"Spiritual Task: Ground in the Material & Uproot Oppression"
forward to a Manifesto for A Sacred Materialism
The material plane is the densest plane of reality, and connection to it is fundamental for survival and flourishing. Material existence is where we connect with each other, with plants/food, with animals(/food), where we protect ourselves from the elements, where we create spaces for all the various multifaceted functions we create for ourselves as humans. It is quite an unfortunate mix-up to think that to be connected with the higher planes, we should abandon this denser plane. It is a reaction to what a capitalistic society has hijacked the word 'materialism' to mean; let us look at this comprised relationship between ourselves and the material world.
The problem with goal of capitalism is the acquisition of material goods in an unchecked, endless way. Within this system, so much is disregarded, under another hijacked concept- progress. In my personal analysis of this situation, a multi-layered problem seems quite clear and is describable as follows: The burning, sun, go, action/ fire principle of yang has overcome the inward, cooling, moon, night, introspective, intuitive yin principle. This is abstract- let me ground the interpretation in the material plane. It can be seen on so many levels, in so many ways, all around, and inside my own being. (This is not a new interpretation- it can be found endlessly in many sources; we are all connected to source inside, so it is no wonder the amount of harmonic resonance of interpretive occurrence addressing this pervading problem.) Here are just some of the layers, and I'm sure you can find many of your own. Women are thought less of then men. Introspection has no time in the rat-race of modern society. Emotions are disregarded, and I've found with many people, some of whom identify as very spiritual, literally see emotions as something to be controlled, avoided, kept away!!! As if this whole component of ourselves is not meant to be! One particular context this has come up in conversation is on the topic of meditation- of how meditation will bring up emotions, and how this is intolerable! Action is yang, Reflection is yin. We need both!! To mine and mine and mine to cut down trees and cut and cut to burn oil and burn and burn to build and build and factorize and factorize rows and rows of 'progress' without the pause necessary to consider the land, the people, the effects; such a powerful sickness has possessed our hearts; the flame of a candle needs an amount of inert wax, and even then burns out.
Innocent children are sold for sex. Real, beautiful, human children, and women, and men, are raped. The culture turns the woman into a sex object; we see it everyday magazines and television, on billboards. Every one of our mothers created us in her sacred womb; yet sexually active women and pregnancy are shamed. A woman's cycle with the moon is shamed. Plant medicine is associated with 'witchcraft' and big pharma makes billions poisoning people, all on synthesized medications traced back to those same companies studying plants. We are in a potent, important time, when we are waking up to these deeply pervading horrors that permeate the very fabric of modern society. A native elder Standing Elk speaks of a time for all of our brothers and sisters of the four directions, all races, to weave back together the sacred hoop of time. We must bring these issues out of the shadows in order to do so! We all can sense in our hearts the old crumbling- but it cannot be done in passivity and quite. There is much to be spoken and brought out, however uncomfortable and however many emotions it may bring out. Emotions are valuable! Thoughts are to mind as emotions are to heart, and our hearts are our soul center. We can handle this! It is the work for now. Women's hardships resonate with the collective- and please dont get me wrong in thinking i do not see men's suffering, too. We all suffer, and we all carry this imbalance- until we choose to address and correct it! Which we have much power and reason to do.
I believe the material existence is organically associated with yin or the feminine, and there is much synchronicity and naturalness in this. I pause here to say that the feminine is in men, too. It is a principle, not a sex. A man can be very feminine and embody all of these components I recognize as feminine. I encourage you to define feminine and masculine for yourself! There is much more power in this. I also encourage you to question what your culture has told you is feminine, and what is masculine. :) A home is like a womb. A space- literal- and a space- felt- are created either by human or nature. The way buildings are poorly constructed is a gaping example of the imbalance I speak of- think of how inventive, creative, amazing we can make things! Yet, edges, toxic paint, fixtures that break within years- and again, why? why this way? money. money. Profit margin: our flawed definition of progress. Buildings aren't made to last. They are built by those who want to endlessly acquire without reflection on the toxins created and spread, where the materials come from, the well-being of those involved in this process. The same is true of material goods, much of the time. (Though here in Boulder we are quite lucky to have access to goods which are fair-trade, sustainable, and consciously constructed. Though I do think we can do much better, even!)
Material goods surround us, they inform our work, the inform our emotions and our sense of well being. They resonate with the qualities embodied in the bodies of the human souls who brought them forth. In America, in the developed worlds, these goods hold the suffering of those who suffered in their creation. They hold the suffering of the Earth, if the Earth suffered in their creation. This is the energetic truth. Even if we don't feel connected directly, this energy is there. There is a fear in the eyes of a human who is eating the flesh of an animal tortured for the profit of its meat. There is a sadness in the heart of the human who is clothed in the labor of half starving children. The subtle planes exist with the physical; even if we have not evolved to see these planes (which some do) the resonance is there, for all the feel.
Where is this dynamic sourced? How do we confront it? We must address the elephant in each and every one of our psyches, which we have a word for: oppression. What function does this belief system of 'modern progress' serve? Or whom? What components of our own psyche relate to this function? How is it enacted within our own being? What can we do?
When speaking of these issues, I often find myself using my fingers to create a triangle. The triangle is so very relevant to systems which enact oppression. They rest on oppressed peoples. A king figure sits atop. He wants to act in a completely unchecked, endless way- with all succumbing to what he (or she) sees as best. The dager is very relevant. Around the first time I took LSD I had been taking a anthropology class, learning about hunting and gathering. Shiva and Shakti spoke to me from all of the material plane, showing me how they exist in everything. The dagger became a symbol for me for hunting/man, and the basket for gathering/women. (I teach classes on understanding metaphor for clarity about the importance of not over-literalising this feminine/ spatial way of understanding; which I don't have time for here- just remember- this is a metaphor! It is true, but in a different way than a logical truth.) The dagger is powerful. The dagger allows for hunting, as well as war, as well as hierarchal order; it has much to do with force. It has to do with structure.
The bottom of the structure, there are slaves. There are real human lives, with all the same emotions, desires, intricacies and beautiful expressions of humanity as the king has. However, when incarnated into this role, one is subject to much suffering, hardship, and often horror; the horror of torture, the horror of rape, the horror of witnessing the extreme suffering and injustice to not only the self but also, perhaps much more difficult to bare, that done to loved ones. Unchecked, endless 'progress' has heavy costs that permeate through us all. The illusion of separate groups is a false construction, which is utilized to justify greed and desire, even when it hurts other human souls. We are never separate. Energetically, what happens to others permeates to us. It is painful to look at, and we have become accustomed to not looking. But the pain is in each and every heart. Thats why when you open your heart, it hurts. Emotions are guides! They overwhelm because this collective situation is literally overwhelming our psyches, our history speaks of it. We must not forget. We must hold this pain, and act in accordance, if we are to have truly open hearts, if we are to truly heal ourselves and move through this incredibly challenging position we find ourselves now incarnated into.
Oppression exists in every position of the triangle. Why do you think upper middle class is stricken with anti-depressants, anti-anxiety perscibtions, a dullness in the eyes, a loss of care for life, alcoholism, when all of the basic needs are beyond met? Why does this group of people suffer, when they can buy anything they might need, when they can afford to follow their dreams, go to performances, travel to any stretch of the world? Why are the super elite often stricken by these same ailments? Think of the pressure, the bondage. A family member with an enormous inherentence isn't free, by any means! The best way to ensure your own ends are met- especially if those ends include the excessive exploitation of people and land for copious amounts of wealth to be continually flowing in- how could you not threaten, pressure, and insight this continuation without inducing trauma on your children? What if they want to give it all away, all of what you have worked for? What of the poor single mother, just trying to feed her children? How can she stand up when holding a job in itself can be problematic? What if she is a black woman, and this alone leaves her marginalized and underpaid, even when she works harder than her white male counterparts?
We must reach out to these groups, foremost, to weave back together our hoop. We have been taught to be selfish, so this can be hard to accept, but it is the truth. And in relating to those in oppressed groups, subjected groups of this modern world, we can touch on our own oppression, and learn to work with it, transform it. The suppression of our emotions, the desire to control and order, the 'negative thoughts' western spiritual modalities speak of overcoming are a resonance of the world we live in. It is wonderful if you can overcome your own negative thoughts through intention, meditation, affirmations. But it is not enough; we must fight oppression with external action as well as inwardly. If you have graced me by reading this article, thank you! And please reflect on the knowledge here contained, contemplate your own oppression and how it plays on emotions. You have infinite power to understand how your emotions are played on, how sources outside yourself pressure you to get down on yourself, to feel doubt, to feel the desire to hoard, to hate on others. Why? What has caused this to occur? What motivations could those that created this pressure have? What do they want from you? I implore you, follow this chain of inquiry, find your own oppression, its the best path to freedom! to joy and love and self worth! Shopping locally, volunteering, listening to the stories of marginalized groups- these are all real actions, and in Boulder we have the benefit of this type of activity being valued. But don't stop there! Follow your feelings, your intuitions. Seek to understand the whys as well as the whats. Boulder can be a leading example for the whole country, on civic engagement as well as conscious consumerism. Its our responsibility to free ourselves! its our responsibility to rebuild the world! I know many of you feel it 'the new wave' coming- but it won't be done for us, we must do the soul work, we must bring on the new age. It is our inheritance, our right, our world! The spiritual is grounded in the material! We need only enact it so.