Sitting in the silence of these ancient beings, elders of the earth, I remember this is the natural energy of the earth. We don’t experience this because we are born and raised in a genocidal holocaust that has been in progress for thousands of years. We are members of a species that has declared a war of extinction on almost every other species on the planet. Some of it direct, like elephant poaching, or hunting mammoths and bison to extinction, some of it indirect, like sea birds dying from eating broken down plastic in the oceans that they mistake for food.
The earth IS sustainability. Humans have been champions of unsustainability. It seems the pace has picked up since we learned to farm agriculturally. Easter Island residents cutting down and burning all the wood. Southern Californian population expanding beyond the sustainability of the water — even the diverted — supply. The sinking ground water levels world wide. Cow farming as the premier cause of global warming. Our addiction to and belief in growth and expansion as equal to progress. Our institutions panic when companies don’t grow. What would happen if they just existed and did an extraordinarily fabulous job of providing their service? Oh yea. There couldn’t be billionaires…
Our addiction to having more is killing us. Mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, economically, spiritually…
Somewhere all of this is weaving its way through my journey. When I hiked the John Muir Trail last September and saw how little stuff was needed to be content—to be happy with my self, happy with others, happy with what I had that supported me so simply, it was transformational. Life hasn’t been the same since. It’s not a searching for, but a releasing of…  Physically, mentally, emotionally… What’s extra?
And yet, I don’t want to be a subsistence farmer or hunter-gatherer. I need a community of people with different skills that interoperate so we all have what we need. What we need being very different from what we want.
So in one way this is a journey into my craving. Separating myself in most ways from the machine constantly telling me what I want, what I need, what’s new and better, etc., I’m left with the naturally arising craving. Some of that is the momentum from my recent immersion in the social milieu. Some from my compensations for the love and attention I wanted and didn’t get as a child. Some as a diversion from the pains and sorrows of a life dotted with actions that were not good for me or others.
I like Buddha’s distinction of wholesome and unwholesome, as opposed to right/wrong or good/bad. Wholesome actions are good for oneself and good for others. Unwholesome actions are not good for oneself and/or not good for others. Very simple. Wholesome includes the community or 360º view. Unwholesome — right/wrong and good/bad — are personal or 1º views.
When I moved to NH in 1969 we rented a cabin in the woods on a little river. One of the cabin owners’ brothers had a house on 600 acres with a good sized pond on it. I was told a good chunk of that land had never been logged. It was the first virgin forest I’d ever seen. Shocking and magical. Huge trees. Oaks and Pines that were so big 2 or 3 of us could barely touch fingers hugging the trees. The trees were spread far apart because their canopy was so large. Smaller trees only lived in gaps where the old trees had died. There wasn’t much underbrush under the old trees. Some, but sparce. One could walk and walk under this amazing canopy. The silence was profound. Not just a sound silence. But a deep silent stillness. This is the earth in it’s natural state.
Here with these 400-600 year old redwoods, they seem ancient. But then I read that this species actually lives 2000 years. These huge trees are adolescents! How many of the trees we live with in our yards and city parks are babies? Who is going to teach them the ancient stories of their species? They are orphans. Or we’ve put them in children’s homes. Look at the forest! Trees are communal beings. They live in community. In groups. Different tree species have negotiated sharing the same spaces in harmony. All over the earth different species have negotiated sharing the same space. And, life requires energy. One form of being dissolves and in incorporated into another form of being. How that transmission happens takes many, many forms. From the mycelium carrying nutrients between tree roots, to owls eating mice. All the transfer of life energy from one form to another.
I remember being taught about the battle between young trees for survival. The battle for light and nutrition. That’s such a human-centric vision. Since THIS is just happening, then why wouldn’t one tree give it’s energy to another tree that has gathered and organized it’s energy more effectively. Why a battle? Why not a surrender for the community? But all of these terms are human-centric… Even the contemplation is human-centric.
All I know is that these ancient beings have a special presence. They have an energy that is palpable. On the John Muir Trail I would see a huge ancient tree and stop and rest my hands on its trunk to see what it had to say. We had a number of amazing conversations. No words. But a movement of knowing between life forms. But more of that another day. It’s time for Sherman and I to continue our movement toward Eureka!