From Sweat Lodge to Contemplative Sweat Lodge
Thank you, everyone, for your patience during this interim of moving from New Mexico to California.
The writing will begin now to pivot — into the doing, the art and craft and spiritual doing of the work — of living, in our time and modes of consciousness, the kind of soul life lived still by the Original people of this land. We cannot live as they lived/live. But, we do not, within present modes of awareness, participate in earth-life; rather we exist within a kind of simulacrum, a representation of living here rather than being here body, soul, spirit, and Earth.
This entry concerns how we are never here alone, and the manner in which the Original people maintain being here and “here” includes the spirits and the Ancestors.
The Ancestors –This term does not refer to our individual predecessors – mother, father, grandparents, great grandparents, all the way back. This linear way of imagining the ancestors is incorrect, or highly limited. We need to ‘peel away’ the assumption of linearity of relating – that is, the imagination that relating involves “You and Me” and its many variations, and that we are the way we are because of what happened to us in the past, due primarily to our relationship to our parents, which had to do with their parents which had to do in turn with their parents.
Because we have no relation with the ancestors-as-spirits completely embracing us, here, just waiting to be of help when approached in the proper manner, relations with our ancestors, which are understood linearly rather than spatially, are pathologized relationships.
Perhaps it is not the relationships which are pathological but rather the completely materialistic way of conceiving of relationships with those who came before us – that is, having no sense that they are here, together with ALL the ancestors, but, instead, living the conception that only their influence upon us is here.
And, perhaps, because our imaginations are so poorly formed, as are our memories, only very, difficult and very intense happenings are strong enough to be bodily remembered. If we can develop contemplative capacities, we also release narrow notions of the Ancestors.
From Sweat Lodge to Contemplative Sweat Lodge
The sweat lodge is an archetypal image of the Earth, with Sky above, Earth below (the middle realm), and the Underworld. The sweat lodge is NOT a symbolic representation of the Spiritual Earth, but rather a CONDENSATION of the spiritual earth. The ceremonies within the sweat lodge, then, become the EXPANSION OF CONSCIOUSNESS into the Wholeness of Spiritual Earth.
A sweat begins by heating stones outside the sweat lodge until they are red hot – these stones are called the grandfathers. The stones are taken inside to a prepared place in the center – a slight depression in the Earth embraced by a circle of stones; this impression in the Earth is called the grandmothers.
The stones(grandfathers) and the depression in the earth(grandmothers) are a unity (see the picture), and they unite as the smoke ascending/descending (sometimes a peace pipe is smoked). The people within the sweat lodge fan the fire and the smoke moves upwards to meet the sky(the realm of the Thunderbird) and then the Sky ( The realm of the spirits as here-present and of the stars where we came from, and the realm of the Father).
The rising and descending smoke unites the people, THE EARTH, the realm of the grandfathers and the grandmothers, – AND all the Sky presences and the Underworld presences at the place of the Spiritual-Earth, the Whole invisible interior of the Sweat Lodge. This Whole invisible realm, which surrounds us and is our fullness of experiencing Holy Earth, is the realm of the Ancestors. The ancestors are the “Sky People”, where the Original People came from – for example, sometimes mythically imagined as the Pleaides, and the dead.
Thus, relating when earth matters means the Wholeness of the Spiritual Earth and includes the invisible presences of Earth, not just “a you and a me”, and perhaps the immediate linear ancestors.
Entering the Contemplative Sweat Lodge
What was done as sensuous ritual by the Original people, something of that sort can be done contemplatively in our time. While some people do sweat lodge-like ceremonies, doing such ceremonies does not develop new capacities that are needed to live with Spiritual-Earth sensitivity and presence in this time and world. What is experienced in the sweat lodge cannot be called upon at any moment in ongoing life in the kind of world we live in, not unless one lives on the fringes and lives as best as possible, the way the Original people lived.
Take a deep breath – on the out-breath when you come to what seems to be the end of the out-breath, push more air out – all that you possibly can. DO NOT TRY TO TAKE AN IN-BREATH as you will choke – not seriously, but you won’t be able to just take an in-breath. Instead, just wait and you will notice that air becomes to come in. Let it come in – there will be a point at which you will then be able to breath normally.
Do this deep breathing three times.
Comment: When air begins to come in – we are able to notice that we are being breathed – the Sweet Air enlivens us and when we notice that happens, really notice, it is a first awakening to our Sweet Nature, to Spiritual Earth, something more than us is doing the breathing; we are typically unconscious of this happening and ego consciousness ‘owns’ the breathing – as if we are breathing. Awakening to being breathed is entering Spiritual-Earth ancestor space.
After entering breathing this way three times, then, with eyes closed, begin, one by one, to relax the senses. Notice the feeling of your eyes – place your attention behind the eyes and you will notice relaxing occurring – and you will notice that “seeing” can be felt within the whole of the “inner” darkness. The felt experience of seeing now occurs throughout the inner space, as if everywhere.
Then do this with hearing. Relax your hearing by relaxing hearing-attention, as if “deep within the inner ears” rather than hearing being centered at sound coming into the ears.
Then relax the sense of touch by noticing one place of touch such as the surface of the hands/fingers and letting that relax and the sense of touch is still felt, now all through the inner space you are within. Stay within this ‘inner’ space for a while. (There are actually twelve senses and each can be relaxed in this manner.)
When sensing is experienced in this manner, we are within the presence of the spirit-beings of the senses – who are, every moment, creating our senses AS the manner in which the Whole of the spiritual worlds is expressed as the sensible Earth.
Then, we are going to go deeper into this soul-sensory space, by going into The Silence. We do this by pouring attention into this soul-sensory place we are within in the relaxing of the senses. Pour your whole attention, every bit of it, into the place of relaxed sensing with a kind of force of bodily will.
It is as if a wave of the great Silence washes over the soul-sensory place and permeates it completely. This soul-sensory space expands to the intimate soul-sensory place of The Silence, intimate without being my “me”. Notice now the difference in the qualities of where you are now within, the qualities of The Silence. (Notice, I speak of “The Silence” – for this is a living presence, the Living Being of pure RECEPTIVITY, the Being of Earth.)
Then, we are going to go into the Force, the creating-Force that the spiritual presences of the senses are themselves ‘constructed’ of – the Force of Love.
We do this by, from within the great Silence of the creating soul-sensory place, gesturing with our lips, silently, the word “Heart”. What happens: another wave of velvety darkness that is alive, washes over and within the great Silence-sensory-space and we feel completely INTIMATELY within this Infinite space of unity of “Father Sky and Mother Earth” AND there is the sense of this space as inhabited There are probably not particular visual images of WHO the beings creating this space ARE — they are THE ANCESTORS. Their presence is felt, centered in the radiating heart.
The contemplation is now finished. Now go outside for a short walk and notice that you feel completely embraced by the space around you – it is particularly strong in the region from the head to the heart. The ANCESTORS ARE ALWAYS WITH AND WITHIN EARTH AND WITH AND WITHIN US. It is as if they are all around us – the space around us feels as if filled with radiating lights.
We are never alone. The Ancestors are the source for living in the world differently, as the ‘spacious-here’. They are the source of change in the world.