Mixed Media Video


The storm is always with us now
And visibility is poor,
While the world loses color,
While the gray rain blurs the lines between us,
I would meet with you
For one heartfelt honest moment
To stand together
Beside the unpaved roads of tomorrow
And listen beyond our human voice
To the Earth
As she quietly turns away,
and know it is time for us
to listen and decide

I would tell you
In these vague
Unraveling days of aftermath,
I have heard the wind speaking in tongues,
A presence
As restless as fire,
As sad and certain as the sea
Trying to make contact,
Straining to invade my sleep,
Straining to pierce the glaze of small talk
And endless cups of coffee,
Pressing up against the tedious rooms of my daily life
Where I am busy and working and busy and tired…
And yet, and even then
It would still reach into my heart
With its troubled language
To summon me towards perception
As if to say…Observe!
Behold the momentums of your history!

Bleak with the ghostlands of cities and forests,
Bleak with the trillion bitter choices
That have left you here
In the scorched air
And rusted meadows
Where thinning creatures come to bathe
Amidst the dying light

Have you wrestled with this too?
And somehow known
It was time for massive change,
Time for us to empty our pockets
Of all the angry coins:
Revenge and war,
Politics and greed
And stand outside the storyline
That holds us hostage,
Free to jettison its toxic prizes
And frantic hardware,
Free to stand simply again
United, still,
To fathom the enormity
Of who we truly are
And what we may have lost

I would go with you then
Out beyond the
Graveyards of the lost cities
To pause with you,
Pause and look up,
Up past skylines and fitful air,
Up where the unfinished night
Twists against the sky,
Where stars, like dice, are hurled
Against the mystery
And miracles are born
And squandered

And know
It is time for all the world
To stand together and feel the universe
Unfolding all around
And hear the streaming fingertips
Of light calling out
From galaxies far away
For us to look!
And be aware
That the great curvature of forces
Stands poised in fragile balance
Awaiting our decision
To listen and decide

In this time of rain
When seasons seem disfigured
The wind is loud and unrelenting,
Come from mountains
Come from mystery
Spreading out
Through star-struck sleepless nights
To prowl against our hearts
To speak to us in dreams
And wake us from this deadly sleep

And know
That the long arc of consequence
Has finally arrived
And chosen us
To be the final word
The last defense
To kneel down beside this wounded miracle
To listen and befriend

For the Earth is turning,
Turning back
Towards the terrifying beauty of creation
Where she was born,
Where all is still

And she will turn away from us forever
Unless we can decide,
With our backs against the void,
To begin again
With courage and with love
To undo what has been done

So come…
Come as close as you dare
And let us go together

The storm is always with us now
And visibility is poor

This is the time for vision
And there are those
Who do not see.

About Thomas Lane

Growing up in Connecticut, Thomas Lane was drawn to spaces where street, sky, and spirit intersect. His art takes many forms: a CD of his songs (Hotel Earth), a nonfiction book (The Artists’ Manifesto) and poetry. He has also written a spiritual thriller (The Karma Factor), optioned by Hollywood. It is currently being adapted for a feature film.

Thomas is the Founder/President of a 501c3 that works with the homeless. (

Read more

Realigning with Earth Wisdom

Introduction Editorial

Realigning with Earth Wisdom

The wisdom of the Earth belongs to all Life, is all Life, encoded in our DNA. It is the wordless, fathomless reality of being. First, there are the phenomena we encounter with our senses. Rain and the way it smells, birdsong at dawn, the glittering dew, the summer breeze. Everyday gifts offered by the Earth, if we are available to receive them.

Deeper looking reveals the wisdom of living cells and the elegant processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration, essential to all Life. Photosynthesis requires carbon dioxide and releases oxygen, cellular respiration requires oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. The products of one process are the reactants of the other, an elemental pas de deux of breathtaking consequence. Earth further expresses her wisdom in the way all the elements of an ecosystem cooperate and contribute. And in the way the veins in your hand resemble the branches of a tree, a watershed, a leaf.

All sentient beings are expressions of Earth wisdom, and in this edition of Kosmos, you will find the wisdom of the elephant and the hummingbird, indigenous wisdom, the wisdom of the farmer, the mystic, the scientist. Tree wisdom. Ocean wisdom. Glacier wisdom. And so, when we talk about Realigning with Earth Wisdom, we mean coming home to our true nature, as Earth. Because every civilization that ever was, every invention, every idea, every breath, has arisen from one body, our planetary home.

As clever as humans may be, we have repressed much of our innate Earth wisdom. Yet, at last, we are beginning to re-member our place in the story of the Universe. As science reveals what many wisdom traditions have known all along – the reality of our interbeing – we now have the capacity to align our ideas and systems more closely with the rhythms and requirements of the Earth. To do so, as our authors so beautifully explain, will require healing centuries of trauma, alchemizing suffering into love, and applying regenerative principles into our designs and systems. That’s the transformation we need and it begins in our minds.

Our collective consciousness truly shapes our reality. Imagine a room of a hundred people. They are enraged and filled with anger, hatred and greed. What reality will they create? Now, the same room. But each of the hundred people is loving and kind. They share ideas and resources with openness and joy – they embody Earth wisdom. What possibilities might emerge?

We all know the Earth is in danger, yet we act as though our consciousness and actions have nothing to do with that. Yes, it is true – without humans, the Earth would recover in time. And maybe there is solace in knowing that Earth would bring forth new forms, as magnificent as the dinosaurs and the humans in some distant time. But we are a young species, with a duty to explore our full potential and to take care of the Earth body, as our own.

Contributing to this transformation of collective consciousness is the mission of Kosmos. We stand on the side of Life – all Life everywhere. And we are dedicated to deepening our understanding and capacity to witness Earth’s boundless beauty and steward it. We take refuge in the wonders of Mother Earth in order to refresh and strengthen our resolve to confront the very great tasks ahead. Mother Earth is there for us, inside all of us, urging us to live, to be Life.

It is a delight to share the insights of our writers and artists with you. Enjoy Realigning with Earth Wisdom.

In loving service,

R. Fabian

About the Cover

The Watchers: Ancient Ones, is by visual Hermetic philosopher Leigh McCloskey. Visitors from all over the world make the pilgrimage to visit his home, Olandar and tour his masterwork of fixed 3D multidimensionality and symbolical meaning, The Hieroglyph of the Human Soul or THOTHS library.

Leigh McCloskey’s work is presented in two separate galleries in our summer edition, a Kosmos first! Gallery 1 presents work from Olandar andTHOTHS library.

An innate polymath, Leigh engaged in a seventeen-year effort to create Tarot ReVisioned, considered one of the most important contributions to the field in 100 years. Gallery 2 presents a Kosmos ‘reading’ of five archetypes for our time created by Leigh.

About Rhonda Fabian

Rhonda Fabian is Editor of Kosmos Quarterly. She is also a founding partner of Immediacy Learning, a global educational media company that has created more than 2000 educational programs, impacted 30 million+ learners, and garnered numerous awards. Ms. Fabian is an ordained member in the Order of Interbeing, an international Buddhist community founded by her teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh.

Read more

Hermetic Wisdom and the Attributes of Our Time

Gallery Archetypes

Hermetic Wisdom and the Attributes of Our Time

“To believe is to reflect, to know is to penetrate” Robert Fludd

Tarot ReVisioned began in 1986 as the creation of a few pen and ink tarot drawings for a friend’s journal. It grew over seventeen years organically into something altogether surprising and revealing, not to mention beautiful. It is an instrument and tool of greatest value for those journeying into the deep waters of imagination and the dark often hidden complexities of one’s often troubled psyche and soul.  The book, Tarot ReVisioned, evolved over these many years through a process of creatively and diligently asking questions about the nature of consciousness and exploring the implications of archetypal and eternal imagination with art and Hermetic Alchemical symbolism. What has emerged is a hard won doorway into worlds of wonder and profound meaning. Its purpose is to open the doors of perception, cultivating inner tools for navigating waking reality and mending the troubled inner self by bridging it with true imagination, archetype and the symbolical universes that can help aid the world we think as ours with greater vision and inspiration.

The archetypal philosophy of Tarot ReVisioned creates the intellectual and creative tools necessary to move human consciousness beyond a model of self as psychologically limited or religiously incomplete. It establishes links with perennial wisdom, tradition, history and humanity’s multidimensional origins and creative adventure through worlds of time and space.

the waning…

Judgement, (below)

The archetype of Judgement leads toward catharsis or purgation of impurities that pollute the psyche with hatreds, contempt, and blame. It is unconcerned with self- righteousness or seeming innocence. The world stage is not a solitary place. Every action creates a reaction. Nothing is left unaffected by the wake of any person’s ignorance or desire for dominance at the expense of another…The negative path of the divine fire attributed to Judgment is exemplified in the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bringing World War II to a close…It is the historical misuse of the rational mind to justify inhuman and monstrous injustices perpetrated by one group against another that inflames the wrath of Judgment.

the apparent…

The Moon, (left)

Natural intelligence is the mode of consciousness attributed to the Moon, suggesting the underlying guiding intelligence alive within all organic forms…From an observer on earth, the Moon has the same relative proportion as the sun, which symbolically suggests that the emotional or lunar nature is bound by the gravitational pull of each person’s sense of self…Lunar awareness brings with it the insight that being is a living force which experiences itself in time through cycles, repetition, death, and rebirth, but most importantly, through symbiosis. To learn the wisdom of the Moon, a natural, rather than conditioned humanity must be cultivated

the present…

The Magus, (above)

Authentic knowledge and the basis of wisdom does not change. Its roots are eternal and in alignment with the inner nature of all that is. The Magus holds the key that unlocks the hidden mystery and depth of human potentiality and creativity. Those who wish to embrace the source of their own being must first be willing to forgo opinion and learn to listen to the guidance of the Magus. He translates timeless wisdom through the wonders of nature and within one’s heart, revealing the majesty of creation and the divine source from which all emerges. The Magus signifies the proper balance of the dual aspects of intellect, bridging the analytical function of reason with the creative qualities of inspiration and invention. The two working together develop true discrimination, which is then able to exercise informed freedom of choice.

the emergent…

The Wheel, (above)

The Wheel is an ancient symbol of life used to represent the wheel of karma, the revolution of birth, life, death and rebirth. The Wheel of Fortune represents the energetic interaction of all manifestation, and teaches that there is no point where one has arrived or can remain fixed. Every experience or insight is an ongoing process that continues to follow its own course of expansion and transformation. The circle suggests that existence is not a straight line, but an ever-existent curve. Stagnation or ceasing to change equals death. Everything is in constant movement from the subatomic to the molecular and chemical, from the galactic to the universal. Rotation, contraction, and expansion or inhaling and exhaling constitute a most fundamental principle of life.

the unseen…

The High Priestess, (right)

The High Priestess represents the great cosmic mother and sea from which emanates omnipresent tidal forces that contain the source and fullness of infinite potentialities. Her eternal currents sustain and nourish all realities, realms, and levels of consciousness. She is the divine Sophia, nascent cosmic memory and wisdom at the root of all consciousness and being…Restoring the wisdom of the High Priestess unlocks the mysteries that reside within the human heart and mind. Its depths can only be detected in a wholly original and subjective fashion by those who are willing to persevere, seek profoundly, and love greatly. The High Priestess reveals that most of what is truly eternal remains veiled to human comprehension because of the limiting nature of time and space. Timelessness cannot be comprehended if it takes time to do so. The High Priestess teaches one to recognize that this world is brief, one’s sojourn upon the earth passes in the blink of an eye. The key to her path is in learning to be fearless in the quest to reclaim one’s true inheritance. Her influence enables the individual to awaken within the context of time to his true origins that are eternal and can only be discovered within the inner sanctum of the heart.

About Leigh J McCloskey

Leigh J McCloskey is a modern Renaissance man; he is an artist, author, well-known actor and visual philosopher. His highly creative life has been devoted to exploring the symbolical, archetypal and hidden aspects of the psyche and inner self through his art, scholarship, books and experiences as a professional actor for many years. He has hosted weekly discussion groups in his home, Olandar, for over 39 years. His deep knowledge ranges from arcane wisdom, religion, depth psychology and quantum physics to the mythic imagination and the creation of art. He is the founder of Olandar Foundation for Emerging Renaissance (OFFER) and gives regular tours of his art and home, Olandar

Leigh lectures both nationally and internationally and has given numerous talks and presentations of his art and visual philosophy. Many are available on youtube. He has contributed numerous essays on topics ranging from William Blake and the Heroic Imagination, the Archetypal Tarot & the Kabbalah, to Jacob Boehme and Theosophical Thought. He has written, illustrated and published seven books, including his masterpiece of art and writing, Tarot ReVisioned, reviewed as possibly the most significant contribution the tradition in over 100 years.
Feature in Sanctuary Magazine

Read more

Emerging Renaissance | The Art and Wisdom of Leigh J McCloskey

Gallery Consciousness

Emerging Renaissance | The Art and Wisdom of Leigh J McCloskey

Olandar and The Hieroglyph of the Human Soul

Leigh’s home is named, Olandar.

On 9-11-01 Leigh McCloskey began painting the floor of his home library studio, The Hieroglyph of the Human Soul, (acronym: THOTHS). It is in 3D and has grown to cover the walls, ceiling, furniture and books creating a fully immersive mythic-domestic environment that tells the story through art of the deeper purpose and meaning of the human pilgrimage and finding our way home, together.

Photo of Leigh by Dana Tynan

The whole growth and process initially began with a series of large oil paintings that Leigh McCloskey had executed over a twelve year period, all examining the proposition of Universe as Organism. These paintings now hang from the ceiling of The Hieroglyph, like great archetypal portals. One of these works, Phoenix Arise, forms a holographic DNA-double helix that in turn creates holographic wheels or mandalas and becomes the basis of infinite worlds and entities when fractalized.
Phoenix Arise

Selections, ‘Universe As Organism’

Artist’s Statement

Mighty visionary souls are arising within these emerging generations who simply need to be reminded of the YES of life and the artistry of their own consciousness.

We are what we assume ourselves capable of becoming.

We have not yet arrived at the true model of human consciousness – we are only experiencing one variation on a theme of infinite human potentialities. The outer world arises from our matrices of assumptions, fears and expectations. All realities are energetic patterns fixed by the mental gravitational fields of individual beliefs and collective mind and will.

A new world mind is growing, like so many blades of grass through the concrete of human tyrannies old and new. The post 9-11 world is proving that it cannot solve its problems and so we must begin to plant seeds of creative possibility for future generations. Like modern Noahs we are now beginning to build individual philosophical arks, such as Olandar, into which we gather all that ennobles our human adventure.

The emerging renaissance is growing all around us. It is the yet untold story of our mythic humanity, nobility and wisdom. It is time we weave together this better story of our human heritage. Renaissance begins not by trying to change the world of others, but by changing our own world, by reclaiming the sacred and intimate, the beautiful and holy from generalized thought and its angry empty gods of form. In so doing we become self-defining, and consciously choose to embody our better knowing and more loving ideas. Ideas are freedom.

The path of wisdom’s way is eternal. Seed patterns and energetic intention are forever being sown, so that time can be used to heal and create rather than to divide and destroy. We are master artists of consciousness awakening again within our human forms. Time falls away and meaning reemerges. Creativity is called forth to heal humanity’s lack of vision. We are the storytellers of this epoch whose lives reflect mythic meaning expressed through intimacy, living with integrity, family, philosophical inquiry and boundless curiosity.

One of the most important factors heralding the birth pangs of the coming renaissance is the widespread disconnect from secular and religious authority and its apologists. This fundamental dissatisfaction is soul-deep in many, who are mostly silent and keep their true faith in Love private. This redefining process is and will be affecting all religions in coming times.

An alternative vision of human consciousness is rising like a great tide. It will reclaim the characters and stories that reveal the sacred in our nature. Archetypal revelation and wonder will retell the familiar in unexpected ways to aid in the alignment between our outer knowledge and inner voice of conscience. The coming pattern of the Human Form Divine is about rebirth and access, not personal psychology and progress.

We must learn to think for ourselves again, and like children re-learn everything we have been taught to assume. This is not an intellectual exercise; this is a profound point of change. Transformation, not belief, is the basis of the work ahead. Re-visioning our understanding of ourselves and what beauty and truth we believe ourselves worthy of honoring is an absolute necessity.

The emerging renaissance examines and reveals a fundamentally different vision of who and what we are and why we exist. The simplest expression of the understanding is that inner voice of conscience that says yes, yes, be true to yourself, love even when scoffed at and dream profound dreams because this is yours to do and to become.

All gardens are grown, especially those of sacred mind. The more one learns to heed the voice of conscience and the quiet prompting of the heart, the closer true change comes to all humankind. True knowledge is a seed planted in each of us and it is time to nurture this seed. Now we begin, it is always thus. Alignment, not doubt, is the key of wisdom that opens the doors of perception. This is the way of the Human Form Divine and coming renaissance. -Leigh J McCloskey

Cover Image | Sophia Emerging from the Depths of the Hieroglyph of the Human Soul


The Hieroglyph of the Human Soul

The Hieroglyph, as it grows engulfs all objects from couch to computer, from lamp to cabinet and chairs. All forms become the canvas and fixed ground of the imagination. Here a couch is still a couch, but it is also a painting, a cosmos and living waters. Its images become part of a synthesis of all objects, paintings and books that comprise the greater entity environment of the wonderstudy that constitutes The Hieroglyph.

About Leigh J McCloskey

Leigh J McCloskey is a modern Renaissance man; he is an artist, author, well-known actor and visual philosopher. His highly creative life has been devoted to exploring the symbolical, archetypal and hidden aspects of the psyche and inner self through his art, scholarship, books and experiences as a professional actor for many years. He has hosted weekly discussion groups in his home, Olandar, for over 39 years. His deep knowledge ranges from arcane wisdom, religion, depth psychology and quantum physics to the mythic imagination and the creation of art. He is the founder of Olandar Foundation for Emerging Renaissance (OFFER) and gives regular tours of his art and home, Olandar

Leigh lectures both nationally and internationally and has given numerous talks and presentations of his art and visual philosophy. Many are available on youtube. He has contributed numerous essays on topics ranging from William Blake and the Heroic Imagination, the Archetypal Tarot & the Kabbalah, to Jacob Boehme and Theosophical Thought. He has written, illustrated and published seven books, including his masterpiece of art and writing, Tarot ReVisioned, reviewed as possibly the most significant contribution the tradition in over 100 years.
Feature in Sanctuary Magazine

Read more

Listening to our Hearts

Article Grief

Listening to our Hearts

Witnessing the terrible harm that human beings are inflicting on our world (accelerating climate instability, a pandemic that is crushing human society, the unspeakable suffering of beings with whom we share our home), many find the coils of pessimism tightening around them.

How easy it is to tell ourselves that the deniers must wake up to reality; that they must do what we have already done. But a more difficult question is beginning to form in me: Can I find it in my heart to strike out on my own, whatever the evidence?

Image | Thomas Bower

Why must I find this potential in my heart? Because my head doesn’t know how to embrace the future, unless it sees a path leading straight ahead.

My head does a good job ‘making up’ my familiar world and my heart works tirelessly to coordinate 30 billion cells, along with the organs and senses that they populate. But is this biological organ the same heart that knows sadness and love? And don’t we need the mind to realize our heart’s desire, as clouds need wind to reach the distant mountains?

My mind always seems to be preoccupied with practical matters and doesn’t seem to notice that our world is bobbing up and down like a cork in the boundless firmament. When it comes to the most important issues, my thinking mind seems oblivious to anything for which it doesn’t already have ready-made concepts.

The other morning, I received an answer to a question that my thinking mind couldn’t have asked. Now I don’t want to hand that insight over to a mind that can only identify things in terms of what is already familiar. This time, I want to know what my heart feels about it.

What was the unasked question to which a response flowed into me unbidden? I was feeling a connection between my head and heart, and my throat and gut (the four main chakras in many spiritual traditions). All four felt connected and it was then that a question appeared: “Is there a soul in here?

The pleasant sensations were familiar, but this wondering was not.

I wasn’t looking for an eternal spirit to announce itself, like the tinkling of a lost set of keys. I felt no need to locate something new inside my body, although I felt very present there. My mind simply took its hands off the wheel and relinquished control.

Now another question is surfacing. Where can I place my hopes for a brighter future? Over the past two years, I have had some experience of loss, and it has been in the shadow of that loss that I have most deeply felt my kinship with the soul of humanity.

Since the death of my son two years ago, and in the ways that I have tried to fill the emptiness he left behind, I have encountered a yearning to discover a soul inside me; since only then can I believe that my son, Jon, sailed away safely in his.

Grief is teaching me that in order to go on living, I need to nurture forgiveness for the past, respect for myself and others in the present, and a flickering flame of courage with which to face the future. I cannot do that unless I give up the sterile practice of blame; for when I blame others, I lose the ability to collaborate with them; and when I blame myself, I lose the strength to care for myself and for this beautiful world.

During the decades that I tried to help people afflicted with neuromuscular diseases (MS and ALS), I felt I was doing what I could to live a meaningful life. I even felt that I was embodying the Buddhist maxim: “Wisdom and compassion are like the two wings of a bird” (a bird that needs two wings to fly: one — a mind that sees we are bobbing in a sea where nothing lasts; and the other — a heart that cares for this sad world all the more because nothing in it lasts to nurture the beings who live here).

We can take a lesson in impermanence from Mother Earth. Trees lose their leaves and do not despair; trusting that our spinning planet will once more bring new life their way.

I take a lesson from the decades when my friend, Foster, who suffered from ALS, and with whom I co-founded Friends in Time, lived courageously with the hand he had been dealt. His example inspired the rest of us (staff, volunteers and clients); and now I too have an opportunity to embrace a future that is reeling from a devastating body blow.

In searching for a new model to follow, in my remaining days on Earth — as the health of our world flickers and tries to catch light — I take heart from the courage and creativity of those who are showing the rest of us how we too can live.

Human beings who have walked on this Earth have discovered that nothing is separated from anything else. They have understood that no chasm separates the one looking from the lost sheep for whose return we long. But head-centered people like me must keep trying to rescue their hearts from years of neglect. And living in this graveyard of mistaken loyalties to the bobbles of impermanence, I know that I am not the only one who yearns for understanding.

It may seem like a paradox that loss can fuel new beginnings, but — if the orthodox holds us fast to where we have been —paradox shows us alternatives to the consequences that are outgassing from the smokestacks of the past.

The inspiring example of courageous beings — those who are living among us and the departed whom we honor in our hearts — are sending us a message: we must care for this precious world and for all who live upon her if we ourselves are to find a doorway into the infinite possibilities of the future.

About Michael Gray

Michael Gray is the author of The Flying Caterpillar, a memoir, and the novels Asleep at the Wheel of Time, about whales, aliens, and humans, and Falling on the Bright Side, about his experience working with the disabled. He is the cofounder of Friends in Time (a nonprofit he founded with a friend who has ALS), and past board president of New Mexico Parkinson’s Coalition and Pathways Academy (a school for kids with autism and other learning issues). A regular contributor to various journals, Gray also writes a weekly blog on

Read more

How to Bring More Permanent Good into Our Lives and the World

How to Bring More Permanent Good into Our Lives and the World Eric Hutchins In their efforts to create ideal communities, the ancient Greeks asked three basic questions: What is real; of the real, what is good; and how do we make more of the good? Generally unknown to them at the time, the ancient peoples of Southern Asia had long before offered answers to the same questions; answers that may now determine whether humanity enters its next “do or die” phase of evolutionary development.

Before we can bring more that is good into our life and the world, we must have some idea of what is truly “good” and before discovering that, we must be able to differentiate what is ultimately real from what is not. For the early peoples of South Asia (modern day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka), the first answer is that the real is “That which both ‘is’ and never changes into something else.” To be thus, the real must exist beyond all other objects of human perception. Why? Because everything we sense (including thoughts, memories, and perception itself) is constantly changing. Sometime later, this same distinction shows up in Greek philosophy as the distinction between physics and metaphysics.

However, for ancient South Asians, the ultimately real was not merely a philosophical abstraction. They had discovered that they could look inward and directly experience a field of pure, empty, never changing consciousness; a field that exists beyond everything associated with the unique character of the person using the introspective technique. This self-transcending technology freed their attention to move inward away from the surface, chattering level of mind and directly experience the vast, empty field of pure consciousness that lies beyond even the limits imposed by space, time, and causation.

Before the modern age of material science and technology, this field of pure consciousness was given many names including Atman, the Spirit of Man, the Eternal Void, the Indwelling Spirit of God, and the Holy Spirit. Today, it is often referred to simply as the “transcendental field of pure consciousness.” Here, the word “transcendental” means that it exists beyond all boundaries of personal perception, including all boundaries that are unique to each of us. Thus, this field is, in essence, communal. Using a long-proven, effortless technique based on universal principles of neurophysiology and consciousness, this vast, unchanging field is even now easily experienced by anyone desiring to do so.

While immersed in this fourth state of consciousness, one is neither awake to the outer world, dreaming, nor in deep, dreamless sleep. However, because this serene state of mind lies beyond the very depths of what we ordinarily recognize as uniquely ourselves, it is often referred to as the “Self” with a capital “S.” Granted, this experience is so rare in the general population that, to most of us, it sounds abstract, unfamiliar and, to a great degree, unintelligible. Yet, it is absolutely real in the experience of anyone who takes the few minutes needed to learn a proven technique of “introspective self-transcendence.” When we do, we discover that this deeply relaxing, unbounded experience never changes.

As for the second question: “of the real, what is good,” we may construct a list, not of “good things” per se but of universally recognized “qualities” that are, to varying degrees, infused into our thoughts, intentions, communications with others, and actions. Eight such qualities are always welcome because they are inherently good: steadiness of mind; unconditional joy; empathy, compassion, and generosity toward others; and creativity, intelligence, and wisdom in the daily pursuit of our goals. From ancient times down to the present day, just about every character trait described as good or virtuous is derived from one or a combination of these eight qualities. For example, “trustworthiness” is universally considered a virtue, yet on closer examination, we see that it is a combination of steadiness of mind and empathy toward others.

We can also see that neither external, institutional coercion nor internal self-indoctrination is capable of compelling us to always express these eight qualities in our thoughts, intentions, communications, and actions. Why? Because, after we are born, we quickly self-program to pursue physical and emotional pleasure and avoid both forms of pain. This programming soon depletes these qualities in the subliminal area of our surface minds where our thoughts and intentions first form.

This leads us to the third question posed by the ancient Greeks, “how do we make more of the good?” In this context, we may ask: “how do we replenish and make more abundant these eight qualities until they become an integral part of our character instead of merely qualities we mimic as a means to greater pleasure or less pain?” Again, the ancient peoples of Southern Asia discovered the answer. They observed that, when an individual uses an introspective technique of self-transcendence twice each day, the user’s thoughts and intentions become increasingly elevated by these eight positive core qualities. They further discovered that these thoughts and intentions increasingly elevate the user’s communications with others and actions in all fields of life.

They reasoned that, even though the transcendental field of pure consciousness appears completely empty and unchanging, it must nonetheless contain an inexhaustible abundance of the “unmanifest potentialities” of these eight qualities; potentialities that become manifest in our thoughts as they begin to form in the preconscious area of our minds. Thus, the transcendental field of pure consciousness is both the ultimate reality and the inexhaustible source of humanity’s finest qualities. Their ultimate conclusion was that the way to bring more permanent good into our lives and into the world is to use a long-proven technique of introspection to directly experience this transcendental field of pure consciousness for a few minutes in the morning and late afternoon of each day.

Once we begin this effortless, deeply relaxing process, we become steadier of mind and more joyful each day, and we enjoy greater achievement and more mutually rewarding relationships with others. For those ready to bring more permanent good into their life; to enjoy life more; to accomplish more, and to contribute more fully to the social harmony, economic prosperity, and environmental stability of their community, now is the time to “Seize the Day” by regularly using a long-proven technique derived from the ancient technology of introspective self-transcendence.

About Eric Hutchins

Eric Hutchins has used a long-proven technique of introspective self-transcendence (Transcendental Meditation or TM, visit for over five decades. He is the author of two books for use as workshop syllabuses. The first is Becoming Humanity’s Next R/Evolution, Five Practical Techniques to Enrich Our Lives, Sustain Our Communities, and Bring Global Peace. The second book is Nectar of the Eternal, Wisdom from the Bhagavad Gita for a Joyful Life and a Sustainable World. For questions and comments, contact

Read more

We Are All Wet

Article Cyberspace

We Are All Wet

When Marshall McLuhan said, “I don’t know who invented water, but I know it wasn’t a fish,” he was pointing out the difficulty inherent in recognizing our immersion in something so ubiquitous that it’s invisible. The first fish to suggest to his friends that life might endure beyond the pond perhaps refrained from doing so for fear of being labeled a conspiracy theorist. This fish would have to go his way alone for a time if he was serious. He’d have to commit to his own inquiry and release the idea that his schoolmates would one day validate his tales of life on dry land, even if one day they did. He’d have to be tolerant of that within them, which was blind to what he couldn’t stop seeing. He’d have to empathize with their wetness. He’d do this best by remembering what it was like to be unaware. In doing this he’d neutralize that within him which possibly made his convictions sound smug. Or condescending. Or crazy.

MC Escher, Fish

We are all wet at the moment, soaked in aggressive narrative and degraded by its insistence upon our irrelevance and the message it sends that we are too fragile to stand up, too scattered and traumatized to heal. The Internet, which at root is a neutral network of interconnection, has flooded all our spaces with information. The compounding growth of computing power was predicted by Moore’s Law, but no one could have predicted what this ever more vivid representation of reality would feel like, no one could have known that endlessly replicable digital media would so distract us from the analog passage of time, or that we’d find ourselves in the strange position of believing that the very medium that has contributed to so much of our present distress is the only medium by which we can communicate with one another about our present distress. Of course there were those who prophesied, but their warnings may have been capitalized upon. The wheel spins ever more quickly, it seems, as we approach the center.

We can read all about Maya as pervasive illusion on the internet without considering that we’ve possibly squandered the strength that comes from deliberate study and dialogue and slow contemplation, from remaining open. There are endless layers to illusion, it seems. And there are consequences for trading true inquiry for consumption of its products. We were told that the information superhighway would make the world smaller. We now go too far, too quickly without the friction of the actual, which would slow us down to consider our impact. The world is the same size, our tolerance for those we deem intolerant is what has shrunk so radically.

The Internet, if it could be personified, is like a person who knows all and understands nothing, a person incapable of wisdom, because wisdom arises solely from lived experience. If we’re lucky we become more merciful as we age because we find that we endure and love deeply even as our quotient of days dwindles, we remain open to change even as the familiar continually falls away. We return full circle to the reflexive kindness and curiosity of childhood to the degree that we’re able to feel and acknowledge the pain of our negative impact upon others, or through the recognition that delighting in another person’s happiness is the most durable form of joy. We grieve our losses in direct proportion to our willingness to love. We must recognize that all humans are born with this capacity, though it’s systematically discouraged in the name of progress and competition.

The Internet seeks to remake us in its image and we seem not to mind. It measures our preferences and we’ve become enamored of that which is measured, buying that this is actually something of value.

But self-importance is the same thing as suffering, and we have all been complicit in its inflation, frighteningly so if one of our preferences is to think of ourselves as “good”. Unfortunately the only way to improve upon being good is to be better. But every better demands a worse and those of us who have embraced the project of self-improvement, those of us with the leisure for self-actualization have to be brave enough to stare into the abyss where we may have thrown those with whom we don’t agree. Because if our actualization rests upon another’s lack of it, then it’s a lie.

A basis of binary code, an environment built on ones and zeroes, is blind to the timeless truth of dynamic polarities, forces that only exist relative to one another. It understands nothing of our shared human endowment: our capacity to recognize and bond over shared meaning. Meaning irrespective of definition, quality irrespective of quantity. There is possibly nothing less efficient than a human life. As the Buddhists say, “all birth ends in death”. If efficiency were the point then we wouldn’t be here.

About Jonathan Smith

Jon has been a practicing psychotherapist in Los Angeles since 2009. Prior to this he worked in film and television as a writer, director and film editor. He left New York for Hollywood in the summer of 2001, just before a certain event that indeed changed everything. Trained initially in post-Jungian depth psychology, the Buddhist Abhidarma is the basis of his approach. Jon took refuge in the Shambhala Lineage of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche in 2002. This ruined his life before saving it. He’s presently a committed Dzogchen practitioner with retreat experience in Theravadin, Zen and Vajrayana Buddhist traditions as well as the secularized mindfulness practices of Jon Kabat-Zinn and others. Jon is a member of the Global Association for Interpersonal Neurobiology Studies and has been a professional participant in Mind and Life’s European Summer Research Institute. He offers attachment-focused EMDR and trained as a yoga teacher before becoming a therapist. He’s an avid amateur musician and beloved by most dogs and many kids.

Read more

Notes Toward New Religions

Essay Origins

Notes Toward New Religions

In the barren landscape left by the secular toppling of religious and spiritual authorities, one in four adults in Gen Z have contemplated suicide. This mental health crisis is the compounded product of insecurity produced by transformations to the labor market, the burden of student debt, systemic racism, a pandemic, declining economic mobility, and a variety of other problems that demand political solutions. Yet, alongside transformative government programs, there’s a manifest need for fresh tools to help us cope with our suffering, and we should explore the possibility that new religions can provide them to us.

In secular societies, we’re raised to recognize that scriptures are unreliable historical records, that philosophical arguments for God’s existence are unconvincing, and that many New Age books are stuffed with delusions and self-deceptions. At the same time, secular resources can’t supplant the role of religion in our lives, because, in the words of the Henry Putnam Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, Mark Johnston, religion serves the unique function of reconciling us to “certain large-scale structural defects in human life that no amount of psychological adjustment or practical success can free us from”: “These include arbitrary suffering, aging (once it has reached the corrosive stage), our profound ignorance of our condition, the isolation of ordinary self-involvement, the vulnerability of everything we cherish to time and chance, and, finally, to untimely death…” At this transformational moment in American religious history, with vast numbers of people disaffiliating from existing traditions, we should begin exploring the creation of new religions to address these enduring sources of suffering.


Religious innovation can begin with recognizing that our lives might possess a transcendent purpose. To some, the phrase “transcendent purpose” will reek of spiritual fantasy. Many contemporary scientists argue that nature as a whole doesn’t exhibit any “teleology,” any striving toward a purpose, like the growth in evolutionary complexity. They point out that, 66 million years ago, the earth possessed startling biological richness—feathered dinosaurs, giant marine reptiles, raptors under crater-lakes of boiling lava—and then a stray asteroid decimated our planet’s diversity. Animals stampeded into the landscape’s vanishing point and whimpering brontosaurus hatchlings crawled back into their broken eggs. Where in that picture is any discernable “purpose”?

What these skeptical voices overlook is the possibility that the transcendent purpose to grow in harmonious complexity exists in a struggle against chaos. By this view, chaotic accidents don’t disprove the existence of this purpose, because the purpose could be present in its resistance to these threats. After the catastrophic asteroid impact, birds returned from their improvised migrations, burrowed animals rose with a new gentleness in their bodies, and life renewed itself from those extinctions. A transcendent purpose could be understood to have fought through chaos.

Recognizing the plausibility of a transcendent purpose in this way, I eventually came to accept its existence for a few further reasons. Scientists don’t understand how the most profound states of human consciousness were present from the beginning of time on the menu of evolutionary possibilities. Nothing can exist on earth that did not exist in potential from the moment of the Big Bang. Just as it is a predictable property of a seed to sprout into a plant, so the particles that exploded from the Big Bang must have held the property of being able to evolve into humans.

In this sense, our most profound experiences of wonder and beauty were present at the beginning of our universe, planted there perhaps by beings that are unimaginable to us now.

Moreover, these experiences of wonder communicate the felt conviction that we are parts of a plan that transcends us. Out of darkness before our births, we arrived in a world of coral and pine, Italian arias and Christmas lights strung from the mast of a docked sailboat. A prehistoric woman perhaps stood once under the refining fire of the sky’s unidentified constellations, still and spellbound with this wonder’s central, single, certain reality. This entranced patience and trust isn’t sufficient for me to know that a transcendent purpose exists, but it is enough to give me faith in that extreme hope.


In my view, the fact that we can’t identify further evidence for a transcendent purpose shouldn’t keep us from embracing it, because most of what will become the totality of human knowledge still awaits discovery. Scientists have only recently begun formal explorations into the nature of reality. The scientific revolution that launched the modern fields of physics, chemistry, and biology began four hundred years ago, and humans will likely survive for at least tens of thousands of years more. Scientific progress will compound for millennia, while technological advancements in artificial intelligence augment the human intellect to the point our current perception of existence will seem as narrow as a tadpole’s. The evidence for the worldview presented here could arise after we die.

Faith should be recognized once more as a virtue in society because, without it, we can only form beliefs once we have perfect certainty in their validity, which traps us in the partial knowledge of our arbitrary point in history. We can either blind ourselves to this fact or welcome religious innovators who present fresh conceptions of faith within the scope of what distant generations could uncover about existence.

Faith can be reimagined as a brave wager on the discoveries of our descendants.


Given the inevitable cloudiness of faith’s perception of hidden realities, we need vivid myths to illustrate the transcendent purpose for our earthbound imaginations. The human desecration of the climate and the threat of chaos endanger the purpose’s mission to grow in harmonious complexity. In light of the purpose’s vulnerability, I hold it in mind by the image of an elderly parent carried on our backs: she can guide us, but she needs our help to survive.

Source: unknown

I call this imperiled purpose the Motherling. She is not a conscious creature like us. She is the light of our shining minds, hitched to the Big Bang’s first atoms to travel the slow course of evolution in secret, like a stowaway, until she could blossom into the consciousness of creatures that could be her protectors. Our minds are cluttered by selfish, defensive, resentful thought patterns, but under this detritus is the heart of our humanity, the inborn presence of the purpose of the universe, which we intuit at rare moments in wonder’s frozen radiance.

At least, that is what I believe. This vision of life won’t erase our mental health struggles, but it could provide an anchoring for my generation during this period’s vicissitudes and enrich our lives with meaning. In any case, while this worldview anchors my own life, I present it here less to argue for its personal value than to provide an example of what it might mean for us to awaken our religious imaginations. A famine’s wailing emptiness consumes my suffering generation, and fresh resources need to emerge to nourish us. We must explore the possibility that new religious traditions, like the one that I begin to sketch here, can offer us the help for which we are desperate.

About Alec Gewirtz

Alec Gewirtz (@alecgewirtz on Twitter) is a writer and community-builder based in New York City. He graduated summa cum laude in Religion from Princeton University and was a Fulbright Research Fellow at the University of Toronto.

Read more

Regeneration and Ancestral Memory

Conversation Cultural Memory

Regeneration and Ancestral Memory

Soul Shivers launched at the Stoa in February and March of 2021. We held a series of four dialogues framed around earth regeneration, breaking the conversations down into four critical themes which were ancestry, trauma, connection to place, and peace.  You can view the series here.

Soul Shivers captures seldom heard stories from women around the world working on earth regeneration in different ways. Our dialogues are intimate, translocally interconnected, and impactful. In a special collaboration with Kosmos, we are offering edited transcripts of these conversations.

Freya Yost:

Let’s briefly introduce ourselves. My name is Freya. I am an artist and an activist living in Italy. I am joined by my colleague Luea, who is the creative steward of collective transitions and dedicated to widening the ways we see sense and respond across perceived divides.

Luea Ritter:

Thank you, Freya. I just also want to acknowledge our ancestors as that is the theme that guides us through this day. And so I would love to spark our introductions with the question, “Who are your ancestors?” – and how do they influence your work in the world these days?

Jane Ruka:

I’m happy to introduce myself to the forum. My name is Jane Ruka. I am a first nation person of Aotearoa better known as New Zealand. And we have a very long relationship with Papatuanuku. And that relationship connects us to everything within our known area. Whether it be alive, or sentient being, or part of our landscape, we are all attached to each other.

Alexandra Gavilano:

I’m Alexandra. I’m half Swiss half Peruvian. And I would also like to say that I’m from this home planet that we all call Earth. And I relate to ancestry since I first moved from Switzerland to Peru when I was seven years old, and started to realize how different these worlds are that collided. And sometimes it’s challenging because they’re still colliding. And sometimes they’re quite similar. And I suddenly realize this incredible strength and that I’m not alone, but that I have all these ancestors carrying me and guiding me through my life. Thank you, I would love to hear from Amber.

Amber Tamm:

That question, I think, has spun me out in my life so many times. Because as a black American woman who is African but also is not African; is American, who is indigenous to America, but too black to fit into these indigenous pockets, who is essentially Irish and Italian, but too black and indigenous to fit into that pocket.

So that this question has made me feel in the past a lot more pain and anguish than joy.

Seven years ago, when my mother was murdered by my father, I thought of ancestry in a new way. I thought how powerful it is to be so young and have an ancestor that is a mom. So for me, when it came down to my mom, the place that was my first place on this planet was then buried into the planet. Well, if I’m going to bury my mom into this earth, and she is going to decompose in it, then my ancestry is this earth.”

And when looking back to slavery in the Americas, all across, obviously, all of our ancestry is this earth – as that’s where the DNA of so many of our family members are.

And I had no pictures. I don’t know beyond my great grandmother. Having no pictures of previous ancestors, I have to lean on those who feel like ancestors. So I welcome all the greats as my ancestors. I welcome George Washington Carver. I welcome Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou and Harriet Tubman as they join the truth. I think of ancestry as the bones that you walk on, as the people you directly came from, but also as the people who inspire you.

Naomi Mwangi:

Thank you all. That was so beautifully shared. My name is Naomi and I am from Kenya. And in Kenya, we have 42 tribes. And all these 42 tribes has a different story of how their tribes came to being.

My tribe is called the Kikuyu tribe, which is one of the three largest tribes in Kenya. My ancestry is believed to have originated from a tree. A huge tree, we call it Mugumo tree. In English it is the Sycamore tree. So the tree did burst open, and out came two people who were Gikuyu and Mumbi. And so they were beautiful human beings as my ancestry story is told, and they collaborated to give birth to nine daughters. That is how my great grandmother and my grandmother told me stories of how we came to originate.

I know all of us here are from different beliefs, and we believe so many different things. But it all connects back to the earth. And I believe that I was born from the earth and my ancestors are in my footsteps as I walk on the earth that I am living on right now. Every person who walked on this ground, they had a purpose. And as we are walking on this ground, what are the footsteps we are leaving so that the other generations can come and not get lost into trying to understand who their ancestors are?

Luea Ritter:

What’s the legacy that you have received from your ancestors that informs and influences your work these days?

Alexandra Gavilano:

I feel like right now we are confronted with having to do reparation work in regard of the climate crisis, the ecological crisis that has happened in the last 100 years. And what I feel so strongly is that, right now, we’re really kind of confronted with all these different layers, that somehow they feel like they don’t fit anymore, and they don’t fit our Earth.

The more my awareness grows, the more I have a feeling of sadness or also feelings of being overwhelmed that humanity has been so ignorant. How is it possible that for so long we kept ignoring and kept on destroying ourselves among each other and all these other beings?

Amber Tamm:

Alexander mentioned layers, and I think that’s a really great question pertaining to legacy. Because generations of people can be stacked like layers ,or I think about the layers of the earth. It’s really important because different layers represent different things. And I think one of the parts that we need to dig deeper into is what are we going to unlearn? And I think, for me, that’s what I feel responsible for within my own personal lineage. Like there are an abundance of things that need to be unlearned.

Jane Ruka:

I am a lot older than all of you. And I’ve had the experience of coming through the destruction. And I’m going to say here, that much of the destruction was caused by patriarchy who in their learnings and their cultural systems left behind the connections to our Mother Earth, Papatuanuku.

“My culture has an ancestry that’s called Whakapapa. And it takes us right back to our God Systems. Our gods, we are descendants of them.”

In New Zealand, we are descendants of multiple Pacifica cultures. We also have connections to Peruvian cultures, South American cultures, to Taiwan and to the Himalayas, multiple centuries of those that come through in our DNA.

…Our indigenous folk do not have to ‘unlearn’ anything. We have to drop colonization off us because we are descendants of people who still care and still have our histories of care and stewardship for everywhere we live.

We do not have to unbind ourselves. We just have to emphasize our cultural belief systems that go back multiple centuries. We own reparation. We do not have anything to unlearn. And for the cultures that do have to relearn, we and they can go together to improve where we sit in this age. I would like to encourage everybody, you are all indigenous to wherever your blood comes from. Amber, I’m particularly not talking to you because you have been devastated as an African American person. You have not had the freedom, which we have had in being colonized in New Zealand.

If you belong to a god, that god is stronger than any colonizing force that comes at you. So we don’t have to worry about decolonization. We just have to throw it off our shoulders. It doesn’t belong to us

You do not need to be carrying, “I’m a slave.” You do not. And I know very well that you will not accept that. So go back and say, “I’m the descendant of a god.” And no one can challenge that. Whatever nationality they are, they are your gods. And your gods are very powerful if you give them the right to own you.

Naomi Mwangi:

Thank you so much, Mama. Honestly, I’ll repeat this again. Every time when Jane speaks, there’s just so much that lights up in me. And I feel like you should just come over here in Kenya and bring this to the young generations that are growing up here in Kenya.

There’s so much that we are carrying on our shoulders. And we don’t want to let them down because of the cultures that we are coming from – the things that we know from the systems that have taught us to know – yet we even don’t know them. We don’t even see them. We can’t even grab them, but we just keep them.

Because the system has programmed us in a way that we can’t even think for ourselves. And we are waiting to be told by someone. And I’ll just give a small instance. I love sharing this story because it’s something that is truly alive in me and I’m learning every time from it. I continue relearning as we are talking about unlearning and relearning.

My situation of being a survivor of the post election violence that happened in Kenya in 2007 to 2008, that was a conflict of tribal interests. And the conflict was all about the governmental seats, which even doesn’t affect the citizens. The citizens should share their voices and their voices should be heard, instead of government oppositions and positions thinking they must make decision for the citizens.

The young generations were going into people’s homes, burning their homes, killing people with machetes, and all these other terrible things that happened. And I’m lucky that my family survived all that. And none of my family died. But the main thing that really pains me so much is that we are losing the sense of where we come from. So when I hear you talk, Jane, it really gives me a lot of energy and strength to know that I should continue listening to my deeper ancestral voice, because that is what I’ve been shutting down.

And I feel like there is a lump in my throat. But I know that this is what we are here for, to hear each other’s voice and also know the worth of being in ancestral steps and knowing that these steps are the steps that we need to hold. So I’m just so grateful. Thank you Jane for that.

Alexandra Gavilano:

Yes, thank you also, and also Naomi for sharing again. It’s a journey that I’ve been going on. My question that I wonder about is, “why do we move a bit forward, and then again, back.” For me, it’s actually like the ancestors, I’m feeling them very clearly. And as you said, I come from two bloods, but I’ve really felt them most of my life much more from the Latin American side. And I remember when I met Luea, and we once had the discussion on traumas and collective traumas, I went through a journey with feeling all these different past experiences. And I just remembered that when you said to Amber, “throw it away”.

Because having the ones that colonized and the ones that were oppressed within me, I am in strength and I find it quite easy to connect. But there are periods, like I just had this weekend, where I question myself, like, what does it need for this kind of collective engagement, collective awakening? And I feel like trust and courage… to trust is one key to it. Like I can say, in school or in my education, or my surroundings, I was not engaged in trust. Like it was just to produce. This is the context we’re in. And a lot of times when I’m in discussions with people, I just realized that we often lack the courage to do something entirely different.

And I’m just wondering, and I’m just putting it out there for everyone. Like, what kind of places can we create to enable people to feel the courage and to also feel the trust to actually dive into it and just imagine what has not existed yet? Because that’s what I believe is the new thing that brings us into the here and now is really…

Jane Ruka:

When I see the informed generations. Your generation and below, we have a really important time in history. What you really need to do is regenerate yourselves into the belief you are who you are. And then you can communicate in your specific area. But in doing your area, also keep in touch with everybody else – using technology.

Just like we’re conversing now, and we’re spreading information out there, imagine all the teens coming through and they even… I have a grandchild who’s seven in age. She’s far cleverer than I am on technology. Our hope is right there.

She has her ancestral rites of information handed down generationally. So that by the time my seven year old grandchild approaches her time of need, she’s got three generations known to her. She doesn’t have to have a professor or a scientist teaching it.

So if you have a child you have to make very sure that child is at your elbow. Because if every person in the whole world has the next generation at its elbow, it will not require anybody else to come and teach it, how to regenerate the environment.

All we all have to remember is, we do not believe in patriarchy. I have a grandson who is a beautiful man. I have relatives who are beautiful men. So if we do not allow the patriarchy to overcome us again, we walk equally with them. Women must step up to the plate and be very affirmed

Freya Yost:

So many things have stood out to me as I listened to all of you. I particularly loved the invitation to put your knowledge in the relationships that you have. As an activist, and someone who spends a lot of time thinking about the turmoil that the world is in, even in my own neighborhood or family, I sometimes get bogged down by the bigness of the problems, how they’re everywhere and all encompassing. It seems as If there’s no hope. And when I shift from that feeling to, “put your knowledge in your relationships” all of a sudden, everything that I engage becomes more influential. I have two children and thinking about how I can do that, embody that, and practice that every single day is incredibly helpful. It’s like the best insurance plan ever, right?

Thank god I don’t need to store my knowledge just on Gmail. I actually have a web of relationships that exist around me at all times that I can choose to invest in.

We live in paradoxical times, right? And navigating that is central to activism now, in these times, right? So with that, I would love to hear questions from all of you.

Amber Tamm, USA  

Every farmer has an origin story of how their journey to the land began. For some it builds over time and others it happens in a day. For Amber, it was a single moment when her father murdered her mother. At the age of 18, she lost both parents and along with them she lost her housing, income, food and healing. Little did she know farming would provide her with all of these things. For months Amber mourned, devastated in silence. And then there came a day when she felt called to get outside, into nature. “As I laid my mother’s body into the earth, the earth literally became my mother.”

Jane Ruka, New Zealand 

Jane Mihingarangi Ruka is the Chairwoman of the Waitaha Executive Grandmothers Council. The Grandmothers represent the Nation of Waitaha in Aotearoa New Zealand. Jane is the Kaiwhakahaere of the Waitaha Claim Wai 1940 lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal in New Zealand. Jane and the Grandmothers practice care for the environment, peace, and promote the wisdom of women.

Naomi Mwangi, Kenya 

Naomi was born in Kenya, Kisumu at a village called Nyalenda. She and her family later moved to Eldoret during 2007/2008 when the post-election violence took place in her country. They were affected in Eldoret where they thought if they ran away from Kisumu, Eldoret would be safe. But it was even worse when their house got burnt down and they had to move from one place to another in search of food and shelter since they were left with nothing or even a place to call home.

Naomi and her family were rescued by the United Nation High Commission for Refugees and World Food Program. Naomi is the Founder of African Dream Movement. She is also involved in facilitating leadership programs like the New Generation Leaders Program in her country hosted by the International Peace Initiatives in a town called Meru.

Alexandra Gavilano, Switzerland  

Alexandra Gavilano is a Swiss-Peruvian environmental scientist and activist for social transformation and planet protection. Her passion is to reflect, observe and learn from inner/individual and inner/collective processes and manifestations of those in the outside world to envision a way towards the new era of humanity and all beings on our planet earth.

Luea Ritter, Switzerland/Greece 

Luea is a process steward, action researcher, coach and systemic constellation facilitator. Her work internationally and across diverse sectors, weaves transformative change processes, trauma and healing work, leadership, and earth-based wisdom traditions. 

Through a diverse medley of fields she has developed a high sensitivity for context-based cultural and social dynamics. She is co-founder and creative steward of Collective Transitions, an action-learning and research organization dedicated to building shared capacity for fostering and maintaining transformational shifts, as well as co-founder and steering team member of the Nile Journeys, a platform for transboundary dialogue and regenerative collaboration in the Nile Basin. 

She is part of collaboration helvetica, an initiative that catalyses systemic change towards the societal transformation of Switzerland by cultivating a cross-sectoral innovation ecosystem, running different capacity-building programs and open knowledge sharing. In her cutting-edge research-to-innovation PhD Process for Holistic Development with the Geneva-based TRANS4M Center for Integral Development, she focuses on social fields and the building and maintaining of coherence.

Freya Yost, Italy  

Freya is an artist and sustainability strategist based in Italy. She studied Art History at the American University of Rome (B.A., 2010) and Library and Information Science at Pratt Institute (M.S., 2015). She is also trained as a botanical artist. 

Freya helped create and served as COO of Common Earth, the regenerative development partner of the Commonwealth of Nations for four years through her work with Cloudburst Foundation. She was influential in organizing and facilitating several high-level convenings at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London between 2017 and 2019. 

In addition, she has at institutions around the world including the United Nations, New York Public Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and A Growing Culture. Freya’s work has been featured in Vogue and she has authored articles in peer-review journals such as Weave, IK: Other Ways of Knowing, and IFLA.

Jane Ruka:

I need to clarify what I said about men destroying Papatuanuku. Following very fast on the heels of that comment, is that the present generation is awake and aware that their ancestors descendants of the colonists are very aware that they and us need to fix the problem of Papatuanuku.

So we need to be all together in this, not them or us. There is no them and us. There is just us, all of us, equalizing the control of everything, men and women together equally. Not one stronger than the other. And then we might have peace.

Freya Yost:

Does anyone else want to speak to that question? I think it’s a really deep invitation. How can we reconnect with our gods if we can’t remember our ancestry?

Naomi Mwangi:

Honestly, for me I think it’s by knowing who we are, knowing what I’m worth, what my worth is, what I am made of, and what I believe in. If I don’t know who I am, then I don’t know who my people are. If I don’t know who I am, then I can’t even listen to what other people are saying. So going back to my roots of discovering who I am, and what I am meant to be on this Earth and what is the Earth calling me to do. Those are the things that I feel personally that I have grown into.

Alexandra Gavilano:

And I just would like to emphasize, as Naomi said, of letting go of what people tell us that we are. I think that’s one key thing that I had to learn, like letting go of the images that others want to impose on me.

And I personally, also, I had to be in nature. I was living off grid for two years. And I needed that to actually just allow myself to put away my head, which was so trained to be so dominant and take on all the Alexandra space in me and behaving like it would be all of me but it was just my head that was inflating itself. Put it somewhere else and just let the space to really feel and resonate. And I couldn’t even name it on one level but I just feel it’s present.

It’s not one specific thing or one specific idea. And this is again where I would invite you to trust in yourself to find all the answers there are within you. And all the things that you will need suddenly, your eyes, your awareness will be let exactly to that point that again, reminds your inner self, “Hey, yes, that’s what it’s all about.”

Amber Tamm:

And for me, when I think of Harriet Tubman utilizing nature spaces to get to freedom, I can’t imagine the hell she went through, and it breaks my heart that there isn’t documentation of what she was feeling, because her narrative would be super different if she wrote down what she was feeling.

So I think my direct answer to that question is, it’s in the every day subtleties, including prayer. Like I make sure that I at least get up and feel gratitude. And if I don’t, then I can’t get up yet. I make sure that I walk with intention, at least for some amount of time and activate prayer in that way. But overall, I think for me, it was a surrender to Mama Earth herself.

For me, it was, if I know that trees can communicate to each other through root networks, then I have to also know it is my duty to use my fingers in the earth. I can still talk to all my mothers, even the ones I’ve never seen, never met. And so that’s where my connection with Earth comes from. It just so happens to feed others. It just so happens to empower others. And specifically in America, seeing a black woman farmer is a revolutionary act.

Alexandra Gavilano:

I would also like to answer this question and just kind of give another kind of piece to all this truth.  I can say I was very ignorant. I went through extreme violence until I was 15 and I ignored it. Like I forgot even seven years of my life. And it was another traumatizing event losing a kid in the fifth month, two days after I decided I will go back to Switzerland and I will study. So this was for me a huge challenge and I lost a kid and that was when my spiral down kind of was unleashed.

And I realized all of this pain and I can tell you it doesn’t have to be a big trauma like they can be very small traumas and very small experiences. Like I remembered a small experience of mobbing where kids painted me with coal to appear more similar to my dad, and they cut off my hair so it’s curlier and I look like my dad. Small things that I would have never allowed myself to say, “Yes, this was traumatizing at that moment.”

Something that’s bad for me, for you might not be bad, in your perspective. We never have the same understanding of what is bad or what is traumatic.

There is some reason also why you all are here, why we all are here in this together. And the big thing of what I had to learn is to feel much more what my heart actually feels, how my inner child actually feels to be able to open up for new things. So I cannot say it was daring to connect with my ancestors. But it was kind of the first little steps that I’m taking. And I keep on discovering also kind of where my focus should shift, what my true inner being wants to tell me and wants to create my focus on.

Freya Yost:

It’s really interesting thinking about this topic, earth regeneration, which of course is how we all connected and why we’re here. It’s because we’re all thinking about environmental degradation and climate change, homelessness and war and perpetual violence and racism – essentially the polycrisis that we find ourselves in. And it’s just so interesting to have a space such as this, where that’s the premise of our conversation, and yet, we’re talking about ancestry, we’re talking about trauma, we’re talking about our lived day to day experience, and not only how to survive within it, but to work with it, to use it as a mechanism for healing, because we believe in that. And that is the sacred, right? That’s what defending the sacred means. That’s a living system’s understanding of how we work, how we’re programmed, how the earth works.

Of course, I’ve been deeply inspired by indigenous knowledge systems and local knowledge systems, because of spending time with these groups. I’m learning from them. And it’s been such a privilege to be able to do that and be mentored by so many communities that have strong links to their ancestry. And that sort of blood memory is still alive and pumping through them. And one common thread that I keep noticing is this living systems’ perspective, the world is alive, everything is alive around us. So anyway, those are some of the things that are alive for me right now. I don’t know if anyone wants to speak to that.

Alexandra Gavilano:

I would like to react or just add and it even goes together with the question from Laura before. There is this feeling and there are different words for it, but I usually work with the name, Earth emotions, these emotions that we feel because we are this one species that connects us, we all feel them. They all at some point flow through us. And they have to do with the destruction and the different aspects that you just mentioned like the destruction of our habitat, but they flow through us and very often we’re not aware of them thus interpreted maybe as, “I’m depressed.”

Luea Ritter:

There is a power of knowing how to again and again overcome, regenerate, and call upon something that’s so much larger than what we could even find names for. For me, when I hear the word soil and then I see how we are constantly touching it, reviving the synapses that may have gotten rusty, or got blocked or cut, like we are reviving as we are touching soil, matter, and other human beings. For me, it has a lot to do with reviving the systems that got somewhere broken or are ot nourished anymore.

Throughout this whole conversation, I realized that I became more and more silent – as if words disappear. As if it’s harder and harder to give expression to that form of language. Because other parts of me want to speak but, of course, in this medium it’s a bit hard to convey. Yet, I know I feel you. And I know there is a connection – across literally the globe at this stage.

Freya Yost:

We’re nearing our closing time and I would love to just hear a few last words from each of you. Just anything that feels alive or you’d like to close with. Naomi, do you want to start?

Naomi Mwangi:

Absolutely. What is feeling alive in me right now is the invitation that I just had so clearly of a way of sitting in silence. And before this call, I was just thinking about how sitting in silence makes us hear the deeper voices that we are not aware of when we go out there and hear all these noises. There’s always that deeper voice that keeps calling you and asking you to pay attention. But we ignore it and that voice comes from the heart.

Amber Tamm:

I got a text from a good friend that said, “We as humans need regeneration too.” And I’ve also heard Jane say that today. So I’m taking that as a symbol and I would just offer to everyone; to take this opportunity to regenerate, hibernate. If we’re going to have regenerative conversation, we need to have regenerative rest and regenerative nourishment.

Alexandra Gavilano:

I’m just appreciating the space and knowing all of you are out there, all of those who have listened to us. And I’m just appreciating. Like I feel this silence and I’m happy to just feel like breathing and being thankful for being. Thank you.

Freya Yost:

Beautiful. Jane, would you be willing to close our circle out?

Jane Ruka:

I’ll be very honored to do that. And I leave you with my thoughts that I have huge hope. And if you are all an example of humanity, we are winners already in our battle for regeneration of everything. Hold fast to the fact that we together can make this happen worldwide.

Freya Yost:

Thank you, everyone. Thank you so much for being here today

About Soul Shivers

Read more

Century of Awakening

Introduction Editorial

Century of Awakening

Dear Reader,

It may seem counterintuitive to call our present era the Century of Awakening. The outward signs seem to suggest otherwise. I won’t enumerate the challenges we face. You know in your heart that the situation is difficult and the path ahead unclear. And whether you have been in lockdown or on the front lines this past year, the worry you feel for our children, and their children, is the same.

But awakening begins precisely where we are. Not in some time or place free from discomfort or fear. Awakening begins when we stop and sense deeply our own tender heart and the pain we feel for the world’s beauty and brokenness. In these moments, it is helpful to step outside, away from screens and technology. It helps to look at the sky, feel the wind, touch a spring flower.

Here in the northeast US, the tree outside my door that looked bleak and brittle just a week ago is suddenly sprouting thousands of tiny buds. The smiling crocuses miraculously arrive. By connecting even for a moment with this profound mystery of Return, I feel lighter and more hopeful.

With Spring and the Covid vaccine there is a tentative sense we too can begin anew. It is never too late to start over, to commit to new ways of being and let go of old habits and past traumas. The moment we make the conscious choice to start fresh, we feel better. What we were doing before was not working. We don’t have to do that anymore. The Earth is alive. We are alive!

In this edition, we are not offering solutions to our knottiest global concerns. We are sharing signs of freshness and hope. We embrace a renewed opportunity and a choice: to honor and protect the sacred, or ignore and betray it. What must we honor? All of it. People, animals, plants, minerals, air, waters, soils, forests, oceans, pollinators, our Commons, communities and rituals. Stories, art, music…

Even technology – or especially technology – must be put to sacred use. Cyberspace, artificial intelligence, robots and drones, bio-engineering…if we do not hold these technologies sacred, as our ancestors once held fire sacred, these things will consume us.

We resacralize something by treating it with respect and reverence. Even the simple act of drinking tea can be a profound act, as a Buddhist monk very dear to me explains in this short video.

Drinking Tea as a Sacred Practice

What we love we make sacred. That is why our time can and will be the Century of Awakening. Life is too precious, the human experience too extraordinary to allow it to fail.

Recent photos from Mars show us our planetary home in a new way. There we are – a glittering star on the horizon. Every joy and every sorrow ever felt by any sentient being that we know of, embodied in a single point of light.

It is an invitation to wake up to the reality that binds us – to each other and all beings. Ours will be the Century of Awakening when we fully acknowledge the gift of Life, and our awesome responsibility to receive it.

About Rhonda Fabian

Rhonda Fabian is Editor of Kosmos Quarterly. She is also a founding partner of Immediacy Learning, a global educational media company that has created more than 2000 educational programs, impacted 30 million+ learners, and garnered numerous awards. Ms. Fabian is an ordained member in the Order of Interbeing, an international Buddhist community founded by her teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh.

Read more