To this very day, my proposal of the Great Return startles me. Some of you have asked me to track the development of the hypothesis to give us a broader context for our discussion. I can understand the request because the hypothesis is disruptive to the central paradigm of Western Civilization. It will assist me to think with you in this venue.
The Seed Bursts Through
The seed of the hypothesis burst into my consciousness when I was a faculty team member with Wisdom graduate school in 2009. It was my first course as Dean, so I was a bit nervous. Andrew Harvey and Jim Garrison were both fiery presenters of climate change in the course, prophets of a coming holocaust. Students and staff were vocally vulnerable that little or no hope was being presented. Halfway through the class it dawned on me–as I looked out the window day dreaming—that we were in a retreat center in the midst of a beautiful redwood forest. Strangely,we had spent almost all of every day inside a heated building. The elephant in the room was the forest outside.
Clear as the morning sun it dawned on me: we humans would never find the solutions to our planetary crisis unless we returned to a wilder form of nature. In a moment of spontaneity I suggested to the lecturers and class that we desperately needed hope and that hope could come not from humans alone but from the forest outside our windows so familiar to the shamanic traditions of indigenous people. When I set forth the proposal in the class, I expected a ho-hum response. More of Will’s Indian and Earthtribe stuff.
The Wild Heart Hears the Call
What followed were shouts that I was a naive climate change denier and, at the other end of the continuum, relief that at last there was the possibility of hope. When the dust settled, Jim Garrison, current President of Ubiquity University, and others joined in a rich dialogue of potential in this seedling hypothesis. In the months that followed, I wrote Wild Heart: Nature’s Hope in Earth’s Crisis. In that book I explore my work as a psychotherapist where I utilize a psychological map of the inner council of selves. Missing from that inner council in mainstream civilization is the wild heart, a sub-self in all of us that has a natural affinity with the infinity of Nature in its untamed forms. This untamed aspect alone is able to tune into the sacred web of fields and hear the call for us to return to our natural place in the cycle of life. More on this subject when I get to Jung in a moment.
Clues From Quantum Fields
Another ingredient in the fermentation of the hypothesis had been in process over a four decade exploration of the science of fields, including quantum fields, gravitational, and electro-magnetic. During thirty-five years of practicing psychotherapy, I had routinely connected my clients with the untamed currents in Nature as a healing balm, a practice hinted at in Jung. From my tribal training in indigenous ceremonies and stories, I practiced the truth of the return hypothesis in a clinical and spiritual integration. But I did not know how that healing intelligence worked inside a scientific paradigm more rigorous than the softer science of psychology.
Curiosity prodded. I persisted in studying quantum fields searching for clues. Then, one day, in still another Wisdom graduate class, I had a vivid daydream in which the word eco-field came to me, maybe from the field itself. That daydream catapulted me into several years of intense research and writing that resulted in another book, The Mother Tongue: Intimacy in the Eco-field. Some of you know parts of this story, so stay with me. Now, I had another feature of the hypothesis. In a system of eco-fields intelligence, meaning, and specific information is transmitted through relationships of all elements in a specific landscape, or, better, ecoscape. Such is the convincing science and research of Almo Farina. Oddly, Farina had not included humans with his eco-field research, but I quickly added in the human component. In order to co-create planetary solutions, humans would have to retrieve that aspect of their inner lives that could speak the mother tongue of the untamed dimensions of eco-fields. Orientation to the more-than-human tongue and eventual fluency offers a possibility for solutions to our complex planetary problems.
Do you see the progression here? A yearning for hope leads to a tuning through the wild heart into a larger domain beyond and beneath human culture. Once you visit that domain/field, you realize there actually is a loving intelligence there that speaks a mother tongue. That tongue transmits a powerful attractor force and the emergent coherence of love. But, then, there is another step that gives us further clues about the practice of love and our identity.
Nature’s Relationships Define Individuals
My science of fields research included a careful consideration of hundreds of therapy clients and vision questers who had, if for just a brief period of time, recovered their ability to speak and translate these messages for personal and global possibilities. Then, emerged the most disruptive aspect of the hypothesis, the part most alien to my cultural upbringing. Each of us is actually the product and representative of the system of eco-fields in which we have lived. When we discover this dimension of identity, we can love in a most significant manner.
In a primary sense, I am not me as an individual. There are no sharp boundaries between me and my surroundings, especially natural ecoscapes. Yes. We need the convenience of boundaries, but they are not fundamental in terms of identity. It is true enough that the journey of love takes us toward thinking of ourselves as individuals with clear boundaries. But, as we mature, it becomes clear that relationships define us. We are an entanglement of relationships. Love takes us into and then beyond the notion of boundaries.
Think about it: nature precedes culture. And in nature everything is related, a truth especially evident in quantum physics and indigenous wisdom.
Thus, who you are is most fundamentally influenced through relationships. The relationships that define you are your current human family relationships, your educational relationships, your business and professional relationships, your family-of-origin relationships and, most important, the natural landscapes which have produced you. And continue to produce you. You are not you apart from your natural surroundings. Yes. You have social and cultural context, but only as a secondary factor.
Disruption Creates Space
See what I mean—disruptive. With this emerging hypothesis in tow I could state that history has basically misunderstood Jesus. In my last blog I stated that Jesus was the powerful expression of the Galilean landscape. People have taken issue with that statement, and rightly so. I will also advance the same hypothesis when I consider Carl Jung. It means that I am proposing that you and I are the offspring of a system of eco-fields. We cannot understand each other or the human narrative apart from that lens.
One tribal story illustrates this aspect of the hypothesis. A woman is at the point of delivery. She leans against a tree, standing up with a squat. The elder mid-wives support her. They dig a hole under her as a manger for the baby. When the baby comes out, the mid-wives place it first in the hole within the soil in a moving affirmation that the baby belongs to the landscape. Then, the elder woman holds the baby, affirming that the baby belongs to the tribe. At last, the baby is presented to the mother as the offspring of the landscape and tribe. This narrative illustrates the ancient truth that the unfolding identity of the landscape is the primary shaper of the human. The baby not only belongs to the landscape; the baby is an aspect of the landscape, a co-creation. The baby can only understand itself in that context. The primary love that shapes the human is a sense of deep relatedness that includes but is much larger than the biological mother’s love.
The bacteria, the forest, the rivers, the desert, the mountains, the insects, the soil, the birds, the mammals, the sun, the stars, and the moon are our parents and uncles and brothers and sisters. But, you protest, urbanites know little of direct connection with the tree, the hole in the soil, and the mid-wives. Millennials think of the virtual world as being their most significant influence. Others of us are trapped in a web of mainstream consumerism and brown sugar water and know little of the direct language of the heart of eco-fields. We wander around in a virtual-scape, disembodied from the sensual experience of our relatedness to our spirit brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents, both human and more-than-human.
I agree. We post-post-modern-humans know little of the landscape, the system of fields. We are in and part of the eco-fields but asleep and unaware. We experience ourselves as separate and estranged. We don’t speak the language. We wander in abstractions. The hypothesis will get even more disruptive in future blogs. There are other dimensions of the eco-field available only through the sixth sense, ones I have not even mentioned, the spirit world.
And that is just the reason the evolutionary Spirit is calling us to return to the system of eco-fields within and beyond landscapes. We cannot know Jesus, Jung, Moses, Mohamed, or ourselves without this perspective. Return or perish, says this hypothesis. Only in this aware, ongoing experience of relatedness—beginning at the untamed level—can we radiate the power of love.
10 thoughts on “THE RETURN HYPOTHESIS: We Are More Than We Think”
How glad I am of this and how regretful that I missed the sharing in the Wisdoem Community call yesterday, please, is it recorded?
I found this today, having re-experienced an old grief which I am finally coming to terms with in prayer yesterday – it is the first death I experienced, and it was a non-human one.
And I was partly responsible for it.
I grew up on the outskirts of an industrial city, but where we lived was a small pocket of fields, and since birth, I lived in two houses that had gates that led into these fields.
WHen I was 10, we moved to the big house with the trees. That is how I thought of it. 0utside my window was the most beautiful mature copper beech tree, there was another in the back garden, and in the field was the willow tree where I spent most afternoons high in the branches reading or studying.
Entering high school was an isolating experience for me, but walking down the road in the late afternoon, I would see the late sun blaze on the leaves of the copper beech and know I was home. As the light turned to evening and slowly the street lamps began to light (a process taking up to 4 hours in my part of the world) I would spend all that time leaning out of my bedroom window watching the light change colour as it passed through the leaves of the copper beech. Gradually, over a two year period, the branches of the beech tree grew towards my window until the spring when they finally brushed the roof and I could reach out and touch them. I began dreaming that the windows of my room lost their glass in the night and the tree branches grew in through my room and all through the house and I could climb out to the tree and up to see the stars, and the atmosphere was one of reunion.
Then one day I came down the road from school to hear an industrial whine, and there were men in the copper beech tree. They were tree surgeons, pruning the tree. They had already cut from the tree the three branches that stretched toward my windows. The limbs were on the floor and the sores of the cut limbs wept clear fluid.
Horrified, I ran into the house in hysterics, hardly able to speak, screaming at my mother that there were men hurting the tree. Utterly mystified, she called my father in who reasoned with me, explaining that the men were not hurting the tree, in fact they were making it safe so that the tree could grow taller, and keeping the house safe so in an accident the tree would not fall through my window and hurt me and the house.
But SHE WAS HURTING! And symbolically her contact with me and the house and the human life inside it had been severed. She had reached out to me. And she had been maimed.
Unable to console me, my father, in great distress and anger, went out to the tree surgeons and sent them away, leaving the job half done, as he said, and having to pay the men for their time anyway.
I could hardly hear him, being what I now know as utterly disassociated with grief and disconnection.
From that time, I never dreamed the tree again, and I understood the logical sense of my father’s careful proactive action and the safety that motivated it. Knowing my grief had hurt him, and having no words to explain it, I said nothing more as he went about revitalising the garden – respecting the existing bird sanctuary and preservation orders on mature trees, planting fruit trees, but taking down some of the great mature trees that as he said ‘blocked the view’ including the other beautiful copper beech, and thinning out the tangle of birch and briar and poplar trees that the experts said were growing too tall, too close together and would bring each other down in the event of a lightning strike.
My father was a good custodian, by human standards.
Like the whole community and the community standard.
I did not understand then, I have only really consciously understood now, that I grew up as a hearing person in a deaf human community .
When I was 18 and about to leave to go away to study, my father came to me about the matter of the copper beech tree outside my window.
The tree surgeons had assessed its roots as dangerous – growing deep under our old house, compromising the structure of the front walls. And it had grown tall, blocking the light.
He wanted to take it down.
But he wanted to know what I thought.
Because it had upset me so much, all those years ago, he had left the tree alone since then.
The tree had never grown back towards my window in all that time.
And I had stopped looking out of the window to watch the sun set on the road, because there were no longer beautiful colours changing through her leaves, or strong contrasts between the new orange lamp light and the clean black limbs.
And I was leaving.
And it was his house.
So there were no grounds for me to impose my views or will on his world.
No human grounds.
I said he should do what he felt was right.
And the tree surgeons came and took down the tree, carefully and methodically, with their whining saws, and their canvas spread over rubber inner tubes so that as the great branches hit the ground they made no cracks in the tarmac on the drive way.
And they took out the stumpt, and poured tarmac and gravel in the hole, and laid a new car parking space at the front of the house.
But in fact, no more light came in than before, it was blocked by the houses on the opposite side of the street.
And the corner of our drive was shorn and bare and dead and marked only by a concrete gate post.
And at my university, there was a wild park and a whole woodland of mature beech and oak trees, and I walked without shoes everywhere except into the classrooms for 3 months.
And hardly missed the beech tree.
Until last night, working through my Castle Work of those whom I need to forgive and be forgiven by, a memory of the sunsets with the beech tree came to me.
Because the timeless, peaceful quality of them, the sense of beauty I was always reluctant to leave, was in retrospect my first experience of the sacred.
The beech tree who reached out to me was my initiator. In a sense my elder, and my mother, and certainly more of a mother than the wildly lonely and volatile adult woman-child in the kitchen down below me, crumbling in the ashes of her non-existent self esteem as her dependency myths of self-worth based on her husband and children crashed around her as all retreated in horror as her growing hunger sucked at our life force.
My poor mothers. Both of them, the human and not. The one I didn’t know how to help although the tension of her silent screaming for connection and release from loneliness is the backdrop of my consciousness as it formed. And the one who could and did help me evolve was maimed and murdered, and I spoke no word of clemency for her.
My tree mother, I know, forgives me. I know, is eternal, I know, her energy signature is still in the uprush of the virtual ghost tree that still grows at the front of the house. And perhaps I must go and release her.
But for these few days, I am discovering and expressing my grief, and releasing my shame, and going out to touch the trees who have been my companions on the park outside my house for the last decade, and especially nurture the life-force of the young ones who are so often casually destroyed by drunk kids on their way home from work. The park wardens have strong wooden railings protecting the new generation. They survived their first year, but storm ravages have taken some elders down, and the virtual trees that remain – faint forms like dust motes in sunshine, like light diffused through a honeycomb- are thinning gradually, and I ask the beings if they wish to disembody, and my intent supporting their will creates a soft uprush of energy through the soles of my feet and out of my heart chakra. And something changes, in a good way.
And yesterday, at the crematorium for the early death of a young woman, I thanked the great, sodden ash trees whose form is the only elegant, beautiful thing human eyes can find in that miserable place in grey-brown january, and felt the soft uprush of acknowledgement.
And the awareness that they chose this location and vocation – in support of grieving humans, and they bear the risk, as all trees do, of human proximity and the casual violence of human activity. But that life through their ‘eyes’ looks different to life through ours.
They are older and wiser than me. Than us, as a species – it is the genetic difference of their genus to ours. In all ways, souls born in tree form, come into life retaining the connection to their ancient wisdom.
And my insight – consistent with others – is, that they are the antenna for the great eco-fields. Human beings can tune in through them. And we human beings carry the great gift of being walking intention-setters. What we set our hearts on can manifest through us, even things that we cannot set our own hands to creating, we are the lightning rods of the forces of creation, and what we are willing to dream – individually, or in human groups, or in tandem with the non-human living beings of creation – the human contribution allows the charge of intention to pass literally from the ether, into the body of the Earth herself (maybe through an electomagnetic mechanism) and to rebound from that grounding as a resource which the weavers of the patterns greater than my insight can use for their weaving.
And such weaving is what can set humanity, the ecofields, and the planet herself on a viable course for the future.
I don’t speak much to others nowadays. I put my feet on the earth, and give my intent to those greater forces, and know myself to be a lightning rod feeding good intent with the resources it needs.
0r to put it another way, i make sacred the earth beneath my feet. I am a channel for grace.
And so are all of you I have read her, all of you ‘listening’, all of you in this community.
I feel you feeding the pattern. I feel its weft forming off the strength of our shared intent, and the silver streaming energy of the non-human beings discharging their silken energy down the lightening rods of our human bodies, enabled by our human intent. If you cannot see how that discharge spills back up and out through us, magnified a thousand fold, I want you to know it is happening.
It is not hopeless, we are by no means outnumbered, or helpless, or beyond solution. We are a strong and working active force effecting neccessary work on a tight but working schedule.
There is a LOT of suffering.
Humans tune first and so easily and sensitively to the frequency of suffering.
But it is just a frequency.
When we retune our receiving frequency, we hear another story. 0ne that can revive us, so I recommend it.
Perhaps some of you could check in on the frequencies you know and see if you too can find the frequency I find.
Trees can help you. They gladly will 🙂 They need you for their work. And we need them.
And, amazingly, on the whole, they tend to love us.
Yesterday i decided to climb a mountain near to our staffing house in Coyhaique, at Chilean Patagonia. It was late in the afternoon and i was climbing the mountain when i heard a sound that i understood as from indigenous people, so i responded back with the same sound. I did not have a clear climbing route in my mind… so, I let my body be led by spontaneity by those voices. Near to the top of the mountain, it was extremely windy (as usual here in Patagonia), and I started to hear sentences of encouragement, inspiring self-confidence and strength. I gave a smile, because I was surprised with that unexpected “thought” or voice. And I liked it! Then, just after that, as i reached the top, I saw this huge and astonishing tree. I stood in front of it. So majestic! And then i asked “her” to tell me what I need to know. And she answered back: “I just talked with you”. I laugh and cry at same time, very touched with the realization that those powerful words when i was reaching the summit came from the tree. It came to my mind that sometimes i will need to become a tree and stand firm and strong as they do.
Thanks for this wonderful post!
Best wishes !
Will, I am blessed by your return hypothesis. It is so true that “We cannot know Jesus, Jung, Moses, Mohamed, or ourselves without this perspective. Return or perish, says this hypothesis. ”
I am especially distraught at how people have displaced the simple story of Jesus into new and alienating consumerist Eco-fields such as the Bible theme park in Florida. Visit Jerusalem and watch the baby Jesus be born while sucking on Hawaiian shave ice and eating cotton candy. All props guaranteed to be made of plastic just like our post post modern forms of prayer and sanctification.
Give me the deep ecology of 40 days fasting in a real desert without the snow cones and hired security. Give me the real threat of consequences when your download from the Eco-field acts like a spear piercing through the ideology of the powers that run the world.
I also think there is a microcosm we all must face when learning this language. It can be seen in Professor Emoto’s simple experiment with water and rice. And it speaks to the two-way conversation we have with all more than humans.
Take two jars with rice and water in them. Bless one and insult the other for 30 days. See the difference in what they look like. http://altering-perspectives.com/2014/01/scientific-proof-thoughts-intentions-can-alter-physical-world-around-us.html
I suspect hope for the earth comes on the back of (1) how well we listen to brother tree and (2) how we respond every day in relationship.
The birthing story reminded me of the scene from Kunta Kinte (sp?) in which the baby is held to the sky.
“The Return” is a reflection of my purpose here. I am sooo excited. It is a part of my resonance that I have been a part of these past 25 years with the EarthHealers. My inner belief that is now getting easier to share….is it the ecofield? I have felt my body, like that of the pipe bowl, is borrowed from the Earth, and yet it is me. But not all of who I am because I am more…. the stem and everything flowing through it. I am stars and Soul, touched by nature, represented by the tobacco. A grand relationship. I see us dance in a small reflecting way, the coming together of the Physical Essence of the Planet with the Earth’s larger Soul Self. The Earth becoming more, experiencing deep physical creation. In this, large being (Earth) doing this, everything held within this creation has the opportunity to do likewise. We are in the ecofield of Earth’s creative consciousness and growth. There are so many aspects of her! This is my passion and what I came here to help remember.
This article reminds me of a vision quest many years ago on a beloved ranch. I sat between two ponds – one seemingly alive and green, the other seemingly dead and brown. Yet, the “dead” pond had live fish. The “live” pond held none. Then a heron came to stand with the fish and rose high in a dance with a large brown hawk. The eco-field spoke of what might my life be between?? Where was the dance? What was the flight/journey? Powerful voices from the eco-field.
What an amazing journey this is Will, to see how the parts connect and nourish the way forward to “The Return Hypothesis.” It clarifies, disturbs, and stirs me on many levels. In response, I share one aspect, one image of a vision quest journey that cries out to be shared at this moment in time. It is in the form of a blog post I wrote today, entitled “One Who Dares to Speak With Trees.” You can access it here: http://twotreesbirthing.blogspot.com/2014/01/one-who-dares-to-speak-with-trees.html
I appreciate how you challenge our thinking and beliefs, how you encourage us to ask tough questions.
Love and puha,
Deborah Two Trees Birthing
Ho Will and All,
I am so excited about this post! I especially love the story about the woman delivering her baby first into the Earth, then into the arms of the Tribe and then into her own arms. We have come such a long way from that immediate level of connection to our first home, and our first mother. Dan and I marveled at how in our modern culture, the baby is delivered first to technology; to the nurses and their equipment, to be poked and prodded, then to the mother, and much, much later, if at all, to the earth or the eco-field. WOW! That is an eye-opener!
No wonder we are so disconnected! We seek our whole lives to find that connection again, and it is the most important and powerful journey we can take. This new explanation helps me understand what happened to me. I was born in France, just west of Paris. We had an apple orchard in the back of our home. My mother said they could hardly get me to come inside, as I spent my days outside with the apple trees. I was so much a part of that eco-field that when we moved to New York City at the age of 2 years old, I felt uprooted, like a tree yanked out of the earth. And I was! That trauma was very real for me and when I returned to my birthplace as an adult it was a visceral homecoming! I felt in every cell of my body, the return to my home, to my own eco-field again.
Thank you Will, for shedding even more light on this topic for me. And just recently, we moved to a new home on the Blanco River in Wimberley. Although we are in the same town, it is a completely different eco-field. The creek and the river, and the ancient cypress trees speak a different language than our meadow in the oak and juniper trees before. I am already experiencing the pangs and delight of learning this new version of The Mother Tongue.
So much more to come. For now, I am thrilled to be part of this dialogue!
love and puha!
Most powerful teachings Obi-Will!
Your hypothesis, “Nature’s Relationships Define Individuals” follows on the tail of a conversation Shiila and I were having this morning about my relationship with the Cedar beings and their powerful sexual activity here in the Texas Hill Country. More specifically, I am noticing my relationship with my auto-immune system and the relationship my auto-immune systems has with the Cedar pollen. I am curious about having a more intimate relationship with the Cedar beings than with my own auto-immune system.
My current practice each day is to stand in the presence of two Cedar tress–a male and a female–and talk with the trees, acknowledging them for their contribution to our beautiful landscape and for their effective and profound sexual expression. I talk with my auto-immune system and ask it if it would be willing to allow the cedar pollen to be in my body without my immune system reacting so vigorously. I collect two cedar berries, chew the pulp, spit out the seed and let the chewed pulp remain between my lip and gum for a few minutes–homeopathic style.
One of the things that I realized in my conversation with Shiila, is that I feel more connected with the Cedar tress than my own auto-immune system. Interesting! When I connect with the trees I feel an exchange; when I talk with my auto-immune system, I feel no connection. So, I am working with that.
Another teaching that is coming through my cedar tree practice and my conversation with Shiila, is how challenging relationships with aspects of the eco-field and how I react to them is a map for how I react in challenging interpersonal relationships. This awareness is brand new so I will sit with it longer before saying anymore about it.
Gratitude to Will for these profound teachings in this blog and for the participation from all of us following and commenting.
Love and Puha to all!
This is disruptive! Thank God! To my way of thinking the current trend on the planet needs that. Two things come to mind.
When I think of my children as having come through me in the scenario you describe, it multiplies thousandfold my love and respect for ALL of the fields; personal, gravitational, magnetic ,environmental, natural, supernatural angelic, cultural,civic, economic, tribal and beyondsense. It expands my vision of who My kids are and assists in my ability to let go of them appropriately. And with my teenager, who still takes a lesson from me in how to view herself, this can Only expand her vision of who she might be which gives a larger range for hope. For herself, for our family, our tribe and our planet and the universe.
Also in terms of Myofascial Release I can see that through physical pressure and energetic resonance, my hands are disrupting the fascial network and microtubule vibrations enough to broaden range of motion so that the body can tune into the mother tongue. More hope.
Thank you Will for tirelessly working to strengthen you gifts as a teacher. Sending love to you and to all the fields that are creating you.