Back in the 1990s I participated in a weekly psycho-spiritual therapy group. During one session, while sobbing in despair about all the human assaults on the natural world, I let it slip that I considered grizzly bears to be at least as important and deserving as human beings, if not more so. This didn’t seem to be an unwarranted opinion: at that time, there were about 55,000 wild grizzly bears in the world, and over 5 billion human beings. But I was confronted for being in my “lower self,” and the group leader said that I would need to “work on” this belief if I wanted to progress spiritually. At the time, I was so wrung out that I acquiesced in this perspective, but I’ve always regretted that moment when I assented to something I knew was fundamentally untrue.
Now, 30 years later, the number of grizzly bears remains at around 55,000 (the species having long been extirpated from over half of its original range), humans number almost 8 billion, and the entire natural world is on the edge of cascading collapse.
And now I’ll say it, loud and clear. OUR ONGOING DESTRUCTION OF THE BIOSPHERE IS SOMETHING WE HUMANS MUST FACE UP TO AND WORK ON!
Taking our place in Gaia’s Green World must be central to every human endeavor. In the psycho-spiritual realm, we must all aspire to harmonize with the spiritual, energetic forces of Gaia, and stop ignoring or resisting them. The paradigms of every religion, path and social cause need to be recast to attune with Gaia, or we risk having our lives become ever more hollow and inconsequential.
Meditation, for instance: Instead of making an endlessly nuanced study inside our minds, let’s try linking with Gaia’s mind. Yes, we need to calm and empty our own minds enough to be able to do this, but the center of our meditation practice can become connecting with Gaia’s deep, essential being—which of course includes ourselves.
Psychotherapy? The deepest goal of any therapy is to inhabit our own wholeness, our own basic nature. And our true nature is not to be self-satisfied people living successfully in a human-created world. Human nature is Gaia nature. We are organically connected into Gaia’s vast web of life; we are inheritors of Gaia’s infinite green love. In the depths of our being, we yearn to inhabit this reality, not just to momentarily feel better, but to become fully who we are.
Social justice? Lessons in diversity, inclusion and mutual aid are continually modeled by the natural world. Botanists have recently discovered that the growth pattern of desert grasses channels scant rainwater not only to the grasses themselves but to neighboring plants. It’s well-documented that trees of all species help and support each other, while they are all linked and nourished by underground fungi and bacteria. Wild plants and animals live in a selfless world, flowing with something larger and wiser than themselves. To live in harmony and gratitude with our fellow humans, we too must learn this. Together, we can apprentice ourselves to Gaia, the ultimate teacher of unity and interdependence.
We must also acknowledge that becoming participating members of Gaia is to embrace the wisdom of the Underworld—the boundless spiritual realm in the body of the land, all the way to the center of the Earth. Human supremacists blithely denigrate and destroy the natural world in the name of a God and a Heaven “up there.” This out-of-balance, patriarchal doctrine has no place in building reciprocal relationships within Gaia’s web. Let’s begin to celebrate the direction Down, into the Sacred Land, into the realm of the Dark Goddess who holds and directs Gaia’s unquenchable regenerative forces—which we, too, can rightfully partake of.
Perhaps only a tiny number of us seek to live authentic, Gaia-centered lives. But those of us who do are allying with the greatest, most enduring power on this planet—Gaia’s living, balancing, every-renewing Green Force. When we stand firm within this force, we become part of the great transformation that we humans and all life can, together, manifest on Earth. Let’s start right now!