25 February 2018

I n t i m a c y | Into-Me-See

In close relationships there may always be ruptures which arise in the field of lovers and friends. When we take the risk of allowing another to matter, when we open our bodies and our hearts to them, a call is sent out to the lost ones of the inner family, an invitation to return home.
Relationship has an uncanny ability to illuminate those parts of ourselves that we have lost touch with – the orphans of the emotional world, and the emissaries of our unlived lives. As wisdom-guides, they remind us of the two great relational fears, of being abandoned or overwhelmed by the other. We’re just not sure if we want to take that kind of risk.
As we deepen along the way, we may discover that the “other” is not only those fellow travelers that we meet, but that there is also an “inner other” who also longs to be known, to be held, and to be a part of the love story of our lives. This “other” yearns more than anything for intimacy, to no longer be shut out, and to enter into union with us exactly as we are.
The lost sadness, the disallowed joy, the unmet rage, the repressed grief. The barely remembered peace, the dissociated despair, the forgotten beauty. These ones are alive and will continue their journey to find you. They will never give up and will continue to take form as your lovers, family members, and friends, including those who irritate you the most.
The invitation of the beloved, in each of its forms, is to step fully into the crucible of relationship where we no longer limit the mystery of love’s expression, resisting the temptation to have the fires of love conform to our requirements. And to open to the reality that perhaps the purpose of relationship is not to provide consistent feelings of safety, certainty, connection, and validation.
The beloved has not come to confirm what we think love is – or the ways we have come to believe we must be seen - but rather to introduce us to the creative terrain of the unknown, and to the poetic depth of our own hearts. To reintroduce us to the inner family and the soul parts that have become lost along the way.
As we reunite with these ones and allow them safe passage, we remove the burden from the external other to take care of this sacred task for us, which was never theirs to carry. They are able to return it to us, as the ultimate act of love, where it will be safe enough for them now to come closer.

- Matt Licata

21 February 2018

Time Circles

"Left to our own devices, we would be constantly driven. Even when we stop, we are still thinking of what must be done next. Especially now, in this age of devastating environmental and social collapse, there are those of us who feel an unrelenting urgency to attend to the world "before it’s too late." But the great paradox is that it’s this condition of rushing anxiously ahead that got us into trouble in the first place.
As many aboriginal cultures view it, time is more circular in pattern; not like the Western linear comprehension of time as past-present-future, but flexible to the individual at the centre of that “time-circle.” In the Australian Aboriginal Dreaming, the past and future are embedded in the present. One’s embodiment is the ground into which all continuity flows, so the past can be just as influenced as the future by one’s way of going in the here and now.
If we are going to come back into the rhythm of nature, we have to slow down. If we imagine the world as our own body, speaking to us in loud, desperate pleas, the first thing we have to do is listen. We must acknowledge the limitations that have brought us to this terrifying precipice. We don’t know what we don’t know, and instead of pushing through our injury and confusion, we need to surrender the rush and show up instead with our heartbreak to encounter what is becoming. Be hospitable to what stillness has to offer. Cherish the opportunity to sink into the eternal, which is available to be bathed in at any given moment." - Toko-pa Turner, "Belonging" (www.belongingbook.com)

20 February 2018

The Sixth Mass Extinction

“The one that I will say impacts me most directly is the fact that we’re in the middle of the sixth mass extinction, that we are losing species at a rate that’s unprecedented since the dinosaurs disappeared.
It means we’re losing all of the intelligences they have and their power to inform us about the truth of reality.
And, of course, it also means we’re losing biodiversity. The biologist E. O. Wilson says that this is the most damaging thing that’s occurring, the loss of biodiversity, because the loss of any particular species in any particular ecosphere sends ripples across the entire ecosphere and shrinks the way that the entire ecosphere works. So for me there is a constant awareness of the death of long-term life-forms on this planet that is devastating to me.
There’s a kind of constant funeral – I don’t mean to say that I’m depressed and demoralized all the time – but I do tune into this on a regular basis, and the parade of death that’s going on in the natural world is very sad to me.
I think people don’t realize that they’re experiencing the same thing that I am.
They don’t understand that the sadness in their life has to do with these extinctions.
They think it’s something more personal.
It helps to know that there’s this collective grief that we’re not fully tuned into that’s interfering with our ability to enjoy life.
To return to the issue of mass extinction: I’m interested in a hypothesis articulated Jonathan Zap and Daniel Pinchbeck.
They propose that being on the verge of an ecocidal catastrophe may be a disguised opportunity for the human race to expedite the evolution of consciousness in ways that would not otherwise happen. With the possibility of doom hanging over us, we must get smarter faster in order to ensure our collective survival.
Zap and Pinchbeck invoke the ancient Roman legend of the Sword of Damocles, which they interpret to mean that when we are in great danger, and therefore our motivation to solve our predicament is heightened, as is our power to outgrow the habits that got us into this pickle.”
Rob Brezsny ❤️

7 February 2018

Photo Credit: Descubridor de cascadas, 2000, Tomas Sanchez

We might wonder: Why do we humans need to go through an initiatory process to discover our destined place in the more-than-human world when, as far as we can tell, other species do not? This question brings us right to the heart of the matter, touched on earlier: We humans possess a power that other species -- again, as far as we know -- do not possess, or at least not in the way or to a degree that we do. This power is our form or mode of consciousness, our capacity for conscious self-awareness, our outlandish ability to be aware that we are aware. This ability is both our greatest strength and our greatest liability, and is perhaps the best candidate for what makes us distinctively human. It enables us, for example, to imagine possible futures to a degree or in a way that other species cannot and to manifest those possibilities, for good or for ill.[1] On the other hand, it renders us distinctively liable to suffer identity crises. And it creates a special zone of self-consciousness, the ego, that takes control of our waking lives so that we end up choosing and acting way more from this limited zone than from our larger psyche -- until, that is, we've been initiated into our soul lives, "the one life that waits beyond all the others."
The existence of the ego is what makes us human but it also can be a catastrophic problem for us and for the rest of the Earth community if the ego is not carefully developed and matured. This is one of the most essential services a healthy culture provides: assuring that their children develop healthy, effective, life-enhancing egos. When this is done well by a human community, their youth, by their mid-teens, are psychospiritually prepared to embark upon the journey of soul initiation; they are ready to remember why they were born, the singular gift they possess for the web of life. Other species don't require this because they don't have egos that can get in the way of their full participation in the world. From day one, they're able to act and live in accordance with the place they were born to take.
We, on the other hand, have this exceptional capacity to become
consciously aware of our unique place in the world, an egoic capacity that bestows us with an immense power of creativity. This is nothing less than the power to consciously cooperate with evolution. But, if we don't undergo the initiatory process and uncover our soul's purpose -- distinct from our adolescent ego's purpose -- then this special human capacity gives us, instead, the power to destroy the world, whether we intend to or not. Creation or Mystery has taken a great risk by sparking our species into being, perhaps an ultimate gamble. As of the early twenty-first century, there's no telling which way it will go. Again, Diane di Prima (echoing John Keats):
... the war of the worlds hangs here, right now, in the balance
it is a war for this world, to keep it
a vale of soul-making ...[2]
We can see, then, that there is so much at stake within this topic of purpose, within this underworld realm of soul. A human with no purpose at all is a tragedy, a wasted life. A human with only an ego-level, psychologically adolescent purpose might realize some happiness and fulfillment, might in a variety of invaluable ways serve his or her community and the greater web of life, but could also end up being the worst kind of affliction: If he or she operates from a damaged ego and also "rises" to a position of significant economic, political, or military power, there's no limit to how much havoc s/he can wreak -- as we've seen throughout history and especially in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. But an initiated person, a true adult, whose ego is in service to soul, not to itself, whose conscious purpose is fully aligned with his or her soul's purpose, with his or her ecological niche in the web of life, this person possesses the power to enhance life in never-before-seen ways, to cooperate creatively with evolution, to participate -- wildly and imaginatively -- in the great work of our time.
Over the past few hundred years, Western culture has rediscovered and extended the possibilities of individual human development -- an invaluable achievement -- but so far this has been limited to the middleworld and upperworld realms of development. If we can now add the rediscovery and re-embracing of the underworld of soul, the West could accomplish something unprecedented in human history -- something that might be necessary, as well, if we are to survive: the creation of a widespread, soul-infused culture in which full human development is culturally supported and prioritized, a resilient culture with a built-in, effective resistance to the more destructive potentials of the human species
- Bill Plotkins 

5 February 2018

Psychological Authenticity and Social Belonging

Psychological early adolescence is a life stage reached by most everyone at puberty, but in the contemporary world only a small minority, perhaps ten to fifteen percent, ever mature beyond this stage due to the difficulties of completing its developmental task. That task is to fashion a social presence that is authentic and at the same time accepted by one's peer group. For an early adolescent (of any age), "purpose" is whatever might achieve that dual goal. But that goal, as simple as it might sound, is extraordinarily elusive in the egocentric and pathological environment of contemporary Western culture.
The challenges of reaching that goal are largely due to the all-too-common failures with the tasks of the two stages of childhood, especially with the nature-oriented tasks of childhood.[1] For example, it's hard to be authentic when you have trouble being present to yourself and others. Cultivating the capacity for sustained presence is the nature-oriented task of early childhood (a task that must be addressed by the parents and other family members of the young child). But it's never too late in life to cultivate this essential capacity, which can be done through meditation or mindfulness practice, other contemplative arts such as tai chi or nature solos, expressive arts, presence-cultivating psychotherapies, and other practices.[2] Presence is a prerequisite for true empathy and compassion -- including self-compassion. Empathy for others and compassion for oneself have become rare achievements, and they are both essential for achieving authenticity.
Authenticity is also much more difficult when you don't feel at home in the more-than-human world (that is, the more extensive and differentiated world that includes our human world as a subset). Learning the enchantment of the larger world that enables the human village to exist at all is the nature-oriented developmental task of middle childhood. Nature connection is the evolutionary and psychological foundation for feeling at home in any other context, including your peer group.
All challenges in human development stem from the cultural disconnect from the greater Earth community. Conversely, our single greatest collective need now is for what I call eco-awakening -- the somatic experience of being fully at home in the more-than-human world. Our second greatest need is the cultivation of personal authenticity and heartfelt social belonging.
Because psychological authenticity and social belonging have become so rare, they are perhaps the greatest and most pervasive longings in the Western world today. Witness the explosive growth and addictive qualities of social media such as Facebook. Being liked (or even "liked") and being authentic is what most people mean when they say they yearn for greater meaning and purpose in their lives or for the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the world. These are core middleworld desires and purposes. People want to feel more real and more a part of a real world, in greater communion with the web of life. They want their lives to make a difference. This, indeed, is the ultimate goal of the journey of soul initiation, but the necessary foundation for the soul journey is an achieved middleworld experience of psychological belonging (to yourself), social belonging (to a peer group), and ecological belonging (to the more-than-human world), the latter being eco-awakening. The eventual achievement of a soul-infused belonging to the world is built upon this prior three-legged middleworld foundation of belonging.
It seems what most people mean when they say they want more "soul" in their lives is actually this sense of psychological and social belonging. A smaller group also means greater ecological belonging. A group smaller yet mean the kind of mystical, underworld belonging to the world implied by the way I use the word soul in these pages. For yet others, "to experience soul" means to merge with the upperworld realm of Spirit or the divine.

- Bill Plotkin