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David's Desk: The Gulf
David Spangler is famous worldwide for his work with The Findhorn Garden in Scotland, and with his ability to contact the nature spirits and devas of the environment. He is also one of the most caring and accurate “witnesses” to the invisible worlds that I have encountered. For this reason, I find it important and necessary that we consider his words about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Should you wish to pass his words on, please know that he has given all of us permission to do so. I pray that as many of us as possible respond to the spiritual reality behind what he shares. ~PMH
There are times when events overtake intentions. There was another topic that I had planned to write about for this month’s letter, but events in the Gulf of Mexico loom so large with the spreading oil spill and the consequent devastation to animal, plant and human lives that no other topics seem fitting this month. The amount of email I’ve had asking for insights into what is happening, for perspectives from the subtle worlds, or for suggestions for subtle activism in response to this tragedy affirms for me that this is the subject close to people’s hearts and minds right now.
I was in my twenties during the height of the Vietnam War, and I remember well the vivid scenes that appeared night after night on the television news. Certain images stand out: the Buddhist monk who set himself ablaze in protest, the execution of a Viet Cong sympathizer, a naked girl running down the street, her body burned from napalm, and the endless rows of body bags and coffins of dead soldiers waiting on the tarmacs of foreign airports to be shipped home to America. These images brought home the horror of the war. The oil spill is generating images, too. The underwater camera shows endless gallons of brown oil spilling out around the edges of the containment cap into the water. There are close-up shots of pelicans covered with oil, their black eyes almost invisible in the midst of the black goo that drips from their feathers. Fishermen lounge idle on the dock, watching their livelihoods vanish. Black tar balls on pristine white sandy beaches.
Perhaps most powerfully and poignantly for me was an interview I saw. A Louisiana costal resident was driving down a road alongside the beach that is being hardest hit by oil at the moment. He was complaining about the lack of any clean-up crews on the beach and was venting his anger at BP. He had a large mustache that quivered with his indignation as he spoke, and his voice was rough and strained with his fury. Suddenly he stopped and jumped out of his truck. Running down along the beach with the news camera man right behind him, he suddenly stopped and plunged his hands into the oily sand. He then pulled up a bird small enough to fit in the palm of his hand. It was covered in oil, but it was still alive. “Oh, this poor bird,” he said, cradling it, his voice softening to one of caring and compassion. “This poor, poor creature.” The news report ended at that point, so I don’t know what happened next, whether he was able to get the bird to one of the shelters where animals are being cleaned from the oil. And I have no idea how he had spotted this tiny bird from the road when a moment before he had been so focused on his rage. But in the twinkling of an eye, he went from shouting at the cameraman, his attention focused on BP and his anger at them, to someone perceiving the plight of another living creature and shifting his attention to doing what he could, revealing the depth of his caring. I found this very moving.
Over the next few months, I have no doubt there will be thousands of words written analyzing this event, assigning blame and expressing anger. This may well become the equivalent of an environmental 9/11 in terms of its impact on our society except that where the terrorist attack and the collapse of the World Trade Towers occurred in a two-hour span of time, the Gulf oil spill is a catastrophe unfolding over weeks and months, leaving us twisting in the wind with the uncertainty of how it will end. If as many fear, the storm surges and winds of the hurricanes expected this season carry the contamination of oil much further inland, including to populated areas and farming country, or if the oil enters the Gulf Stream and heads around to the beaches of America’s eastern coastland and then on to Europe, then the impact of this disaster will be much greater than it appears now and the ending may be years in the future.
If ever an event were worthy of our anger and sorrow, this is it. This is particularly true because this is no random act of nature like the earthquake that hit Haiti. It was an eminently preventable event. That it occurred comes as no surprise to many who have been predicting such a disaster for years, but it also comes as further indication of the deep structural flaws in our civilization, from our increasing dependence on resources that in fact are running out and are harder and harder to get, to the financial pressures and expectations that lead individuals and corporations to take shortcuts and neglect safety measures in order to save a dollar here and a dollar there.
Yes, greed is involved, but it’s not just corporate greed. It’s our collective greed for a certain kind of lifestyle, a certain kind of dominance upon the earth, a certain kind of anthropocentric power to do with the world and its web of interconnected life wh at we wish, as we wish, when we wish. But if we are going to work effectively at a spiritual level through subtle activism with this event and its unfolding consequences, anger and sorrow must be set aside. Like the man in the news story who suddenly switched from expressing anger to taking action to help another living creature, we need to go beyond our anger and find our compassion and the presence of a healing light within us.
When I am asked what the perspective of the non-physical worlds is to this event, I feel stymied by the fact that there is no single reaction. People expect that the inner worlds must feel outrage and pain, just as we do, especially at the thought of so much ecological destruction and loss of life. There is that reaction, for sure, but it is not the only one or even the main one. It depends entirely on the kind of subtle beings that I attune to.
For some of the vast forces and intelligences that overlight the Gulf region and have done so for thousands and thousands of years, this is a relatively minor event creating a temporary imbalance that will be restored in time; when your perspective covers millennia, what are a few decades more or less? Physical existence does not have the same meaning to them that it does to us. Likewise, I have observed certain chthonic beings associated with the oil itself that are experiencing delight and pleasure at being liberated from the depths of the earth; they are not evil by any means, but they do not have any sense of the destruction or loss of life that the oil is causing.
On the other hand, there are subtle beings who work directly with the environment and the life-forms of the sea and the coastal wetlands and marshes, and they are being directly impacted. The patterns of connection and energy with which they work and in which, to some extent, they dwell, are being disrupted and broken with an effect not unlike that which happens to a human when he or she has a stroke due to the death or damage of brain cells. Some of these beings are indeed outraged at what is happening and at humanity in particular for causing this. But others are not, understanding that anger itself can roil the subtle environment and further disrupt and break the subtle connections on which integration and wholeness depend.
So, from my perspective at least, there is no single unified response of the inner worlds to this event. What this means to me is that I need to look to my own response. What do I feel? What do I think? And likewise, dear reader, what do you feel and think? For it’s out of our hearts and minds that we fashion our imaginative, mental, emotional, and spiritual responses, and our physical ones as well if we are in a position to take physical action. I don’t need a nature spirit to tell me it’s angry for me to feel anger myself or for me to feel compassion and sorrow and a need to do something to help.
Subtle activism is a way of offering help through the use of subtle energies of consciousness and life when we’re unable to help in more physical ways. It’s never a substitute for meaningful and appropriate physical action, but it can be an important complement. This is not the place to go into the whys and wherefores of subtle activism, its principles of operation and the theory of how it works; I have classes that do that if you are interested. What I would like to do here is just offer some specific inner responses you can make if you are inclined.
However, there are two key ideas to keep in mind. The first is that all subtle activism is ultimately intended to create and foster wholeness. The subtle environment of the world is a place of important connections along which life energies flow, and when events like this occur, it’s these connections that get broken. The second is that inner work is done in a spirit of compassion, love and service. Wholeness is repaired or re-created through life-affirming energies, not through anger or blame, judgment or revenge. We must be like the man in the news interview, switching from our outrage to our compassion and reaching out to hold in our inner hands of love the life that has been impacted and that is threatened.
Here are some possibilities for subtle activism and prayer:
1: Attune in contemplation and imagination to the "genius loci," the spirit of the place, of the affected regions to offer the gift of your loving energy for it to use in service to its environment. Imagine, for instance, an angel of the marshes or of the wetlands, or even an angel overlighting the Gulf itself. Draw on your own love and compassion and offer these to this being to use as its knowledge and wisdom sees as appropriate. Most importantly, draw on your sense of your own sacredness and of the Sacred that embraces and lives within all things. As your felt sense of this sacredness wells up in you, offer this presence to the spirits involved with healing and care for the affected regions.
2: One thing I learned while part of the Findhorn community in northern Scotland many years ago is that nature spirits, the spiritual beings directly involved with the wellbeing of specific plants and ecosystems, cannot always anticipate human actions. They can be caught by surprise by the effects of some of our actions, particularly when the effects of those actions are disruptive. In such a situation, the spiritual beings may not implement suitable preparations and connections to avoid or minimize such disruptions. I imagine by now the word has gone out along the inner circuits that danger is on the way, but it may still be helpful to communicate what is happening to the spiritual beings overlighting those parts of the land where the oil hasn't reached yet but which are in danger. As in 1 above, commune with the overlighting nature beings of those regions and inform them of what is happening. Basically, warn them so they can take steps. Do so as lovingly and compassionately as you can.
3: Subtle activism is about using subtle energies for promoting, restoring, fostering, and co-creating wholeness. Every being is woven into a fabric of life through a variety of subtle energy connections. When a being dies, these connections are broken as it withdraws into the spiritual realms of Light. In a way, there’s a “hole” in the fabric where that being was. In the natural course of things, the edges of this hole—the disconnected strands and streams of subtle energy—are reknitted back into the local fabric of life. However, when many beings die all at once—as is happening in the Gulf now—the breakage can be severe, and the “hole” very disruptive for a time; the effort of spiritual beings goes to repairing this. You can help in this process by making available your own energies of compassion and wholeness to the situation through your loving attunement. You cannot do this in a state of anger or agitation, so don’t attempt this if your emotions about what is happening in the Gulf overwhelm you with sadness, anger, and so forth. Wait until you can find calm and peace within yourself. But when you do, then here is one way you can offer your help. Attune to a spiritual source of wholeness that is meaningful to you, that is, a source from which you would draw inspiration and presence to find wholeness in yourself. Draw that wholeness into you and merge it with your own calm presence, your own integration and sense of wholeness. In imagination and contemplation, project your presence into the affected areas of the Gulf where death and disruption are occurring to the life of the sea and the coastlines. Be a presence of wholeness and connection, as if you were a nerve cell connecting the spiritual worlds with the earth and water itself. In effect, you are offering your assistance and the energy of your presence to those beings who are seeking to "reknit" the subtle environment. Note that there are angelic beings and others seeking to provide the same loving help to the humans who are being affected by this oil spill and who are experiencing anger and fear as they witness the destruction of their environment and the loss of their livelihoods. You can offer this same loving spirit of wholeness to them as well for the benefit and blessing of the human community.
4: Be open to grief. Grief is part of the healing process of binding up broken subtle ties and connections. I'm not talking about wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. Grief can become mixed up with dramas of self-concern and victimization (the “poor me” syndrome), and you want to be clear of such dramas. You want to feel honestly the pain and sorrow involved with what is happening to the nature and the people of the Gulf. Grieving is part of the process of acknowledging the broken connections I spoke about earlier and thus of beginning a process of healing. Don’t be hesitant or resistant to grieving with the nature spirits and with the life of the Gulf that is being affected. You can share your own emotions of pain with them. At the same time, however, don't assume or project that nature spirits feel that grief or pain in the same way; don't anthropomorphize, in other words.
5: Eventually the Gulf will heal. Depending on the amount of damage that is done by the time this spill is cleaned up, that healing could take a long time, but it will happen. Harmony and balance will be restored, though it might look different than what is there now. Just as a person may heal better and faster when inspired by images of health and what his or her life will be like when wholeness is restored, so the nature spirits can be aided by the visions of health, harmony and wholeness that come from vaster planetary beings such as devas and angels. While they certainly have their own channels of communication that don’t depend on any human, it is still helpful when a human being can align with that greater vision and embody its presence on behalf of the nature forces. With this in mind, attune through contemplation and imagination to an angel or deva overlighting the Gulf, one who holds the image and vision of the potential and beauty of all the life that’s there and the vision of what this ecosystem can be in its sacredness and wholeness. Here you want to gain the long view, the perspective of centuries and millennia. In attuning to the Gulf and the coastlines where death and damage are occurring, hold an image of these areas in their perfection when healing has taken place. See the area connected and whole. In other words, tune into the template of wholeness held by the vaster consciousnesses and hold the joy and beauty of that template; it forms a matrix around which healing can take place.
These are just some suggestions of things you can do, and they focus on the natural world. But the same suggestions, slightly modified, can be used to hold and bless the humans who are involved and who are being impacted. This goes for the engineers and others trying to repair this situation as much as for those whose livelihoods are being lost or whose health is being affected.
One important thing we can do is to hold the sorrow and grief of this event in our hearts without flinching. This takes courage because it’s a painful thing to do. And it takes wisdom and strength to hold that pain without being overwhelmed or constricted by it. Becoming despondent or despairing doesn’t help, but standing in solidarity with the people and creatures that are being affected and not turning away in denial can be very helpful.
From an inner standpoint, it means our Light is available as needed. No pun intended, but there is a gulf between where our society and our collective human consciousness are at the moment and where they need to be to fashion a world that is sustainable and that works for the benefit of all species of life. To write off this tragedy as “just another oil spill” and part of the price for doing “business as usual,” is to lose an opportunity to recognize the need to revision ourselves and our world and to move in a different, more holistic direction. If this tragedy has a deeper meaning, I believe it manifests in how we can seize this opportunity. (A new book that looks at how we can make this change in a most positive and creative way is Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth, by Juliet B. Schor, an environmental economist; I highly recommend it.)
Many years ago a friend of mine was involved in drilling oil wells in Louisiana. One day he gave me a small bottle of crude oil brought up from a mile or so under the earth. I was interested to see that it had a reddish color, which made me think of the way many indigenous peoples refer to oil as the blood of the earth. In many spiritual traditions, the spilling of blood in sacrifice is considered transformative. Perhaps we might see this oil spill as Gaia spilling her blood to effect a transformation in our consciousnesses that we may learn to truly think like a planet and to care for the world that sustains us. If so, my prayer is that this sacrifice is not being made in vain. ~David Spangler
David's Desk is an opportunity to share thoughts and tools for the spiritual journey. These letters are David Spangler's personal insights and opinions and do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian [the spiritual community he founded] or of Lorian as a whole. If you wish to share this letter with others, please feel free to do so; however the material is ©2010 by David Spangler. If you no longer wish to receive these letters please let us know at info@Lorian.org. Previous issues of "David's Desk" are posted on our website.
David will be speaking at Meditation Mount in Ojai, California, July 9-10, 2010. For other opportunities to study with him in the Fall, visit our website at: http://www.Lorian.org
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