seeding images of possibility

Flute music snakes through the canyon, undulating, echoing from sandstone alcoves and curved walls. The flute accompanies the purl of water over basalt boulders and bedrock, accompanies the cascading call of a canyon wren. I play as a morning greeting to the canyon, to the ever-stupendous blue flash of dragonflies, to the back-lit, translucent green columns of horsetail, to mosses and seeps and turquoise pools. I play in praise for living lands as fantastic as the wildest dream, and I play as mourning for damaged land and for creatures lost. I play as if the wild ones lean closer, listening. I don’t know if my amateur music matters to them, but a portal of wilder perception slithers open for me, and all beings radiate intelligence, curiosity, and kinship.

I am fortunate beyond any known fortune to make pilgrimages like this, to this holy grail of a canyon: one of my great teachers. She talks to me, usually not in words. Images arise suddenly, vivid in my imagination, which is one way I listen to the wilder Others, including stone and water. Images might shapeshift from one form to another, or slink across boundaries, from sound to picture to felt-sense, like dreams or poetry. In this canyon – whom my beloved and I know as “Laughing Goddess” – I receive a multi-layered impression that I “translate” into something like this: plant the collective field of imagination with seed-images of possibility. Envision, dream, intend, design, craft, or imprint images of bountiful beauty, diversity, health, celebration: images of a regenerating Earth.

Or: reclaim the noosphere, which is the terrain that Teilhard envisioned as the human-informed, “thinking envelope” of the planet. Fill the noosphere with images of possibility. Of course, Laughing Goddess doesn’t actually “say” this – and we don’t know if she’s acquainted with the idea of the noosphere, although perhaps she is familiar with the experience of a shared psychic field before it has a human-determined name. A flood of impressions fills up the canyon and my imagination, images and shapes of thought that intrigue me, as if I am in conversation with an intelligence that is far more than mine, and more than human.

Teilhard identified a “thinking layer” of the planet, but he did not seem to consider that all beings, not just human, contribute to – and participate in – a shared field of imagination or intelligence. In the atmosphere of Laughing Goddess, the presence of the Others in the psychic atmosphere is palpable, suggesting that the noosphere is a subset of a wilder and far more immense field that includes the magnificence of ravens and ponderosa, sandstone and cougars, lichen and fungi, oceans, volcanoes, and the planetary psyche.

Consciously occupying the noosphere suggests participating with awareness to the thoughts and images we each hold and generate, as if we seed them into a collective field of psyche that prepares the ground for possible human unfoldings. Human direction is largely shaped by the strongest, most repeated images, which now include war, murder, terrorism, climate catastrophes, iPhone, twitter, social media, selfies. When the human capacity to alter planetary systems has become, as Brian Swimme and others have noted, equivalent to a geological force, the content of our own thoughts and imaginations matters. Filling the noosphere with images of possibility includes the possibility that we might attune ourselves to conversation with the wilder Others, to the possibility that an intelligent Earth might guide us.

The noosphere is already occupied by images and ideas that are mostly unconscious, unintentional, and often clashing with one another. Political strategists, commercial advertisers and other dominators of culture apparently recognize the power of images to direct human longing and behavior. Although it appears that the noosphere is currently occupied by more fear-inducing images than images of evolutionary possibility, this is not fixed or predetermined, but rather, an on-going creation in which we participate.

In the canyon we know as Laughing Goddess, where very few people ever venture, it is odd to encounter big imaginings about the collective field of imagination, or big ideas about the noosphere. Where such impressions come from is mysterious. But I – and thousands or perhaps millions of other people — have been repeatedly struck by ideas or images that seem not my “own” in places where expressions of wilder Others are especially vibrant, as if some psychic barrier between human consciousness and a larger intelligence or psyche has been breached.

Thomas Berry famously said that the world is not a collection of objects but, rather, a communion of subjects. Recognizing and approaching the Others as if everyone and everything participates in subjectivity, as if every presence feels and intends, is an essential transformative act that contemporary human beings might engage.

By way of simple flute melodies, I offer gratitude to this canyon who, I believe, speaks to me – to us – partly through wild images or sensings that appear suddenly, before we can think or disregard the outlandish impressions that unexpectedly present themselves on the horizon of imagination. Surely the world communicates at every moment if we learn how to listen.