“…it seems like people want to grab everything for themselves, they don’t care, they just destroy. There will be terrible things that are going to happen. We need to clean up the mess that we created. If we don’t, Mother Earth is going to shake us real hard. We are all breathing this air, which is a part of nature; every living thing on this Earth has to breathe in this air. We have no business destroying any other life. Right now we have terrible earthquakes, terrible wind, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions and now this flooding in Mississippi. And other things are going to happen soon. From now on, things are going to happen fast.”
Thomas Banyacya Hopi 1994
“They are by nature the most humble, patient, and peaceable, holding no grudges, free from embroilment, neither excitable nor quarrelsome. These people are the most devoid of rancor, hatred, or desire for vengeance of any people in the world.”
Bartolome de las Casas 1502
What if we could awaken to a wider linguistic and conscious awareness, one older than the Western dominant mindset, an indigenous perspective, that in this very fragile coronavirus affected time, would allow a deeper horizon than the one modern civilization has been used to for centuries? Since the Enlightenment especially, Western languages have imposed a mindset of domination, dominion and subjugation over the organic world. We now face a decline ecologically and spiritually brought on by the pandemic. What we need is an overhaul of our perspective and our narrow relationship to Earth and other species and this is why Tiokasin Ghosthorse, a Lakota Elder, once a computer programmer, is teaming up with a quantum physicist to show exactly what we have been missing all these years, all these centuries, all these millennia.
Our society has been driven by a short-term, quarterly return market mindset in which the subjugation of Earth for profit has created a global catastrophe in the making. We could be looking at the last semi-viable decade, let alone century. Looking short term, as opposed to seven generations down the line, is hardwired into our consumer asphyxiated civilization. We need a radical shift in perspective. The coronavirus, for all its tragedy, is forcing us down that path. We need a true, renewable and renewed relationship with the Earth as opposed to one that extracts, imposes industrial guidelines, conquers wilderness and releases waste back into the environment. The only other alternative is extinction, the human species included.
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The world of domination and subjugation is the fourth world, what we have had in place for a long time now and as Tiokasin says, there won’t be many survivors coming out of it. As many native peoples know, we have already entered a new prophetic fifth world. “The Western way of thinking is killing the world,” says Tiokasin.
Its why the children have been speaking by the millions and marching around the world in an unprecedented way. It is why the green movement is taking on added urgency. If we wake up to the crisis upon us, there is no going back to the norm, because the norm was an aberration, a mechanically oriented trauma or an “overwhelming” as the native nations of North America would say. Native perception and language holds a wisdom few of us can ignore in this period in human history when society, financial structures and the future of life on earth are in the balance.
Tiokasin’s insights are about indigeneity. He is working on a book about the complexities of indigenous American language and its importance to the world. Native elders have been warning us about this period in history for generations but we have not listened. Dominating Native people, animals, forests and extracting the Earth for fuels has enabled our present day industrial military complex. It has enabled Wall Street and the betraying of Earth for oil, gas and mineral industries to ransack what is left of a once coherent world. The few years we have to hold on or stabilize what we have left will define whether we survive or enable a slow collective suicide as a species. One that will involve social upheaval, food shortages and global mayhem. The point of no return is 2025. Leaders of the world, it is time to listen to the elders.
Native thought has no word for domination and therefore no dogma, no need for capitalism versus communism, no split mind, no duality. We have got to cure our schizophrenia. Maybe the coronavirus can literally show us the way. Because the sickness upon us started in the mind, and worked its way around the world. It was invested in dominating the natural world, in butchering animals and treating them like slaves, flaying irreplaceable forest eco systems and subjugating Native people who are the human key to regaining sanity in this unbelievable time. It is the last chance we will ever have if we are to survive.
As all energy comes from beneath our feet, including the ancestors; the current extractive mode is literally cutting humanity off from the source, continuity and ultimately posterity. Wind is source. Sun is source. The Earth’s own heat is source. We have made resources into a thing while for the Native people they were “relations,” not objects. In Lakota, Mitakuye Oyasin, for which there is no equivalent in any Western language, is more than the fact that we are all related. It is about the original relationship between and that constellation of all beings that gives rise to the voice before time even began. It is about the primal consciousness that instructs all life. The dominant industrial model has betrayed that prime imperative. It was imprinted in the Declaration of Independence as the Law of Nature and Nature’s God or the Creator influenced by the Iroquois Confederacy. It many ways it is time we returned to the tenets that were the seeds of this country. The Founding Fathers like Jefferson and Franklin had the vision to listen to America’s first inhabitants. Over time, with Industrialization their words were lost. It is time the powers that be listened.
Tiokasin emphasizes that we are committing suicide by cutting the relationship to existence. Existence is a verb, a multi-dimensional process, it is not a noun. The scientists know and the Native peoples have know this for generations. When we extract and plunder and box in a resource there is no longer any relationship to that element. While we in the dominant society see a lifeform as a thing, it is not actually a noun but an active verb of relationship. We have forgotten how to relate to the world. For Native peoples, even animals are processes, they are in constant motion and therefore much closer to how quantum mechanics sees the world.
One could say that the way Native people live is already a quantum reality based on a way of seeing and living and as Tiokasin explains beyond E=Mc squared, because for the Native peoples, Einstein’s formula is lived and is not an abstraction. Einstein honored the Native mind when he exclaimed that “the intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
From now, until 2025, is the vaunted time of purification as the Maya call it. The fifth crossing as the Lakota see it. We are living in a time when society has lost touch with original instruction of how to take care and treat the Earth. The planet will be shaken and in essence remind us of our vulnerability. The Earth changes upon us are not dogma. They are real and our species had better listen. We are a very young species by comparison with most others. Our rational intelligence has run roughshod over “intuitive intelligence” and the situation cannot endure much longer. This is the definitive decade for reining in what the Native people see as the madness and sickness of the dominant society. It started in the mind and now races through our blood. Much worse diseases will ensue if we do not learn the lesson this time around. The coronavirus is like a crown we have worn representing the dominion and domination and subjugation we have brought upon ourselves.
Active and dynamic relationships with earth, animals, water, became an interaction between things that have no apparent consciousness. They became resources as opposed to live processes and relationships born out of respect. Buffalo, massacred by the tens of millions, gave life to the fields, and must be respected. A few were taken when needed but they were honored and respected. Now the soil, which supports human society as we know it, could be on the verge of a Dust Bowl potentially worse than what we had 80 years ago. Because we have treated the soil as a thing, a noun, a resource when it is actually a relationship. The animals we have treated as things especially in Asia have directly been the cause of the coronavirus. Animals are sacred. The meat plants that kill billions of pigs, turkey, chicken and cows are an abomination. We need to rethink our relationship to animals before the next pandemic, or the pandemics will never end. One of the cures to the pandemic is a renewed relationship to Nature.
Life became literally a thing to be dominated by the United States as it entered the 20th century. Women were not given the right to vote. Blacks, well we know their story. Our economic system is a manipulative distortion because it does not serve the common good, the earth, the soil we depend on. The soil is not a thing, it is a process. Bees and the one third of insects that are endangered are not things, just nouns, just objects, or even just small animals, but dynamic beings and part of a process we need to survive. For the millions of those who have lost their jobs, their livelihoods, their health care there is little comfort perhaps in these concepts. But for the Native elders, this idea was lived, it was real, and not an abstraction. Can we command a new relationship to the Earth so that everyone is taken care of a human being and not just a number?
Can kids learn the values of what makes us a species in relation to life and not just master computer languages, get an MBA or a degree in science or learn how to make weapons parts or be an engineer without the larger reason why we were put on this Earth? Earth is testing us the Native peoples would say. The Native peoples were the very first to be dominated by the colonial technological society, but they held onto their spiritual core. As Tiokasin says, “We may be landless but we are not homeless.” And it may be said the opposite holds true for the dominant society. We may have all the money in the world. But inside there is a black hole eating up the soul at the speed of light. It is the loneliness, anger and separation of the dominant civilization from the Earth. As Tiokasin exclaims about the next generation, “It is easier to lie to kids in the states rather then tell them the truth. It is easier to develop words of denial, the more intellect is developed in this “rational” system.”
What are we going to do? It is time we heard the Native peoples. We are going through the prophetic 5th world, that the Hopi talked about and the 5th bridge the Lakota have foreseen for centuries. We have behaved as if there were no consequences for centuries, starting especially with the conquest of the Americas by the Europeans. We imposed an abstract God when the Creator was already honored here and among all Native people for many millennia. We are going through the time of purification when everything we thought we knew, all the societal norms, everything we thought we knew about growing food, ecosystems, ice melt, other species just being animals without consciousness, everything will be tested. Many will suffer and by 2026, we will have the chance to start a new cycle, hopefully one that redeems life and how to live in the world and not just on it. It is time we stopped denying those people who can communicate with the Earth, their voice. Those 5 percent of the people who live on 80 percent of the biodiverse habitats and ecosystems of the planet.
Submit to using only so much water a day, realize that mining is an extractive, corrupting crime as we have pursued it. “It is better to build a little fire so people can stand closer together as opposed to a big fire to attract attention,” Tiokasin says. Earth has been reacting as a Mother would. Perhaps a quaint concept but not an abstraction. The increasing tornadoes, the typhoons, the hurricanes, fires are the cleaning of the Mother. “Earth will teach that lesson to whomever is trying to take advantage of that situation,” says Tiokasin. The Earth is far more than dirt. The extractive “growth” industries must change. The growth has been a massacre and plundering beyond anything Earth can endure. Earth will be purified whether we want it or not. This pandemic is part of that because we have maligned the forests, the species and the life force of the planet. We need a perceptual rebirth. One that comes from the heart. Because many will perish but many many more could die if we don’t heed this lesson now. It is the time of purification and the technological society has lost all humility. One of our greatest teachers in the West once said, “Do not do to others…” That lesson from 2,000 years ago has been forgotten. But today all life on Earth is at stake.
We have to start fostering “intuitive intelligence,” and to respect that which gave us life. We are eating ourselves into oblivion. Our relationship to animal factory farms, pesticides, ignoring the climate realities upon us, that will be definitive if we don’t change. Humility overcomes greed. We have been cut off from the great mystery. Ownership and domination do not work. Objectifying the planet negates our relation to it. We have forgotten how to be friends with the elements. Mankind has need of a new mind and a new perspective on life. Simple but profound words from an elder who has seen how America and the dominant global society has conducted itself for centuries. The present pandemic is a serious test run and the one we may inherit next, in five years, could be much, much worse if we do not turn our society around. The next five years may well determine the life force of the planet for the rest of our earthly stay. Tiokasin hopes and believes a change of heart is still possible.
“For the first time in human history the involutional disease of a single civilization, that of the West, shows signs of becoming the disease of all contemporary societies.”
Loren Eiseley The Lethal Factor
Learn more about Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson’s work at their website.
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