Go right now and check out John Nelson’s animations and have an epiphany . . . feel, maybe for the first time in your life, viscerally and emotionally connected to the pulse of life of planet earth.
Then come back here.
Are you back?
Imagine being shown this graphic of the mysterious breathing planet way back when you were in kindergarten … and then being given other epiphanies as you mature, eventually growing up to be a different kind of human being. Imagine an education that cultivates wonderment.
What if a new view could be promoted – a pachamama understanding of the earth and our place in it? As ecophilospher and activist Joanna Macy wonders, “Could the next leap in evolution arise out of shift in identification, in which we shed the story of battling for supremacy and move instead to playing our role as part of the larger team of life on Earth? Could the creativity and survival instinct of humanity as a whole, or even of life as a whole, act through us?”
When rainforest activist John Seed was asked by Joanna Macy how he handles despair (over species extinction and climate change), he replied: “I try to remember that it’s not me, John Seed, trying to protect the rainforest. Rather, I am part of the rainforest protecting itself. I am that part of the rainforest recently emerged into human thinking.”
This notion that humans are an intrinsic part of a living earth is at the heart of indigenous belief systems around the world, and is perhaps best encapsulated in the concept of “Pachamama” as it is understood by the Q'ero of Peru and other indigenous people throughout South America.
To understand “Pachamama” one has to understand “Pacha” as a key tenet of life in the high, thin-aired Andes. As it is commonly said in these areas, it is impossible to survive at 15,000 feet above the sea without the support of Pachamama, all of creation. “Pacha” refers to the totality of being and our embeddedness in this universe – our being in it but also of it. The Indigenous people of the Andes see themselves as walking and living pieces of earth temporarily cloaked in a human framework. They do not believe in the anthropocentric myth that humans are the final masterpiece of creation and rightful owner of all else – their view is that humans are just one part of Pachamama’s body.
In Active Hope Joanna Macy advices:
When we include the natural world in our identity, we are brought into a much larger story of who and what we are. Recognizing ourselves as part of the living body of Earth opens us to a greater source of strength [especially in these times of global ecological crisis and global warming]. The expression “Act your age” takes on a different meaning when we see ourselves as part of an amazing flow of life that started on this planet more than three and a half billion years ago. We come from an unbroken lineage that has survived through five mass extinctions.
Check out Nelson’s graphic again. Then go outside and maybe, for the first time in your life, feel who you really are.