Transformation Spring 2019 - Issue 3
Spiritual Practices & Inspired Lifestyle
Sacred Sites and Spirituality in Nature Mindahi Bastida, with Indigenous Elders
FEATURES: è Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee è Duane Elgin è Jude Currivan
è Robert Atkinson è Lynnaea Lumbard è Nina Meyerhof
è David Nicol and David Sun Todd è J.J. and Desiree Hurtak è Domen Kocevar
M A G A Z I N E Spiritual Practices & Inspired Lifestyle Light on Light Magazine Issue 3 â€“ Spring 2019
Host Editor ............................................................................ Karuna
We at Light on Light Magazine are dedicated to illuminating the light of wisdom and compassion of spiritual practices and inspiring lifestyle features for the flourishing of health, mind, and spirit every day.
Contributing Editor ...................................................... Kurt Johnson, PhD Managing Editor ........................................ Rev. Shannon Winters, MS Book Review Editor ..............................................Swami Shraddhananda Graphic Editor & Layout ............................................................... David Winters Copy Editor ......................................................Roxanne Bank, MA
Connect with Us Online! www.facebook.com/Light-on-Light-157239711589063
Light on Light Magazine welcomes authors, spiritual teachers, and our readers, to contribute ideas and brief concepts for content in future issues. We welcome light-filled submissions of wisdom, inspiration, and transformation for feature articles, personal transformation stories, poetry, fictional short stories, music, artwork, #ShineYourLight inspirations, and more! Please send a brief description of your content or idea to email@example.com for consideration. Except for fair use extracts with full credit, no part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher. We make every effort to obtain proper permission to reproduce images. Images and artwork that do not include a citation for use where they appear in Light on Light Magazine are from Pixabay or licensed from Shutterstock Please contact us with any information related to the rights holder of an image source that is not credited. The opinions expressed in this issue due not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or editors of Light on Light Magazine.
The Interspiritual Network Serving the Emerging Global Interspiritual Paradigm
a member of the UNITY EARTH network ÂŠ Light on Light Magazine. All rights reserved.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Sacred Site Activism Around the World
Welcome from the Editors by Karuna, Rev. Shannon Winters, and Dr. Kurt Johnson...................................................................4
One Humanity Institute—A City of Hope Auschwitz/Oswiecim Poland by Nina Meyerhof and Domen Kocevar......................... 47-51
Welcomes Spiritual Ecology: The Need for a Spiritual Response to Our Present Ecological Crisis by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.....................................................5-8
Subtle Activism: Harnessing the Power of Earth's Sacred Sites for Planetary Healing by David T. Nicol and David Sun Todd..........................52-54
Ben Bowler, UNITY EARTH........................................................9
Activating Sacred Sites Through Acoustical Physics by J.J. Hurtak, and Desiree Hurtak................................. 55-57
Prologue: Sacred Time, Sacred Space, Sacred Story by Lynnaea Lumbard................................................................ 10
Sacred Places: from Kanhangad Ashram in south India to Mangala Mandir in southern Kentucky by Sw. Shraddahanada Saraswati.................................58-59
Arriving Where We Started: Indigenous Wisdom in the Modern Era by Duane Elgin........................................................................ 11-14 The Sacred Story of Our Time: We Are Living in a Spiritual Springtime by Robert Atkinson...............................................................15-16
Illuminations I Believe Everyone is a Gardener by Rev. Stephen N. Symbolik III........................................60-61 Travel - Along the Journey
There Are No Unsacred Places by Jude Currivan................................................................... 17-18
Along the Journey by Joanna Kujawa..............................................................62-63
Nature's Migration into a Digital Landscape by David Hoptman...............................................................19-20
Epilogue: Sacred Time, Sacred Place, Sacred Story by Lynnaea Lumbard................................................................ 21
Are You Dancing with Me, Shiva? by Sw. Shraddahanada Saraswati reviewed by John Polk............................................................. 64
Spotlight on Sacred Sites
Preview of Next Issue
There Are No Enemies—A Meditation from Karuna .................................................................................................65-66
The Sacred Sites Vision......................................................... 24 Leadership of the Initiative................................................... 25 The Original Caretakers Program "Four Pillars Vision" by Mindahi Bastida Muñ oz.............................................. 26-27 Pillar 2: The Sacred Sites Initiative as Understood by Indigenous Elders by Mindahi Bastida Muñ oz..............................................28-29 Protection of Biocultural Sacred Sites by Mindahi Bastida Muñ oz.................................................... 30 Key Activities of the Sacred Sites Work to Date .................................................................................................. 31-42 Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change by Mindahi Bastida Muñ oz.................................................... 43 The Heritage of the Forum 21 Institute Vision by Ken Kitatani........................................................................... 44
Upcoming Events ....................................................................................................... 67
Editors’ Welcome Welcome to this special issue of Light on Light Magazine on “Sacred Sites and Spirituality in Nature” for Earth Day 2019. This issue has been in preparation for more than two years and we hope it will shape both an understanding of what is happening worldwide with Sacred Sites (natural and cultural), and the important narrative around this subject as our species struggles to understand a sustainable and nurturing relationship with all of nature. The issue has three parts. First is a series of articles by award-winning authors setting out the context, and calling, of Sacred Sites and nature spirituality. Second is a central section dedicated to the groundbreaking Sacred Sites work and calling of Dr. Mindahi Bastida Muñoz (featured on the cover) and his global associates. Mindahi is connected to Light on Light and UNITY EARTH through the work of The Center for Earth Ethics (CEE)’s “Original Caretakers” and “Original Instructions” initiatives. This CEE program works also with Forum 21 Institute (Forum 21) of which many of us at Light on Light Magazine are a part. In turn CEE and Forum 21 partner with many major international networks and agencies, like UNESCO, the Vatican’s Laudato Si initiative, and many others. The last section of this Special Issue highlights some major global activisms around the urgency of Sacred Sites and then ends with several of Light on Light’s regular features. Closing the issue, we provide a special contemplative and yogic meditation from Karuna based on Lakota Chief Crazy Horse’s “Seven Generations” message (attributed to him shortly before his assassination in 1877). The deepest of spiritual practice concerns profound interconnection. So, in keeping with Light on Light’s emphasis on spiritual practice and inspired lifestyle we offer that closing meditation, especially looking toward our next Special Issue in June which will be celebrating the 5 Year Anniversary of the International Day of Yoga Committee at the United Nations. The roots of this current Special Issue go back to UNITY EARTH and its associated partners convening the Crestone Convergence (2017) and The Crestone Leadership Conference (2018), seminal events for our involvement with the Sacred Sites vision of Mindahi and his associates. As you will read in the pages of this issue, Mindahi and associated indigenous elders from around the world not only initiated the Sacred Sites work of CEE and Forum 21 (including Mindahi’s meeting with Pope Francis in Rome in 2018) but also took part in major international events of UNITY EARTH in Australia, Africa, and America. As Ben Bowler, the Executive Director of UNITY EARTH says herein, Sacred Sites work will be an important component of all that UNITY EARTH does. Light on Light is a partner of UNITY EARTH. We trust that you will find this Special Issue especially informative and inspiring.
Embracing Mother Earth, Rev. Shannon Winters, Managing Editor Karuna, Host Editor Dr. Kurt Johnson, Contributing Editor
by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee When I was twelve, my family moved from London to a house in the country only a few miles from the town of Glastonbury and its mythical Tor. Many times, as a teenager, I scrambled up the steep slopes of this strange hill to the small chapel on the top. I wandered through the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey with its beautiful octagonal “Abbot’s Kitchen” or sat in the stillness beside the Chalice Well. Driving from London to our house, we would pass by Stonehenge, where one could stop and walk among the ancient stones. These were in the days before new-age tourism, before fences and kiosks. The tor, the ruins, the well, and the ancient standing stones beside the road were—as they had been for centuries—mysterious but also just present. This was a landscape that held the rich magic of centuries, of ancient peoples and sacred place. Later, in my late teens, I would come to know about ley lines, the ancient energy patterns in the Earth, and how these sacred sites were at a confluence of many such lines. Even the small parish churches from the Middle Ages that dot the English countryside were built on older sites, part of this inner energy grid. Here the worlds came together, worship and wonder woven into the land. At that time, I spent a few weeks in Chartres Cathedral mainly studying the labyrinth—a pattern on the floor that guides the pilgrim on a journey of initiation.1 Built on a site sacred to the Black Madonna, this gothic cathedral was a pinnacle of sacred geometry and stained glass; and one night when pilgrimages came from Paris—each person holding a candle, linking hands around the building and then standing in the empty interior—I knew the power of the place. Here was an ancient wisdom long forgotten in our present time. Sacred space, sacred land, and esoteric teachings had aligned the hidden energies of the Earth and the heavens. Now, as our planet is dying—ravaged by our exploitation and greed, soil made toxic, waters polluted—we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of species, or Anthropocene, the 5
first mass extinction caused primarily by human beings. In just these few decades since I first struggled up the tor and touched the standing stones, our world has lost part of its primal beauty, become more of a clear-cut wasteland caused by our present materialistic nightmare. Some say we have passed the “tipping point” of irreversible climate change, while others hope for a scientific solution, some “green economy” that can allow us to continue this dream that is destroying the fragile web of life. And the Earth herself is crying, her body and soul calling out to all who might listen, what the Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh calls “the bells of mindfulness.” And those of us who hear her cry are responding, searching for “a new story,” one that is not based upon economic progress but real sustainability for all of creation, a story that supports the Earth and her many communities. This is a story that will restore reverence to the Earth and reconnect our souls to the sacred within creation, a story that will save our planet. Some have even already begun to articulate such a story—a beautiful and compelling vision of the entire universe as a single, inextricably interconnected, living whole, returning to us a sense of wonder that nourishes our bodies and souls. And for this story to come alive, to step off the pages of our imagination into living reality, we need the wisdom and magic of the Earth, her power and presence. We need the knowledge of the wisdom keepers of the ancient traditions, of the indigenous peoples who walked this land and spoke with its spirits for centuries. We need to remember the old ways—when everything was sacred, when the standing stones were alive, when the power of sacred space was understood, when heaven and earth and the sun and the stars were bonded together, and the names of creation were known. This new story is founded upon the oldest story—that of the oneness of creation, when everything was known to be part of a living whole. This is a story held by many indigenous people, who can give us access to their teachings and deep knowing. But
well as our scientific understanding of atoms and the technologies of communication. Then we can begin to work with the patterns of interconnection that belong to the web of life, its “interbeing,” including the strange nonlocal connections or “entanglement” that particle physics reveals and the ancient Taoist masters understood.2 Maybe we can again be given access to some of the knowledge of the spiritual masters, who knew the alchemy of light and love and how to work with the higher energies within the individual and the cosmos, how the individual is a microcosm of the whole—in Sufi symbolism, the lesser adam in relation to the greater Adam.3
it is also a story that carries a new note that points to The Great Turning, the next step of evolution that belongs to both humanity and the planet. The 2012 end of the “Mayan Long Count” calendar, much anticipated and much misunderstood, spoke of a galactic alignment that belongs to this moment in cosmic time. And our work is to live it here, to help this story come alive and so help the Earth to be healed and transformed. There is an opportunity in this time of crisis, if we are really attentive and awake, if we can turn away from the siren song of materialism and economic growth and reconnect with the sacred nature of the Earth and our own hearts. Sadly, we cannot return to the simplicity, the innocence, of an indigenous lifestyle. We live in a world more complex and fractured. Science and technology can help us—it is essential we reduce carbon emissions, plastic, and other pollutants—but only if that knowledge is in harmony with the whole of creation and does not just constellate more patterns of separation, which have until now been a central part of the story of science—that we are separate from the Earth, which is here to be measured, controlled, and mastered. Today the head and the heart need to work together—actions born from prayer and true mindfulness. We need to bring together the wisdom of the shaman and the scientist—how the worlds work together, both the magic and powers within creation, the devas and forces within nature, as
In this volume are voices we need to hear, which carry the same note that belongs to all those who care for “our common home.” In his recent work4 Duane Elgin forcefully confronts our present crisis, looking forward to a global systems collapse— water shortages, mass migrations—that will awaken humanity’s collective mind as we each identify and become empowered as an Earth citizen. We already have the tools of global communication, which will enable an “Earth Voice” as we decide our collective future and come together as a global community in solidarity and kinship, finally “taking responsibility for our relationship with the Earth, the rest of life, and the universe.” Jude Currivan combines scientific research, quantum mechanics, and cellular biology with an awareness of the subtle worlds. Her work reveals how “our Universe is a ‘cosmic hologram’ that exists and evolves as a unified and finite thought form in the infinite mind of the Cosmos.” Rather than a separate individual self, we are each a microcosm of this multidimensional consciousness, an awareness of which belongs to the next step in our shared evolution. Robert Atkinson equates the story of our present time with a pivotal moment in the evolution of consciousness, how we need to move beyond separation towards an awareness of life’s interconnections. As we make the transition from “the love of power to the power of love,” we have the potential, individually and collectively, to awaken to the consciousness of oneness and create a society based upon the principles of unity. Lynnaea Lumbard is an evolutionary leader who works in the field of mainstream media and emerging communities to integrate and innovate new storylines that elevate consciousness. These four voices are complemented by a section that lays out the vision of sacred sites belonging to Indigenous Nature-Wisdom.
creation...with Mother Earth and all her forms of life.” In the final section, Dr. David Nicol describes how the work of The Subtle Activism Movement connects with sacred sites. Nicol’s groundbreaking work in the field of subtle activism explores how awakened consciousness, and practices like prayer and meditation, can support global healing and transformation, and how spiritual practice can help in the transformation of the energy field of Gaia—an important step in our understanding of sacred sites and their potential.
The Glastonbury Tor that I climbed as a teenager and Chartres Cathedral, whose labyrinth is a model of the universe, belong to global network of sites of spiritual power—the ancient power grid of the planet—many of which have been looked after by indigenous peoples. From the Golden Mountains of the Altai in Siberia to the “Heart of the World” of the Kogi in the Sierra Nevada, there is a web of sacred sites that traditionally holds the balance between the inner and outer worlds. Many shamans and others believe that in caring for these sites we can restore our reverential relationship to the sacred and spiritual realms and thus help the forces of nature rebalance the world. This section on sacred sites is introduced by the spiritual activist Ken Kitatani, whose vision confronts the tipping point of climate change with a tipping point of a shift in global spiritual consciousness. The main spiritual practice of his Sukyo Mahikari tradition is to radiate positive and purifying energy to purify the spirit/mind/body to bring about spiritual evolution. He takes the vision behind this practice beyond personal transformation to create a peaceful and environmentally sustainable world. As the executive director of Forum 21 Institute, his work promotes spiritual understandings of the meaning of life—ecological spiritualities for our time, recognizing the sacredness of Earth, the life community, and special sites. This main section on sacred sites is focused on the work of Mindahi Bastida Muñoz, a Otomi-Toltec elder, and his colleague, Tiokasin Ghosthorse,5 and others. Mindahi Bastida engages directly with the subtle worlds to help heal and care for our sacred sites. He recognizes that these sites provide the spiritual energy that sustains the flourishing of life and are vital for our survival. Carrying the wisdom of his indigenous tradition, he understands how, as human beings, our presence here is for the care of life, which begins with acknowledging the sacred elements that give life: “We need to be interconnected with divine
In different ways, these visionaries are working with the energies of the inner worlds to help the paradigm shift that is needed for humanity and the Earth. They speak to us with the voices of those who care, who can see beyond the surface divisions of our present culture to the unity we need to claim if we are to give birth to a sustainable future—sustainable for all of creation. The magic of the Earth, her subtle realms, and our evolving consciousness need to work together to co-create a future that welcomes a living oneness and reconnects us with the sacred within the stones, the plants, and every living creature. We can no longer afford to isolate ourselves or ignore what is happening to our beloved planet. There is a deep calling to bring love and wisdom back into our relationship with the Earth, to learn to listen with the ear of the heart, see with the eye of the heart, and touch with a lover’s sensitivity. Then together we can step into the future that is waiting where the heart of the world will once again awaken, and the names of creation will sing in the wind.
Footnotes 1 When pilgrims traversed the winding path of the labyrinth, often on their knees, they would reach the center and, turning, see the light coming through the mandala of the mandala of the western rose window, symbolic of an awakened heart. This study of the labyrinth produced the book Chartres Maze—A Model of the Universe? Critchlow, Keith, Jane Carroll, and Llewellyn Vaughan Lee. London: RILKO Occasional Paper No.1, 1975. 2 What Einstein famously referred to as “spooky action at a distance.” 3 Man as microcosm is also imaged in Leonardo’s iconic image of Vitruvian Man with the square and the circle symbolizing earth and heaven. 4 Seven Stages of Great Transition: A Middle Path to a Sustainable and Surpassing Future. 5 Tiokasin, a member of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation of South Dakota, is an international speaker on Peace, Indigenous and Mother Earth perspective.
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee Ph.D. is a Sufi teacher and author. In recent years the focus of his writing and teaching has been on spiritual responsibility in our present time of global crisis, and an awakening global consciousness of oneness (www.workingwithoneness.org). More recently he has written about the feminine, and the emerging subject of Spiritual Ecology (https://spiritualecology.org/). He has been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday, and featured on the Global Spirit Series shown on PBS. His most recent book is Spiritual Ecology: 10 Practices to Reawaken the Sacred in Everyday Life.
Spiritual Ecology: The Need for a Spiritual Response to Our Present Ecological Crisis by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
THE EARTH is in distress and is calling to us, sending us signs of the extremity of its imbalance through global warming, floods and storms, drought, toxic rivers, polluted air. There are now indications that its ecosystem as a whole may even be approaching a “tipping point” or “state shift” of irreversible change with unforeseeable consequences. And some of us are responding to these signs, hearing this calling, individually and as groups, with ideas and actions—trying to bring our collective attention to our unsustainable materialistic lifestyle and the ways it is contributing to ecological devastation, accelerating pollution, species depletion. And yet, sadly, much of this response still belongs to the mindset that has caused the imbalance: the belief that we are separate from the world, that it is something “out there,” a problem we need to solve. The world is not a problem to be solved; it is a living being to which we belong. The world is part of our own self and we are a part of its suffering wholeness. Until we go to the root of our image of separateness, there can be no healing. And the deepest part of our separateness from creation lies in our forgetfulness of its sacred nature, which is also our own sacred nature. When our Western monotheistic culture suppressed the many gods and goddesses of creation, cut down the sacred groves and banished God to heaven, we began a cycle that has left us with a world destitute of the sacred, in a way unthinkable to any indigenous people. The natural world and the people who carry its wisdom know that the created world and all of its many inhabitants are sacred and belong together. Our separation from the natural world may have given us the fruits of technology and science, but it has left us bereft of any instinctual connection to the spiritual dimension of life—the connection between our soul and the soul of the world, the knowing that we are all part of one living, spiritual being. It is this wholeness that is calling to us now, that needs our response. It needs us to return to our own root and rootedness: our relationship to the sacred within creation. Only from the place of sacred wholeness and reverence can we begin the work of healing, of bringing the world back into balance. There is a vital need to recognize that the Earth is a living being in distress. The signs of global imbalance—the heat waves, the destruction of the coral reefs—are not just physical symptoms. As Thich Nhat Hanh writes, these are “bells of mindfulness,” calling us to be attentive, to wake up and listen. The Earth needs our attention. We need not just to act but also to listen. The Earth needs us to help heal its body, damaged by our exploitation and relentless greed, and also its soul, wounded by our desecration, our forgetfulness of its sacred nature. Only when we remember what is sacred can we bring any real awareness to our present predicament. Then we can respond with our hearts and hands, reconnecting to our deepest relationship with the Earth. We need to remember why we are here. To quote Wendell Berry: “The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.” Adapted from the introduction to Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth, ed. Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
Welcomes UNITY EARTH in partnership with many leaders and other organisations has convened the “Road to 2020”, a series of increasingly public events around the world running from 2016-2020. Events have been held in so far in Australia, Europe, Africa, North America and Asia with the culmination coming over the next 18 months with major events in India, the Holy Land (Middle East) and the USA. A deeply significant elements of all these sacred gatherings, both historic and in planning, is the work that takes places at various “sacred sites” within each event. November 2017 in outback Australia was the Return to Country of Mungo Man. This powerful event commemorating the long-awaited homecoming of the human remains of this 45,000-year-old Homo sapiens brought together Lore men and woman from a wide variety of Aboriginal communities around Australia, as well as dance groups and musicians. The ceremony of the return itself as well as the commemorative public event the following day were held in deep ceremony. International guests such as Dr. Mindahi Bastida from the Centre for Earth Ethics and other dignitaries were in attendance. Lake Mungo (which has long been dry) is part of the World Heritage Area of the Willandra Lakes. It is a deeply a sacred place for the local Aboriginal communities and for the many visitors and Pilgrims who come there. One of the key Elders Alice Kelly said before she died “Lake Mungo is a place where the breath of the Greater Spirit is still alive and tangible today”. It was a powerfully symbolic place as well as a sacred occasion in which to inaugurate the Road to 2020 series of global events. The next step along the Road to 2020 was U Day 2018 in Ethiopia, where 70 spiritual and cultural leaders convened for eight days of events and ceremonies. The opening ceremony - the “Convergence of Fire” was held in Lalibela, once of the holiest sites in Ethiopia. Feeling the sacred energy of this place was an essential ingredient as indigenous leaders, spiritual and cultural representatives, musicians and artists all come together in this powerful ceremony. The energy generated then stayed with the whole group throughout the week long U Day Festival. The 2018 Fields of Healing, in Byron Bay, Australia was again working in close collaboration with local indigenous Elders. The site of the gathering is the point of origin of an ancient pathway or “Songline” on the easternmost part of Australia. Called “Wooyung” it is very sacred site to the local Minyabul people. The depth of ceremony and significance of the land helped to make “Fields of Healing” such a landmark event. Sacred Sites are an integral aspect of all the work UNITY EARTH is doing on the Road to 2020. Sites in India for U Day 2019 (November 14-25) include the “Holy City” of Varanasi on the sacred Ganges River as well as the nearby Buddhist Holy Pilgrimage site of Sarnath. “U Day 2020: Holy Land, Living Water” (February 1-7) will be one continuous Sacred Site visit across the Holy Land including sites in Jordan, Israel and Palestine. When the Caravan of Unity rolls across the USA in September 2020, there are several sacred sites on the route. Made up of both culturally and geographically significant locations these spaces provide a dynamic environment for ceremony, energetic healing and transformation. I am delighted that the team at Light on Light Magazine is issuing this great edition in honour of all the wonderful work being done with Sacred Sites around the world. We honour our partnership with Forum 21 and the Centre for Earth Ethics and I acknowledge the deep and sacred work they are doing. The edition showcases that work as well as many other groups and leaders working with Shamanic and Indigenous wisdom, towards greater healing between humanity and the natural world and ultimately towards the “unification process” (as Dr. Mindahi Bastida terms it) that we are all a part it. Happy Reading and looking forward to seeing you at some sacred sites on the Road to 2020 and beyond! Ben Bowler UNITY EARTH Executive Director
Sacred Time, Sacred Place, Sacred Story by Lynnaea Lumbard
PROLOGUE What makes a place or a time or a story sacred? How do we know? What changes in us when we enter the sacred? What must we change in ourselves to create the sacred? What desecrates (de-sacralizes) a place? Why is it important, especially now, to find a new understanding of the sacred? These are but a few of the questions we will explore in the articles in this section. We live in a time of great desecration. Desecration “is the act of depriving something of its sacred character, or the disrespectful, contemptuous, or destructive treatment of that which is held to be sacred or holy by a group or individual.” We see it all around us in the treatment of children at the border, people killing spouses and children, genocide of whole populations, mountaintop removals, and industrial waste. Whether in how we treat each other or in how we treat Earth, we seem to have lost our way, bringing us to the brink of our own extinction. The stories here challenge us to realign with a larger vision of what it means to be whole, to take up our responsibility in reestablishing a sacred relationship with all life. Something in us has to wake up, clean up, and grow up if we are to come into a viable, life-affirming future. We need to see a bigger picture and change our minds, shift our consciousness, and behave in new ways to create a world where all can thrive. My own exploration of the sacred have taken me around the world visiting sacred sites. Some places like Ayers Rock, the Grand Canyon, and Iguassu Falls are natural wonders, places so unusual, so majestic or awe-inspiring that they take the breath away. To be in them transports the ordinary mind into a kind of reverie of the power of forces vastly beyond the scope of human endeavor. They help us get out of ourselves and contemplate a larger universe and perhaps reconsider our place in it. Others places like Machu Picchu, Khajuraho, Tengboche, the Great Pyramids, Stonehenge, Chartres, Karnak, or Angkor Wat, were built by humans (some suggest by more than humans) and seem designed for the same purpose, to offer an experience of another level of consciousness beyond the ordinariness of human life, to take us into the deeper recesses of our souls and to create the opportunity to connect with a larger presence. Sacred sites are held in reverence by those who create them, worship in them, and visit them. They are separate from the ordinary conducting of business or house-holding. Often, and certainly traditionally, one could not even enter them without certain training, rituals, rites of passage, or altered states of consciousness. In Egypt, the inner sanctums of the ancient temples—now trod by thousands of tourists daily, their walls crumbled by the ravages of time and history—were once sacrosanct, accessible only to the highest order of priests and priestesses. Even today in living churches, synagogues, and mosques, much of the innermost altars and sanctuaries are walled off from the masses and may only be entered into by the initiated. What must we do in our time to enter the sacred precinct, the temenos, whether it be a place, a time, or a story? What ritual, what shift in consciousness, what choice will serve for us to open into the sacred in ourselves, with each other, and in relationship to our planet? Let the storytellers here be a springboard for your finding your own answers.
Arriving Where We Started: Indigenous Wisdom in the Modern Era by Duane Elgin © March 2, 2019
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. – T.S. Eliot
Beginning Within Unity and Aliveness We may be as far as we can possibly get from our Indigenous roots with sacred regard for all of life. Particularly in the last century or so, many people have been hypnotized by the Western, materialistic mindset with its view that the universe is essentially comprised of dead matter and empty space. Being dead, the universe has no inherent meaning or deeper purpose and is without consciousness. The view of a non-living universe has fostered an exploitive mindset that has produced both extraordinary wealth and unprecedented destruction, bringing the Earth to the edge of breakdown and collapse as a living system. Where do we find the wisdom for going forward? The nature-wisdom of Indigenous peoples is a priceless part of humanity’s heritage. Explored below is the connection between this wisdom—with its direct appreciation and intuitive understanding of the nature of the universe—and the understanding that emerges when we triangulate contemporary insights from science, wisdom traditions, and surveys of people’s direct experience. Indigenous Nature-Wisdom How did our distant ancestors experience life and the world? Here are quotes from a range of Indigenous cultures around the world that reveal a subtle and refined understanding of reality. Luther Standing Bear, Lakota elder “There was no such thing as emptiness in the world. Even in the sky there were no vacant places. Everywhere there was life, visible and invisible, and every object gave us great interest in life. The world teemed with life and wisdom; there was no complete solitude for the Lakota.”1 11
Ohlone Indians lived from the San Francisco Bay Area down to Monterey. For the Ohlone, “religion” was pervasive “like the air.” Nature was seen to be alive and shimmering with energy. Because everything was filled with life, power was everywhere and in everything. Every act was a spiritual act because it engaged the worlds of power. All tasks…were done with a feeling for the surrounding world of life and power.2 The Koyukon Indians of northern central Alaska The Koyukon live “in a world that watches, in a forest of eyes.” They believe wherever we are, we are never truly alone because the surroundings, no matter how remote, are aware of our presence and must be treated with respect.3 Sarayaku Kichwa of the Ecuadorean Amazon Jungle They believe that “Everything in the jungle is alive and has a spirit.” There is a common intuition found in nature-wisdom around the world—our life exists within a larger aliveness. A living presence permeates the world and naturally includes consciousness— sometimes described as a “forest of eyes,” aware of our presence, no matter who or where we are. A related intuition is that a lifeforce or “sacred wind” blows through the universe and brings the capacity for awareness and communication with others. All life is viewed as worthy of respect. Nothing is too small to be thoughtlessly denied its place in the ecology of creation. The “nature-wisdom” of Indigenous peoples is not a relic to be discarded but a source of deep understanding to be embraced in our dangerous and difficult time of great transition. Direct Experiences of Aliveness How widespread is the experience of a permeating aliveness and deep unity in everyday life? How often do people feel a sense of aliveness that goes beyond their bodily existence to connect them with the larger world? Here are insightful scientific surveys of large numbers of people in different parts of the world that approach these questions:
A global survey involving 7,000 youths in 17 countries was taken in 2008. It found that 75% believe in a ‘”higher power,” and a majority say they have had a transcendent experience, believe in life after death, and think it is “probably true” that all living things are connected.4 A 2002, national Gallup survey asked respondents to rate the statement “I have had a profound religious experience or awakening that changed the direction of my life.” A stunning 41% of Americans (about 80 million adults at the time) said the statement completely applies to them.5 In 1962, a survey of the adult population in the US found that 22% reported having a profound experience of communion with the Universe. By 2009, the percentage of the population reporting a “mystical experience” had grown dramatically to 49% of the adult population.6
the aliveness of the universe. Experiences of a living presence permeating the Universe are not a fringe phenomenon but, instead, are familiar occurrences for a large portion of humanity. In turn, direct experiences provide the felt understanding to anchor in collective consciousness a new appreciation of the universe as a living, unified, and aware organism. We are inseparable from that unity and aliveness—and this understanding brings forth a new sense of identity and evolutionary journey. Scientific Views For the past few hundred years, science has viewed the universe as created from non-living matter and empty space. Any suggestion of a living presence infusing the universe was regarded as fantasy and superstition. Now the ancient intuition of a living Universe is being reconsidered freshly as science cuts away superstition to reveal the cosmos as a place of unexpected wonder, depth, dynamism, and subtlety. To illustrate—in a stunning challenge to materialism—in the past few decades scientists have learned that the overwhelming majority of the universe is invisible and not material! As this graphic shows, scientists estimate that 95% of the known universe is invisible to our physical senses:
In a national survey of the US in 2014, nearly 60% of adults reported they regularly feel a deep sense of “spiritual peace and wellbeing” and 46% say they experience a deep sense of “wonder about the Universe” at least once a week.7 A critical conclusion emerges from these surveys: We are measurably waking up as a species! Roughly half of humanity appears to regularly have the experience of connecting with
This contemporary insight from science is in accord with longstanding insights of nature-based wisdom traditions that see our physical existence as part of a larger body of life.
Summarizing very briefly, here are six key attributes emerging from science and cosmology that point toward a living Universe.8 The universe is increasingly regarded as: • A unified whole: The universe is a single, seamless totality. • Empty space is not empty: Immense energy permeates the universe. • Co-Arising: A new universe emerges freshly at every moment. • Consciousness at every scale: A knowing capacity is present throughout. • Freedom at the foundation: Probabilities, not deterministic certainties characterize the cosmos. • Able to reproduce itself: Black holes may be regarded as potential seeds for budding off a new cosmos.
When we bring these attributes together, a new picture of our Universe comes into focus. The Universe is a living, cosmic hologram—a unified “super-organism” that is continuously regenerated at each moment and whose essential nature includes consciousness, or a knowing capacity, that enables systems at every scale of existence to center themselves and exercise some measure of freedom of choice. We are completely immersed within this regenerative holographic universe. There are strong connections between the nature-wisdom of first peoples and discoveries in modern science. For example, the idea that “there was no such thing as emptiness in the world” and there were “no vacant places“ would please modern physicists who, only in the last few decades, have come to view the universe as filled everywhere with invisible or “dark” matter and “dark” energy that comprises 95% of the known universe. 13
Spiritual Traditions Looking beyond the nature-wisdom of Indigenous cultures, the world’s spiritual traditions have deep roots in a recognition of the regenerative flow of the universe—an insight that cuts through notions of solidity and permanence to reveal aliveness and creative change everywhere. The following quotes illustrate how the world’s major wisdom traditions view the universe as arising, moment by moment, as an undivided whole in an unutterably vast process of awesome precision and power Christian: “God is creating the entire Universe, fully and totally, in this present now. Everything God created…God creates now all at once.”9 – Meister Eckhart, Christian mystic
Islam: “You have a death and a return in every moment…Every moment the world is renewed but we, in seeing its continuity of appearance, are unaware of its being renewed.”10 – Rumi, 13th century Sufi teacher and poet Buddhist: “My solemn proclamation is that a new Universe is created every moment.”11 – D.T. Suzuki, Zen teacher and scholar Hindu: “The entire Universe contributes incessantly to your existence. Hence the entire Universe is your body.”12 – Sri Nisargadatta, Hindu teacher Taoist: “The Tao is the sustaining Life-force and the mother of all things; from it, all things rise and fall without cease."13 – Tao Te Ching
Beneath differences of language, a common understanding is apparent. All traditions describe the Universe is continuously emerging as a fresh creation at every moment and that we are an inseparable part of that process. Each moment, a new universe arises seamlessly and flawlessly. There is a basis in physics for the near-universal encouragement found in the world’s wisdom traditions: it’s to live in the “now”—the present moment is the place where we are in direct connection with the entire Universe as it arises continuously. Arriving Where We Started Although surveys show many people regularly catch glimpses of the aliveness, unity, and awareness throughout the universe, still most “modern” societies do not recognize the importance and value of these penetrating experiences. Instead, most societies are organized around economic considerations and therefore promote consumerism, an exploitive mindset, and a materially comfortable lifestyle far from nature. As we confront breakdown and the possible collapse of civilizations around the planet, it seems most unwise to rely upon the mindset or paradigm that created our planetary crisis as the one to solve it. Where can we turn? We are now challenged to learn a new humility and bring a new depth into our lives and relationships—no longer skimming the surface of a fast life but going deep into the felt meaning of a well-lived life. An important ingredient in this learning is remembering the nature-wisdom of Indigenous people and awakening into these understandings with fresh eyes suited to our time of planetary transition. Being realistic, the human community seems unlikely to turn away from our current path of overconsumption and deep injury to the Earth—unless we are called by a pathway into the future that is so truly remarkable, transformative, and welcoming that we are drawn together by the astonishing promise of its invitation. That pathway is being revealed by triangulation of insights presented here—from people’s direct experience, discoveries in science, and shared understandings across the world’s wisdom traditions. We are discovering that, instead of struggling for meaning and a miracle of survival in a dead Universe, we are being invited to learn and grow forever in the deep ecologies of a living Universe. To step into the invitation of learning to live in a living Universe represents a journey so extraordinary that it invites us to transcend the wounds of history and to begin a process of reconciliation and healing to realize a remarkable future we can only attain together. If we can arrive “where we started” and see the aliveness, unity, and consciousness of the universe, we have the foundation for a promising journey into the deep future.
1 Luther Standing Bear, quoted in Brown, J.E., (1973). Modes of Contemplation Through Actions: North American Indians. In Main Currents in Modern Thought (p. 194). New York, NovemberDecember, 1973, p. 194. 2 Malcolm Margolin, The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco-Monterey Bay Area, Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1978. 3 Richard Nelson, Make Prayers to the Raven, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983, p. 14. 4 Roehlkepartain, E.C., Benson, P.L., Scales, P.C., Kimball, L., and King, P.E. (2008). With Their Own Voices: A global exploration of how today’s young people experience and think about spiritual development. Search Institute, www.spiritualdevelopmentcenter.org. Also, see article by Jane Lampman in the November 6, 2008 edition of the Christian Science Monitor. 5 George Gallup, Jr., “Religious Awakenings Bolster Americans’ Faith,” Gallup Organization, January 14, 2003. http://www.gallup.com/poll/7582/religious-awakenings-bolster-americans-faith. aspx 6 Greeley, A., and McCready, W., “Are We a Nation of Mystics,” New York Times Magazine, January 26, 1975. 7 Pew Research Center. (2015). U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious. Retrieved from http://www. pewforum.org/2015/11/03/u-s-public-becoming-less-religious 8 See my book: Duane Elgin, The Living Universe, San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2009. 9 Fox, M. (1983). Meditations with Meister Eckhart (p. 24). Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Co. 10 See, for example, Barks, C. (1995). The Essential Rumi, San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco. 11 Suzuki, D.T. (1970). Zen and Japanese Culture (p. 364). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 12 Maharaj, S.N. (1973). I Am That. Part I (trans., Maurice Frydman; p. 289). Bombay, India: Chetana. 13 Lao Tsu, (1972). Tao Te Ching (trans. Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English). New York: Vintage Books.
Duane Elgin is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and social visionary who looks beneath the surface turbulence of our times to explore the deeper trends that are transforming our world. In 2006, Duane received the International Goi Peace Award in Japan in recognition of his contribution to a global “vision, consciousness, and lifestyle” that fosters a “more sustainable and spiritual culture.” He is the executive director of a project that has brought together more than a dozen “Great Transition Stories” that offer new cultural narratives for our collective imagination and that can serve help guide us toward a sustainable and meaningful future. He is now developing a growing number of collaborations with organizations in business, film and media, colleges and universities, and more. His books include: The Living Universe: Where Are We? Who Are We? Where Are We Going? (2009); Promise Ahead: A Vision of Hope and Action for Humanity’s Future (2000), Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life that is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich (2010, 1993 and 1981), and Awakening Earth: Exploring the Evolution of Human Culture and Consciousness (1993). With Joseph Campbell and other scholars he co-authored the book Changing Images of Man (1982). In addition, Duane has contributed numerous book chapters, articles, and blog posts. As a speaker, Duane has given more than 300 keynotes and workshops with audiences ranging from business executives and civic groups to churches and college students. For more please see www.DuaneElgin.com.
The Sacred Story of Our Time: We Are Living in a Spiritual Springtime by Robert Atkinson
From a big-picture perspective, there is but one sacred story unfolding, little by little, since the beginning of time, and it goes in cycles, just like the four seasons. The story of Creation is continually evolving, periodically punctuated by new chapters. This becomes clear when we go back some four billion years when all things were governed by one universal law and cycles of maturation followed by decline and eventual renewal were the norm. Evolution of life on earth has been fraught with a series of near-endings, only to be followed by cycles of renewal expressing an underlying pattern of transformation that has always defined progress by bringing order and predictability to the evolutionary impulse. The earliest indigenous peoples not only observed this cycle of renewal and the way progress takes place, they incorporated this understanding into their rites of passage, ceremonies, and daily life, inherently knowing the interconnectedness and interdependence of all things. Thus began a series of spiritual epochs with each one defined by the same cycle of renewal and resulting in an evolutionary leap in consciousness. Initiated by the world’s major prophets—Krishna, Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and Baha’u’llah (founder of the Baha’i Faith in the mid-19th century)—it’s difficult to deny that they have each changed the course of human life over the last five thousand years. But this raises the all-important question: how do we understand religion? We can view religion with either with a consciousness of duality or with a consciousness of oneness. The question really is: do we see religion as multiple, independent, competing traditions, or do we see religion as one interdependent, cumulative tradition? Is it many separate knowledge systems or one evolving knowledge system? When we view the Creator holistically, we see reality as one and Divine truth as coming from the same Source, though unfolding gradually. This process of ongoing divine Revelation allows us to visualize religion as an eternal, evergrowing sacred tree of many branches. From this One tree has flourished three sets of branches: the Indigenous branches, consisting of all the ancient and modern native spiritual traditions throughout the world; the Abrahamic branches, consisting of the traditions descended from Abraham (Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and Baha’u’llah); and the Dharmic branches, consisting of the traditions of Krishna, Buddha, and Zoroaster, as well as others, including Jainism and Sikhism. Visualized as a single tree and with Divinity as its single source, the evolution of religion becomes as apparent as evolution in any other sphere of life. The Baha’i writings say, “Reality is not multiple; it is one. Therefore, the foundations of the religious systems are one because they all proceed from the indivisible reality.” With the major world religions coming from the same Source every ten or twelve centuries or so and with each tradition having a unique purpose for its time, we can also see how each spiritual epoch has helped to fulfill a specific function in the
evolution of human civilization—bringing about unity on an increasingly wider scale. Earlier spiritual epochs had established unity on the family, tribal, and city-state levels. The last commonly known spiritual epoch, the Islamic Era, which began some fourteen centuries ago, inaugurated humanity’s evolutionary stage of nationbuilding. Now that this is completed, we seek a story to frame our next stage of evolution. What is it that most characterizes the story of our time, the latest chapter in our ever evolving story? Beneath the profound ups and downs of the 20th century—two World Wars, the United Nations, Civil Rights and Human Rights movements, the Summer of Love, the first Moonwalk (giving us a view of our planet with no boundaries), and much more (along with similar cycles already in the 21st century)—a deeper theme emerges. Carl Jung was at a loss to answer his own similar question: “In what myth (i.e., sacred story) do we live today?” But Joseph Campbell offered an answer: “The only myth worth thinking about is one that is about the planet…and everybody on it.” The sacred story of our time is about the death of old systems that divide us and the birth of a global community that will unite us. This is where our evolutionary trajectory has been leading us. The leap of consciousness we’ve already seen in the springtime of this latest spiritual epoch is from the illusion of separation to the reality of humanity as one family and all of creation as one living system. Even prior to the transformative events of the 20th and 21st centuries, religious scholars noted that divisiveness and intolerance had reached a tipping point in the 1840s, and a fervor for renewal had swept the globe. Religious seekers looked to the Holy Land and Persia as places where sacred scripture might be fulfilled. This was the same time that the Baha’i Faith, founded upon the core principle of the oneness of humanity, originated in Shiraz (old Persia, now Iran). Baha’u’llah’s radical statement (for the mid-1800s)—“The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”— is at the heart of the Baha’i writings and causes us to wonder whether this could be a source of humanity’s current transformation of consciousness.
Only a century and three-quarters into this new spiritual epoch that will take many more centuries to reach its maturation, we can be assured that we live in a “springtime of the inner world” with its summer fullness certain to follow. The Baha’i writings see historical progress as occurring in evolutionary stages with built-in periods of upheaval and chaos ultimately leading to transformation and renewal and offering unifying spiritual principles that address and resolve the most challenging needs of our time. Supporting the core spiritual principle of “the oneness of humanity” is a set of social justice principles that are prerequisites for world peace, including the inherent nobility of the human being, the equality of women and men, freedom from of all forms of prejudice, the elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty, a global justice system, and the stewardship of the planet, which already define the spirit of our age. The Baha’i writings say, “World peace is not only possible but inevitable.” This is because the evolutionary impulse has forever been leading us toward this “supreme goal,” and now we have the tools for the first time to accomplish this on a global scale. However, the realization of world peace in our time requires nothing less than the most complete global effort ever attempted. This task is the responsibility currently calling every single member of the human race. This never-more-dire challenge is not going to be accomplished by any one group. Fully adopting, implementing, and carrying out the principles needed to fulfill this age-old promise is wholly a matter of personal and collective will. Everything depends entirely upon the action we take now. Our call to action is to become proactive midwives ensuring that the rebirth of the planet happens as gently as possible. The good news is that there is already a strong, vibrant global movement well underway. Signs are evident of a global interfaith, interspiritual, indigenous, and interdisciplinary effort putting into action the universal principles of our time. Networks of networks and partnerships of partnerships are forming, bridges are spanning chasms, new alignments are coming together, and all efforts to
benefit the whole are now understood as interconnected elements in one cause. These stirrings of social action have been increasing for well over a half century; now, everyone is empowered in assisting the building of a new world. We are at a threshold never before crossed. Our collective coming of age as one family is at hand. Adopting a consciousness of oneness, now fully achievable, is the only thing that will enable us to build a culture of oneness, which in turn means living in unity within our multiplicity, honoring our diversity within our common heritage as human beings, and safeguarding our differences while recognizing we are more alike than unalike. Nothing less than the entire world community working in harmony, seeking solutions together, can ensure our collective survival. Our challenge is to disregard the fleeting notions of the day and instead recognize their sharp contrast to the overriding unifying spiritual forces of our time. The action most needed to be taken by each of us is to work across boundaries, across differences. As greater numbers embrace the idea of global citizenship and as this is reflected in various spheres of action from interpersonal to social, a consciousness of oneness will become as commonly accepted in the near future as nationalism was in the past. Love is sacred activism of our time; it is the only force that can eliminate all forms of prejudice; it is the only power that allows us to see all things with the eye of oneness; it is the unifying force that binds together the universe. Robert Atkinson, Ph.D., author, educator, and developmental psychologist, has published nine books, including the 2017 Nautilus Book Award winner The Story of Our Time: From Duality to Interconnectedness to Oneness; Mystic Journey: Getting to the Heart of Your Soul’s Story (2012); The Gift of Stories (1995); and, Year of Living Deeply: A Memoir of 1969 (2019). He is an internationally recognized authority on life story interviewing, a pioneer in the techniques of personal mythmaking and soul-making, a member of Evolutionary Leaders, professor emeritus at the University of Southern Maine, and founding director of StoryCommons; see www.robertatkinson.net. 16
There Are No Unsacred Places by Jude Currivan
There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.
few years ago, I had the great privilege and joy of living with an extended family of aboriginal people in the red heart of Australia. Over a magical but too few days, they shared their stories of the interconnectedness of everything, the sacredness of the whole world, and how we humans have a responsibility, bequeathed from our ancestors and passed on to our children, to continue to honor and “sing” this into continued being. Their concept of the Dreamtime—or, as our Anungu guides preferred to call it, Tjukurpa—and walking the song-lines of its ongoing realization is of primordial and yet ever new importance to their culture—unbroken and held sacred for more than forty thousand years until the coming of the “white fellas.” Since, after generations of discrimination and finally exile from their ancestral lands, only a few years before my visit they had re-gained not ownership, as they have no concept of “owning” property, but renewed relationship and a dynamic mutuality of belonging with the land and all its inhabitants. After journeying to nearly 80 countries around the world, learning from many wisdom teachers, and experiencing numerous sites (natural and monumentalised) deemed “sacred,” I share the wider perspective of my aboriginal guides—that everywhere all life and existence itself is fundamentally inter-connected and inherently sanctified. To further emphasize this profound realization, in some indigenous traditions the rite of passage known as a vision quest doesn’t involve distant journeying but a deep stillness and witnessing, remaining in one place to fully immerse, see, hear, and listen to the everyday web of life as its ebb and flow breathes through the initiate in every moment. A fundamental attribute of indigenous wisdom and its realisation of sacred inter-connectedness is gratitude for life itself. In environments with abundant or scarce resources, grateful 17
reciprocity is a cornerstone of community. In the Quechua language of Peru, the word ayni embodies this: offering back to Mother Earth, Pacha Mama, in appreciation of what she provides us with such benevolence. The Q’ero shamans, whose small communities eluded the Spanish invaders more than five centuries ago by escaping to the highest and most challenging reaches of the mountains, have lived there ever since; they inspired me with their everyday honoring through gratitude. During my research for my doctorate in archaeology in the landscape of Avebury in England where I live (which has been monumentalised for more than six thousand years), I discovered such reciprocity there, too. At an excavation site where flint nodules had been extracted from the chalk bedrock alongside a nodule deliberately left insitu was an ancient offering of carefully placed knapped flint implements and animal bones, indicating how, more than five thousand years ago, someone said thank you to Mother Earth for the valued provision of flint. All indigenous traditions, ancient and contemporary, include in their holistic world view the existence and guidance of multidimensional realms. From the beings known as huldufolk to Icelanders, to the kami of Japan, the apukuna mountain spirits of South America, and the other many names of elemental, devic, and angelic entities around the world, such encounters are as old and new as humanity itself. Contemporary conscious communities such as the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland, founded in 1962, also commune with such realms as naturalised every day realities. *** The wisdom of shamans, the insights of sages, the experiences of seers of all traditions, and, indeed, many pioneering scientists have perceived the innate inter-connectedness, multidimensionality, and fundamentally unified nature of reality. The 20th century scientific quantum and relativistic revolutions also offer deep clues to this understanding, as has progressive research into supernormal phenomena and the nature of consciousness. Nonetheless, until recently mainstream science has maintained that the seemingly separate and solely material appearance of the Universe is its essential reality—that somehow
consciousness arises from the brain and as an accidental result of numerous random occurrences that have arbitrarily enabled the evolutionary emergence and survival of the fittest.
dynamic, relational patterns of meaningful in-formation are being discovered to be all-pervasive, literally in-forming the appearance of our Universe.
Not only is this a limited and limiting perspective, ever more evidence is showing that its fundamentally mistaken. Instead, leading edge science is now offering a radically different understanding, which converges with the most profound spiritual insights and experiences of all ages and all traditions.
On a cosmological scale, the mathematical signs of the “cosmic hologram” were, for the first time, seen in early 2017 in the cosmic microwave background, the relic radiation left over from the earliest epoch of our Universe.
*** From a scientific perspective, there are several key insights (as follow), which are coalescing into an integral model of our Universe as being an emergent manifestation of unified reality. Whilst apparently solid, physicists know that the physical world is incredibly ephemeral. An experiment led by Antoine Bérut and Eric Lutz reported in 2012 (and others since) has demonstrated the innate physicality of information by showing that deleting one digitised bit releases actual physical heat in line with theoretical predictions. Increasingly compelling evidence is showing that such digitised information, the basis for all our technologies, is exactly the same as universal and meaningful in-formation, also articulated as digitised bits, that is being discovered to underpin and pervasively in-form physical reality. Just as we combine the random letters of our alphabet to form and express meaning in words and songs, so from this simplest possible universal “alphabet” of 1s and 0s scientists are now discovering that the entire Universe is sung into existence. These findings are demonstrating that information is more fundamental than energy-matter and space-time and expressed in complementary ways as these emergent phenomena of our Universe, revealing how, from non-physical causative realms, cosmic mind (in Einstein’s terminology) creates a Universe that exists and evolves as a nonlocally coherent entity. In addition, cosmologists are coming to recognise that our Universe is manifested holographically and that such universal digitized information, pixelated at the minute Planck scale area of the two-dimensional holographic boundary of space-time, projects and in-forms its emergent appearance. The holographic signature, universal fractal/geometric patterns, and processes of this new and radical perception are being understood through increasing evidence at all scales of existence and across numerous fields of research. From cosmology, physics, and chemistry to biology and complex systems throughout both the “natural” world and human systems and behaviors,
Also known is that, whilst within space-time, no signal can go faster than the speed of light (thus maintaining universal causality), quantum mechanics can only work if the whole Universe is also nonlocally interconnected. Such nonlocal coherence, underpinning supernormal phenomena, such as telepathy and remote viewing, was also experimentally demonstrated in 2017, by nonlocally “entangling” photons in a laboratory and starlight from as far away as 600 light years from Earth. Increasingly, this new story is being revealed in all its wondrous beauty. It describes the finite “thought form” of our Universe, beginning 13.8 billion years ago, not in the implicit chaos of the Big “Bang,” but as an exquisitely ordered, incredibly finetuned, and continuing Big Breath that embodies an inherent and coherent evolutionary impulse from simplicity to complexity and individuated self-awareness. So marvellously does it do so that it appears its vital purpose in existing is to evolve as a living Universe with the definition of life expanded to encompass the sacred entirety of its co-creative realization! This new story, into-greating science and spirituality into an integral perception of the innate interconnectedness, multidimensionality, and essential unified nature of reality, offers the potential to heal our collectively fragmented world views. And it empowers and nurtures our individual and collective realization and re-membering of the inherent sanctity and universal worth and value of all existence. ***
It brings a new scientific perspective in alignment and convergent with the whole-world-view of shamans, sages, and seers of all traditions and invites us into their everyday lived experience and the embodiment of reciprocal real-ationship with the multidimensional web of all life. We have no collective map for this revelatory new terrain and its co-creative support for our conscious evolution. Yet, the evolutionary impulse of the Universe itself encourages us to link up and lift up as we join others already on this path of remembering and home-coming to walk together its sacred songlines of potentiality and realization.
Jude Currivan, Ph.D., is a cosmologist, planetary healer, futurist and author. She was previously one of the most senior business women in the UK, as CFO and Executive Board Member of two major international companies. She has a master’s degree in Physics from Oxford University specializing in quantum physics and cosmology, and a Doctorate in Archaeology from the University of Reading researching ancient cosmologies. She has traveled to nearly 80 countries, worked with wisdom keepers from many traditions, and been a life-long researcher into the scientific and experiential understanding of the nature of reality. The author of 6 books, her latest being the silver Nautilius award-winning The Cosmic Hologram: In-formation at the Center of Creation, she is a member of the Evolutionary Leaders circle (www.evolutionaryleaders.net) and lives in Wiltshire, England; www.judecurrivan.com, www.wholeworld-view.org. 18
Nature’s Migration into a Digital Landscape by David Hoptman
Technology and urban growth have irrevocably woven a new paradigm into the human psyche, and it is changing the fabric of our lives by creating the illusion that Nature and humankind are separate entities. Technological innovations have transformed the way in which we perceive ourselves, our lives, and our relationships with others. Electronic devices have digitized much of our waking reality. The average person spends 8 hours and 41 minutes on electronic devices, 20 minutes more than the average sleep time. More time is spent checking emails than eating breakfast. Outdoor activities have been supplanted with gaming and other digitized experiences. Artificial Intelligence will exponentially expand the growing chasm already existing between humanity and Nature. Our last tangible hope of maintaining our fundamental connection to Nature, as surprising as it may sound, is via digital technology. The immersive experiential format of Virtual Reality facilitates the synthesis of Nature’s essence into today’s evolving digital landscape. Scientific studies substantiate the credible illusion of Nature will replicate the inspirational and curative effects one would experience while actually being within Nature. The innovation of integrating Nature’s essence into a Virtual Reality video format may prove to be the only palatable solution for a distasteful inorganic future as we continue to embed ourselves within the digital landscape. It seems outlandishly incongruous to propose such an idea, but the reality is that technology will continue to become more integrated into every aspect of our lives. Humanity has evolved throughout time by living in harmony with Nature. Nature is our source of life, inspiration, beauty, and much more. Industrialization and urban-sprawl are a recent phenomenon on our evolutionary journey. The role our environment plays in our daily lives is of the utmost importance—how we relate to our jobs, our families, the people we encounter, and most importantly ourselves. There is no doubt that a direct correlation between one’s physical and mental well-being is strongly connected to one’s
overall environment and, more importantly, to oneâ€™s immediate surroundings. Humankind is genetically-wired to exist in Natureâ€™s landscape. Research substantiates that not only do we feel better when we frequent Nature, but it is detrimental to our fundamental well-being when we ignore this essential connection. Nature is the source and means of finding a balance that helps us to create a sense of equilibrium beneficial to our physiological, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Why do we frequent Nature far less today than we did 50-100 years ago? The sprawling urban landscape, for the most part, has replaced with concrete and asphalt much of the natural environments we once had near our homes and small towns. The possibility of comfortably reaching the countryside or beaches has become less obtainable due to time constraints, increased travel distances, complicated lifestyles, and monetary costs. The explosion in digital technology that we have so willingly embraced is superficially filling the void that Natureâ€™s grandeur once held for us. Now is the time to consider new means of incorporating Nature into our lifestyles, not as a replacement but as an alternative, until we can make our next great escape out of the environs of the city back to NATURE. Due to numerous constraints, many today are unable to frequent Nature often, subsequently resulting in a broad-spectrum of disharmonic feelings such as frustration, stress, and alienation, resulting in myriad forms of suffering. The expanding gulf between humanity and Nature can be bridged by the very source that has expanded the chasm created by the digital revolution. Virtual Reality technology is today's doorway into immersive experiential content. The visual content we consume, as much as the foods we eat, impacts our lives on many levels. Virtual Reality can now provide us with the extraordinary possibility of providing an all-inclusive, immersive experience wherever our physical location may be. The credible reality that envelopes us when experiencing Virtual Reality affects the body-mind as if one were physically in the great outdoors. VR is designed to create an all-encompassing experiential illusion of reality by removing the viewer's psyche from the immediate environment and replacing it with a believable alternative. Scientific research substantiates that the credible illusion of Nature will simulate the inspirational and curative effects one would experience while actually being outdoors. Virtual Reality content can reconnect us to Nature with the absence of mosquitos, hungry bears, and inclement weather, resulting in lowered stress levels while increasing well-being.
Fewer carbs and more Nature. Nature has 0 calories per serving and provides you with beauty, joy, and most of all peace of mind. Take a healthy virtual serving of Nature, 5 minutes, twice a day, minimum. The mission of INVIROVR is to integrate Nature's beauty and healing properties into Therapeutic facilities using Virtual Reality, and health smart holistic interiors. 20
Sacred Time, Sacred Place, Sacred Story by Lynnaea Lumbard
EPILOGUE In the end, the quality of our relationship may be key to what has us distinguish the sacred from the non-sacred, how we feel when we enter a sacred space and how we behave. When we are in a sacred space, we are expected to experience and to behave differently. Sacred places ask us to open into awe and wonder, sometimes of nature or the universe or some larger pattern and sometimes towards a more specific manifestation of the sacred like a Messiah or Buddha. In return, we are asked to come to the experience with reverence, to treat the spaces and the people in it with respect, honor, openness, and love. We hold the sacred in a different relationship than we do other things in our lives. And by doing so, we are often taken into a different part of ourselves, our higher or better selves, that which in us connects us to a larger reality from which we receive inspiration and sustenance. There is a wonderful story of a decaying monastery in the mountains above a village. The elders were dying off, very few young people were coming to the monastery, and the people who came to be blessed were dwindling. An old rabbi visited the abbot and said to him “The Messiah is among you.” The few remaining brothers began to look at each other, wondering which of them might be the Messiah. Was it Brother Michael or Brother Mark or maybe Brother Samuel? Slowly, as a result, they began to treat each other quite differently, with a kind of special reverence, just in case the other one was the Messiah. As they did, something started to happen among them. There was more light, more love, more kindness, more generosity among them. Slowly the villagers began to hear about it and started coming back to the monastery. People came from far away seeking to be nourished by the deep prayerful attitude of the monks and the healing presence created by them. New, younger acolytes wanted to join, and the monastery again became prosperous. What would happen if we just started treating each other as if we each are the holy one, the Messiah, or the Buddha? What would change about how we act? This is easy to imagine with our family and those who are close to us. But what if we saw every person in our community as a sacred being? What if our home was a sacred place? What would change about how we decorated it, cared for it, or entered it? And what if the sacred space didn’t end at your front gate or the entrance to your church but continued to include the houses and other buildings around you? What if you thought of your community as sacred and the rivers and fields and mountains around it? How would that begin to change your relationships with your neighbors and how you participate in caring for the common spaces in your community? What might you start or build or write or do that would increase the sense of sacredness of your daily living? And if we extended the parameters of what we call sacred, instead of compartmentalizing it into a small portion of our lives, how would that change our relationship to everything that’s around us now in our lives? And going out a step farther, what if we thought of the whole Earth as a sacred place that calls for our care, appreciation, honor, and respect? Perhaps then we might behave the way we do when we enter a temple—with a bit of silent awe and occasional exuberant celebration.
Lynnaea Lumbard, Ph.D. is an ordained Interfaith Minister, Transformational Psychologist, Evolutionary Leader, community weaver, sacred activist, and social-change philanthropist. She is Co-President of NewStories (www.newstories.org), a Washington State-based non-profit educational organization whose mission is to co-create the future we want to live in by evolving our deeper collective and archetypal stories. Dedicated to offering transformational resources for an emergent evolutionary culture, NewStories incubates and nurtures local, translocal and global projects that are actively creating new possibilities in communities around the world. Her most recent work is the website Great Transition Stories, Choosing a Life-Affirming Future (www.greattransitionstories.org). 21
Grounding Unity Awareness through Deep Daily Practice Transformation 365 brings the unity awareness so powerfully demonstrated in the life-changing events hosted by UNITY EARTH into the rhythm of daily life through diverse transformational practices hosted by Contemplative Life. Transformation 365 is an experiential practice network designed to help cultivate inner awakening through deep and sustained practice. We enter deeply into each practice, returning daily to it for a two-week period before reconvening in a live discussion forum. Please join us as we build community and share in the wonderful world of practice.
O u t o f M a n y. O n e S p i r i t .
Reach For The Best In Yourself Inspire The Greatness In Others
Interfaith Ministry Training Interspiritual Counseling Training Public Workshops All classes begin September 2018 please apply early (in-person and state-of-the-art distance learning available) For program information and registration visit onespiritinterfaith.org
An Independent Learning Center 247 West 36th Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10018 212.931.6840 22
Spotlight on Sacred Sites
An Introduction* Indigenous traditions hold important knowledge for the challenge posed by our ecological crisis. Biocultural Sacred Sites are the source for sustaining life systems on the planet; they are critical nodes for maintaining biocultural and intercultural cohesion. They are essential for good living, as they provide the spiritual energy which sustains the flourishing of life. They are vital for the survival of humans and all beings. Indigenous Peoples around the World are the caretakers of Mother Earth. It is the time of the New Dawn; it is time for the acknowledgment of their biocultural wisdom to protect life, and we need to pay respect to their spiritual and material sustainable practices. Biocultural diversity and biocultural heritage are related concepts that intertwine culture and biodiversity. In Indigenous Peoplesâ€™ thoughts and philosophies, culture and biodiversity are interrelated and seen as unity. Precisely, thinking and feeling about the web of life as interconnected allows us to think and act in a biocultural way of being. Given the continuous deterioration of life systems of our Mother Earth, it is urgent to restore the most affected places in the world. The Ancestral Sacred Sites play a key role in the restoration of those affected places because Ancestral Sacred Sites are energetic points that elevate the capacity of Mother Earth to restore systemic balance. Ancestral Sacred Sites are interconnected worldwide. This means that they work together energetically and potentiate the capacity of a single place to restore the balance of a nearby affected area or region. It is through reciprocity and specifically through ancestral rituals (by offerings and payments) that we as Ancestral Spiritual Leaders can accelerate and assure the healing process.
Footnote: *Some of the texts herein, not always originally in English, have been previously published by Mindahi Bastida MuĂąoz, Ken Kitatani, or others and are used herein with their permission (see Acknowledgments); when these sources have been adapted for this magazine issue, this has been done by Mindahi Bastida MuĂąoz, Ken Kitatani, and Kurt Johnson.
In this era of globalization and climate change, the wisdom and knowledge of individual ancient cultures is beginning to crosspollinate in inter-cultural dialogue. This dialogue, which for us began in 2015, may represent our only chance of facing the escalating all-encompassing crisis that threatens to overwhelm individuals and nations alike and possibly destroy all. As it progresses, it is also important for Indigenous Peoples to come together in unity so that they may share the vital ancestral knowledge they hold in common. These days, humanity is experiencing the end result of a different kind of knowledge. Since its inception more than 4,000 years ago and increasing dominance for more than 500 years in the Americas, this other kind of knowledge has culminated in a disharmonious, fragmented, and highly destructive way of interaction and relationship with both people and nature. Climate Change is a result. It is in the return to the sacred origins of the ancestral wisdom, principles, and values that we all may recover balance and sustainability. In this way, Indigenous knowledge plays an important role for adaptation and mitigation of climate change. We aim for the Good Living - Vivir Bien. Life on Earth is possible due to the presence of the four sacred elements: fire, water, air, and earth. All beings are the reflection of those elements; we, as humans, are also the reflection of those elements. The flora and fauna can be present in the world due to the conjunction of the sacred elements. Plants and animals can grow thanks to the presence of these elements and in conjunction with other celestial bodies.
For human beings and other creatures, life is also the interrelated energy projected in the material, mental, and spiritual dimensions. Matter, thoughts, and interconnected energy unite in trilogy. The purpose and meaning of life are interconnection and transcendence of all beings, including Mother Earth. As human beings, our presence on Earth is for the care of life. Also, we need to take care of the body, thoughts, and the spirit in interconnection with other beings. As human beings, we need to take care about what we eat, think, and do. We need to control our egos and let our good feelings flourish. To accomplish transcendence, we also need to be interconnected with the divine creation and think beautifully, not about Mother Earth but with Mother Earth and all her forms of life. Caring for life begins with acknowledging and honoring the sacred elementsâ€”elements that give life. Acknowledgments: We acknowledge the permissions of Mindahi Bastida and Ken Kitatani regarding use of certain texts about their work published at the websites of Forum 21 Institute (www.forum21.co), The Center for Earth Ethics (www.centerforearthethics.org), The Excellence Reporter (www.excellencereporter.com), and Patheos (www.patheos.com). When texts from these sources have been modified or edited for use in this magazine, this excerpting and editing has been overseen by Mindahi Bastida, Ken Kitatani, and Kurt Johnson. 24
Spotlight on Sacred Sites
Leadership of the Initiative he Sacred Sites Initiative is part (one of the Four Pillars) of the Original Caretakers Program of the Center for Earth Ethics of Union Theological Seminary (Director, Karenna Gore). Mindahi Bastida Muñoz (hereafter often as “Mindahi Bastida”) is the Director of the Original Caretakers Program. Forum 21 Institute (Director, Ken Kitatani) has been a main partner of CEE and the Sacred Sites Program. Other organizations, such as the American Indian Institute, Otomi Regional Council of Alto Lerma, the Wiwa Peoples, Arhuaco Peoples, and Kogi Peoples, UNITY EARTH, UNESCO, The Fountain, the Manitou Foundation, and many others, have supported the work in various ways. The Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary (www.centerforearthethics.org). The Original Caretakers Program of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary supports the work of faith-keepers in Indigenous communities and seeks their guidance for its own educational programs and materials. It is an important part of the CEE’s work to insure that Native voices are heard in interfaith dialogue, especially around matters of ecology. CEE’s founders, led by Karenna Gore, have piloted the Original Caretakers Program, and Mindahi Bastida is joined by his wife, Geraldine Patrick (also a noted authority on Indigenous heritage) as the guiding resident Fellows of the program. Forum 21 Institute (www.forum21.co). Forum 21 exists to promote spiritual understandings of the meaning of life: ecological spiritualities for our time, recognizing the sacredness of Earth, the life community, and special sites. It aims to teach ecospiritual practices and sustainable lifestyles and to build sustainable communities within our spiritual communities and in our neighborhoods and towns. The Sacred Sites work is a key pillar of these activities. UNITY EARTH (www.unity.earth). UNITY EARTH is a growing collective of peacemakers, interfaith and faith-based leaders, Indigenous elders, diplomats, musicians, and others working together to build a worldwide movement for unity and peace. Forum 21 is a named partner of UNITY EARTH and participates widely in the many global events created the UNITY EARTH network. Two magazines, The Convergence and Light on Light are published by UNITY EARTH and are dedicated to the realization of spiritual unity throughout the world, based on the ideals and values of the world’s Great Wisdom Traditions. UNESCO. UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences, and Culture. UNESCO's programmes contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015. A direct request was made to UNESCO for the protection of emblematic sacred sites, which was the result of a meeting of spiritual leaders in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, Colombia. In that meeting, one of the main mandates was the protection of the Biocultural Sacred Sites. The Otomi Regional Council of Alto Lerma. CROAL is a traditional Indigenous authority in the central State of Mexico. The organization aims to the acknowledgment of self-determination of the Otomi and Indigenous Peoples. CROAL has been key for the protection of biocultural diversity in the Toluca Valley and has achieved the legal protection of the wetland Área de Protección de Flora y Fauna Ciénegas del Lerma (ANPFF-CL, for more information click here) For selected personnel biographies, see p. 46 25
The Original Caretakers Program “Four Pillars Vision”
The Four Pillars by Mindahi Bastida Muñoz
The following are the major objectives of the Original Caretakers Program as envisioned at the Center for Earth Ethics*: Click here for more information 1. COUNCIL OF ELDERS Conformation of a Grand Council of Indigenous Spiritual Elders
Transformative change communities have a key role to play in addressing the systemic crisis, but if they are to succeed, they must be given opportunities to revisit their deepest philosophies and practices. Original Caretakers can help guide these communities so they can intentionally acknowledge the wisdom of original peoples and benefit from their help and guidance through a Council of Elders. The purpose of creating the Grand Council of Indigenous Spiritual Elders is so this Council can help guide towards these goals of understanding Original Instructions and embracing a new dawn of Good Living. The Council of Indigenous Elders further strengthens the four pillars of the Original Caretakers program. 2. SACRED SITES Coordinated Actions and Initiatives at Sacred Places Facilitating this Pillar, teams of Indigenous thought-leaders and informed intellectuals (coordinated through the Original Caretakers) create and promulgate proposals for a Biocultural Sacred Places Initiative in conjunction with UNESCO and with the support of diverse allies and other related organizations such as Forum 21 Institute, UNITY EARTH, and many others.
The primary goal of the Original Caretakers Program is to spread and share the philosophy, wisdom, and practice of Indigenous Peoples among transformative change communities, constituencies, and agencies, including those of the United Nations, so they may feel drawn to (i) acknowledge and embrace the vision of our species’ Original Instructions [the wisdom of Indigenous peoples concerning the inter-relationship of humankind and nature] and (ii) implement initiatives towards Good Living [or “Vivir Bien”†] [a whole-world ethic, worldcentric worldview that serves and works for all peoples and Mother Earth].
Groups of elders, including thought-leader men and women from diverse Indigenous Peoples coordinated through the Original Caretakers and with the support of other related organizations, carry out field visits to ancestral sacred sites throughout the planet, implementing actions and initiatives suggested by the Original Instructions, which contribute directly and consistent with the wisdom of Indigenous Peoples to the process of “balancing and healing Mother Earth.” This includes the elements elaborated further below as “Phase 1.” 3. HOUSES OF ORIGINAL THINKING Centers for the Gathering of Indigenous Wisdom The Original Caretakers Program promotes the establishment of Houses of Original Thinking within Indigenous Peoples territories, local
footnote: *Adapted from the original Program Proposal written by Mindahi Bastida, retaining (in italics) some originally emphasized conceptual terms and regarding those [in brackets] explanatory short notes by the Editors. footnote: †Vivir bien (Bolivia) or buen vivir (Ecuador) is a Spanish term that emerged in the late 20th century to refer to the practices and/or visions of Indigenous peoples of the Andean region of South America. One point of agreement is that vivir bien does not mean living according to Western notions of what is “good.”
Spotlight on Sacred Sites
As major organs of the psyche, archetypes give us our essential connections and, without them, we would lose the gossamer bridge that joins spirit with nature, mind with body, and self with the metabody of the universe.
4. INTERCULTURAL DIALOGUE Diverse Activities in Dialogue and Exchange The Original Caretakers Program promotes and assists interfaith and intercultural dialogue through diverse events such as conferences, meetings, symposia, and other related events, where the Program can be either convener or participant. The Program participates in academic, United Nations, intercultural, and interfaith events for the purpose of strengthening and promulgating the understanding of earth ethics, Original Instructions, and Good Living in local, national, and international settings and contexts.
—Jean Houston communities, and educational institutions through conferences, workshops, and field visits. Topics addressed are ancestral knowledge (such as the Mesoamerican calendars), ritual calendars, weather forecasting practices, astronomical almanacs, and healing practices and techniques, among others. The Original Caretakers Program helps and supports communities to disseminate ancestral wisdom in their biocultural regions through the interactive creation of educational materials. The Program looks forward to working with the media resources of diverse partners, including online resources to promulgate this vision of Houses of Original Thinking.
The Original Caretakers Program (OC) works closely with CEE’s Sustainable Global Affairs Program (SGA), together with support of the other CEE programs, to create a variety of forums for Indigenous contributions to transformative change: Original Instructions, principles of Good Living (Vivir Bien), and a proclamation to protect Biocultural Sacred Sites and Mother Earth’s Rights. This is done in cooperation with like-minded movements in various religious and spiritual traditions. OC and SGA together with the EcoMinistry Program of CEE, join efforts to demand the rescinding of papal bulls affecting both Indigenous Peoples and Mother Earth and to create spaces for truth and reconciliation processes regarding exploited peoples and Mother Earth. The Original Caretakers Program participates widely in events concerning Indigenous Peoples initiated by its many project partners, like UNITY EARTH’s global events (the Crestone conferences, Mungo Man Return to Country, U Day Ethiopia, Fields of Healing, and the Toronto and New York Convergences), Religions for the Earth, The Parliament of World Religions, and International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) United Nations.
Mindahi Bastida 27
In addition, there is the Circle of Youth and Elders and other similar events. The Program engages in the Field Education courses for students at Union Theological Seminary (UTS) and offers courses with other institutions such as the Teachers College at Columbia University.
The Sacred Sites Initiative as Understood by Indigenous Elders Overview by Mindahi Bastida Muñoz Original Caretakers Program
The view of a non-living universe has fostered an exploitive mindset that has produced both extraordinary wealth and unprecedented destruction, bringing the Earth to the edge of breakdown and collapse as a living system. Where do we find the wisdom for going forward? The nature-wisdom of Indigenous peoples is a priceless part of humanity’s heritage. —Duane Elgin, in his article herein
The Sacred Sites Initiative is Pillar 2 of the Four Pillars, and consists of two action goals: 1. Healing and Balancing Mother Earth, and 2. Protection of Biocultural Sacred Sites (through policy-related actions with binding documents). Healing and Balancing Mother Earth (the Phases) There is an ever-growing wave of innovators who are beginning to re-imagine philanthropy. This is interesting in itself because the word comes from an etymology and roots meaning “for the love of humanity.” In these models, all peoples and gifts are seen as currency. Everyone can be seen as joining in a circle and bringing their currency to the table: the healing arts, original teachings, rituals that heal the earth, funds, and many other kinds of abilities. By forging relationships, one can envision how to collaborate so that our joined initiatives can be developed and bring good results to our communities. The Center for Earth Ethics and the Forum 21 Institute serve as models to activate this new wave of "first responders” in this time of global crisis/transformation. Recounted below are the beginnings of a plan that will heal and reactivate Sacred Sites on the planet, thus leading to the health of the Earth and her Creation’s return to balance. The organizers are seeking those who are ready to “think outside the box,” those who are ready to join a collaborative wave of “Earth’s First Responders.” Background Given the continuous deterioration of life systems of our Mother Nature, it is urgent to restore the most affected places in the world. The Ancestral Sacred Sites play a key role in the restoration of those affected places because Ancestral Sacred Sites are energetic points that elevate the capacity of Mother Earth to restore systemic balance. Ancestral Sacred Sites are interconnected worldwide. This means that they operate together energetically and potentiate the capacity of actions at a single place to restore the balance of a nearby, or even far-flung, affected place. Scientific colleagues suggest that this principle, long known to Indigenous Peoples, is undoubtedly related to highly nuanced (and as yet not fully understood by modern science) principles of “non-locality” in physics. Relations like this are well known, for instance, in our scientific understanding of acupuncture. Along with such understanding in medicine and in developing views of cosmology in
Spotlight on Sacred Sites modern physics, they tell me, it is also related to frontiers in symbology (as in the featured quotes from Dr. Jean Houston herein). This emerging field within consciousness studies inquires about the interrelations of material objects with the stories that are told about them. This includes the entire realm of cultural archetypes (deities and so on) and shared cultural mythologies (like embedded views of ultimate rewards and punishments) and their actual effects within human cultures. The simplest example of the unarguable effect of a huge difference between an actual thing and a story about that thing, but actual consequences, is the classic story of the rope and the snake. If someone enters a room at night and reacts as if to a rope or as if to a snake, the resulting actions will be totally different, but either reaction produces consequences in “real time.” Placebo effect is another common example well known to science. The point is that a long held principle of Indigenous People can seem “far-fetched” from the story about it, whereas, in reality, it has solid relationships to larger understandings that are well known to science. Indigenous Wisdom holds that it is through reciprocity, and specifically through ancestral rituals by offerings and payments, that Ancestral Spiritual Leaders can accelerate and assure healing processes. These are long held and long tested views of Indigenous Wisdom and apply, Indigenous Peoples believe, to individuals, communities, and the Earth itself. At this time, Spiritual Leaders from Mesoamerica and La Sierra Nevada, Colombia, have stepped forward to offer and carry out this activity, which they view as a mission. This has been underway since 2013. In fact, we as native peoples in our cultural regions have been working with this purpose since time immemorial. This is the Basis for our Understanding of the “Phases” of this Work The first phase consists of doing work in Fukushima and Mount Fuji (Japan); Mount Etna (Italy), and the Four Corners (USA). This is because they are understood as three equidistant energetic points along the same belt of our Mother Earth and are directly interconnected. In 2014, a group of Otomi-Toltec (Mesoamerica) spiritual leaders went to Tamanaka Lake by Mount Fuji to do initial work while Kogi spiritual leaders prepared special offerings. The offerings were delivered and offered by the Otomi and Kogi leaders (Colombia) in June 2017, and the work in Japan was completed. Therefore, in the First Phase: Mount Fuji and Fukushima, Japan, were completed June 2017; Four Corners Mount Blanca, USA, was completed September 2018; Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, is scheduled for 2019. The second and third phrases, as they are viewed at present, are below. The list is amended and enhanced as we enter discussions with more and more groups of Indigenous Elders. Second Phase Uluru - Australia Kilimanjaro - Africa Tepoztlan - Amatlan, Peńa de Bernal - Central Mexico Mount Shasta - USA The Himalayas - India
Third Phase Peru Sacred Valley Acre Amazonas - Brazil Balkai - Russia Other sites
This important work aimed at the healing of Mother Earth will grow in participation and scope as the Original Caretakers Program meets more and more people called to take on this work of performing or recovering rituals important to maintaining the balance on Mother Earth through these Sacred Sites. It is a powerful testament to the awareness of this work that virtually all Indigenous traditions hold an understanding of this need and process. For the second Phase, we will continue working with National Council of Indigenous Elders of Colombia, the four nations of the Sierras, and another fifty spiritual leaders from different Indigenous nations (Yanakuna, Kuna, Kamsa, and so on), and also with other spiritual elders mainly from Mexico (Otomi, Aztec/Mexica and Maya), Guatemala (Maya), Peru (Kechua, Queros), and the countries of Amazonia (Ashuar).
Acknowledgment: I thank my scientific colleague, Dr. Kurt Johnson, for his comments on related concepts of interrelationship in cosmology, physics, medicine, and symbology. These help us understand how these views of Indigenous Peoples correlate directly with the emerging understandings of modern science. 29
Protection of Biocultural Sacred Sites
(through policy and with binding documents)
An initiative for and with UNESCO Overview by Mindahi Bastida MuĂąoz Original Caretakers Program
In the world, Sacred Sites need to be protected because they are key components in the complex and dynamic web of life. Sacred Sites hold biocultural memory and wisdom about how to live harmoniously with Mother Earth and living systems. It is a kind of knowledge that can be tapped by Spiritual Elders primarily. Protecting Sacred Sites promotes the good living of Indigenous peoples, which is based on ancestral wisdom, philosophy, collective values, and earth-based spirituality. The biological diversity that Sacred Sites sustain cannot be explained merely in ecological or evolutionary terms but, as new ecologists have stated, in biocultural terms. This means that there are cultures that have developed harmonious relationships with ecosystems in such a way that they become mutually interdependent. In this regard, reciprocal acknowledgement is needed, and Sacred Sites become the nodal or axis point for such exchange. Spiritual Elders are the caretakers of sacred places, and they are responsible of delivering payments and offerings through rituals so that the biocultural memory is kept alive. Many Sacred Sites are in danger of destruction, occupation, desecration, and/or commodification. In different places around the world there have been continuous efforts for their protection. In particular, these proposals have been built from the bosom of some of the native peoples, who have maintained their sacred sites or have defended them in spite of many difficulties: thus, the diverse participation of members of the CEE community with regard to the Standing Rock issue. Today there is no international instrument that legally allows for the protection of Sacred Sites; protecting them with a universal declaration through UNESCO would give Mother Earth and humanity the right to life and would fully recognize spiritual practices of Indigenous peoples. This work is being developed with UNESCO, and some Indigenous spiritual leaders and intellectuals are carrying out the initiative.
Spotlight on Sacred Sites
Key Activities of the Sacred Sites Work to Date To date, the key activities and sites of the Sacred Sites work have included those chosen and designated by the processes of the initiative described above, along with participation in international events and their sacred site activities created by the wider UNITY EARTH network, of which Forum 21 is a partner. In addition to the work at these key Sacred Sites, members of the Sacred Sites working group, along with other ceremonialists, have offered Sacred Ceremonies at many other events and activities around the world. Major elements are highlighted below.
A Journey to Japan: Mt. Fuji and Fukushima for healing and restoring the balance of Mother Earth The first trip of the first phase started with work in Fukushima and Mount Fuji of Japan and was carried out in June 2017. Spiritual leaders from Mesoamerica, Mexico, and Sierra Nevada, Colombia traveled to Fukushima and Mt. Fuji for the healing and restoring the balance of Mother Earth. The purpose of this trip was to accomplish the first trip of the first phase of our ongoing Mission: Healing and Restoring the Balance of Mother Earth. In this trip, we delivered spiritual food and offerings to the sacred sites and affected places; we conducted rituals, walks, fasts, healings, and honoring ceremonies to the sacred lands.
A Sacred Sites Event and Companion Leadership Conference. The Four Corners Sacred Sites Event accompanied by the Crestone Colorado Leadership Conference occurred September 8-10, 2018. It was carried out in collaboration with UNITY EARTH and local Crestone community leaders (see the Conference details later under â€œConferences and Gatheringsâ€? in this issue). One of the geographic locations revealed in the sacred sites vision was the Four Corners of the United States. The Four Corners is a region of the United States consisting of the southwestern corner of Colorado, southeastern corner of Utah, northeastern corner of Arizona, and northwestern corner of New Mexico. In July 2017, a research trip was made to Crestone Colorado to determine the exact location of the Sacred Sites Work in the Four Corners as part of Phase One of the Sacred Sites Work (done in partnership with UNESCO, Center for Earth Ethics, and Forum 21). The Forum 21 Institute worked with Mindahi Bastida (coordinator of the Sacred Sites program) and researched several areas in Crestone. This is because Crestone is located in the eastern most section of the Four Corners. Mt. Blanca, a sacred mountain revered by the many Indigenous peoples of the area, proved to be a high candidate for the Four Corners sacred site. After consultation, Mt. Blanca was determined 31
to be the specific location. Cooperating on the research trip were Hanne Strong (of the Manitou Foundation) and Roger LaBorde (of Father Thomas Keating’s decades long Snowmass Inter-religious Initiative). These latter are Crestone region leaders with a long history with the heritage of the region. On September 8, 2018, Otomi and Kogi elders and representatives from the Dine (Navajo) and Lakota nations came to Mt. Blanca and successfully carried out the necessary prayers, rituals, and payments. The Original Caretakers team, including Mindahi Bastida, Ken Kitatani, and Tiokasin Ghosthorse facilitated the work and then joined a larger group of leaders, activists, and scholars for the two-day Crestone Leadership Conference (see details later under “Conferences and Gatherings” in this issue).
As part of the Crestone events, ceremonies were performed honoring the historic work of Hanne Strong and the Manitou Foundation with dedication of a tract of land visioned for an Indigenous Peoples Center.
MT. ETNA, ITALY
A Sacred Sites Research Trip, May 23-24, 2018. Forum 21 representatives and Mindahi Bastida, Director of the Original Caretakers Program of Center for Earth Ethics, researched Mt. Etna (Sicily, Italy) in preparation for the Sacred Sites work to be carried out in 2019. Collaborating with academics of Sicily experts in the ancient history and culture of Mt. Etna, the research team will explore and determine the specific locations for the work to be carried out (for more information please go to: link to programs, sacred sites).
Spotlight on Sacred Sites
Upcoming Upcoming Activities Activities 2019-2020 2019-2020
Archetypes are signposts on the pathway to transformation. They are timeless and changeless; only the circumstances by which we experience them change. The pattern of the ritual process is experienced as separation, transition, and incorporation; the hero/heroine’s journey as departure, initiation, and return; and our own life stories as beginning, muddle, and resolution. These archetypes, showing up in our lives when least expected, are expressions of the same eternal process of transformation. They carry a healing function keeping us, individually and collectively, on the trajectory every sacred tradition describes. —Robert Atkinson May 2019 will culminate Phase 1 of the Sacred sites visits for the Healing and Balancing Mother Earth with the trip to Mount Etna. Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the Healing and Balancing Mother Earth through Sacred Sites Around the World will be carried out from 2020-2026. Indigenous Elders tell us this sacred work is needed to help restore the most affected places in the world through the “reactivation” of sacred sites. This process involves visits (“journeys” and “pilgrimages”) to important sacred sites of the world by Indigenous Elders to carry out ceremonies based on the principles of the Indigenous People’s Original Instructions, that is, their wisdom regarding the sacred covenants about relationship between humankind and Mother Earth. This process involves the delivery of offerings and spiritual payments to Mother Earth. Imagine the power of such senses of reverence for the relationship of Earth and humankind being communicated worldwide to the peoples of the earth, peoples who have often forgotten this relationship and, thereby, caused unspeakable harm to our planet’s environment. Spiritually and sociologically, rekindling this awareness and relationship worldwide between humankind and Earth is of pivotal importance to our future survival. Phase 2 (2020-2023) includes the visit to Uluru and other sacred sites in Australia, Kilimanjaro and other places in Africa, Popocatepetl Volcano and other sites in Mexico, and the Himalayas in India. Phase 3 (2024-2026) includes the visit to the sacred valley of Peru, the Amazon sacred sites in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia, and the visit to sacred sites in Russia. The global awareness of these activities can have an important impact on our world future. To accomplish this it is crucial for us to continue contacting and meeting those local people who might take on the work of performing (and recovering) rituals pertinent to this vision of maintaining the energetic balance of our world. Of course, other phases beyond 2026 are contemplated.
Ceremonies as Part of UNITY EARTH Global Events and with other Global Partners UNITY EARTH invited Mindahi Bastida to a number of ceremonies and events for the unique participation afforded by the Sacred Sites initiative.
Mungo Man, Return to Country, Australia Commemorating the repatriation of Mungo Man and 103 other ancestral remains to the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area and acknowledging the Oldest Living Culture on Earth, November 18, 2017, at Nowingi Place, Mildura, VIC, Australia.
The Return to Country of Mungo Man in November 2017 represents a one-time opportunity for a long overdue and powerful acknowledgment of Aboriginal Australians as the oldest living culture on Earth. This long-awaited moment offered space for truthtelling and healing for all Australians, commemorating the oldest modern humans known outside of Africa and one of the first expressions of spiritual consciousness in the entire human journey. Traditional caregivers, Owners from Mungo National Park, and other Indigenous and community leaders were present with Professor Jim Bowler, who made the Mungo discoveries and international Indigenous representatives. Return to Country headline artist Archie Roach, young star on the rise Isaiah Firebrace, local man Kutcha Edwards, as well as Creative Director Shane Howard round out a stellar line up. Prof. James Bowler
Spotlight on Sacred Sites
Ethiopia, Convergence of Fires in the Land of Origins In the first week of February, 2018, UNITY EARTH (in partnership with the United Religions Initiative, the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia, and the World Peace Prayer Society) invited more than 65 religious representatives of many faiths and musical artists from a wide range of nations to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week 2018 in Lalibela, Addis Ababa, and Shashamane, Ethiopia. Natives of Aboriginal Australia, Indigenous leaders from North and Central America, Buddhist monks from Thailand; Sikhs, Baha’is, Sufis, and Hindus from India; Jews, Christians, and Muslims comprised a colorful and diverse gathering of people standing for unity, peace, and compassion.
Highlights of the 7-day U Day Festival included visiting sacred sites in Lalibela and Shashamane, joining in a Convergence of Fire torch-lighting ceremony, and taking part in a most impressive event at the African Union, featuring Dr. Mulatu Teshome, the President of Ethiopia; His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church; the leaders of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia; and a World Peace Flag Ceremony with fifty Ethiopian children raising the flags of all the nations of the world with the prayer, “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”
It was a powerful experience of unity through diversity in the “Land of Origins.” 35
Fields of Healing, Byron Bay, Australia Indigenous leaders from across the globe converged in Byron Bay for the first ever Fields of Healing on November 24th and 25th. Presented by UNITY EARTH, this historic family-friendly gathering was a powerful celebration of cultural diversity and unity through music, art, workshops, performance, ecological healing, and much more! The event was co-hosted by Minyungbal Yugambeh songman Magpie Yerrubilgin and was intentionally designed as a unique opportunity for intercultural, ecological, and personal healing. North Byron Parklands is a stunningly beautiful 660-acre cultural arts and music events venue 20 minutes from Byron Bay. The two-day event was designed as both a “gathering” and a “retreat,” offering an intimate experience capped at 1,500 people to ensure intimacy of attendees and delegates.
Hereditary Chief Phil Lane, Jr.
Archetypes are organs of Essence, the cosmic blueprints of How It All Works. Because they contain so much, archetypes bewilder analysis and perhaps can only be known by direct experience. Thus, in the journey of transformation, as we participate in these symbolic dramas, we actively engage in archetypal existence, for not only do we form a powerful sense of identity with the archetypal character, but this mythic being becomes an aspect of ourselves writ large, and symbolic happenings appear with undisguised relevance, not only for our own lives and problems but for the remaking of society as well. —Jean Houston
Spotlight on Sacred Sites
Indigenous Ceremony at UNITY EARTH Liftoff, New York City UNITY EARTH Lift-Off was a multigenerational, intercultural, interactive concert in celebration of United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week. It took place at the historic landmark United Palace Theatre in New York City on February 2, 2019. Link to the Livestream Video from the Concert at: https://unity.earth/lift-off/
Lyla June Johnston
Conferences and Gatherings Accompanying the Sacred Sites Events The combined work of the Sacred Sites initiative with may global partners, especially those of the UNITY EARTH network of which Forum 21 is a part, have resulted in a number of significant gatherings and conferences which further the vision and activities of the Sacred Site vision. Several them are highlighted below.
THE CRESTONE COLORADO CONFERENCES with UNITY EARTH and other PARTNERS
The Crestone Convergence Uniting the Tribes for a Livable Future, Global Spiritual Unity and Activism - July 23-28, 2017, Crestone, Colorado Crestone is a legendary cultural and ecological vortex uniting heritages of Indigenous wisdom and sacred geometry with a history of harmony and peace building. It is also the location of multi-faith centers of more than a dozen world traditions. This extraordinary gathering brought together key leaders from a variety of organizations for the purpose of relationship building. The Crestone Convergence represented a unique coming together of a wide variety of people and groups and proved to be a rich and fruitful three days of sharing, deepening into relationship, exploring the richness of the environment, and drawing inspiration from the great work that is being done, as well as from the work that is unfolding. A number of "hubs" were represented at the conference, both locally and internationally. Internationally, leaders of more than a dozen major networks doing transformative work worldwide were represented. Locally, practitioners and leaders of organizations across the whole Crestone landscape were also there (the Crestone Spiritual Alliance, the Crestone Baca Resiliency Manitou Foundation, etc.). And further, the entire gathering was grounded in Indigenous shamanic practice brought by, among others, Mindahi Bastida Muñoz, Roger La Borde, and John Milton. Ken Wilber created an inspiring introductory video for the event, and James O'Dea composed a moving commemorative poem and call to action. This five-day event was co-sponsored by UNITY EARTH’s Road to 2020, U Day Festival, Gaiafield, The Interspiritual Network, Forum 21, 1God.com, World Weavers, Presence, UNITY EARTH Radio at VoiceAmerica, and We.net, as well as with participations by The Shift Network, Integral Life, Best of Humanity, Our Humanity Matters, and Light on Kundalini. The conference created a formative environment for planning future events together which have borne fruit in the subsequent Sacred Sites and Crestonerelated gatherings from 2018 recounted in this issue of The Convergence magazine, further cooperative events of the UNITY EARTH network, which involved Indigenous leaders from 2018 on (see Events at www.unity.earth), and the vision of what became The Conscious Business World Summit, also held in 2019 (www.consciousbusinesssummit.org). Ken Wilber introduced the gathering with a special video on “Waking Up and Growing Up” following on his longer video from this group’s “Self Care to Earth Care” Conference in Denver, Colorado in 2015 (www.selfcaretoearthcare.com), which now has more than 140,000 views at YouTube. 38
Spotlight on Sacred Sites
Crestone Leadership Convergence 2018 September 8-10, 2018 September 8-10, the 2018 Crestone Leadership Conference followed on two years of Forum 21 Institute and partners’ sponsoring of two conferences on “Spirituality and Sustainability” in Rome-Assisi and joining with UNITY EARTH and others for The Crestone Convergence program held in Crestone, Colorado, in 2017. Joining to lead this second Crestone Conference were Mindahi Bastida, Ken Kitatani, and Tiokasin Ghosthorse of the Sacred Site initiative and Kurt Johnson of UNITY EARTH. These activities highlight several years of Sacred Site ceremonial activities around the world, joining shamanic practitioners in healing work for Mother Gaia. These have been sponsored in Japan, Australia, Ethiopia, Italy, and for 2018 at the “Four Corners” near Crestone. The 2018 Crestone Leadership Conference was an intimate gathering of stakeholders furthering the visioning and support of this work. A highlight of the conference was also a journey to, and ceremonial blessing of, the founding vision of a Crestone center for Indigenous peoples long envisioned by Hanne Strong, a founder and facilitator of much of the Baca Region’s diverse interfaith activity for many years. Crestone’s diverse interfaith community of retreat houses and pioneering cultural and artistic communities has been well-known globally for decades.
Hanne Strong 39
Steve Farrell, CEO, Humanity's Team
The Annual ROME AND ASSISI CONFERENCES ON SPIRITUALITY AND SUSTAINABILITY and meeting of Mindahi Bastida with Pope Francis 2018
The purpose of these annual conferences is to bring together visionary people from a range of ecological-spiritual perspectives, centers, and movements. Participants will dialogue about transformative global change based on spirituality and sustainability. They will also identify key recommendations for creating a spiritual and sustainable global future. Conference Goals: Goal 1 – Visionary Centers and Movements • To network centers and movements seeking transformative • global change based on spirituality and sustainability Goal 2 – Visionary Recommendations for the Future • To identify key recommendations for transformative global • change based on spirituality and sustainability Goal 3 – Visionary Young Ecological Leaders • To support young ecological leaders seeking transformative • global change based on spirituality and sustainability Background The Conference draws inspiration from eight previous Assisi conferences in the 1990s featuring Thomas Berry. It also draws inspiration from St. Francis and St. Clare, from the papal encyclical on ecology Laudato Si', from the Earth Charter, and from the work of leaders in spirituality and sustainability. The Conference focuses on worldviews (our guiding stories) grounded in ecological spiritualities; on transformative paths for education, policies, movements, lifestyles, and communities; on current expressions of ecological spirituality and their Indigenous roots; and on the great transition toward ecological civilizations with new paradigms of science, economics, and law. The Conference explores strategies to deepen and implement the United Nations new development agenda and to protect and nurture sacred places. Finally, the Conference discusses how we can work together on the way forward toward a just, sustainable, and peaceful future that will support human development for all in a flourishing Earth community.
Spotlight on Sacred Sites The Annual Conferences to Date 2017: Forum 21 was a major Co-sponsor of the 2017 “Rome and Assisi Conference on Spirituality and Sustainability (S&S)” (June 27-July 4, 2017) that brought together 60 lead organizations and individuals. UNITY EARTH joined as a co-sponsor. For photos of this conference, see https://forum-a6mp.squarespace.com/assisi-media. 2018: Forum 21, along with UNITY EARTH and other co-sponsors, hosted “The 2018 Rome and Assisi Conference on Spirituality and Sustainability” May 25 – June 1, 2018. This was the second consecutive Rome and Assisi Conference on Spirituality and Sustainability. This year, Forum 21 Institute coconvenined the conference with St. Thomas University of Florida. The conference focused on: 1) the ecological convergence of diverse spiritual and religious traditions; 2) the sensibilities and practices of ecological spiritualities; 3) transformative movements such as the Earth Charter and the United Nations Agenda 203 on Sustainable Development; and 4) paradigm shifts in key institutions (e.g. science, law, and education). We also invited and supported young ecological leaders to contribute to the conference and this proved to be very effective. This year's group was much smaller than last year’s with 35 participants. The group also consisted of a larger variety of participants, with less academics, business people and lawyers, artists, and experts in sports and consciousness. For more details, please go to https://conference-secretariat.info. For images from this event, see https://forum-a6mp.squarespace.com/assisi.
Mindahi Bastida Meets with Pope Francis 2018 Mindahi Bastida traveled by invitation to the Vatican to attend a conference organized by Cardinal Turkson titled “Saving Our Common Home and the Future of Life on Earth.” The conference brought together Indigenous and young activists, scientific experts, religious leaders, and Vatican officials to assess the impact of Francis’ 2015 encyclical “‘Laudato Si’ on Care for Our Common Home.” While there, Mindahi was able to meet Pope Francis and hand-deliver a letter to him. Video Interview with Mindahi Bastida in Rome. (The private audience with the Pope itself could not be filmed). The letter requested the following: 1. To announce his support for our initiative to protect and restore sacred sites in the world 2. To give back to Indigenous Peoples the sacred objects and artifacts that are in possession of the Vatican and to support our demand to Nation States in this regard 3. To rescind the historical Papal Bulls affecting Indigenous peoples lives and territories 41
THE LETTER-- The Spirit is Love Protection of Sacred Sites in the World
Indigenous Peoples around the World are the caretakers of Mother Earth. It is the time of the New Dawn, it is time for the acknowledgement of their biocultural wisdom to protect life, and we need to pay respect to their spiritual and material sustainable practices. Biocultural diversity and biocultural heritage are related concepts that intertwine culture and biodiversity. In Indigenous Peoples’ thoughts and philosophies, culture and biodiversity are interrelated and seen as unity. To be precise, thinking and feeling about the web of life as an interconnection allows us to think and act in a biocultural way of being. Given the continuous deterioration of life systems of our Mother Earth, it is urgent to restore the most affected places in the world. The Ancestral Sacred Sites play a key role in the restoration of those affected places because Ancestral Sacred Sites are energetic points that elevate the capacity of Mother Earth to restore systemic balance. Worldwide, Ancestral Sacred Sites are interconnected. This means that they work together energetically and potentiate the capacity of a single Place to restore the balance of a nearby affected area or region. It is through reciprocity and specifically through ancestral rituals (by offerings and payments) that we as Ancestral Spiritual Leaders can accelerate and assure the healing process. The proposal of biocultural sacred sites for humanity (Spiritual Reserves of Humanity) before UNESCO is crucial when we understand the connection between conservation and spiritual and cultural practices of Indigenous peoples. We are presenting this initiative in order to strengthen and protect our territories and sacred sites and to mitigate the effects of Climate Change worldwide with emphasis in Indigenous Peoples’ Territories. We kindly request Your Holiness and the Vatican: 1. To announce your support for our initiative to protect and restore sacred sites in the world 2. To give back to Indigenous Peoples the sacred objects and artifacts that are in possession of the Vatican and to support our demand to Nation States in this regard 3. To rescind the historical Papal Bulls, affecting Indigenous peoples’ lives and territories In gratitude and deep respect, Indigenous Peoples Representative in the Vatican City, July 4, 2018. Mindahi Bastida (Otomí-Toltec, Mexico) 42
Spotlight on Sacred Sites
Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change by by Mindahi Mindahi Bastida Bastida
Immediately preceding the United Nations (“UN”) Conference in Paris, also known as the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (or “COP 21”), there were two important events where Indigenous peoples participated. First was the Conference on Resilience in a Time of Uncertainty: Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change, which took place on November 26-27, 2015, in UNESCO General Headquarters. There it was stated that—based on ancestral knowledge, principles, and values—Indigenous Peoples are among the most resilient people on Earth. Also, it was said that Indigenous peoples offer important experiences to the world regarding resilience and adaptation to climate change. The other event followed the Assembly of the Guardians of Mother Nature, which occurred on November 28, 2015, in Paris. Indigenous representatives, personalities, and organizations from around the world reminded us that Indigenous populations represent more than 370 million people in more than 70 countries on 5 continents. Here emerged a document: Proposals and Recommendations of the Alliance of the Guardians of Mother Nature to the States and to the International Community for the Preservation of Climate and Future Generations. Among the most important proposals in this document are: (6.) Preserve fossil fuels in the soil by ending exploration and all forms of extraction to protect Mother Nature, as recommended by Indigenous knowledge and scientifically supported by climatic constraints. (14.) Recognize through the UN and UNESCO the biocultural sacred sites of tribal and Indigenous peoples and local communities, along with their land and governance rights on these sites. It was signed by many organizations, among them the Center for Earth Ethics. This document represents the willingness to take care about Mother Nature. These two preliminary events made clear that at COP21—and all ongoing and future negotiations— the voice of ancestral peoples should be present at all times. During the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) 21st Conference of the Parties and the Paris 2015 COP21, there was an intense participation by Indigenous peoples, not just in the Indigenous Pavilion but also in other places including the official conference spaces, such as in 43
the Peruvian Pavilion. For example, there was a round table on “Building Indigenous resilience for biocultural responses to climate change which is part of the Indigenous Peoples Biocultural Climate Change Assessment (IPCCA), creating connections between Indigenous biocultural realities and complex global systems.” Here it was argued that, as Indigenous Peoples continue to articulate and negotiate alternative responses to the many dimensions of climate change, including forest conservation, mitigation and adaptation, living laboratories of climate change and adaptation have been created. These living laboratories have emerged as a sustainable mechanism through which traditional knowledge and conventional western science can engage equitably in dialogic and mutual learning aimed toward the benefit of communities affected by the impacts of climate change. This initiative uses this “Living Lab” approach of the Indigenous Peoples¹ Biocultural Climate Change Assessments and the “biocultural territory” concept. It is a collaborative effort to combat climate change, providing Indigenous and traditional peoples with a powerful tool to cooperatively test, learn, discover, teach, apply, and share the outcomes of their inquiries on climate change and advance sustainability and resilience of their nations. Native peoples are key actors in order to support sustainability of our Mother. Traditional knowledge is key for the conservation of biocultural diversity. For example, almost all our traditions have rituals to orient people to place and acknowledge the presence of the elements and other living beings. We also know that Water, like the other three elements of life (Fire, Earth, and Air) is not a resource but a sacred element. Water is needed for all living creatures and for the all the spaces where Nature interacts. We should treat water with deep respect, love, and reciprocity. But most native peoples do not have contacts with other native peoples or are being ignored by other societies. So it is necessary today for native peoples to come together, not only for their own benefit but also for the sake of our Mother and other societies. In the long term, the unification process will support the selfdetermination of peoples, will safeguard Mother Earth, and will help maintain a permanent dialogue with other cultures for the sake of all. Acknowledgement: this article was adapted from Mindahi Bastida’s blog at Patheos.com with his permission, click here for the original publication.
The Heritage of the Forum 21 Institute Vision by Ken Kitatani The vision of Forum 21 Institute is inspired by Kotama Okada, the founder of the Sukyo Mahikari movement (established February 27, 1959). Sixty years later this vision is still fresh, and in step with myriad holistic worldviews emerging today across the global landscape. According to Okada, we are now in the dawn of a new civilization. Okada said that the twenty-first century would be called a “Holy century” because it would be a period of great change, from emphasis on a material way of being to emphasis on a spiritually founded approach. It would take time for this ideal peaceful situation to be achieved, but nevertheless, he said that there exists a universal will to achieve it. Okada emphasized that the Mahikari movement cannot achieve such a peaceful world on its own. Everyone must contribute to making a better world. Thus, it is important, he said, for people of academic, technological, and other kinds of expertise to cooperate with each other to help establish a peaceful and environmentally sustainable civilization based on shared spiritual principles. Societies and cultures are struggling today to find a natural unity in a globalizing world. Modern civilization has created critical problems and challenges of urgent global concern. The problems of disunity seem to be everywhere, resulting in a global culture that is far from the unity people are seeking. According to Okada, the emerging global culture is lacking an essential value system that can harmoniously integrate seemingly opposite values and natures. The dimensions which are necessary to integrate in attaining unity are spiritual, mental, and physical. His vision was to provide a forum so that dialogue could occur among scientists, people of religion, educators, medical doctors, agriculturists, economists, and learned concerned people of other fields to find new, yet universal, ways by which humankind can live healthfully and prosperously. Through cooperative multi-disciplinary study, humanity can restore the lost meaning of life and see how different aspects emerge from a common source that is at the center of all existence. In religious terms, this source is called God and in more scientific or philosophical terms it is called Cosmic Intelligence, Cosmic Consciousness, the Creative Source, the Great Designer, and the like. If relationships exist within and among specialized and fragmented disciplines, as members of humankind we must find those relationships and establish their interconnectedness anew. In 1959, Okada predicted that the age of the supremacy of self-centered materialism would soon come to an end; he founded the Yoko Civilization Research Association in which he outlined his vision of establishing a civilization based on the integration on universal principles. To actualize Okada’s vision, his successor Keiju Okada established the Yoko Civilization Research Institute in 1985 and served as its first president. The Forum 21 Institute was established 2012 in the United States as a sister organization of the Yoko Civilization Research Institute. 44
Spotlight on Sacred Sites
Sacred Sites Initiative, Biographies
KARENNA GORE Karenna Gore is Director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and recognized worldwide for her work regarding climate change, social justice, Indigenous people, and other cultural issues. Previously, she worked in the legal center of Sanctuary for Families and as Director of Community Affairs for the Association to Benefit Children (ABC). She has also worked as a writer and is the author of Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America. She is a graduate of Harvard College, Columbia Law School, and Union Theological Seminary. She lives in New York City with her three children and serves on the boards of the Association to Benefit Children (ABC) and Riverkeeper.
MINDAHI CRESCENCIO BASTIDA MUÑOZ Dr. Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz is the Director of the Original Caretakers Program, Center for Earth Ethics, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (2017- ), and General Coordinator of the Otomi-Toltec Regional Council in Mexico, guardian of the ancestral sacred Otomi knowledge and original peoples of Mesoamerica. Mindahi is in charge of carrying out the main Otomi ritual events based on the ancestral calendars and has been an Otomi-Toltec Ritual Ceremony Officer since 1988. He is also the President of the Mexico Council of Sustainable Development, a member of the Steering Committee of the Indigenous Peoples’ Biocultural Climate Change Assessment Initiative (www. ipcca.info/ ), and has served as a delegate to several commissions and summits on Indigenous rights and the environment including the 7th World Water Forum in Daegu and Gyeongju, Korea, April 12-17, 2015. Born in Tultepec, Mexico, he holds a doctorate in Rural Development from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM), a University Medal of Merit, and an M.A. in Political Science from Carleton University, Canada. He was the official Delegate of Mexico in the World Summit of Johannesburg (2002) and Delegate of Indigenous Peoples at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (1992). He has worked in the United Nations Environment Programme, in the SEMARNAT, and the Secretary of the Environment of the Government of the State of Mexico. He has been a member of the Joint Public Advisory Committee of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation of North America (CEC). Currently he is a member of the Steering Committee – Advisory Group of the Convention on Biological Diversity – Article 8j- of the United Nations. He has written extensively on the relationship between the State and Indigenous Peoples, intercultural education intellectual property rights, and associated traditional knowledge, among other topics.
GERALDINE ANN PATRICK ENCINA Geraldine Ann Patrick Encina is the Scholar in Residence for the Center for Earth Ethics. She is a member of the Otomi-Hñahñu Regional Council in Mexico and a professor of ethnoecology. Born to Chilean parents of Celtic and Mapuche origins, Patrick Encina received her doctorate in ethnoecology and social sciences from El Colegio Mexiquense, A.C., in 2007; she also holds a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences. She has been a visiting professor in Honduras and Argentina and has held faculty positions at several Mexican universities. Her research focuses on archaeoastronomy and cultural astronomy, particularly on ancestral and current ways of measuring and conceiving time and natural cycles in Mesoamerica, especially among Maya, Nahua, and Otomian cultures.
KEN KITATANI Ken Kitatani currently serves as the Executive Director of the Forum 21 Institute. He is an ordained minister of Sukyo Mahikari Centers for Spiritual Development and is the Chief Administration Officer of their UN NGO (with special consultative status with UN ECOSOC). He co-chairs the Advisory Board of the Center for Earth Ethics of Union Theological Seminary and is the Chair of the NGO Committee of Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns and Executive Bureau member of the Committee of Religious NGOs at the United Nations. Ken graduated from Columbia University with a B.A. in East Asian Studies. 45
TIOKASIN GHOSTHORSE Tiokasin is the Founder, Host, and Executive Producer of the twenty-four-year-old “First Voices Radio” (formerly “First Voices Indigenous Radio”), a one-hour live program now syndicated to seventy radio stations in the US and Canada. He holds a Master’s Degree in Native American Studies and Communications. He is a storyteller, poet, university lecturer, scholar, essayist, cultural interpreter, and a peace and human rights activist. A master musician and a teacher of magical, ancient, and modern sounds, Tiokasin performs worldwide and has been featured at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the United Nations, as well as at many universities and concert venues. Tiokasin serves on boards of several charitable organizations dedicated to bringing non-western education to Native and non-Native children. KURT JOHNSON Dr. Kurt Johnson serves as Director of Life Science and Spirituality for Forum 21 Institute. He has worked in professional science and comparative religion for more than 40 years and serves on many international committees, particularly at the United Nations. He is on the faculty of One Spirit Interfaith Seminary and is the co-author of the very influential 2013 book on the future of world religions: The Coming Interspiritual Age. With a Ph.D. in Evolution, Ecology, and Comparative Biology, he was on the staff of the American Museum of Natural History and is currently associated with the McGuire Center for Biodiversity at the University of Florida. He is a member of The Evolutionary Leaders and has published more than 200 scientific articles and seven books. He is founding member of the Contemplative Alliance and President of the Friends of the Institute of Noetic Sciences. At the United Nations, he serves on the Executive Committee of the UN NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values, and Global Concerns. Kurt co-hosts UNITY EARTH's media—two magazines and the Series on VoiceAmerica.
Links to Partners and Affiliates Partnering Organizations Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise CDC, Inc. Center for Earth Ethics Earth Charter International Happiness Alliance Interspiritual Network Institute of Noetic Sciences Presence International Towards an Ecological Civilization Affiliates Althea Center for Engaged Spirituality California Institute of Integral Studies Center for Process Studies Evolution Institute Friends of the Institute of Noetic Sciences Gaiafield Network Gender Reconciliation International
GNH USA GPIW-Contemplative Alliance Human Evolutionary Change Inside Out Journeys Interspiritual Association of Eco-Ministers: Interspiritual Multiplex at Interspiritual Dialogue in Action Integral Life Ken Wilber Light on Kundalini National Ethical Service One Spirit Learning Alliance and OSLA in Action Our Humanity Matters Pachamama Alliance United Nations Department of Public Information United Nations Economic and Social Council United Nations Environment Program Japan Association Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology 1God and the UDAY Interspiritual Festivals
Sacred Site Activism Around the World
One Humanity Institute—A City of Hope Auschwitz/Oswiecim, Poland A Global Project by Nina Meyerhof and Domen Kocevar
The overarching goal of this project is to build a foundation for the evolving of consciousness needed to give rise to the global solidarity of One Humanity to achieve sustainable peace. Our work is to stop the endless cycle of violence and move into an age of mutual caring. We believe that today all is possible, and with this we do dedicate ourselves to building a better world. –Dr. Nina Meyerhof and Domen Kocevar History World War II illustrates a major horror in our history, and similar horrors continue to this day throughout the world. One million people were murdered in Auschwitz, which has been maintained exactly as it was used to remind people NEVER AGAIN. Two million visitors come annually to visit this chilling historic site. They enter the camp and tour the site, leaving deeply impressed with a hanging sense of despair—and then, most often, leave the town as fast as possible. It has not been a place to stay for an extended visit. Yet Auschwitz, housed in the town of Oswiecim in Poland, served as one of the world’s most compelling pressure points for the formulation of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Oswiecim has also been officially appointed a United Nations Peace Messenger City of Peace. Now in Oswiecim, a town of 41,000 inhabitants, there is a desire to work to build something positive—a hopeful vision arising out of the ashes of the past. And knowing the present need of the world globally and locally, we plan to establish a place in Oswiecim of hope for a better future—the One Humanity Institute. The Vision “Many Voices, One Heart, One Humanity…One Peace”
With the support of an international team of leaders, practitioners, community builders, and visionaries, the One Humanity Institute will be a collaborative enterprise developed to attract, educate,
and inspire people of all ages and cultures to translate universal values into actions that generate global harmony and prosperity for sustainable peace. The Institute will cultivate a vision of One Humanity joining together to embrace our deep spiritual connection. Programs and educational content will provide the tools and support to manifest peace in tangible ways at the micro and macro levels of individuals, organizations, communities, societies, and the world. The Institute emerges from the well-documented, urgent need to direct focus away from the violence of the past and toward a culture of peace emphasizing forgiveness and trust. To that end, the Institute will foster a deep structural shift in the basic premises of thoughts, feelings, and actions. Our purpose is to
direct away from modes of disaffection and estrangement, which can lead to discord and violence, and away from a culture of competition and domination to transform into one of partnership and solidarity. The Institute will embrace peace that goes beyond the mere absence of conflict and war to bring about a change of heart that embraces our common humanity. Thus, peace in this sense is a dynamic concept that facilitates the full development of the human potential. This peace implies learning practices of solidarity, justice, and cooperation in our own communities, linking each community with active participation in the interconnected world in which we all live. The aim is to experience unitive synergy: Oneness of the authentic self, co-aligned with the unity of all selves as a coherent whole. Sustainable PEACE is possible with the consciousness of ONE HUMANITY.
ONE HUMANITY is a phrase used to describe our global understanding of our collective interdependence as described by science and thinkers of today. It is the only direction we can move if we are to succeed through issues related to climate change, environmental degradation, poverty, andâ€”most importantâ€”national, international, and internal wars. We must lead with our hearts, use our minds to further our understandings of how our universe works, and then learn how to behave as one family of humankind. Campus There are now 11 buildings hopefully available directly adjacent to Auschwitz that could house a complex of different efforts. The One Humanity Institute (OHI) will become a City of Hopeâ€”a Peace Village and a Peace Park with buildings for formal and
non-formal education with global exchanges, an experiential museum of One Humanity, a media Peace Library, a conference center, individual and group lodgings, cooperative organizational offices for global NGOs, and more. Below are some of the ideas for our facility. Museum of One Humanity An interactive, innovative museum of the future, the Museum of OHI aims to create experiences through diverse lenses that reiterate the interrelated systemic nature of all life. OHI invites visitors to see themselves capable of accelerating solutions and improving conditions for a just and compassionate society for all. Through a variety of experiences, individuals can realize their own personal capability to effect change as they are reminded of the stark reality and alternatives we face, which they have just experienced at the Auschwitz Museum.
Sacred Site Activism Around the World
Walking through the halls, individuals will have access to practical tools and models with solutions for resolving global issues. Utilizing state-of-the-art technology, virtual reality, and hands-on experiential consoles, visitors can explore solutions or make choices with measurable impact and literally see themselves in scenarios based on their choices.
Transformational learning is paramount to the Institute’s Peace Education Programs and involves a deep structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feeling, and action. It implies a real change in perspective towards a radical interconnectedness and a tangible sense of the possibilities for social justice, harmonious living, and peace building.
The Museum of One Humanity will take visitors on a journey to see and feel the best of Humanity and create a readiness for action to work for ONE HUMANITY.
The goal of this kind of learning is to develop connections between people in order to globalize peace, care, and compassion. Transformative learning offers a way to move away from a fearbased to a care-based society. At the same time, we need to work at macro levels by bringing the ideas of participatory democracy and youth collaboration into the mainstream.
Stirred and troubled by their experience at the Auschwitz Museum, visitors can be exposed to and inspired by a vision of peace, empowered to bring home with them the inner awareness and understanding of what a "City of Hope" can look like. One Humanity Education Center “If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children.” –Confucius The One Humanity Education Center will invite the participation of a global community of scholars and practitioners from diverse backgrounds and experiences to address the urgent social, political, and ecological problems we are facing. With official ties to many renowned universities around the world, we will host courses, conduct global exchanges, and provide immersive experiences with the aim of transformational learning. 49
The One Humanity Education Center will offer structured learning opportunities for young people and adults through formal and non-formal education. Such opportunities will focus on the 17 U.N. Sustainable Goals, inter- and intra-faith studies, intercultural understanding, and cooperation. Conflict resolution skills and trans-rational problem solving will aid students as they take on social impact projects and learn leadership skills for the rising potential of empowered individuals. Our vision is all about connecting across cultures, disciplines, and institutions, in service to the important goal of creating “unity in diversity.” Face-to-face activities combined with technology will allow us to build pathways and cyber bridges across cultures, disciplines, and institutions, opening the door to new possibilities and innovative ideas.
In addition, there will be opportunities for workshops, trainings, and group assemblies focused on social innovation, entrepreneurship, and personal leadership skills. Hence, the purpose of the One Humanity Education Center is to harvest the wisdom of diverse cultures and beliefs, bringing leading scholars, institutions, and youth together, building awareness and developing tools on behalf of human dignity for all. Global Peace Library and Research Center The Library and Research Center will serve as a world-class resource center to facilitate the spread of peace, creativity, and knowledge in an environment supporting discovery, reflection, and action related to peace building. This unique Library will serve as a global repository of quality resources to stimulate creativity and intellectual curiosity and to facilitate lifelong learning and research. Its collections will contain works on diverse cultures and religions, conflict resolution, peace building, environmental protection, nuclear disarmament, human rights, civil rights, social activism, contemplative studies, and subtle activism. It will excel in collecting, preserving, and providing access to the best scholarly and educational resources related to peace and peace related subjects, providing high quality services, and creating a welcoming and comfortable physical environment. The OHI Library will be focused on cutting edge research while always staying open to new trends and societal advancement. It will also foster an atmosphere that encourages diversity, excellence, and continued growth in finding ways to provide the best possible service to OHI Library users. In doing so, it will serve as a world-class resource center to facilitate the spread of peace, creativity, and knowledge in an environment supporting discovery, reflection, and actions related to peace building. One Humanity Conference Center As the first and only conference center in Oswiecim, the One Humanity Conference Center will serve the needs of the town and the town's organizations, as well as groups from around the world for global assemblies, productions, conferences, and other functions in the safe and hope-inspiring environment of One Humanity Institute. State-of-the-art technology and acoustics housed in thoughtful architecture will allow the Conference Center to accommodate approximately 1200 people.
They will leave inspired to authentically create change in the world with the tools and models they have experienced while visiting the “City of Hope.” Walking through areas of meditative quiet and reflection, one can access experiences that empower and educate for the potential of unity and the acceptance of differences leading to greater personal and world peace. –Nina and Domen In beauty and quietude, visitors can sit on a bench to integrate their internal response from their visit to the Auschwitz Museum. World Servers Hub, Social Innovation Labs, and Impact Hubs OHI strives to be a model of the future we want to see in the world. We recognize that collaboration, cooperation, and operating in a complementary manner is critical in today’s world. By providing shared office and working space, the World Servers Hub will provide an environment for unprecedented collective impact focusing on our world’s most pressing problems. Simply by opening space for organizations with common values to crosspollinate skills and expertise, we are furthering the vision of One Humanity.
Imagine a garden where visitors, after leaving the Auschwitz Museum, come for reflection, introspection, and inspiration.
Impact Hubs are where change goes to work. Part innovation lab, part business incubator, and part community center, visitors experience an Impact Hub as a unique ecosystem of resources, inspiration, and collaboration opportunities to grow impact. Joining together, our diverse community of members and collaborators will inspire and enable businesses and organizations to develop their best work every step of the way.
Our day or long-term visitors can step inside a quiet meditation room in the Hall of Reflection that offers them an opportunity to refresh body and spirit and regroup emotionally without running away from their experience at the Auschwitz Museum.
We are presently connecting with NGOs who have similar vision for our world and show interest in participating with us in establishing a World Servers hub. Together we will make visible to the world our dreams and creations.
Peace Garden and Hall of Reflection and Understanding
Sacred Site Activism Around the World Expected Outcomes of Vision. Our expectation of impact on an individual that traverses our community of Hope will be a representative of the “Never Again, Then What” philosophy and find within this experience a deep resonating impulse to alter behaviors for the future of self and others. Individual As an individual leaves the grounds of the Museum and comes through the doors of our City of Hope, there begins an understanding that it is time to release “that” without ignoring “this” and how to take humanity forward in an era of recognizing we are a family of humankind and must imagine and commit to a better world that considers others as well as the self. Walking through areas of meditative quiet and reflection, one can access experiences that would empower and educate for the potential for unity and acceptance of differences and greater personal and world peace. Local Oswiecim For the local town of Oswiecim, this initiative will bring many new considerations for altering the town image of being the home of historical horrors into the image of being a home of iconic models for the world and to recognize Oswiecim as a home for Hope. To further this aim, OHI will provide local and town jobs, as well as taxes. Furthermore, our goal is to give the town a portion of each entrance fee so that we can partner in this endeavor. Our goal is to ensure that the town prospers from this project and considers it a gallant effort to reimage their town and to attract visitors for extended stays. People will wish to visit the OHI Museum or even the Education Center. Our concept is that every monetary exchange will also benefit the town.
Home Community Individuals will be exposed to educational experiences that will foster inspirational change through courses, activities, workshops, and other instances found within the City of Hope, along with the possibility of learning about sacred responsibility to create projects for home communities using the SDGs as a basis for the needs as revealed from the different areas. World Implication The ultimate purpose of the City of Hope is to impact the world visibly. Imagine 20% of the two million visitors also visiting OHI and recognizing that we do belong to one humanity and that all 17 SDG's goals are resolvable if we commit as a family of humankind to understanding this and to forging ahead with new models. These years will include our future generations, and they will need us to develop guidelines for a global society that takes into consideration the needs of the totality. One world for one humanity, releasing preconceived ideas of our separateness and moving from “I” to “We” to “One.” This center can be a model for others to visit and partner on projects, replicate globally, and involve governmental institutions in the acceptance of a growing concern for how peoples of the world can focus on how we are able to live together successfully and sustainably. Conclusion “One Humanity” is a term many of the world’s peoples hear commonly now as we focus on our global awareness and interdependence. The mission of the Institute is to support the universal values of peace, tolerance, dignity, freedom, equality, and solidarity for all life through innovative programs and experiences. The Institute’s programs and experiences can inspire HOPE and encourage those who visit to envision innovative solutions to obstacles to PEACE through the recognition that, whatever our differences, we are ONE HUMANITY.
Domen Kocevar Co-founder of One Humanity Institute Domen Kocevar studied Sociology and Theology at the University of Maribor and is currently working on his Ph.D. thesis ONE HUMANITY. He is the founder and director of the THEOSOPHICAL LIBRARY OF ALMA M. KARLIN, which is a place of exploration toward the needed new paradigm, with more than 11,000 monographs on all religions, spiritual paths, philosophy, sociology, new science, economy, and community living approaches. For many years, he has been a part of western esoteric schooling and researcher of perennial wisdom. At the moment, he is part of the establishing team for the Educational Peace Institute in Auschwitz-Oswiecim, Poland, oriented toward recognizing the One Humanity and the qualities and values coming from that recognition.
Nina Meyerhof Co-founder of One Humanity Institute Nina Meyerhof, Ed.D, is a visionary thought leader recognized for a life of advocating for children and youth. She is co-author of Conscious Education: The Bridge to Freedom and Pioneering Spiritual Activism. Nina has received many awards for her work, from The Mother Theresa Award to the Citizens Department of Peace Award to The International Educators Award for Peace, and the State of Vermont passed a Resolution honoring her for her life’s work in PEACE, the Seeds of Peace Award, and second of recipients for the Public Peace Prize. Nina advocates for all people to go beyond cultural, ethnic, and religious differences and to strive for altruistic ethics. Her focus is on the realization that peace must come from recognizing our interwoven unity. 51
Subtle Activism: Harnessing the Power of Earth's Sacred Sites for Planetary Healing
by David T. Nicol and David Sun Todd
As human consciousness increasingly becomes entranced by the shiny lights of digital technologies, the Earth herself is rising to guide the way forward toward an alternate path of evolution more in alignment with organic life. It is as though the seduction of human attention into a dubious hi-tech reality is serving to catalyze a powerful evolutionary response from Earth, which is transmitting potent new codes of holistic life to anyone turning to Nature to listen. These codes contain ancient knowledge that can build pathways through our global crisis to a fundamentally new era of life on Earth. Central to this knowledge is the re-emergence of forms of synergistic group awareness able to serve as powerful conduits for the flow of nature’s holistic intelligence and healing life-force. David Nicol has called this work “subtle activism,” a modern term for an ancient approach. Subtle activism expands the reach of consciousness-based practices like meditation, ritual, and prayer beyond the narrow modern focus on personal growth to the realm of collective and planetary healing, realigning spiritual work with timeless wisdom traditions whose intent has always been to serve the whole of life. This approach tends to lead naturally to a recognition in harmony with shamanic knowledge that the Earth’s life force is especially concentrated in certain places and that ceremonial practices conducted in association with these sacred sites have a special power to harness and direct their potent healing energies for the benefit of all life. Indigenous rituals at sacred sites—and along the ley or song lines that connected them—seem to have been designed to sustain an ancient global energy grid that enabled a healthy circulation of Earth’s creative power. In our times, new expressions of subtle and sacred activism are emerging that seek to apply the ancient knowledge of Earth’s sacred sites and power spots to help humanity through its current initiatory crisis. This article describes one of these initiatives: the Big Earth Blessings Transmitter Project of world-healer David Sun Todd. For more than twenty-five years, David Todd has engaged in a dialogue with inner guidance and the intelligence of nature with a singular goal: how to encode the power and information of the Earth and the cosmos into tools for personal and planetary healing. This exploration has given rise to a new subtle energy technology that opens novel possibilities for large-scale energetic cleansing and restoration of living environments, especially those most impacted by humans. 52
Sacred Site Activism Around the World
The core of this technology is a range of mandala images created from photos of the Earth and the heavens. With digital tools, David reshapes these photos into intricate geometric patterns and layers of many elements. The final product of this visual alchemy embodies the elemental beauty, healing energies, codes of life, and intelligence of the natural world. Source images come from places where the power and beauty of the planet shine brightest. Each image embodies a specific healing, transformational, and evolutionary intention. David Todd has created more than 1000 such mandalas since 1998. As these many mandalas have emerged, so has the understanding of how the energies and codes they embody can be installed into local environments and then energetically transmitted to remote locations. This research has yielded a new subtle energy tool David calls the Big Earth Blessings Transmitter. This device exists in two forms: 1) a printed image which combines elements of 54 distinct mandalas, and 2) a purely energetic device which can be installed into homes and businesses or into natural lands that need healing. The mandalas transmitted through this tool fall into three broad categories: Human "Karma Kleanse". These images remove the energetic imprints of human occupation. This includes disturbances of the natural environment from building construction and human activities, the karmic residue of past traumas and events, and the energies of previous occupants. This Karma Kleanse goes beyond common space clearing for a home or office. It revitalizes the environment where needed, clearing energies and influences going back hundreds and even thousands of years. Astral Cleaning. These images remove the energetic imprints of nonhuman beings in the astral dimension surrounding locations on the Earth. These influences include astral and elemental entities, lost souls, dark energies, and dimensional portals; these entities and energies can create significant disturbances for people. They are often unrecognized sources of mental stress, emotional upheaval, and physical illness. Environmental Regeneration. These images encode the energies and information from sacred sites, power spots, and other places that are balanced, vital, and flourishing. These codes cleanse, energetically uplift, and revitalize locations that have been polluted, disturbed, and reshaped by human activities and technologies. Here the energies of powerful mountains, old-growth redwood forests, and pristine beaches can heal more challenged places on the planet. Along with the three kinds of mandalas listed above, the Big Earth Blessing Transmitter contains a transmitting tool that enables the mandala-codes to be broadcast into the local environment. It also generates a powerful protection field around its location, and a printed Transmitter can activate remote healing work anywhere on the planet. 53
When a Big Earth Blessings Transmitter is installed into a home or business, it uplifts the energy of that place and the surrounding neighborhood. When several Transmitters are located in a single town, their synergistic connectivity amplifies the healing effect into the larger community environment. (A current goal is to install 400 Transmitters across the United States on the basis of revelatory inner guidance that the synergistic effect of that number may be powerful enough to bring significant transformation at the national level of consciousness.) And when the remote broadcasting ability of the Transmitter is tapped, the possibility of wide-ranging Earthhealing comes into being. This project can be seen as a creative modern experiment to transmit the potent healing energies of Nature—especially its sacred sites and power spots—into the world for personal, collective, and planetary healing. With the current march toward an increasingly artificial and technologically dominated world, such experiments are sorely needed. Unlocking the full, synergistic healing power of Earth’s sacred sites through these and other similar spiritual technologies may, in fact, be one of the crucial evolutionary tasks of our times.
David T. Nicol, Ph.D., is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Earth Rising and the Gaiafield Project. He is the author of Subtle Activism: The Inner Dimension of Social and Planetary Transformation (SUNY Press), the first comprehensive study of the idea that focused collective meditation and intention can contribute powerfully and measurably to social change. David has taught on Subtle Activism at the California Institute of Integral Studies, The Shift Network, and the Institute for Subtle Activism. He lives in North California with his wife Kate. See http://earthrising.one.
David Sun Todd is an evolutionary teacher, world-healer, and visionary artist. With his late wife Bonnie Gold Bell, he pioneered a new form of sacred art, creating mandalas and icons from photographs of the natural world. Over the last 20 years, David has developed a comprehensive system of healing and evolutionary transformation for people, places, and collective fields. This system has grown out of his practice as a healer and mentor for many people, and it incorporates nearly 1,000 unique mandala forms. The art created with Bonnie can be seen at www.bellandtodd.com and new work and offerings from David at www.davidsuntodd.com.
Sacred Site Activism Around the World
Activating Sacred Sites Through Acoustical Physics by J.J. and Desiree Hurtak The Academy for Future Science, P.O. Box FE, Los Gatos, California, 95031
Our ancestors created sacred sites on Earth as portals to the stars, marked by stones and aligned through large monuments, whereby everyone can enter into sacredness. In returning to these sites, we have chosen to add, with respect, ancient sacred words and vibratory sounds, which reflect the culture and religious background of the area. Since the late 1970s, our worldwide teamwork has focused on re-activating the sacred sites around the world using musical linguistics and acoustical resonance. We believe that the initiate, in ancient times, would activate the sacred sites by the use of music and sacred sounds. In this process of using acoustical physics, the initiate could say, “I am this endless sacred space carried into eternity.” In this review, we examine two locations in different parts of the world to confirm whether acoustics and music could be part of the mysteries behind these cultural historical sites where spirituality, acoustical physics, and structure might fuse together to establish a mind-reach to the living cosmos. Our larger studies comprise a synthesis of findings from anthropologists, remote sensing engineers, musicians, and members of the Academy for Future Science (which is an international NGO) all working across the spectrum of sound to understand a common science of acoustics and music as a singularity for the activation of the sacred temples. Our methodology derives from knowledge of ancient cultures, their languages, and their spiritual philosophies, as well as an understanding of how the human body is a “temple of Spirit” that has counterparts in these temple designs. With the understanding of sacred sounds and the movement of the stars that some call archo-astronomy, these temples can be activated and synchronized. Observing the movements of the human bio-geometry as a correlation between the Earth and the heavens, we can understand how the human body is a part of the common acoustical portal or “acupuncture points,” which can be activated for higher states of consciousness through the power of sound. Site One: Tikal, Guatemala. One of the major sacred areas within the world grid is the area we call the Yucatan-Guatemala Triangle, which has at its center the historic “city of sound” or the “place of the voices,” popularly called Tikal by the Itza Mayans (The Keys of Enoch®, Key 215). We chose it as our first place for testing special sounds because it is known that when someone stands at the center of the main plaza and speaks normally, his/her voice can easily be heard at the very top of several pyramids surrounding the plaza. At Tikal’s historic site, with help from the Henry Belk and the William H. Belk Foundation in Charlotte, North Carolina, we began musical tests which were later analyzed by sound engineers, including the famous Romanian conductor and musicologist, Sergiu Celibidache, noted for his skills in both classical and experimental music. We were testing the acoustical resonances of the space, including any unusual recorded sounds. At that time, politically-motivated guerrillas had surrounded the famous archaeological site and broken into the national museum on the property. J.J. Hurtak (one of the authors) began at night to intone powerfully ancient holy names while sitting on top of the pyramid Temple #1. A recording was made using equipment at the foot of the pyramidal temple. During the recording, a series of lightning flashes began to strike the top of pyramid Temple # 2. The mantric patterns rebounded off the walls of the surrounding temples and activated a series of acoustical tones and overtones revealing unique vibratory acoustics. But most important was that, in the midst of it and easily heard by all, was an unknown female voice resonating from the top of the temples. It was not Dr. Desiree’s voice, as she was not singing. The female voice was producing unusual harmonies with Dr. J.J. Hurtak’s voice, while not completely in unison. 55
It was understood that acoustical feedback is the missing part of archaeology and anthropology, and Tikal is known as “the place of voices.” The tests showed that the acoustic effects of the mantras reverberating off the sides of the pyramid Temples generated standing waves, as well as a combined male-female sound coupling as if inner voices were speaking through the stones. Celibidache said, “The sounds of the invisible female voice were produced by resonances of the pyramidal walls, which acted as both a vortex and a physical acoustical amplifier for the human voice, as if the ‘pyramids’ were speaking.” Site Two: Giza, Egypt. Located at Giza, Egypt, the Cheops Pyramid is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In 1993 and 1997, permission was acquired from the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) to carry out extensive sound measurements within the many chambers and shafts of the Great (Cheops) Pyramid, and we returned in 2006 for further testing. This was during the time that Zahi Hawass was in a position of authority as the spokesperson for the Council of Antiquities in Egypt. The tests involved cantorial singing, as well as electronic sweeps of sound using the scientific skills of Drs. Hurtak, musician Paul Thomas Burns, Egyptologists Dr. Joseph Schor, Dr. Joe Jahoda, and film director Boris Said, and, in 2006, musicologist Alan Howarth; all used a variety of sound measuring devices, computer software devices, and musical sounds.
Dr. J.J. Hurtak was able to amplify his voice during his mantra recordings in the King’s Chamber (with Egyptian officials) and in the Ascending Gallery. The production of quavers and semiquavers of sound by using ancient chants was found to achieve the best resonance in the musical range of F# and A#. The musical sound patterns that Hurtak produced through elongated patterns resulted in standing light waves that were captured on film. This resembled a pillar or column of light, and at one point the Grand Gallery was very briefly filled with “light.” Later, the sounds were reviewed by sound engineers in Germany, Australia, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and some were published on a subsequent CD called The Opening of the Great Pyramid. How do mantras, music, harmonies, and acoustics combine with architectural design and create different states of consciousness?
Sound generation and, accordingly, certain expressions create waves or acoustic patterns inside temple resonances, which can be quite powerful. Even recordings can retain that intense upliftment of inner consciousness. The real answers, however, come from a new synthesis of physics and sacred geometry interacting through acoustic resonance. This linkage can then be applied to consciousness. That is, in addition to the light phenomena experienced within these structures, it should be noted that many of the structures resonate at various frequencies. In the Great Pyramid, for example, the tones move into “undertones” that move us into resonance patterns in the alpha and theta frequency range (13Hz to 4 Hz), ideal for relaxation and meditation, even giving us a sense of timeless awareness. In all instances, the chambers connected with the pyramidal temples and adjacent buildings in Guatemala or the inner Chamber of the Great Pyramid presented similar consistent acoustical resonance patterns. In summary, our studies of the musical nature of sacred areas show how the profound interconnections of sacred architecture meld in “the raising of consciousness” through a specific synthesis of acoustical physics applied to the disciplines of culture history, ethno-musicology, astro-archaeology, and even ritual chanting and toning. We are only beginning to understand the connections between different frequencies and how sounds influence thoughts. This comes through acoustics studies applied to neurological states of the mind-body now being studied in Germany and the United States, which show how the body and mind positively respond to frequencies through music stimulus and how the chanting of mantras can be cued to positive thinking. The focused sound-structures behind the language of secrecy or musical induction with acoustical design challenge not only the academic formalities that have separated physics and higher states of consciousness from archaeology and anthropology, but the whole realm of inter-spirituality. However, even without music and sounds, these are sacred energy places. This may not be solely the result of their construction as historic temple sites but may be caused by their 56
Sacred Site Activism Around the World unique locations in terms of electromagnetic field relationships—or, as some would say, “vortex points”—upon Earth. If the universe has a unique geometric configuration or symmetry, then just possibly the Earth has a unique symmetry, and many of the pyramids are placed at nodal points that link to the heavenly realms, hence the added importance of special stellar alignments. It is clear from the positioning of many sacred temples throughout Mexico and Guatemala that the ancients understood these unique “power points” upon the Earth. The meaning is simple but profound: we have found that these pyramids and temples do create, from heightened frequency patterns of musical design, the experience of vibratory changes within the human body. Their very structures represent the golden proportion of the physics of nature that may be matching or affecting the geometries of the universe itself. This may be consistent with pyramids throughout the world that can function as focal points for social, psychological, and musical mind entrainment. The body is itself a resonance chamber, so one can enlighten the mind and the body through these sites. The data from sound experiments at historic and cultural “sacred sites” is a work in progress. The authors have studied numerous historic sites (these are but two) reflecting a living process between a past and a future. As we have visited many more sites, it is our intention to report on them in future articles. Our bodies are full of living rhythmic biological energies, and, when we are in a higher state of meditation with expanded consciousness, we can experience a unity of body, mind, and spirit. After centuries of stagnation, a new worldview is being activated through the cross-cultural frontiers of indigenous and scientific unity so as to facilitate celebrations of inter-spiritual fellowship on higher psychic and spiritual levels at these sites, irrespective of the passage of thousands of years. We are now at a time of cultural pluralism and expanded spiritual conversation. A new acoustical physics aligned with consciousness physics may help to pinpoint the areas of the brain involved in responding to and recognizing every sacred and world heritage site as a place of celebration. Let us be a “temple of understanding” as we experience the sounds of higher states of consciousness within, which links us to the ancient cultures and the Wisdom of the past, bringing that Wisdom, with deep reverence, into the now. Notes
Copyright ©2018 Editor’s Update: The Dr’s Hurtak are globally recognized pioneers for both Sacred Sites and Acoustical Archaeology (www.affs.org). We look forward to a tribute article to their pioneer work in a future issue.
 Hurtak, J.J. The Book of Knowledge: The Keys of Enoch®, Key 215, a map of world sites, served as the main blueprint for these studies. Published by AFFS, Los Gatos, CA., 95031 (1973) keysofenoch.org. Here we examine several different types of light experience at holy sites in the modern world that have had scientific notation captured by cameras and recordings, events that are real and are not a “retrojection” of events as some may imagine them to have happened, and who, by this reconstruction, may give a “historical” foundation to belief systems throughout the world.  J.J. Hurtak, Desiree Hurtak, and Alan Howarth “Acoustical and Musical Resolution of Sound Structures in Yucatan Architecture,” J. Future History, series 5, vol. 4 (Spring) p. 12 (2007). AFFS: Los Gatos, CA.  The Opening of the Great Pyramid CD with Paul T. Burn, J.J. and Desiree Hurtak. AFFS. POB FE, Los Gatos, CA 95031.  Cf. Publication of recent research in the Journal, Arqueologia, vol. 54 (2017), pp. 136-154.  Conversations between Drs. Hurtak and Dr. Ibrahim Karim, Ph.D., recorded by Alan Steinfeld in September 25, 2018, in the studios of YouTube, New York, NY. 57
Inspired Lifestyles Sacred Places: From Kanhangad Ashram in South India to Mangala Mandir in Southern Kentucky
gumbo” dinner like the one I made for her when I still owned a townhouse about ten minutes from the New York ashram. It was here in Kanhangad that Nityananda had lived in a little cave while he built the temple for others. It was here that he carved some 40 meditation caves so people could meditate in them. Here, he was revered—except by bureaucrats who did not believe he dove to the bottom of a lotus-filled pond and came back up with rupee notes in his hands to pay the workers. Sometimes, he was stoned, but he never appeared to be bitter.
by Sw. Shraddhananda Saraswati
When I spent a lot of time at my Guru’s ashram in upstate New York, especially during the 1990s, I noticed that people often went to the Bhagawan Nityananda Temple to seek comfort. “Go. Sit with Bade Baba,” one seeker said to another if he or she encountered spiritual turbulence. This instruction to seek out the “Grandfather Guru” seemed to work for many, so I decided to try it. Asana in hand, I crept into the temple quietly, respectfully, spread out my woolen cloth and took a seat on the carpet close to Bhagawan’s murti, or statue elevated in the center of the sacred space. Bhagawan Nityananda was always dressed beautifully. Maybe I allowed devotees making over him, one of the older Indian Gurus like Baba Neem Karoli, who never left the subcontinent, to block my ability to connect. I’m not sure. Mental resistance usually produces obstacles. I sat for long periods of time, and nothing happened. No connection at all. In those days, I tended to resist almost anything which smacked of Western appropriation of Indian religion and culture. I wrote the Guru a letter explaining why I did not wish to be given an Indian name. I listened to the “Guru Gita,” a long Sanskrit hymn chanted by an older Indian teacher, and I played Brahmin chants on my car stereo and on my “walkman”—yes, Indian practices began to take root in the United States long before YouTube and Spotify became popular. I wanted nothing to do with Westernized Sanskrit. I was not trying to be intentionally disrespectful. I was born and bred in the USA, but I just couldn’t get with a Westernized program. A senior monk, for whom I had great respect, suggested that I make a pilgrimage to Bhagawan Nityananda’s first ashram in Kanhangad in southern India. She was one of the few Westerners who had ever visited Kanhangad, and she wrote an essay about that experience. At my request, she faxed the article to me. In retrospect, I owe this monk a good deal more than another “green
The murti of Bhagawan Nityananda at his first ashram in south India sits in a temple atop the meditation caves he carved downstairs. The two-tiered structure of Mangala Mandir in southern Kentucky pays tribute to the Guru whose teachings now stretch around the world.
I have visited the little cave where Bhagawan Nityananda lived while he was building the Kanhangad temple. I couldn’t help but wonder: How many Western spiritual leaders or teachers would make this kind of sacrifice? Bhagawan Nityananda was a big man; his body would hardly have fit into the cave’s opening. Today, “Guruvanam,” the site of the little cave, is a sacred site which people may visit to pay their respects. Gradually, my resistance was melting—little by little. At long last, I consented to receive the Indian name “Bhavani.” I didn’t know much about what it meant, except that it was a form of Parvati, Lord Shiva’s consort. I had expected to be named 58
Inspired Lifestyles something like Saraswati, goddess of learning and poetry, since I was a professor in those years and I plied the Guru with devotional poems. I liked Lord Shiva, but not yet enough to marry him. Just one look at Bhagawan Nityananda’s murti in the Kanhangad temple and I connected big time. For all time. Until the end of time. Why? The image of Bhagawan in south India was no more attractive than his representation in upstate New York. The Kanhangad Ashram was no more welcoming than the New York ashram. The chai tea in both sacred places tasted just about the same—both excellent.
or monastic vows, in Ganeshpuri, where Bhagawan Nityananda eventually settled after wandering north. This pilgrimage also included a week-long stay at Shantivanam, the Interfaith ashram made famous worldwide by Fr. Bede Griffiths, a Roman Catholic monk who intersected Christianity with Hinduism. South India—Kerala, in particular—is one of the most beautiful parts of India. Some of the coast line borders the Arabian Sea, where I went for evening Arati at the small Someshwari Temple built high on a hill overlooking the ocean. As I walked to Someshwari from my bungalow, I could feel the presence of Bhagawan Nityananda rippling in the wind. It felt as if he was walking along beside me as expressed in the Christian hymn, “he walks with me, and he talks with me.” Obviously, a major transition happened for me when I visited Bhagawan Nityananda within the sacred context of his first ashram in south India. Place matters. As the southern American writer Eudora Welty once wrote, “Place is one of the lesser angels racing over the hand of fiction.” For me, however, place turned out to be a major angel hovering inside my consciousness; all I had to do was recognize and claim it. Now Bhagawan Nityananda is firmly ensconced in my being and in the Anugraha Ashram, my residence in southern Kentucky. His picture hangs over the Teacher’s chair in the meditation hall. We consider Sacred Feet Yoga, the elegant system of spiritual practices I received by transmission, to be a tributary of Bhagawan Nityananda’s parampara or lineage.
Sw. Shraddhananda, head of Anugraha Ashram in southern Kentucky, is pictured here beside the 5’ 8” brass Shiva Nataraj imported from India for the deck of Mangala Mandir.
Soon after my first visit to Kanhangad, I discovered that “Bhavani” is a south Indian form of Parvati. “Aha!” I thought. Befuddlements were beginning to clear. I surely must have had a past life connection to south India and to Bhagawan Nityananda’s work in this region. In the ten-year period prior to taking monastic vows, during which time my vow of celibacy was tested, I referred to myself as “Ma Bhavani.” “Ma” is often used as a designation of celibacy for female monastics-in-training. I never lost the connection I felt to Bhagawan Nityananda in his first ashram in Kanhangad, and I have returned there two times, once with a group of honor students from the University of Kentucky, where I was on the Honors Program faculty for twelve years. The third time, I traveled to Kanhangad as part of a south Indian pilgrimage I made shortly after taking Sannyas,
Recently we began construction on Mangala Mandir, an Interfaith temple anchored in Indian spiritual practices, next door, so to speak, to Anugraha Ashram. We are in the process of enclosing a spacious carport downstairs to make Shri Shakti Peeth, honoring the goddesses and the sacred energy Maha Kundalini Shakti. Shri Shakti Peeth is topped by a gorgeous pine deck with a Shiva Nataraj (imported from India) dancing in the center. Plans call for images from the world’s religions to hang in the four corners of the upstairs deck to show the respect Bhagawan Nityananda and his successors have paid to the essence of all religions. Mangala (meaning auspicious, translated from the Sanskrit) Mandir (temple in English) opened to the public on Shivaratri, March 4, 2019. The presence of Bhagawan Nityananda saturates Anugraha Ashram, as well as Mangala Mandir, just as it does his first ashram in Kanhangad. And, if I encounter a seeker who does not connect with Bhagwan Nityananda in southern Kentucky, you can bet your mala beads I will suggest that he or she board a plane bound for Mangalore and then hire a car to Kanhangad. Shiva is the primordial Guru, it is true, and monks are, in a sense, “married” to the Guru-in-charge. Bhagawan Nityananda is one with this exquisite figure who dances the universe into existence every second. He is Lord Shiva begotten or made manifest. The energies of both beings saturate the sacred spaces of Kanhangad, Kerala, south India, and Mangala Mandir, Somerset, Kentucky, USA.
Sw. Shraddhananda Saraswati serves as head of Sacred Feet Yoga, an Interspiritual path, and Slate Branch Ashram in Kentucky. A college professor for 35 years, she has published numerous books and articles, most recently a collection of poems entitled Are You Dancing with Me, Shiva? She holds a doctorate from Emory University and has lectured on six continents. She received directorship of Br. Wayne Teasdale’s sannyas lineage as a part of the work of the Community of The Mystic Heart (www. communityofthemysticheart.org) from Br. Wayne’s associate Dr. Kurt Johnson and is the keeper, at Sacred Feet Ashram, of Br. Wayne’s original habit, gifted by Contemplative Life founder Jeffrey Genung (www.conemplativelife.org). 59
Illuminations I Believe Everyone is a Gardener by Rev. Stephen N. Symbolik III
I believe everyone is a gardener, even if they don’t know it. Rethinking what gardening is and how one relates to nature and all growing things literally and figuratively grounds us and reinforces our connectivity to the earth. We become connected with our mother, the earth, and this opens us up to being more connected to others and the larger community precisely because we begin to see, experience, and feel an ever-present beauty surrounding us. I contend that the experience and recognition of beauty is one of the very few denominators common to all people. It’s a conduit to interconnectedness. Often gardening is defined too narrowly thereby excluding, and often subtly alienating, people from their inherent gardening spirit. People are made to believe that gardening is for the experts, horticulturists, or persons with that proverbial “green thumb.” That’s nonsense!
Enjoying plants and flowers is the first step to rekindling the basic instinct of our gardening spirit. A new expanded definition of gardening, one that honors and remembers the primacy of the human instinct to relate and react to beauty, provides us with a way and means to connect to almost anyone. This is a primary essence of gardening that has been far too often overlooked especially with the advent of “Big Agra” and monoculture which further separates us from the garden. It’s undeniable, people intuitively understand beauty on all levels but notably with gardens and that has an enormous effect on our hearts and minds. It ushers in joy, wonder, and serenity and in itself this can be salvific and healing on many levels.
Recently, I observed a small commotion under my bedroom window. Looking outside, I saw my neighbor’s daughter, 14 months old, barefoot, still in diapers, standing in my garden. Eye to eye with my Shasta daisies, she delicately reached up and picked a flower. Scampering to her mom sitting close by I heard her say “Pretty for Mommy.” There it was! This toddler, barely able to speak, both recognized the beauty of the daisy and offered this beauty to the one she loved, her mom. This spontaneous reaction to beauty is precisely the innate connection to beauty that I’m talking about. A new definition of gardening can reawaken our genuine inclination to respond to beauty too! There are lots of ways to jumpstart our gardening connections. The spectrum can run from being a hands-on vegetable or flower gardener, to buying and arranging cut flowers and plants, to simply admiring public or private gardens or the landscape around us. Just thinking about where and how our food is grown is in itself an act of gardening, for it is in the act of connecting to the plant world that one is drawn more deeply into the fascinating interconnectivity of all living things. An easy way to begin reclaiming your garden spirit is simply by observing the changes of the season wherever you happen to live. It becomes infectiously addicting. Spring heralds flowers bursting into bloom, plants are growing, trees are budding, and the fecundity of nature becomes almost overwhelming. At the same time spring offers a joyous promise of that everything will be good and new once again. Just as suddenly the fertility of spring allows us to witness the gestational summer growth of plants and flowers and fruits and vegetables.
One can wallow in the multitude of summer flowers blooming that continue to sustain pollinators so crucial to our ecology. With the autumn, our senses delight seeing the bounty of the earth, the tapestries of color, and the earthy smells of harvest. It’s at this time too, that the gardener begins to think of the next season and plant and sow for the next spring. In most areas, one begins to prepare for the inevitable slumber of winter, often focusing on the seductive nakedness of nature. Juxtaposed to this quiet time, gardeners begin thinking of the beauty of spring and are reminded of the transformational cyclical nature of growth, maturity, death, and rebirth. Similar to liturgical calendars, the beauty of the gardening seasons captures the human imagination and makes us all gardeners. One only needs to acknowledge the resplendent beauty in plants and flowers and accept that being a gardener is inherent to each of us. There are many ways to garden so it’s essential we begin by expanding the definition of gardening to be more exciting, inclusive, and encompassing.
Along the Journey
by Joanna Kujawa
Last February, after 14 years of living in Australia, I finally undertook a long-dreamed-of trip to Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Central Australia. The trip was only meant to soothe the adventurous stirrings in my soul, away from the boredom of academic life, but instead it gave me great insight into the discussion on the Mother Goddess, Mother Earth, and the Goddess concept in general. Uluru and neighbouring Kata Tjuta (also known as the Olgas) feature in the Red Centre of Australia and, as far as we know, are about 550 million years old â€“ so show some respect, right? This is the place where the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people have lived for thousands of years. Professor Jim Bowler found evidence of Indigenous presence in Australia dating to 40 thousand or even 60 thousand years ago. First of all, let me begin with a description of how it feels to be in the presence of Mother Nature as She is represented by Uluru and Kata Tjuta. I can tell you from the experience that you feel a certain gravitas and seriousness in the place, and if you go there because you want to acquaint yourself with Mother Nature, beware. This area is not the all-loving mother we might imagine; here is a power to respect. Yes, you can feel Her love, but you can also feel Her primal power of Creation. This Mother means business â€“ the business of life and death. For me, the sound of the didgeridoo best expresses the feeling of the place. When you look at Uluru or Kata Tjuta you know that this is one of those moments in your life when you are filled with AWE. Not at the beauty of nature (a completely different feeling) but at the power of the energy around and the gravity of it. A power that you suddenly remember (it is so easy to forget in the modern arrogance of the cities) can destroy you and remake you in a split second. You feel it in your gut that that this power is only temporarily dormant but when it wakes up, you pray with all your might that it likes you. This is a healthy fear of something much bigger and more powerful than yourself. 62
Travel Uluru makes you feel your BEING. The Rock makes you remember what Andrew Harvey once so brilliantly said that the eastern religions came to be because of human beings’ need to transcend Nature and Its merciless rules of life and death - to escape the relentless cycle of death and rebirth. But as, Harvey says, we now may have aspired too much in attempting to transcend Nature. Too many of us are so lost in our cities and new technologies that we believe we are robots. And here is what Uluru and Kata Tjuta do – they bring balance to our understanding of our place in the Universe. It is time we acknowledge that we, the Earth and the Spirit are one in the Cosmic Soup. So, as I was standing in the desert, in the 104 F heat, noting the sky above me was bluer than you can imagine, and that the Red Centre had summoned me, I pondered the concept of God/dess as Love and the answer I got was – ‘You do it’. If you want the Universe as Love, if you want the God(dess) as Love, you do it. You are the next step. Not only in your own life but also in the fate of the Universe. As Carl Jung said even gods and demons have to bow to human beings – because it is not up to them; it is up to us where we all collectively go from here. The fate of the Universe, literally, Depends on our choices. Angels and demons are only supporting characters in this cosmic play call Life. We are the main players who decide whether we get to the Omega point where all consciousness meets. Take the right step.
Joanna Kujawa, PhD, is the author of a spiritual travelogue Jerusalem Diary: Searching for the Tomb and House of Jesus and the Journaling to Manifest the Lost Goddess in Your Life Workbook. She is also co-author and co-editor of Tourism Management Perspectives' issue on Spiritual Travel and many other articles and academic papers on Spiritual Travel. She is inordinately passionate about her Goddess News blog.
Books Mature, deeply spiritual poems
Are You Dancing with Me, Shiva? by Sw. Shraddhananda Saraswati, Sacred Feet Publishing Imprint, 2018, 117 pp. Soft Cover, $19.95 Reviewed by John Polk
When first I heard Swami Shraddhananda Saraswati read from her wonderful book of poems, Are You Dancing with Me, Shiva, at the Anugraha Ashram in Somerset, Kentucky, she prefaced the reading by saying “if it makes you more comfortable, you may substitute for Shiva the name of Jesus or the God of your choice.” I felt more comfortable right away, knowing I was about to listen to a mature and deeply spiritual poet. Not yet having read the book, the mind-blowing reading which followed did make me want to dance, with Shiva or anyone, but, most of all, it made me want to read the book. The first portion of Are You Dancing with Me, Shiva contains poems about trying to find Shiva in the mind of the world, the second portion mostly about finding Shiva in the natural world, a world which Swami deeply understands. Shiva Nataraja, the embodiment of Shiva referred to by Swami, is said to dance the world into existence and be the source of all movement within the universe. The purpose of the dance is to release the souls of man from the snare of illusion. Swami’s poems propose to do the same. Running through all the poems is the presence of the Guru, referred to overtly in the lovely poem, “Duet”:
Anyone who comes for love will let me love my Guru freely, or be gone.
It was a joy to hear Swami read the poem,” What the Heron Knows”, because it is about my family’s spirit animal, the Great Blue Heron: No stick in the silt, this bird! Slate wings spread, he lifts up over the dock casting wide nets of whole-heartedness. Expressing what one might call the theme of the book, Swami writes in the title poem, “Are You Dancing with Me, Shiva”:
Nothing has the clarity, the grace and good sense, dancing together would have.
John Polk is a father, grandfather, husband, musician, songwriter and a member of St. Patrick Episcopal Church located across the street from Anugraha Ashram in Somerset, Kentucky. A longtime lover of poetry, he still subscribes to Poetry magazine. We welcome submissions for consideration for book reviews. Contact, Sw. Shraddhananda, Book Review Editor at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrating the 5th Anniversary of the International Day of Yoga.
al Day ion t o a n
Special Edition International Day of Yoga in collaboration with the International Day of Yoga Committee at the United Nations!
Preview of Next Issue of Light on Light
IDY Committee at the UN
UN photo by Mary St. George
We also look forward to working with closely with the SHIFT Network and their Director for Peace and for the International Day of Yoga, Philip Hellmich (shown here with Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati) in the upcoming 2019 Yoga of Healing and Awakening Summit. 65
“There Are No Enemies” A meditation, from Karuna, based on Lakota Chief Crazy Horses “Seven Generations Message”. Four days before his assassination by an American soldier at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, in 1877 famed Lakota Chief Crazy Horse is attributed as saying:
Woody Vaspra, President & Elder Liaison, World Council of Elders with Karuna
"I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. I salute the light within your eyes where the whole Universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am at that place within me, we shall be one."
You are invited into this meditation teaching this message. In Vedic tradition it is prefaced with these notes: There are no enemies The great challenges are without ourselves Animosity comes from within and appears both within and without-- the same with self-defeating behaviors that affect both us and “others”, all involving guarding and possessing, and all in the realm of the ego. Nurturing the opposite behavior-- connection, reciprocity, love, kindness, acceptance, etc.-- open us to the deepest possibilities of relationship, within ourselves and with the so-called others. These latter are actually core traits of our True Nature. The Meditation Sit alert in easy pose. Hold the torso straight and bring your hands before your chest, as in prayer pose, but instead make two fists, touching each other and with the thumbs pointed up. Inhale slowly through the nose and then exhale slowly through the mouth. Follow by inhaling deeply and smoothly through the mouth and then exhaling slowly through the nose. Repeat for 3 minutes (or extend to 11 minutes). To end, raise arms straight over the head and hold them there while you breath in and out deeply three times. Lower your arms slowly and laterally to “sweep your auric field”. Relax and feel connected to all things.
Pedestal at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, marking the site of Chief Crazy Horses assassination. The pedestal was well known to our Contributing Editor Dr. Kurt Johnson, as a child, since his father was a Curator for several years at the historical museum in the background.
Chief Crazy Horse's burial scaffold was erected somewhere in the farflung hill country surrounding Fort Robinson, the southernmost part of the Lakota's sacred Black Hills region.
We look forward to warmly welcoming you to our next issue, the International Day of Yoga celebration special edition! 66
Perfectly Imperfect: Finding Healing and Love in the Beautiful Mess of Being Human Workshop with Chris Grosso
Hartford, CT 1/2 Day Workshop. Copper Beech Institute. 1pm-5pm. Click HERE for more info!
Mindfulness Training Course Hosted by ContemplativeLife.org
Are you looking for something that is authentic, meaningful and experiential? Are you interested in learning practices and skills that can cultivate your inner life and enable you to have a deeper connection with family, friends and co-workers? I invite you to join us for an eight-week online journey into mindfulness that includes an exploration of the science, benefits and practices of mindfulness.
Contemplative Life For Information and Registration CLICK HERE 67
Â© 2019 Light on Light Magazine
Light on Light from the Interspiritual Network, a member of the UNITY EARTH network, is a free digital magazine dedicated to illuminating th...
Published on May 9, 2019
Light on Light from the Interspiritual Network, a member of the UNITY EARTH network, is a free digital magazine dedicated to illuminating th...