“…we are responsible for following our original instructions—those given by the creator. Every component of the universe, in an indigenous conception, has a set of original instructions to follow so that a balance can be kept…The people lived in accordance with their original instructions tempered and ordered by the natural world around them.” Gabrielle Tayac
“We are human beings not human doings. We must know who we be, before we will know what we do.” Paraphrasing Goethe“
“All things are hidden in their opposites—gain in loss, gift in refusal, honor in humiliation, wealth in poverty, strength in weakness…life in death, victory in defeat, power in powerlessness, and so on. Therefore, if a (wo)man wish to find, let (her)him be content to lose…” Mulay al’Arabi Al-Darqawi
“I awakened to the cry
That the people / have the power
To redeem / the world from fools
Upon the meek / the graces shower
It’s decreed / the people rule
The people have the power
The people have the power
The people have the power
The people have the power” Patti Smith
During the Christmas holidays of 2004, we were all stunned by the news of the tsunami which killed over 280,000 thousand people throughout the countries adjoining the Indian Ocean. What we were unaware of at the time was that the catastrophe claimed the lives of very few animals compared to the enormous loss of human life. The animals, relying on their instincts, sensed danger and had run uphill to safety. We might wonder, what were these senses that the animals had that the people so tragically seemed to have lacked? Upon reading about how the animals had escaped death, I realized that our instincts are accessed through our emotions and as is seen in the case of the tsunami, are literally essential to our survival. The problem is that our instincts as humans have been sacrificed by adhering to the “rules” of our societies and to having learned to defer to authorities outside of ourselves. There are so many constraints and obligations to the marketplace, to the law, to religion, to employers, etc. We are, all too often, totally cut off from our own inner wisdom, and so have learned to discount our own feelings in our attempts to fulfill our duties as parents, employees, citizens, consumers, etc. If you don’t feel like this relates to you consider a simple test: Do you begin your day according to your own biorhythms, rising at whatever time that your mind and body awakens naturally, or rather at some artificial scheduled hour in order to accommodate someone else via a job or school, etc.? If you’re not even aware of such an option then you have learned early on, like most of us, to surrender your inner impulses without complaint.
Our instincts are often inconvenient in the world as it has evolved throughout history. We’ve each developed various strategies to dull them—as any attempts to validate those impulses would place us in social and economic exclusion and jeopardy. We mute those objectionable inner stirrings through our various addictions to cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, antidepressants, food, sex, obsessions with money and power, adrenaline junkets, media, drama, and the list goes on. There are so many people sedating themselves from the daily, often brutal, demands of life that we might begin to acknowledge by the sheer numbers, not personal failures, but rather signs that something is hideously amiss with our world.
We are effected by the dire news about the economy and the ecological disasters that we’ve created on our planet through by our unconscious behaviors. We are witnessing increasing numbers of major, extreme weather patterns which cause substantial loss of life and property damages costing billions of dollars. The news is filled with diseases, death, murder, and mayhem. These events all form a subtle hum in the back of our minds, drowned out daily by our inability to claim any space and time to just be without interruption and responsibility. We look to government to solve our problems, but the “system” which created the mess cannot magically transform itself and save us from our collective planetary nightmare. This monotheistic/capitalistic/civil law system is like a locomotive that once it has reached maximum speed, cannot quickly stop or turn to avert disaster. We’re not the conductor of this train, and those who would control the engine have little vision or imagination to prevent catastrophe. Besides, do we really want the governmental bureaucracy’s to solve our problems? Weren’t they quite complicit in creating the troubles as the puppets of big business, lawyers, and bankers? The draconian means by which government would wield one size fits all legislations will only serve to hinder our abilities to act individually should we finally choose to do something proactively. We must find our own solutions to our dilemmas. The answers can only come from deep within each of us. In order to find solutions, we must jump off the machine that is swiftly speeding toward an abyss, so that we might find the time and the tools to literally rebalance our personal elements in order to reconnect with nature and restabilize our world.
Certainly, we cannot do what is necessary to save ourselves and our future on our planet by continuing to participate in the status quo. As one who has been a passionate researcher of economics and history, I have, for over 25 years. been aware of massive imbalances building within our now global, economic system which have the ability to devastate and destroy the world as we know it. I have long sensed the death rattle. All of our ill conceived institutions are dying. We are witnessing the gathering clouds of an earth changing “Perfect Storm.” We might stare agape, mesmerized by the waves of extraordinary collapses of our civilization around us or we may begin to act to secure a new, more humane, equitable, and harmonious future. Are we here to become embroiled in and concentrate of the death of the old world which is occurring around us or to participate in a rebirth? As journalist Joshua Cooper Ramos says on the webpage advertising his new book: The Age of the Unthinkable, the “obligation of this historic moment is not to just sit and wait while history collides with our lives, but to step forward and use our lives to change history.” In order to know what it is that must be done, one must muster the courage to step outside of their comfort zones. Individually we must once more get in touch with our instincts and access our “original instructions.”
I ran headlong into the limitations of our system of living, over the past 14 years, as I felt compelled by some unfamiliar inner stirrings, which I could not identify, to make difficult personal choices which conflicted with those deemed acceptable by the status quo. What I have finally come to realize was that these choices, albeit hard, especially as they have cut me off from the people that I most care about and left me in a state of literal poverty and at times homelessness, have been preparing me for the changes which are now increasingly disrupting our world. By learning to cut off the constant fear-based chatter of my left brain and learn to “go with the flow,” following my instincts and intuition, I have become aware of a place of deep inner security from which I have learned to rely. I have acquired a resiliency and flexibility that has allowed me to confront an unsure future without being overcome. The key has been learning to stay in the ‘now,’ and allow life to unfold naturally. The trust I learned from this process allowed me the time and space to pursue my own sense of purpose, research and work; generally without freaking out and worrying about how I might secure food and shelter. Somehow my real necessities were always met, even as I may, at times, have been frustrated by my wishes being denied or delayed. I learned to be content with delaying gratification.
As I connected with my emotions and my instincts, I found it unbearable living with the constrictions of our society. I considered the use of drugs to continue functioning within society, but because I had always been quite hypersensitive to medication, being unable to even take an aspirin for a headache, this course of action absolutely was not an option. I could no longer be content with “just the way things are” or as recommended by a friend to “just suck it up.” I am reminded how a healthy, wild animal will chew off a limb rather than remain in a trap. As I reconnected with my true nature, I understood how I had been ensnared as well. My retreat from the world was a natural response of my new awareness of how sensitive I was and had always been. I became conscious of how I had armored myself since childhood in order to cope. The armor, while protecting me, had come at a severe cost by restricting my options in life. I came to identify myself as a hypersensitive woman with a soft marshmallow core and not the toughie I had always thought. I recognized that since childhood, I had used bravado to hide behind—even hiding from myself.
As I became more aware of the needs of my authentic self, I also began to connect my passions with my purpose. Fifteen years ago, I attended a conference related to constructing more sustainable transportation systems through the development of light rail. At that conference, one speaker forever inspired me with quite a simple idea; “the places we live and work should be as beautiful as the places we go for vacation.” I soon refined the idea to one of living within exquisitely pristine beauty all of the time. In a burst of enthusiasm accompanied by extreme naiveté, I returned to my city with intentions of committing my life to helping return it into such a place. Very soon, I realized the impossibility of that dream; not because the aspiration was inherently unattainable—nature is always a willing partner in a return to balance—but rather that my community did not share my vision.
I have since come to realize that I am not unique in my desire to live on a pristine earth—having become instinctually whole again, nothing else will suffice. That is the prerequisite; becoming whole. To do so means reconnecting with a different source of power. Instead of equating power as something one uses to bend others to their will, this power is instead used over oneself by exerting self control when challenged by the unfamiliar. It is an inner power. This power derives from ones instincts and intuition. Recently in defining the differences between these two terms, I realized, as stated earlier, the importance of the instincts as indispensable for survival. Intuition, I learned related more to thriving (or thrival—smile). What I have come to call my soul’s work has been led entirely by my intuition. I plan on flourishing in the new world ahead and have been preparing these past 14 difficult years for that eventuality. I long ago realized that I was here for the rebirth. You may all choose your future as well. Do you wish to wander like a Mad Max in an earth Wasteland, or as expressed in the song written by Joni Mitchell 40 years ago after the conclusion of “Woodstock,” to make your way “…back to the garden.” We have the power to choose to recreate our lives and heal our planet; it’s been hidden within us all along.
NOTE: The tool I used most to assist me in getting in touch with my instincts, working though my frenetic emotions, and rebalancing myself was Carol K. Anthony’s Guide to the I Ching. When first consulting the hexagrams, I was mystified as to how I was receiving relevant information from seemingly random readings. I later learned about the nature of energy which makes up our universe. The Ching taught me about balance and flow. I understand that Anthony has a new book I Ching: The Oracle of the Cosmic Way, co-authored with Hanna Moog which has revised the earlier addition based on their continuing study and observations.