Fostering Ecozoic Intimacies by DEWnada 9/2012 “Only intimacy [with our natural surroundings] can save us from our

present commitment to a plundering industrial economy.” -- Thomas Berry, The Great Work; NY, NY: Bell Tower, 1999; p.99. I present here two meditations meant to foster ecological intimacy. They can be adapted for either private or group contemplation. The first is an ecological meditation in light of the Vaishnava understanding of rasa theology, or the flavors of personal loving relationship with the Supreme Person. The second involves amplifications of and active imaginings about four central Ecozoic era archeptypes. First Meditation Five Flavors of Intimacy: In many religious traditions, particularly in forms of bridal mysticism, the theme of spiritual intimacy plays a central theological role. In the Vaishnava cosmology there are various levels of the spiritual sky where different Divine aspects predominate according to the level of intimacy existing there between the Lord and his devotees. In the lower spiritual regions the focus is on aisvarya, the supernatural powers and opulences of the Supreme, and

the devotional orientation is thus one of awe and reverence. In the higher regions the devotee’s focus is on madhurya, the natural sweetness of having a most intimate loving relationship with the Supreme Person. In rasa theology, the varieties of intimacy possible with the Supreme Person are mapped out as a continuum of five levels, representing ever deepening expressions of loving relationship, from santa to madhurya rasa. The Five Rasas of Loving Exchange according to Gaudiya Vaishnavism, going from the lower to the higher rasas (literally “juices”) of intimacy: 1) Santa-rasa (tranquil love): The devotee experiences the Divine’s power and glory and enters into a peaceful loving relationship with the Supreme Person, but the devotee does not engage in loving service to this Divine Power Source and Kosmic Governor. 2) Dasya-rasa (serving love): The devotee’s love for the Supreme is expressed as the dutiful devotional service of a servant or a son/daughter to the Divine Master/ Parent. 3) Sakhya-rasa (friendly love): Love for the Supreme is experienced by the devotee as transcending any obligations due to rank or status, and is expressed through feelings of fraternity, equality and solidarity with the Divine Friend.

4) Vatsalya-rasa (parental love): Love for the Supreme is expressed though a devotee's ongoing parental love and care for the Divine Child. 5) Madhurya-rasa (amorous love): Love for the Supreme is expressed as feelings of romantic, ecstatic love for the Divine Beloved. For this meditation let us consider these five varieties of loving exchange in light of our relationship with the Earth specifically, rather than with the Supreme Personality (although the Earth undoubtedly manifests and is part of the numinous power of the Supreme which includes and transcends the Earth). We can easily substitute the word “Earth” or “Kosmos” or “Anima Mundi”, etc., for the word “Supreme” in the above list and see what happens. Now try to discern which specific flavor of relationship you are personally cultivating with the Earth and which flavors your socio-cultural communities are consciously and unconsciously cultivating. We can also consider the opposites to these five flavors of loving exchange, or what could be called the five flavors of unloving exchange with the Earth. Five Rasas of Earth Love: 1) santa rasa / passive neutrality : the mode of peaceful abiding with creation, without active service on behalf of creation; abiding in harmony with the Earth

2) dasya rasa / servitorship : actively relating to creation in the mode of dutiful service to our Parent; serving as the Earth’s good son/daughter/servant 3) sakya rasa / friendship : relating to creation in the mode of Kosmic solidarity; becoming the Earth’s friend 4) vatsalya rasa / parental affection: taking responsibility for consciously parenting creation; acting as a good parent to the Earth 5) madhurya rasa / amorous union: being in an ecstatic love affair, having creation as one’s conjugal lover; living as the Earth’s lover Five Rasas of Earth Hatred: 1) passive, neutral hatred: Self-interest dominates relations with the Earth; abiding out of harmony with the Earth 2) dominating hatred: Active mastery and domination over the natural world is sought; acting as the Earth’s master 3) enemy hatred: This is an enemy orientation of actively exploiting the Earth; becoming the Earth’s outright enemy 4) deadly hatred: This hatred is unlimited in its exploitative scope; being the Earth’s death dealer 5) annihilating hatred: This is the worst war with nature mode imaginable; living as Earth’s annihilator If we were to look at 21st century American culture what would we see in regards to our level of intimacy with

the Earth? By and large we are operating on a level of unloving exchange which totally ignores the concerns of other members of the Earth community in favor of advancing our personal short-term human self-interests. Worse than that, more often than not our anthropocentric worldview is orientated towards mastering the natural world and expressly exploiting the riches of the Earth, far too often causing innumerable deaths and even annihilation of entire species and habitats. If we look at the eco-intimacy level being promoted in our religious institutions, we often find stewardship and sustainability worldviews being preached, especially among Judeo-Christian traditions, but also within interfaith communities. Rather than promoting the idea that we are the children and servants of the Earth, one common Biblical understanding holds that we are rather the children and servants of God, called to steward the Earth which is God’s possession. The idea that the Earth and its creatures are possessions is a far from intimate understanding if the possessed are considered things or merely objects rather than persons or subjects. But if this personal aspect of creation as an inter-dependent community of differentiated subjects who are all parts and parcels of the Supreme Person can be maintained within such a Biblical stewardship model, then the door to deep levels of intimacy with the natural world remains open. Any metaphors, analogies or worldviews which reduce subjects to objects must be countered in eco-ministry if any authentic intimacy is to emerge, in my view.

At a deeper level of intimacy than that of servant-master or child-parent relationship, in the Franciscan worldview for instance, there is clear solidarity with all of creation. Every creature is considered as a true friend, a fellow brother or sister who is loved and cherished. But what seems demanded in the coming Ecozoic era is a move into an even deeper level of intimacy than this kosmic solidarity, earth friendship, and eco-kinship orientation. What is imperative at this time, Ecozoicists would argue, is that humans recognize that they must now consciously assume the role of loving parent in caring for and guiding creation towards its own fulfillment. There is no avoiding the burden now pressing upon humanity. We can be either good loving parents or bad, neglectful and abusive parents. If we do not consciously take up our parental role of fostering an ecozoic culture of life, then the rasas of earth hatred already rampant in our cultures may likely advance onward towards the most extreme expressions of death and annihilation. Those who are seeking the most mystical, mysterious and certainly most tantric relationship with creation possible can enter into the intimate form of madhurya relationship with the natural world, developing an authentic love-affair with the Earth and with the ongoing process of creation. If even a small percentage of humanity could attain to this platform of being truly in love with creation, what shape would our world begin to take? But it would be wonderful just to get the majority of our humanity to live in authentic awe of creation and to embrace and express

merely the passive peaceful loving relationship with the Earth, striving to do no harm, if not actively promoting ecological harmony. For instance, if more communities in our culture began emphasizing the importance of nonviolent diets which avoid flesh consumption, then a major force contributing to the current ecological, health and hunger crises would surely be weakened, since lowering flesh consumption would decrease the effects of agribusiness which negatively impact so many members of the Earth community. Furthermore, if this peaceful mode of living with the Earth were to be stressed and fostered in our communities then undoubtedly more tzaddiks, sadhus, & ascetics would emerge. The meaning of such designations is that these are holy people who oppose filth and pollution through regulated daily spiritual practices. If we look at filth and pollution with an integral understanding then we will understand that holy men and women, as part of their spiritual practice, must strive to avoid participating in ecological pollution just as they work to avoid spiritual pollutants. Even the most passive form of loving relationship with the earth would, in my view, involve minimizing the amount of pollution and suffering one makes through one’s daily life choices. Do you think the framework of Vaishnava rasa theology originally meant to explain the intimacy of human-God relationships can be altered and applied to the intimacy of human-earth relationships? How could each of these five forms of Earth Love specifically alter a human being’s

ecological relationships and lifestyle? How are the five rasas of Earth hatred being expressed in our world today?

Second Meditation Four Ecozoic Archetypes: As a final thought on fostering ecozoic intimacy let me conclude by playing around with the four archetypes which Thomas Berry stressed as central to Ecozoic evolution. “These four symbols--the Journey, the Great Mother, the Cosmic Tree, and the Death-Rebirth symbol--experienced now in a time developmental rather than a spatial mode of consciousness, constitute a psychic resource of enormous import for establishing ourselves as a viable species in a viable life system on the planet Earth.” -- Thomas Berry, The Great Work; NY, NY: Bell Tower, 1999; p. 70. Exercises: 1) Draw these archetypes as you envision them and engage them each in dialogue. What are the personal names of these archetypes? Does the Great Mother or the Cosmic Tree reveal their names to you? Can you envision the processes of transformation and journeying as beings with personal names? What messages do they have for you? 2) Place one archetype in each of the four quadrants of Integral Theory and contemplate how each archetype

directs the focus of each quadrant. See AQAL diagram. For instance, if Death/Rebirth is in the UL quadrant, Cosmic Tree in UR quadrant, Great Mother in LL quadrant, Journey in LR quadrant, what insights can these archetypes provide for evolution within those quadrants? What questions, challenges and supports does it offer its specific quadrant? For instance, how can the Great Mother assist us in moving toward an Ecozoic culutre? How could the Journey archetype help us re-structure our social systems? In what ways does a personal relationship with the Cosmic Tree affect your behavioral choices? What current experiences of Transformation are you experiencing in your personal interiority? etc...

3) Try to identify what common theme unites these four archetypes: the Mother, the Tree, Death, and the Journey. For instance, I see the snake or serpent as directly related to each of these four archetypes. The serpent has long been a symbol of transformation, death and rebirth since it sheds its skin. It is also related to the Great Earth Mother as snakes live within the earth. Many of the ancient depictions of the Great Mothers have serpent related iconography. See depictions of Isis with snake body, or note the Great Mother’s Holy Name “Ops” as related to the Greek word for serpent, “ophis”, from which we get ophiology, the zoological study of snakes. Look for other snake connections with the Great Mother. The Cosmic Tree always has a Cosmic Serpent in it I would dare say. And there is no more apt symbol for the Journey of the Universe than the serpent either, the Divine Serpent being regarded as the first and the last in ancient mythologies (e.g. Adi Shesha Naga) and the actual vehicle of the Supreme Person (see images of Narayana reclining upon Adi Shesha). What other connections can you find between the Great Mother, the Cosmic Tree, and the Transformation and Journey Archetypes? What interactions do these Archetypal forces generate when they interact? For instance, why is the Great Mother journeying to the Cosmic Tree to perform a rite of rebirth and what happens along the way and how does the event end? Make up your own combinations of active imaginations.

4) Find a specific entity from the natural universe to represent each archetype iconographically. For instance, a white cow could be the form of the Great Mother; a cannabis plant could be for you the Cosmic Tree; a cobra could symbolize death/rebirth; a scarab beetle could represent the journey of the universe... Create your own associations and research the associations made by our ancestors. Also, find a specific natural location in your bio-region where you feel the power of each archetype specifically present. For example, the largest oldest tree in your area could be the location where you can connect most easily with the Cosmic Tree archetype, a forest grove or cave may channel the Great Mother’s energies, a river might represent for you the Journey archetype, or a blooming summer field of flowers might represent the Death/ Rebirth/Transformation archetype for you. Meditate on these archetypes in the natural locations where you are able to perceive the presence of these archetypal numinous powers. Concluding prayer for Ecozoic Rasas: May ecological intimacies deepen! May rasas of loving exchange abound! May human beings hear and respond to creation’s lovesong, engaging the Earth as peace-makers, as faithful sons and daughters, as true friends, as nurturing parents, as ecstatic lovers....

Hail to the Great Mother! Reverence to the Cosmic Tree! Obeisance to Transformation! Glory to the Holy Journey! Aum, ho-On, Amun, Amen!

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