Here we are again! Hello dear friends!
I have just returned from Punios šilas, not just Lithuania’s, but one of Europe’s most ancient forests. And I am sitting with Campbell’s eloquent words, “The Christ idea and the Buddha idea are perfectly equivalent mythological symbols. Two ways of saying the same thing: that a transcendent energy consciousness informs the whole world and informs you. To become aware of that, and to live out of that center instead of out of this mind center, is the salvation of your life. That means putting yourself in accord with nature.”
As we enter a discussion on rituals I want to focus on our relationship, or lack of, to nature. Campbell presciently writes (and his words are massively more relevant today), “Economics and politics are the governing powers of life today and that’s why everything is screwy. You have to get back in accord with nature; and that’s what these myths are all about. Now in the nineteenth century sociological anthropologists had the idea that myths and rites were an attempt to control nature. Totally wrong. They are not to control nature, they are to control the society and put it in accord with nature.”
Spending the day with 4/500-year-old oaks, I could really sense how nature was the first ‘link’ people followed as they tried to pattern and articulate their lives. But in modernity, it’s not about returning to nature per se, but rather to befriend it and enhance it … it’s about experiencing the inner sentience of nature. Metaphorically, the sense that the forest is walking us, as much as we are walking the forest.
Along the way, there’ll always be order and disorder so that we may cultivate wu wei, a mental state where our actions are effortlessly in alignment with the flow of life. But can we learn to be still in the river of life and listen to what it asks of us? Because if we keep acting in misalignment to our true nature, we’ll keep compromising who we really are. Again and again. But not forgetting, however, that out of every disaster along the path of self-awakening, there is the potential for something surprisingly positive and life-affirming to emerge too.
Signing off with huge FOMO that I wasn’t at Esalen with the gang this year – Kristina.