is an imagination of how we are to work with evil. Evil cannot be fought against because to do so requires using the means of evil to do so.
The clue to the beginning of the healing of greed: feeling the sorrow of Earth and her people; and an unending meeting of our ‘failures’ – shortcomings – not simply knowing about them, but meeting them in soul.
Hiawatha goes through extreme sorrow in seeking the transformation of Atotarho – that is, the transformation of evil. His three daughters and a fourth were killed.
He establishes the ritual of Condolence —- The ritual of Grieving
Hiawatha combing the Snakes out of one who is possessed by Otatarho
Wampum Beads with the White Tree of Peace
He invented wampum – we take that word to mean a form of money – initially it was not (later, in another blog, we will see what happened, how wampum became “money.. Wampum beads were a way of marking sorrowful stories. After the death of his family, he was wandering and came to Tully Lakes, where he walked in desolation, picking up shells. He threaded them onto three strings. Hiawatha says:
“If I found anyone burdened with grief even as I am, I would console them for they would be covered with the night and wrapped in the darkness. This would lift with words of condolence and these strings of beads would become words with which I would address them –
Presenting the first string of wampum beads to one grieving, he would say:“With these words, I wipe away the tears of your eyes so that you may see clearly”.
Presenting the second string, he would say: “With these words, I wipe away the obstruction from your ears so that you may once again have perfect hearing.”
Presenting the third string, he would say: “ With these words, I remove the obstruction from your throat so that you may once again have perfect speaking.
These are the basic three words of the Condolence Ceremony, calling people to the three principles of righteousness in conduct, health of body and mind, and equality among people. You may know that the Iroquois influenced the forming of the American Constitution – it was modeled on their ways of the Longhouse and the way of Condolence. — this is long lost on us.The story just told contains within it the qualities of the Spiritual Way of America – which we have been getting to, which we have been touching into all along.
Cannibalism still goes on – eating one’s neighbor – cannibalism is a far better word that greed!
In this midst of the cannibalism of greed, the spiritual path of America is the spiritual path of life/death – and condolence.We do not see, do we – that the constant violence – bombings, school shootings, the lying, corporate cannibalism, are the pathology of the spiritual way of death, the spiritual way through death — if you do not die, you are killed! That is the pathology – killing – because the cannibalism of greed has not been seen as killing and killing as a way to avoid coming to terms, within oneself, with the great mystery of dying, that is, the dying of ego and the entering of soul. A mystery that needs to be met daily as a way of entering the deepest depth of soul. As a nation, and even as individuals, we no longer go through the mystery of dying, the mystery of soul; and we do not experience condolence (when 17 children are slaughtered, there is, at best, a moment of Silence – that passes as condolence, or a few political words); we cannot even phantom the three ways of condolence.
We either enter the way of death (do not take death here literally or you wind up right back where we are – killing) – or we are killed. Think of 9/11! It is a large picture of what is happening to us all. When greed takes over, we no longer go through dying. We are killed – by terrorism, tornadoes, floods, fires, hurricanes, Ebola, criminals. – these ways of being killed are a necessity in the absence of living the mystery of life/death happening each moment. ( It is important to deeply contemplate this – yes, we are the cause of earthquakes, volcanoes…and all the rest).
The choice is not one of living or dying – it is how we live with our dying. Greed denies death, chooses not to live with our dying – pretending that having everything we desire can kill consciousness of dying – and It does — it necessarily then means we meet our dying through violent means. It is a matter, for each of us – is death an angel or an executioner?
The architecture of New York City, that of Wall Street and that of the 9/11 Memorial Plaza present pictures — images if held interiorly — of the Underworld of greed in contrast to the now opening Underworld that may
be the true source of the Soul of America! In this blog installment, I will work with the architectural images here and next time I will go more deeply into the imagination of the true soul of America.
I mentioned some time ago that the School of Spiritual Psychology did a soul retreat with a group of people to High Tor, and included a picture of Manhattan from the top of High Tor. The extraordinary contemplative sense of seeing Manhattan from High Tor was the strong and deep feeling that what was ‘over there’ in the distance, was at the same time right where we were standing at High Tor. And the experience was that of being in a holy place, not unlike the feeling one has in a place like Chartres Cathedral.
We later went into Manhattan — first to 911 Memorial Plaza and then to Wall Street. Two images of Wall Street — The Trump Building and the image of looking toward the end of Wall Street seeing Trinity Church Wall Street – the Episcopal Church. Here we are again TRINITY — in the last blog I spoke of the place of the detonation of the first Atomic bomb, the site called TRINITY — which is the opening into the anti-Trinity Underworld. Look, at these two images — Trinity Church Wall Street, and The Trump Building:
We did a contemplation — first with the Tump Building — this was in 2014 — long before Donald Trump had decided to run for president, as far as we knew. A quite strange experience occurred in the contemplation of the Trump Building, one that is pretty difficult to describe. The contemplation of the Trump Building was just like the experience at High Tor — the same kind of vibration — except without the holy sense that occurred at High Tor. And the contemplation of Trinity Church Wall Street was ‘flat’ — that is no particular holy sense, and no particular vibration — it was as if it were, as a vibratory phenomenon, ‘dead’, as if its radiance had bee usurped by Wall Street. Just descriptive. It is as if what was once alive as public spiritual presence is now usurped by an different kind of towering presence — that spiritual desire and longing has been replaced by desire for greed. Not just the Trump Building; it is one manifestation of the towering aspirations of greed. Greed is also not ‘bad’; it is a very important force, and lives within the soul of every human being — It is something we must all meet and, only when it goes beyond its boundaries and takes over — then it becomes destructive.
But, something else is also happening in “Manna-hata”. Let us go a few blocks, a very few, to 911 Memorial Plaza — a different Underworld.
The fountains of 911 Memorial Plaza do not spray water up. The cooling waters go into the Underworld (when this place is ‘seen’ imaginally).
Then, right across the street, there was another church — that was destroyed on 9/11, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church. Later, in 2013, a new church was started, with a startling design by
the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The design of the church is remarkable. At night, the light within the church shines through the stone walls of the church. Here is the design — not a tower pointing upward, but a very feminine downward motion — of the veil of Mary – Calatrava was very well aware of this:
BUT In December, 2017, the church was not yet completed, and this was reported in the news:
“Severe financial mismanagement has prompted the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to stop work on its St. Nicholas shrine at the World Trade Center.
The archdiocese, which raised $37 million in donations to pay for the Santiago Calatrava-designed shrine, ran out of funds, the New York Times reported. “Effective Dec. 5, 2017, Skanska USA has terminated its contract with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America on account of GOA’s defaults in making payments,” Thomas Perry, the director of the project, wrote in a letter sent to subcontractors.”
“Severe financial mismanagement”— translate this as saying greedy planners, contractors, and management somehow took over, and the motion of ‘down and inward’, which is where America must go to find its soul
has been thwarted — at least for now. Or….. perhaps this Mary is a resonance of a divine feminine being in the Underworld, and this Mary points the way but is not the way? More on this next time.
Look closely at the photo of the church design above and then this icon of Mary. See how her form, from the place of the heart, becomes the form of the church — which not only
constitutes an imagination of a downward movement, but that this downward movement is also a movement into the body — the movement down rather than ‘up and out’, as is the case
with most religions and most forms of meditation. Watch the video below closely to see the relation of Mary to the form of the church.
Then, there is one further image, another aspect of 9/11 Memorial Plaza, and another design by Santiago Calatrava. It is the Transit Hub. I saw the original designs of this hub. They were spectacular — a glass building that clearly, clearly evoked the presence of an angel. The city, however, made Calatrava re-design the building numerous times, claiming that his original design carried too many security risks. The hub is now completed. Here is what it looks like:
It is an astounding monstrous deviation from the original design (I looked everywhere for a photo of the original design and has been wiped away from every website). It is now finished, eight years behind schedule and at a cost of 4 billion dollars, twice the 2 billion estimate.
Still, it is imaginally significant — as it does not appear to be an angels so much as a fallen angel!