At some point in the summer of 2013, I was standing in the GANG garden near the pond.
As is my custom, when in nature I often close my eyes, the better to immerse my whole being inside Her larger embodiment. This process of immersion is always profound. Indeed, I tend to take for granted just how crucial it is to my sense of well being.
I seem to have gradually developed this way of reconnecting to the vastness within which we all (usually without conscious awareness) “live and move and have our being” many decades ago, perhaps even in childhood. And never lost it. There was never a time when I could not stop what I was “doing,” and enter that mysterious communion. So grateful!
I mention this feeling of mine, what Thích Nhất Hạnh calls “interbeing,” so that you might be aware of just how powerfully what happened next took me over, out when I was just standing there, that summer afternoon, by the pond, with eyes closed. My hearing especially, was affected. Suddenly, I was privy to an immense harmonious interpenetrating buzzing of species of all kinds, birds, insects, fish, frogs, reeds, flowers, the Sun itself, the trees waving above their welcome. SO. MUCH. LIFE! A dizzying, overwhelming experience of how grateful Earth is for our recognition of Her, how She pulls out all the stops to thank us for our participation when we do pause, to acknowledge Her mysterious glory, Her astonishing abundance.
And now it is winter, fully 18 months or so later. And though the experience has only grown within me since that summer day, I didn’t talk about it until just a few days ago, when I met my son Colin, of the Garden Tower Project, for one of our periodic lunches, downtown. All of a sudden I found myself relating that experience to him, trying and failing of course, to find the words that would convey its immensity — feeling almost embarrassed at how much damned up emotion was spilling in the telling — and concluded: “I have a sense that wherever we do truly and fully reconnect to Earth, to this very ground where we are standing, right now, fully, deeply, then she will respond in kind. And that in this way we will heal.”
So when I came across this magnificent essay, today, not only did I carve out time to read the whole thing, I decided to print it out, so that I may read it again. And again. I knew that it had to be written by John Lamb Lash, even though his name does not appear on the story. It’s on his site, however, metahistory.org, and came to me via my subscription to the email list of New Illuminati.
“Our sense of purpose, both as individuals and as a species, depends on having a universal story. All ancient and indigenous cultures had sacred narratives, but these were specific to the tribal, racial, cultural, and geographic conditions of the people who produced them locally, whereas we today need a mythos for a planetary culture. The myth we desire and require is a story to which all human beings can relate at the species level, regardless of race, religion, nation, culture, education. A sane and compassionate society living in the global perspective is impossible without a sense of planetary conscience, but we cannot acquire this sense of conscience without a story to ground it. We commonly say that a story has a moral but the inverse is also true: a morality, a moral way of life, must have a story to support it.
. . .
The specific mythos we are called to share is a story about Gaia, the indwelling spirit of the Earth. It is the tale of a particular Goddess, the divinity in whom we live. The one we quaintly call “Mother Earth” has Her own story, but what do we know of it?
We, the human species, and all sentient beings on Earth are Gaia’s offspring, but of all her children we humans tend to deviate most from Her ongoing miracle of symbiosis and balance. Our peculiarity is also our handicap: unlike other species who are directed in a nearly infallible way by their instincts, we are oriented by goals of our own making. Part of the mystery of being alive is how we humans are left free to devise our own goals, our own purposes for living. But often the goals we choose to live by do not align us to the encompassing mysteries of Life — of Gaia, the mother planet.
The problem unique to humanity is to have produced a global society that works against the best interests of our own species, not to mention the myriad of other species in the planetary habitat. The result is a conflict between nature, which produces us, and culture, which we produce. In the terminal phase of the conflict we find ourselves supporting a culture that is inimical to the survival of species, including our own! The Gaia Mythos will emerge as we respond to a calling for our species to assert its life-force against the illusions and addictions of society. The Mythos holds the power to restore us to awe and reconnect us to the cosmos. The story ahead can then guide us, as a globally dispersed species, but it will not be a fairy tale meant to adapt us to the society we have created. It will lead us toward a wholly other way of being in the social world.
In the act of mythmaking that discloses Gaia’s story, we will be faced time and time again with the hard choice between commitment to ecocidal society and consecration to the life of all species in the biosphere. Whether or not modern society, or some facets of it, can be redirected along a Gaia-oriented path remains to be seen, but even if this is possible, the life of all species must take priority over human social life, or else the emergent Mythos will be co-opted for social gratification before it is halfway conceived. In Metahistory Quest we recognize that some aspects of Western-style, consumer-driven, patriarchal society cannot be redeemed. Yet in being inspired by a story that reveals Gaia’s purposes, of which neither science nor religion can tell us anything essential, we may find our way to acts of redemption that were otherwise inconceivable.
A transformed society may be possible, over there on the other side of civilization, but without first recovering the primal bond to the Other, nothing sustainable is possible in the human cultural frame.
So, the manifest goal of sharing a new cosmic story is not to save society but to align our hearts and minds to Gaia-Sophia so that Her endowment in each of us can be identified and fulfilled. The ultimate service in which we realize a sacred calling is to Her, not to tradition, culture, race and religion, or the dominant and desirable social order. This commitment is also the ultimate act of survival, for if we do not bond with Her in service to the Sacred and re-enter the rites of participation enacted through the dual ecstasy of discipline and play, we will not be carried with Her into the womb of futurity.
Her vision of us, whatever it is, is the only true future we have.