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Who sees all beings in his own Self, and his own Self in all beings, loses all fear. – Isha Upanishad
Fear drives too many of our actions. In fear, we become territorial – at work, in our communities, about our ideas, even as nations. We are afraid of people who are not like us, afraid of animals, insects, afraid of the woods, the sun. Our fears isolate us, even though we are often most afraid of being alone.
The Lakota prayer, Mitakuye Oyasin means All My Relations. This simple, profound, two-word prayer reminds us about the sacredness of all Life – the trees, the animals, even the rocks and soil. It doesn’t leave anyone or anything out. We are all related. ‘I am in all beings and all beings are in me’.
Yet, we don’t treat the world this way. The foods and products we consume create unimaginable suffering for animals. Forests are clear-cut and mountain tops blasted apart with little regard for their inherent sacredness. The policies of the powerful compel those with the least power to fight one another over the crumbs. And the ones who suffer and need compassion the most are often the most reviled and rejected.
Many of us are waking up. We sense a shift in ourselves that is mirroring a shift in collective consciousness. We can no longer sit idly by. We are protesting, volunteering, transforming. Millennials of the world feel it especially and in many cases are living more communal, sustainable lives than their parents’ generation. Well aware of the numbing effects of mass media, these young parents are taking steps to protect their own children’s innocence and innate love for the natural world.
Animals seem to be changing too, or at least our ideas about them. Numerous studies are describing new patterns of behavior in cross-species cooperation, ‘tool’ use, cognition and consciousness. And we are learning that trees and plants ‘think’ and cooperate in ways we never imagined. Rocks and mountains carry our collective memory in their sedimentary layers and fossil records. Oceans, the moon, and the stars, whisper to us of wonders and farther frontiers.
In this edition of Kosmos Online, we ponder All My Relations. Some of these ideas ask us to stretch our notions of what is rational and scientific and to feel instead what is true. How many of us, for example, have been told that our beloved pets ‘can’t understand us’, yet know with certainty they understand us completely!
Wherever you are, take a moment right now to breathe in the Life around you. Truly, life is a gift, and you are a gift to all beings.
Your Kosmos Team
Dear Reader is written by Kosmos digital editor Rhonda Fabian. Please direct all correspondence regarding Kosmos Online to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By John Jeremiah Sullivan, via Lapham’s Quarterly
These are stimulating times for anyone interested in questions of animal consciousness. On what seems like a monthly basis, scientific teams announce the results of new experiments, adding to a preponderance of evidence that we’ve been underestimating animal minds, even those of us who have rated them fairly highly. New animal behaviors and capacities are observed in the wild, often involving tool use—or at least object manipulation—the very kinds of activity that led the distinguished zoologist Donald R. Griffin to found the field of cognitive ethology (animal thinking) in 1978.
By Liz Bentley, via The Mind Unleashed
Throughout history, the concept of Mother Earth has been a part of human culture in one form or another. Everybody has heard of Mother Earth, but have you ever stopped to think who (or what) Mother Earth is? Contrary to the common belief that the Earth is simply a dense planet whose only function is a resource for its inhabitants, our planet is in fact a breathing, living organism. When we think of the Earth holistically, as one living entity of its own, instead of the sum of its parts, it takes on a new meaning. Our planet functions as a single organism that maintains conditions necessary for its survival.
by Mark Kernan, via Maptia.com
In 1937 George Orwell said that coal mining was the ‘metabolism’ of western civilisation. What he meant by this striking metaphor was that coal was the catalyst for an earlier industrial revolution, just as enzymes act as the life-sustaining catalyst within the cells of living organisms to maintain life. If he were alive today though he would have good cause to reformulate his perceptive observation. For modern mining-the extraction of oil, gas and rich minerals, and including, again, coal-is now the alchemic catalyst driving the metabolism of 21st century economic globalization.
By Danu Forest
Cultures around the world testify to the existence of spirit beings of many forms, and every major religion and spiritual path has its accompanying otherworldly or supernatural intelligences. From angels to ghosts, demons to devas, despite modern western skepticism, the world to most humans abounds with spirits, seen and unseen, which can effect all of our lives in both subtle and dramatic ways. Of course every culture puts their own unique spin on what these beings actually are, but it can be said that they loosely correspond to three different areas of existence, what modern Druidry and the Celtic tradition refer to as the three realms, Annwn- the world below, Abred, the middle world of physical and human affairs, and Gwynfed, ‘the white life’ the upper world or heavens. All three realms are a natural part of existence and it could therefore be argued that all spirits, including our own, are nature spirits.
By Dr. Rama Mani, Co-Founder, Rising Women Rising World; Founder, Theatre of Transformation
Let Us Seek Refuge
As we watch them flee their homelands
Battered by bombs we sold their leaders
Impoverished by markets that made us rich
As we then rush to bolt our borders
Let us halt
And look into the mirrors of their eyes
Image: Animal Council, Sketch by G Rotman, 1922
By Susan Eirich, Earthfire Institute
Asking how we can help “birth a new story for humanity” will lead us astray. A more useful and very exciting question is how to help birth a new story for Life on Earth, within which humanity is embedded. We need to think larger than humanity.
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