A crisis of Spirit

Yesterday I wrote, “for millennia, people lived in sustainable ways. Life was often a struggle. But people did not use more resources than what could be replenished. They lived sustainably. What has been different over the past several generations has been the wealthy and powerful asserting their dominance not only over people, but over Mother Earth herself with disastrous consequences.”

The reason I wanted for so long to find connections with indigenous peoples was because of their sustainable lifestyles. And from what little I knew, how spirituality was the basis of their lives.

I am blessed to now have many indigenous friends. Most of those friendships began as we walked and camped together along the path of the Dakota Access pipeline for eight days in 2018 on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March. https://firstnationfarmer.com/

I really wanted to learn about the spirituality of my indigenous friends, but I didn’t know how to bridge the barriers between us, because of the Quaker involvement in the Indian boarding/residential schools. The Spirit led me to speak to some of these friends about the Quaker involvement in forced assimilation. I won’t say more than that, in fear of others doing something similar without first having deep relationships, and Spiritual guidance to do so.

I will say this has resulted in opportunities for further Spiritual sharing. Recently one friend said she was glad to hear Quakers grieved for Friend’s participation in forced assimilation. Among other things, this made it possible for her to ask me if Quakers might support a video documentary being made about the residential school of her nation. Which we did.

I don’t like to use a lot of quotes. but yesterday I was led to re-read from the book CLIMATE SENSE: Changing the Way We Think & Feel About Our Climate in Crisis by Zhiwa Woodbury. Which expresses what I’ve been trying to write about Spirituality, and our environmental crisis.

Zhiwa Woodbury is an Earth Protector. Wildlife Advocate. Doctor of Natural Law(yer), Ecopsychologist, Long-time devoted dharma practitioner and hospice volunteer. Motivated by compassion. View all posts by ecopsi2day

The climate crisis we face is not an environmental problem, and there is no environmental solution. It is not a political issue, and there will be no timely political solutions forthcoming. It is certainly a moral issue, as recognized by Pope Francis and every religion should treat this as such. But given the deep psychological roots of our behavior, moralizing about climate change is also not the solution. No, this is a crisis of spirit, a crisis in relationship, raising the question who we humans really are. We can think of it as a kind of collective identity crisis-one that will only be resolved when a critical mass of human beings heal the split between our Psyche, or collective soul, and nature, the soul of the world.

In gaining mastery over nature, asserting unimaginable control over the very forces of creation and destruction, we seem to have severed our connection to nature at its very root, objectifying the earth and each other, commodifying our lives, designing artificial living environments called suburbs, and creating an entirely new, virtual reality to soothe our aching souls. In the process, we unintentionally isolated ourselves from our own true nature as earthlings – creatures of the earth. We created a social and cultural matrix of isolation, and then we proceeded to act out this story of separation, objectification, modification, and alienation in increasingly harmful ways, until now we are unraveling the very fabric of life and assaulting the global ecosystem that has nourished and supported us, and all beings since beginningless time.

That locomotive force of ignorance and greed rolled right over and through the ancient inhabitants of this new world, and quickly laid waste to the natural abundance that they had been caretakers of for millennia. Certainly, it would be difficult to imagine a more traumatic war against nature than the genocide that Europeans visited on the Earth-based cultures of the indigenous tribes of Turtle Island, or a more heart-breaking ecocide than reducing the dominant species here when we landed, the majestic and socially developed American Buffalo, bison bison, from 60 million to fewer than 6000 today-a thousand-fold reduction via slaughter.

While we see the result in the extreme polarization of society, this split is not irreparable, we humans are not irredeemable, and the truth and reconciliation process that needs to happen is not all that complicated. To become whole again, to restore the natural part of “human nature,” requires only that we hear the deafening call of the natural world, and recognize that something is terribly amiss within, as well as reflected without. Only then can we actively engage in a concerted, conscientious effort to heal the psychic wound we can all still feel in our hearts whenever we stop numbing ourselves to the dreadful pain inherent in our present predicament.

CLIMATE SENSE: Changing the Way We Think & Feel About Our Climate in Crisis by Zhiwa Woodbury

“In our prophecies they say we are now at the crossroads: we either unite spiritually as a global nation, or face chaos, disasters, sickness and tears from our relatives’ eyes.”

Chief Arvol Looking Horse, from the Standing Rock Tribe of Lakota Nation

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