Twenty five years ago, the Aschuar, an ancient indigenous dream culture deep within the Amazon rainforest in South America, began receiving warnings in their dreams. Their ancestral lands were at risk, not only potentially destroying their way of life, but all life, which depends on the rainforest, he lungs on Planet Earth. Receptive people in the North began receiving dreams of people with painted faces. When they eventually met these people, they knew them.
The Pachamama Alliance was born.
At the invitation of both the Aschuar and Sapura people, we set out on a journey in search of wisdom, a journey that would take us into the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest to encounter the wisdom of Pachamama and our own dreams. I’ve always been fascinated by dreams, the unconscious speaking to us and offering insights and so was drawn to this journey.
Pachamama means “Mother Earth” or more precisely “life force of mother earth.”
The mission of Pachamama Alliance is to empower indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest to preserve their lands and culture and, using insights gained from that work, to educate and inspire individuals everywhere to change the dream of the North–to bring forth a thriving, just and sustainable world.
Inventory of Fears
The journey into the Amazon at the invitation of these people really began the minute Loretta and I decided to go. In retrospect the time of preparation was just as significant as the journey itself.
We were encouraged to keep a journal. Before the trip I wrote this:
“This journey is meant to be about LOVE not FEAR. But if I am honest with myself, I am pushing aside real fears.
I’m afraid of not knowing how to communicate when I do not know the language.
I’m afraid of being bitten by mosquitos and contracting malaria
I’m afraid of Anacondas, Caymen and Piranha in the river
I’m afraid of feeling foolish and self-conscious… having to slog through mud
I’m afraid of coming face to face with the fact that I love the ideal of Mother Earth more than the actual muddy bug-infested connection with Earth
To give myself a little credit, I am trying to release all expectation”
Just in case, I install Google Translate Spanish Version on my iPhone.
Before we left California, I lost my keys, our hotel reservation was mixed up, I got us lost in the hotel parking lot on the way to the airport it was as if dream time was reaching out to me and I hadn’t even boarded the airplane yet.
A jungian once told me: “when the true self emerges… ego takes a hit” So the trip was starting on the right foot.
Human commerce is fundamentally destroying the biosphere (as we have known it) on our small blue planet….. So, The Sacred Universe story can remind us that each of our stories, is a paragraph in this larger story. In other words, it’s our story too… it’s one story (uni-verse) that continues.
We Have Been Here Before.
We can take solace in what has happened to us thus far. Many times in this epic story, on this very planet, the whole experiment of life could have ended.
For example, nearly 2.5 billion years ago on planet Earth, a noxious gas, generated by some of the earliest life forms, poisoned the atmosphere and threatened all life. It even etched the rocks! Life on Earth hung by a thread. Would the story end right then and there, leaving this planet as a dead rock floating in oblivion?
The gas was oxygen. It was literally burning cells up from the inside. So, life got creative. Mitochondria were born—first as stand-alone creatures, then as a subset of other creatures. Mitochondria turned oxygen into fuel to further the adventure of life. Creativity saved the day.
That wasn’t the first or the last time all life on Earth would be threatened.
There was the time 65 million years ago, when an asteroid hit Earth, filling the skies with smoke and debris so thick it blocked out all sunlight… fully destroying the dominant form of life on earth (dinosaurs) and threatening all life. At that time, the creativity of small mammals allowed the story of life on Earth to continue…. Once again, Creativity triumphed. Life survived.
Then there was that time in the early 21st century… how does that part go? In this chapter, humans create a crisis for life on Earth by changing the chemistry of planet earth’s atmosphere. Human forms of commerce and the species proliferation is so destructive, that another mass-extinction begins an unraveling of the very web that sustains all life on Earth.
What happens next will depend on whether or not the humans get creative.
Our Great Work
Thomas Berry further suggests that humans are called and guided to a Great Work: and that everyone, without exception, has a role. Each generation has their own Great Work. The Great Work of our time is to remember our interconnection and to bring humans back into right relationship with the living systems of Planet Earth before it is too late. He proposes that we not only have the capacity to turn our own situation around, we each have a unique role that only we can play.
To do so, we must reach into our deepest knowing, wisdom and creativity, to each discover and live our own passion and our own paragraph in Earth’s unfolding story.
We are miracles, after all. Together we make up a living system on a small blue planet in an infinite dark sea of space. If that isn’t miracle enough, as a result of these transformations, we now see and imagine that original flaring forth nearly 14 billion years later. We are energy transformed… contemplating the very first energy that flared forth.
We are story telling a story.
But we are living it too, and it’s not easy to tell it and live it at the same time.
We do know this: we need to get creative! Not the kind of creativity that produces plastic lawn furniture or plants that do not reproduce. But really creative. So creative that humans everywhere awaken to their dream—their sacred creative force.
Awakening the Dreamer
Humanity’s Great Work is to both remember our part in this story, and to reimagine and restore our connection with the web of life. Our work is to create an environmentally sustainable, socially just, and spiritually fulfilling human presence on the planet. Our personal Great Work lies at the intersection of our deepest joy, the world’s need and our unique gifts and genius, and it’s part of the Great Work of our time.
We are stardust transformed over 13.7 billion years. Each and every one of us is called to connect with our inner life force and with the needs of Earth and her inhabitants. We must understand both who we are and what is ours to do at this moment in Earth’s history.
If the humans are to be a part of Earth’s story moving forward, then awake and creative human beings will be the reason why.
Form this moment forward, it is time to awaken the dreamer and create a new dream, a New Story.
Individual actions matter–and they add up. And large policy issues matter, and so writing and calling policymakers in important.
But our whole human economic system needs to change! We need ways to successfully disrupt the destructive economic systems and ways to challenge dominant thought-patterns and change the cultural story. We can’t do this with only those above two levels of action.
Luckily, there are two more levels of action where real change happens. Will Grant and the Pachamama Alliance shares how this works.
Pachamama Alliance recently interviewed author Paul Hawken on the topic of why it is important to set a goal to REVERSE global warming–and how that is possible. He asks a provocative question: What if global warming is happening for us? What if it isn’t a fight against at all, but a call to a deeper understanding?
In his book Drawdown, scientists offer a rigorosly researched solutions for reversing Global Warming. Most are already underway. We are on this! Let’s accelerate it