“I looked back on the past and recalled my people’s old ways, but they were not living that way any more. They were traveling the black road, everybody for himself and with little rules of his own…I was in despair…” –Black Elk
There is an understanding in indigenous cultures that any changes we make must be sanctioned by spirit. That’s why these cultures are tradition-heavy. You don’t make a move without spirit. And their shamans and elders have the means to discern whether or not something has the blessing of spirit.
Because of this, change takes time. There is a constant effort to maintain a harmony between the physical world and the spirit world. Sure, we’re not perfect. Sometimes we fall out of step with spirit, but when this happens, measures are taken to correct it.
Now, the problem that I have with technology is that the techno wizards have us so busy trying to keep up with them that we have left spirit in the dust. We have untethered ourselves, so to speak, from the past, from tradition and from spirit. We are out here alone.
However, sadly, in life, we can’t go back. Even if we wanted to, I doubt many of us would survive a season living indigenously. What do you mean I have to tote that water three miles? And what’s with all the bugs?
“What do you suggest?” asks, Mr. Octopus.
“Well…I was thinking…maybe we could slow down a little.”
This super-fast techno highway is doubly sad for me. Not only are we untethered from the past as a whole, but I don’t think I can go where our culture is headed. Woe is me. I am lost somewhere between longing for the ancient wisdom and a fear of the future. I am really alone. Well, there’s probably a few more in-betweeners out there.
For instance, in the last blog, I talked about this natural rhythm of switching our consciousness on and off at rapid intervals and how technology interferes with that, causing an energy leakage. Well, if you look at science fiction, which I think is a cultural visualization of our future, according to books and movies like Neuromancer, Aeon Flux and Blade Runner to name a few, our bodies will adapt to the machine. Pretty soon, you won’t need a cell phone. You’ll have a chip imbedded in you somewhere that will make the call. Leakage, bleakage, who cares? I have a chip! Whoopee!
Now, while there are millions of people out there fantasizing about that chip and what it will let them do, I am fantasizing about learning the ancient ways. I could care less about a chip. I abhor the chip. I just can’t get a fucking chip! I can’t! I won’t! Aargh!
“RRRelax,” urges Mr. Octopus. “No one wants to give you a chip.”
“They’re already putting chips in dogs! I swear. It’s a locating device in case the dog gets lost. Soon they’ll be doing it to babies. No baby chips! No baby chips!”
There was a book published some years ago called Mutant Message Down Under. It received a lot of criticism and some argued that it wasn’t authentic. I don’t know if the story is true or not, but I know I was moved by it. It is the story of a white woman who goes on walk-about with an aboriginal group in Australia. This group collectively decided not to procreate. They felt that world of the future would not support their traditional way of life and did not want to bring any future generations forth.
Honey, I feel their pain. Indigenous cultures have strong ties to the past. Those cultures are anchored by tradition. They deeply appreciate the methods that have sustained their way of life for eons, and that includes a balance between themselves, nature and spirit. Those traditions are more flexible and adaptive than one might think. There is the understanding that for the tradition to be kept alive it has to change. But the change is rooted to something strong, like a tree.
In the absence of traditions in our modern life, what’s anchoring us? I worry for the little ones coming here. They’ll have a mess on their hands.
“You are starting to sound like a negatorrr,” says Mr. Octopus.
“I know. I’m sorry. There is still so much beauty in the world… I saw the sunset tonight. For a moment, I felt the is-ness of it all, the biting cold, the traffic, the city lights, and I felt deeply grateful to be alive.”
“OK. Just checking.”