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.