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Decolonizing Science with Land Connection

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What is Kinship Connection

What is incredible about my contemplative living with nature is that when in nature, when in honest, open connection, the teachings of nature became available to me. I kept them close, holding them as knowings beyond my intellect. They simply were. My awe deepened in the wisdom, profundity, and clarity of being human-nature as each teachings arose. I knew humility. I knew belonging beyond the confines of the boundaries we perceive on the human-scale, being held and known and held intimately by mountains, as their own, as them. I knew unconditional love. I knew trees as great wisdom-holders; I developed a great reverence for them as teachers. I knew joy: my body would erupt in joyous laugh-cries of astonishment.

 

And these words are on a completely different plane of interpretation than the experiences they describe. I write them as they only later occurred to me to profoundly fit into human experience, yet the words seem to always fall short. These were embodied experiences. I did not intellectualize them as I lived them. They had no definitions or confines in my mind. There was no preface to them, no mantras I used or teachings I practiced. What continually deepens my awe is that they were so natural. I simply lived them through the quality of my being with, which is why the sentiment of “acquiescence” became so important to me. I did not enter in with (or even know) any formal ceremony, nor rituals nor mantras. Yet, it would occur to me much later, again, profoundly, that I lived my life in ceremony, in ritual, in mantra - simply by being human-nature.

 

Was this the root of “ceremony” in human culture and language? It was the root of mine.

 

The root of ritual, of mantra? The natural participatory consciousness state that we crave, the knowing humans hold, even if they do not "know", and thus, consistently seek to journey toward?

 

This struck me at some point - the questioning that hits one suddenly, the mind instantly wiped clear of all else, the eyes lifting and gaze softening as consciousness becomes broad, too broad to fit in its previous confines. These things strike as a knowing that is felt deeper in the body, felt strongly in the core or the guts, as though the questioning is the process of acquiescence, the conscious mind slowly marinating in the knowing beyond it, finally able to intellectualize some basic and simple truth.

For me, meaning-making starts with connection. And it starts everyday, waking with the first thing in my vision being the trees, being with the calm and ease with the stillness of the forest in early morning. Before my mind takes right over to navigate my existence for the day, the trees nudge in first.

Journey to decolonize the work we do

These experiences and way of being left me, understandably, isolated from what felt like a completely different world. This other world was the conventional stories, quality of consciousness, and cultural mythologies shared among all other people in my culture. First, how I could I possibly enter back into this world after living the magic of truth? Secondly, how could I ever go back with any integrity, being this truth, while still communicating and connecting with others in this starkly - and honestly, quite painfully - different level of consciousness? It felt isolating not because I felt alone in any way (as I can’t imagine ever feeling this again) but because operating on this level of consciousness, in what I would begin to call the “modernity-mind” world, isolated us so completely from everything else in existence that was participating in the conversation all the time.

 

As the modernity-mind stories snaked their way in, as the conscious mind and ego began running their familiar programs, a deep fear emerged that I was simply disconnected from reality. This is an old program for me - the fear of not employing my rational faculties to properly discern reality - but time spend back with the trees promptly remedied this deep dread…mostly. Still, walking in both worlds, I felt caught in an inability to share with others what was bursting out of me. I was driven completely, and still am, by a force beyond me that must speak these things. It would seem like nonsense.

 

Yet, there is growing collective unease in the nonsense of the systems we have created together in modernity, the social and intellectual frameworks that have resulted in colonized systems in which nature and human are othered, nothing more than commodities, both abused and polluted; the global, catastrophic effects from this worldview were hastened by utterly irrational constructs of neoliberalism that served to remove any boundaries to the utter destruction, our home and our spirits extracted, hollowed. Though, this hollow seems to be accommodating space for ways of knowing and being far outside of these constructs.

In connection, there is another way of knowing. There is purpose...and unity. It seems no surprise to me that interdependence is a unifying principle of wisdom traditions around the world. The nature of reality, and the fundamental of the nature of the systems we observe on Earth, is that of interdependence. The universal constant in physics, typically thought to describe the speed of light in a vacuum, more accurately describes the causal connections that give the ordering of events that all 'observers' agree on: the universal constant simply describes the variable speed of causal connections. Connections are the fabric of spacetime: multitudinous and radically different frames of reference exist together because connection is more important the things that are connected.

It seems to me that we are collectively facing a dire need to enter into dialogue with all else in existence…because the conversation is already always happening, we must simply become attuned to listening. The other world is of the non-humans, a world of connection—our world. Acquiescing to listening with, to being with, is a practical tool that can be learned and cultivated to explore new-old-natural-true places of power.

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