Ancient Wisdom Can be a Modern Tool
We live in times where everything from computers, car travel, airplanes, concrete buildings and other trappings of modern life disconnect us from nature.
I do not recommend getting rid of all these things and going back to a simpler time. The genie can’t be put back in the bottle, but there is a danger in this disconnect that must be addressed.
Modern technology has caused humanity to see ourselves as separate from each other and our environment. Signs show that we are acting on this separation in our daily lives by living for self-indulgences and entertainment while ignoring important greater realities.
This disconnect has caused us to dangerously disregard the consequences of our personal or collective actions. It leads to many modern-day problems such as peak oil, global climate change, crime, poverty, poor health (in both modern and developing nations) and the extinction of species.
It is difficult to feel connected to each other and the environment when we are constantly distracted by our cell phones, laptops, televisions and other forms of entertainment. These distractions make it easy to disregard environmental and social injustices which are primarily due to western culture’s consumerist lifestyle.
It is also easy to forget that poor nations are busy merely surviving when we have all we need to live comfortably—enough food, water, heat and a roof over our heads.
Those of us living in richer nations have the ability to make the most impact on these dire straits. The disconnect from each other and nature is an illusion. If others suffer, we will ultimately suffer.
If the planet is suffering, we will suffer too.
In reality, we are all intimately connected to each other and the earth, trees, plants, air and water. Our common survival is inescapably linked together.
We have reached a tipping point and are now faced with two very determining choices. We can reconnect with each other and nature or continue leading our lives wrapped up in our own separate worlds. If we take the first choice, our actions will follow and ultimately take a more positive direction. We will demand that our leaders in government take action for the health of the planet.
If we opt for the latter choice, our decision will require fueling our activities with limited oil reserves. This will either pollute the planet eventually making it unlivable, or cause us to run out of energy after the petroleum party is over in the next 40–50 years. People have faith science will save the day, but as many scholars point out, much of that faith is blind, wishful thinking, and not something to solely rely on.
Mending the disconnect between humans and nature may sound complicated, but ancient cultures knew the secret of how to rekindle this connection. For thousands of years, shamanic journeying has been used to become one with plants, animals and the environment. With this connection comes the realization that we can also shapeshift our dreams and our dreams of a future society, a future world.
By connecting to different parts of nature such as plants, animals, air, and water, we grasp the essential reality of oneness with all things. This is what John Perkins, author of the NY Times best seller, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, had in mind when he coined the term shapeshifting.
Traditional cultures felt the connection to the earth and the heavens in a non-conceptual way. They ate food that nature provided and their ancestors discovered helped people to thrive and survive in the areas where they lived. We have forgotten this wisdom.
We now eat too many processed foods, pesticide/GMO laden plants and animals that are sick and full of chemicals. These foods might as well have come from another planet; they are not conducive to human survival because they do not resemble anything in our natural environment. It is no small wonder that we feel alienated from each other and nature.
People often say you are what you eat. If you eat alien food, alienation is the result.
It is said that solutions to problems start with first identifying the problem. Closely following this first step leads to understanding what you have to do to solve the problem. The last step is taking action. The use of the mind and body together can help us to connect to nature in order to be able to shapeshift our vision of our current world to one of health, peace, prosperity and wellness for all beings that we share the planet with.
To achieve a dream of a better world, ancient wisdom can be a tool for modern times.
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Editorial Assistant: Kimby Maxson / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: elephant journal archives