We are living in a time of turmoil for the Earth. Species extinction, deforestation, climate change, rising sea levels, and many other problems face the planet we call home.
These problems are a result of the way modern society exploits the Earth and her resources—the way we relate to the Earth as separate, non-living, and unlimited.
I believe that we can transform our relationship to the Earth. Instead of seeing the Earth as outside ourselves, we can see the Earth as our extended body, our home. Perhaps then, we would take care of her the way we would take care of our own body.
Learning from Indigenous Wisdom
We, in the modern world, are learning from the wisdom of the indigenous people that our sense of separation is an illusion. “You,” “me,” “this,” “that”—our linear, rational mind allows us to make important distinctions needed for living in this world, but we can learn to see beyond those dichotomies that we impose on it.
From this perspective, we can more easily see that we are a part of the Earth, and not separate.
How the Achuar People See Our Place in the World
Ten years ago, when I was in the Amazon Jungle staying at Kapawi ecolodge, I was talking with a young man who served us food and was preparing to go on a fourteen-day trek through the jungle to visit his parents.
He would hike for seven days to get there and then spend one night with parents, who he had not seen for a year, and then return for a seven-day hike back through the jungle.
Given that the day before I had seen an enormous snake, and had heard tales of jaguars, I asked him about how he was feeling about his trip. Was he scared? Where would he sleep?
The jungle was part of him. Image: Deb Dowd
This beautiful being lived in a different paradigm than I did. For him, the environment of the jungle was part of him. He respected the animals he would encounter, the water, the rain, the trees were all part of his consciousness and awareness to respect and appreciate. There was no fear.
How to Shift Our Perspective
To truly embody the idea that we are all one, we require ‘vision,’ which is much more than seeing.
To achieve vision of the intricate web of energy that connects us all requires a transformational shift in our being.
We can align our intention with a vision to enable us to experience a force of love, a universal source of energy that allows us to gain access beyond our usual thinking mind.
For some it is easy to intellectualize how each action impacts everything else, exemplifying our interconnectedness.
For others, embodying qualities such as curiosity, clarity, creativity, compassion, courage, confidence, and being calm can create the space for having this vision.
The world we live in constantly reinforces separation and fear, and we repeatedly deal with our conditioned patterns that tell us separation is real. Because of this, we must work hard to maintain our insights and breakthroughs and “stay transformed.”
I have learned that there is no permanent enlightenment. Enlightenment is a temporary experience that needs to be renewed constantly both individually and through the community of teachers, elders and healers we surround ourselves in.
We, in the modern world, are learning to respect our body, live in our body as “home.”
We are learning to “see” the environment as ourselves. We are learning the reality of the total interconnection and unity of life and energy despite the multiplicity and forms of manifestation.
We can help this learning process along in all kinds of ways. For instance: if we stop using the word environment, we would stop reinforcing the idea that it is something outside ourselves.
Meditation on Interconnectedness
Let’s practice seeing our “self” living outside:
Our human body is made up of nearly eighty percent water. The Earth is made up of a similar percentage of water.
Our body uses lungs to breathe. Our Earth uses trees and other natural ways to breathe.
Keep going. Make up ways of interpreting what you see outside as a reflection of your Self.
Watch your judgmental/analytical mind measuring exactness. Notice that tendency and let it be. Like a poet or a lover, allow your self to blend and merge your awareness about the outside world in ways that increase your capacity to feel connected.
We Are All One Body
Many of us experience longing, fear, and loneliness as a result of our illusion of separation. What if the separation was all part of the healing journey back to recognizing there is no environment?
Mother Earth Gaia is us, we are Mother Earth. There is no outside. That is all illusionary as well. Inside, outside is all the dualistic part of the modern daydream we are working with to get to “We are ONE BODY.”