In 1984 a Man in the lineage of the Takelma Don Goo-Yah-Oh (“Stone Doctors”) invited me to learn to SEE, HEAR, and MOVE, in REALITY. I had only ideas about what the heck it was that they were inviting me to. I had only ideas about “reality.” In other words, I lived in the UNREAL, like ALL persons whose ancestors got owned after the conquest of our homelands, our People, our capacity to protect those we love, our capacity to think from reality, and to integrate our minds with our senses and our hearts got altered.
Instead of orienting our lives according to what is actually living in and around us, we were forced to orient our living to the dictates of people armed with weapons, words, and “worldviews” designed to dehumanize, submit, and mechanize us into being obedient cogs in an imperial machine in a way that is practically universal among all “modern” people and thus invisible to us.
I began spending time with People for whom this profound distortion is neither “normal” nor any sign of “progress.” I embarked on an apprenticeship that, from the outset, I was told would not make my life “better,” but would equip me to live in a way that I might help others, “so that the People may live.” I embarked on an Adventure that has proven to be far richer, more mysterious, generous, painful, and heart-wrenching than I ever imagined.
I agreed to learn three profound acts: to SEE, to HEAR, and to MOVE in Living Reality. No woo-woo. No fantasy. No bullshit. I also agreed to share what I have learned with ten people. It seemed like a perfectly sense-able proposition. It was. AND it was a direct challenge to my non-sense, Naturally.
I had only ideas about what it was that I had committed to learning. What I committed to learning was not to gather up more ideas. It was to SEE, HEAR, and MOVE, in Reality.
THAT is the Invitation here: to SEE, to HEAR, to MOVE, in Reality.
It’s about Response-Abilities, Literally,
and a Journey that Only YOU can Lead YOU to Making Real.
It may not be for you. Consider that.
I expected that this Learning was going to be something like out of the books by Carlos Castaneda. It was EXACTLY NOT THAT. It had nothing to do with seeing things in a world we can’t make sense of with our senses. It was about discovering how profoundly challenged I was to make sense of the one that I CAN.
In the process I discovered how literally non-sense-ical almost the entirety of my “thinking” and “academic” training led me to be. Moderns pretend to “think” in ideas connected to more ideas, all of which sound wonderful and which only have one fundamental flaw: ZERO foundation in and attention to actual reality. That’s a hallmark of the classical instruction given to slaves: prepackaged “thinking” with all kinds of socially-conditioned razor-wire fences around it. As a result, the patently obvious almost completely escapes our noticing.
My Invitation here is to BEGIN TO NOTICE THE PATENTLY OBVIOUS!
NOT noticing the patently obvious is fundamental to the existential distortion that all imperial cultures induce in their captives. All imperial anti-cultures treat their captives, their lands, their minds, their children and all relationships as fundamentally consumable and disposable. The sole solace of an imperial slave-citizen-captive living in a landscape of profoundly devastated relationships is to “do what s/he likes” without any sense-making capacity to orient in reality beyond the “worldview” programmed into us.
As a result, the citizen-slave never really does what they like, at least not in reality. Instead, they “do what they like” in unreality. All imperial cultures promote a form, or a thousand forms, of “spirituality” that teach you that you can “be any way you want,” as long as you do so in non-reality. And these come in all kinds of flavors: Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, atheist, marxist, capitalist, anarchist, New-Age, and on and on, even “indigenous” brands of the same distortion. Their hallmark notion is that “you can be happy without any responsibility to or FOR living reality. Meanwhile, in reality, they live like slaves.
Few of us imagine that many of the aforementioned traditions, cultures, and traditions actually started as indigenous wisdom systems, Christianity included. Few of us imagine how those who are raised in the imperial relational distortion not only enthusiastically adopt, but invisibly distort these wisdom traditions, especially when we learn them in translation into imperial languages and outside of any relationships, commitments or responsibilities to the communities they emerge from, or our own. In Tracking Trackless Tao I wrote of how I did this with Taoism for most of two decades, without even the remotest clue until someone from within that Community pointed it out to me.
“A government dedicated to the spirit of invasion and conquest will have to corrupt a portion of the people so that they serve them directly in their enterprise… and will have to act upon the rest of the nation from whom it demands passive obedience and sacrifice in order to muddle its reason, falsify its judgment, and to twist its ideas. -Benjamin Constant (1809) On the spirit of conquest and usurpation)
Slowly I began to learn that the world is not “what I think it is,” contrary to much of what passes as “spirituality” today. I am not the only one alive. Nor is my very small attention the measure of what actually exists here. It took me years to really get that, not as another idea, but as an Invitation to lead my own attention to reality. The Learning only happened when I reconnected my attention to sense-able reality, precisely what all imperial “spirituality” discourages.
For a long time, I adopted all kind of “indigenous ideas” that weren’t at all indigenous, but profoundly disconnected to anything and everything, until one day, decades later, I actually CONNECTED with my DISCONNECTION and “who I thought I was” and “what I thought I was up to” got abruptly UNDONE in a Process that I couldn’t undo. I started learning from Reality at the Beginning: REALITY: no woo-woo, no B.S., NO additives.
Typically, here I’m supposed to tell you how “wonderful” everything got, all of a sudden, and then I became immune to reality. THAT is not what happened. I finally felt Reality, and that there is a reality, regardless of whether I pay attention to it, ignore it, come up with some “mystical” theory about it, adopt somebody else’s, etc.
I’d love to tell you that I came to the end of my bullshit. The truth is that I came to facing my bullshit, and the bullshit that I inherited, adapted to and collected, all on my own. Coming to Reality not only meant discovering the Truth of Reality, it also meant facing and wading through the countless ways I learned to lie, to settle for lying, living lies, and loving and accepting “love” from people whose “loving” harms life and is a lie.
Instead of “enlightenment,” I found my backside on the ground. I reconnected with that place inside myself where I shut off my tears, at age 7, while my body and my heart endured all kinds of bruises, abuse, and violation from people who “loved” me, as a child forced to surrender to the lie of their “love.” And I came to the end of the lie that somehow I had come through all of that “unscathed.”
I came through a brutal childhood with an incredible capacity to shut down my genuine and literal sense-ability, like what it feels like to sit on raised, bleeding welts, or what if feels like to have traveled through thick and thin, rainforests and urban jungles, and never run into anything even remotely as nasty, wounding, or treacherous as the company of those who I was raised to “love.” That kind of insensitivity toward one’s own life, intelligence, and sense-ability leads to a society of “people” who are never people to anybody. They can be, and are being, abused in every way imaginable, not only by the sort of psychopaths who run the political, corporate, banking, and criminal combines.
The sort of people who outnumber the psychopaths a million to one can be counted on to look the other way, ignore and deny, any time anyone who remotely resembles them is being abused. They can be counted on to acculturate their own children to abuse by abusing them in ways that no longer even look like abuse, like the “spirituality” I mentioned previously, which is more aptly called dissociation, a hallmark of trauma.
When I was in my twenties I was trying to write, but I was so scared. Writing would take me back to feeling of when I was a child watching my siblings get beaten. One of the reasons has to do with R.D. Laing’s three rules of dysfunctional families. Rule a is don’t speak about it, rule a1 is rule a doesn’t exist and rule a2 is never discuss the existence or non existence of rules a1 and a2. This is one of the reasons your project is so incredibly important, because if the first rule of a dysfunctional family is don’t talk about it, then the first rule of breaking that is to talk about it. And what you’re saying is you’re breaking the first rule of a dysfunctional family – or a dysfunctional culture. –Derrick Jensen [emphasis added] http://www.derrickjensen.org/2016/10/how-activist-derrick-jensen-makes-it-matter/
There is a sense to the word, “Ground.” The Ground is not only where all of Life comes from, it is also where all Life receives its Sacred Nourishment and, eventually, returns to, finely-ground, to be renewed and Flower again. Curiously such obvious aspects of actual Life largely escaped me in “everything I thought about the world.” I was invited to an apprenticeship of SEEING, HEARING and MOVING, IN REALITY. I slowly began learning and unlearning IN LIVING REALITY.
Nobody else gave me that but the Ground, but I had to go to the Ground and start allowing my mind to be literally In-Formed by the Intelligence of the Ground. What my teachers and my friends gave me was an Invitation to get oriented, to get GROUNDED, Literally and Sense-Ably. Not to adopt some “identity” or wear some costume, but to find my source, in the Ground. At the same time, my teachers couldn’t “give” me reality, I was not only already in it, but had also mastered the art of ignoring it. Only my attention could rebuild that connection; only in the measure that I paid attention to reality.
Slowly i began to gain a skillset beyond merely labeling everything and immediately reducing it to what I thought it was. I began to discover that REALITY MAKES SENSE, as soon as I engaged with Reality with my senses. This approach is, literally radical (literally “goes to the root”). It took me a very long time to get clear on the difference between the “meanings” I attributed to everything, and their sense. I thought I “knew” things because I could say a bunch of things about them, almost none of which came from actual, sustained, repeated observation and curiosity.
Eventually I discovered more and more aspects of the mismatch between my “ideas about the world” and the actual world that has been lived in, cared for, and loved WELL by far more generations of Peoples who marked their trails than the mind of conquered and ancestrally-displaced persons imagine. I learned to make sense, not just “meanings.” Stone Doctors call this incredibly Intelligent, Creative BEING of ALIVENESS “Rock Old Woman.” My Slavic ancestors call her Baba Yaga. Whatever the Name we ascribe to the Living, Planetary Intelligence that we are expressions of, the Reality of this Living Intelligence speaks in Being, not in written words.
Our ancestral conquest put us in a very odd relationship to what’s actually Breathing, Sense-Able, Response-Able and Fully Alive. This starts with our own bodies, and our own, natural, developmentally-critical desire to connect, be welcome, and be well-nourished, as we are, among our own people, starting with our mothers.
Imperial cultures disrupt almost every aspect of healthy relationships. As conquered peoples, it is easy to live in profound denial, and even insistent refusal, of our Living Intelligence, of Our Embodied Sense-Abilities, of our Perimeters and Boundaries, our connection and response-abilities to a Living Community, and of the Living World.
To the vast majority of de-indigenized people I meet today, it strikes them as surprisingly novel to use actual, living life as an authoritative reference for actually living life. It certainly did to me.
An essential part of making conquest permanent is to turn the conquered into existential illiterates, with almost no capacity to know-connectively what is actually Alive and Exists, our Ancestral Connection to the Planet, and the Sacred Places that Cover Her.
This disconnection from the sense-able connection between our Bodies, our Natural Intelligence, and the Beings who Share Place with us is even more acute among displaced immigrant groups, most of whom only end up on someone else’s homelands due to traumatic and violent dispossession of our own in ways we have not only forgotten, but often prefer to ignore.
I was surprised at the violent opposition I have received from many modern people, people who forgot the names of their folk, and have been amalgamated into the imperial rackets of “nation-states” and their consumption of everything, including the memory and sense-abilities of the people vacuumed into them- just for talking about these various obvious aspects of a very common reality.
Eventually, I began to understand how sensitive these topics are and how skilled the process of domesticating and de-naturing human beings is. I also knew, from personal experience, that “waking up” is not “pleasant.” It’s amazing, awe-inspiring, truly liberating… but “pleasant” in that “happy-ass spiritual shopper” sense? … NO.
Waking up was the absolute, terminal end of that fantasy for me. Everyone raised in a post-conquest anti-culture learns to never honestly acknowledge or speak truth about the patently obvious, often from within the womb, where we are already experiencing the metabolic, biochemical and physiological disturbances that our mothers are living in.
When I talk about waking up, I’m talking about actual, living, sense-abilities coming alive again. What happens when your leg “falls asleep” and suddenly you put your weight on it? Now imagine that happening inside of your heart, your head, your belly, your entire relationship to simply being…
That’s not “pleasant.” It’s something powerfully and effectively different from that. It’s real. It’s sense-able. And it’s ALIVE. We discover that we came equipped for actually RESPONDING in, with, and FOR Reality, not just perpetually shopping for magical fairy wands.
The consequences of our denial are apparent in our World, our Bodies, and our Relationships, and in the dimensions our lives to unfold in. We become trapped in a “world” always described to us according to “official” or “officially alternative” versions living in a neuro-cultural “imaginarium,” woven of self-involved, self-referent impressions which we “choose” “because we like them.” Why do we like them? Because they allow us to avoid the reality of our pain, of our trauma, of our adaptation to a relational sickness that allows me to pretend to “aspire to enlightenment,” for example, while my daily actions of consuming the world destroy my own well-being, in living reality, as well as that of coming generations.
The result is an imperial human resource, systematically programmed to not be able to see, hear, or move – not in Living Reality, not in the Reality of a World where every “thing” also has being, and unfolds dynamically in a web of interrelated, emergent intelligences of which ours are a part, connected to the whole, and with beautiful, wise, courageous, loving, and fierce responsibilities to the whole.
We don’t have to write a whole academic thesis to discover what our relationship to LIFE is.
If we start with the water and what we do to and with water every single day, and the legacy in water that we are leaving to future generations, we’ll get what our relationship to the essence of Life-Itself is, very plainly. We tell those future generations that we “love” them. The nature of our love, however, is obvious in the legacy of LIFE we leave to them in its most obvious aspects, like the water. We can look at what our living does to the water we leave for them to drink and the nature of our living, in reality, becomes clear. I have no magical exit hatch from reality to offer you. The only mystery I can invite you to is the magic of SEEING, HEARING, and MOVING in REALITY. That Invitation, from me, is worthless unless and until you invite your own attention to LIVING REALITY.
Look beyond the words in that last paragraph, and to what they point to all around, and within, you. LOOK, until you SEE, with your EYES, and your forbidden sense-ability, and you’ll discover something. If you approach it like a thousand-year adventure to just begin gaining the competence of a Beginner at, I can assure you that after a decade or three you’ll be discovering marvels right under your nose. It’s a truly ennobling and enlivening apprenticeship. Learn what you can, share what you can with the interested.
Agree or disagree with the words, however, and the adventure in consciousness that they invite us to, in reality, is lost.
The adventure is in consciousness (literally “coming to knowing in the presence of/ together with). Neither agreement nor disagreement are consciousness. Repeating “ideas” we “like” and adopted second-hand reflects zero consciousness. Almost the entirety of what gets grossly called “studying” and “education” today is profound programming in unconsciousness. We pretend to “learn by rote” in the absence of that which we pretend to be “learning about.”
Subject a perfectly natural mind to a few decades of rote programming and we become convinced that we “know” something because we can say words about it; no patient, sustained, curious observation of anything’s reality required.
Look up the sense of “about,” which comes from the Old English ymbe: “in the neighborhood of,” and we soon discover that we’ve learned about almost NOTHING in our entire so-called “education.” We are programmed to not associate (come into relationship) with our world, but to dissociate and to remain dissociated for almost the entirety of our existence. Imperial culture teaches us to “learn” in a very unneighborly fashion. We add descriptions of reality on top of more descriptions of reality, all patched together according to “what seems best to us,” with very little observation of actual reality. “The world,” in the instruction of slaves, is what is described to them. This is what slaves learn to call “school.” It is the perfect opposite of the school of the free.
The word school comes from the Greek, skholé: “spare time, leisure, rest ease; idleness; that in which leisure is employed; learned discussion.” Read that list and you’ll see that spare time, leisure, rest, ease, idleness and learned discussion are precisely what the human resource has no time for. That comes hand-in-hand with conquest and the permanent alterations imposed upon our way of being human.
So, in 1984, I was invited into the Old School, the School of the Free. I began learning to See, Hear and Move in the way that is natural to human beings living in a Planetary Reality that reflects the relationships that we and many Ancestors have had to this reality. Natural Intelligence reads reality, responds to reality, cares for reality. Slowly I discovered that I had never actually SEEN the world – not the one my feet walk upon and that has been inhabited by superlatively capable, creative and coherent human beings for far longer than we imagine. I also had the privilege of meeting, spending time with, and living with human beings whose superlatively capable, creative and coherent way of being embodied mastery, self-mastery, and response-abilities that were exceptional.
I slowly landed on and got related to the Rock Old Woman, the Living Being that my ancestrally-enslaved, culturally-brutalized, geographically-displaced, linguistically-dispossessed, and consciously-dehumanized (no longer capable of “knowing-with“) culture calls “the Earth,” as if it were some “ball of dirt” spinning around in space, devoid of any being and Generative Intelligence of its own.
I also began learning to read the trail markers, the shrines that People mark their Sacred Mountain Journeys with. I began to see how intensively, coherently, and brilliantly the Land was not only marked, for Peoples to orient themselves in, but the nature of a language and a Way of Life that evolved in complete coherence with the Greater Aliveness, from microcosm to macrocosm.
I could SEE that the Americas were not “the New World,” but a Temple of Peoples Superlatively Response-Able to a Greater Aliveness whose dimensions I had never even SEEN, yet whose markers and Sacred Offerings covered the land, literally. For a sense of this, spend some time with Ray Urbaniak‘s Anasazi Light and Shadow. (Google Books preview HERE)
Instead of trying to “be interesting,” I began to get interested. I began to See the Beauty, the Harmonies that Living Reality Unfolds and Flowers in, and the Signs and Trails that those who came before left for us, so that we might become functional adults, and get oriented in this Place of Aliveness and our Response-Abilities to a Greater Aliveness.
I spent time with Peoples who still remember who they are, where they are and whose memory spans hundreds of thousands of years and, more importantly, many, many changes and experiences, much wisdom and not a small bit of it earned by navigating the consequences of the sort of catastrophic insensitivity that arise among people who forget who we are, where we are and what the Invitation is in Being-ALIVE. This is not the first time that humans have lost our way of being, with devastating consequences to future generations of all forms of life.
As dramatic as this may sound, and as traumatic as it is, it is also part and parcel of life on a planet that is catastrophically creative. Enduring human communities long-ago understood that, in order to sow Continuity for their Human, Plant, Animal, Land, Water and other Communities, it is up to us to navigate Living Reality or find ourselves extinct. Extinction, too, is an ongoing process among all forms of Life.
It makes perfectly fine Ground from which new Life emerges.
And that’s a very, very Beautiful Aspect of the Living Wisdom of this Planet, of the Ground.
The Wisdom of People who generate Continuity for their Community doesn’t just extol all of the ways that they “got it all right.” They devote quite a bit of attention to how easily very slight and subtle oversight or ignorance can lead to devastating consequences, often many generations down the line from those whose attention and actions weren’t quite in tune with the reality of living, unfolding consequences.
The oversight and entitled, willful ignorance of modern people today is neither slight nor subtle. Nor is condemning it very helpful. Our experiences and our society reveal the nature of what it is that we have adapted to.
The consequences are already devastating. The myth of the “personal adventure” treats Living Reality, inside and outside ourselves, as fundamentally consumable and, therefore, disposable. We foul the Water and Life, around and inside us, while shopping for some strange kind of dissociated “wisdom” that helps us “feel better” by, in fact, feeling LESS of Reality and avoiding our response-abilities to the Continuity of a Greatness beyond, and inclusive of, our own.
True Wisdom is on the Land, in Life itself, and among those who are dedicated to the Wisdom of Living. The very word points to it. “Wisdom” comes from the Germanic wijs: “way, path, trail” + dom: “home, homeland.” The paths of all that moves in our homeland reveal the Way that we Live. Living Wisdom calls us to re-enter into relationship and apprenticeship with the Land.
Discovering that undid me in ways I could never have imagined. I not only discovered marvels in these Places and my Learning Journey. Doing so also made me conscious of how my cultural and relational conditioning had put me at odds with my Natural Intelligence and literal Sense-Ability. I discovered, and resisted for a long time, the abscess of the shame put into me, and the Natural, Fierce, Loving and Ancestral Wisdom hidden away at the heart of it.
I reconnected with the Originating Ancestry I was and had learned to pretend to be anything but. I’d love to tell you that this was “pleasant.” It was not. I began to experience the SEEING, HEARING and MOVING that my mentors had invited me to learn, over a decade before, in reality, not “sweet-sounding bullshit.”
Waking up in an Empire of Lies is not pleasant. It is Beautiful, Mysterious, Powerful, Amazing, Inspiring – but it’s also fraught with all kinds of tremendous challenges that exposed my arrested development and challenged me to grow up, or perish!
In my Undoing I discovered something truly special: the Wisdom of the Ground. The Ground that’s under our toes, the Ground that Flowers in Endless Shapes and Songs all around and inside of us, the Ground we could reach down to gather a fistful of, then spend the remainder of our Lives learning to live in harmony and connection to its Power, its Creativity, its Genius, its Generosity, its Beauty, its Intelligence; the Ground that will be OUR Gift back to the Ground, when the Adventure of our Momentary, Changing, Human Shape, Fed and Nourished by All of the Shapes, Sounds, Touches and Presences of the Aliveness, becomes Full-Filled in the Adventure of Being and Becoming Conscious and, in that Full-fill-ment, makes the Offering Back to the entire Adventure of Being Conscious and Having Shapes, of our Consciousness and of our Shapes, offered as GROUND for the further Unfolding Ceremony of BEING-ALIVE.
In my Apprenticeship Journey I discovered with utmost clarity and consciousness how I, and my ancestors, had lost our Grounded-Wisdom, our Way-Finding. We lost our WAY ON EARTH.
Consider that for a moment.
We began to live like people for whom the Earth is, fundamentally, disposable, dead and alien. We “live” so-called “lives” that are fundamentally alien to Earth. We forget that we ourselves, and our children, are made of Earth. People today treat paying attention to Living Reality as if it were “optional.” The more devastating the consequences in reality, the less people want to pay attention to reality.
Conquest not only enslaves, but profoundly alters our entire relationship to all aspects of reality. After many generations of surviving brutal imposition of that alteration we begin to adapt and assume that “life is this way.” Spending time with Friends from People Deeply-Rooted-In and Response-Able to Place and Community, I began to see that there are other Ways of Being that are Rooted in Being-Itself.
I found Grounded Wisdom under the mask I wore as an “identity.” In that process, my mask broke. Even “being interested in indigenous reality” was another mask. I had hid my own Living Truth from my awareness so that I could make my way in an anti-culture that destroys the water, debases (“no base, no foundation”) its children, deadens its Ground. In imperial “modern” cultures, we learn to call this self-deceit “spirituality”- and we could be an atheist and still be deceiving ourselves in exactly the same way permanently on a quest for “better ideas” while cut off from our senses and our fundamental, life-oriented, not just “idea-dis-oriented,” abilities.
I suddenly lost all interest in beliefs and baubles of wisdom collected second-hand.
Suddenly I didn’t “know” who or what I “was” except by way of being, of aliveness, my senses, and a dimension of intelligence that we are ALL born with and in. Empire is the relational dynamic, already rooted in a disturbed mother-child bond. We learn to not only be continually disturbed, but to be as insensitive as possible to our own disturbance.
Consider the reality that such words can only point to. There is an existential approach that empire highly rewards and encourages.
The imperial distortion, which is to say the imposition of having to adapt to relational disturbances that are antithetical to our living nature, teaches us to feel as little disturbance as possible, while doing nothing about what causes the ongoing disturbance.
The first duty of those who replicate the disturbed relationship to reality which is empire, the culture of imposition, is to assure ourselves that not only is reality not real, but neither is any part of our being that remains sensitive to what the existential disturbance of “empire” provokes in all that is alive.
The captive-citizens of empire exist in non-existence. The dichotomy of Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be” finds both resolution and confusion in being what we are not. This is a fundamental, psychotic break with reality in a culture and society that are the perfect anti-culture and anti-society.
GROUNDED Wisdom actually enlivens our lives and the lives of those we share this reality with who still dare to love living in a way that actually does LIVING well, and the Aliveness that is Natural to us and this Beautiful Place we inhabit.
In the measure that, as children, we realize that we have to “become special” to catch some crumbs of attention and the relational connection so essential to our development in those few moments when our parents are not displaying more commitment to machines and behaving mechanically, than as mothers and fathers, we become increasingly oblivious to what’s real and alive in us. When we touch it, at last, we often discover the shock of how unreal and deadened we’ve become.
This attitude is quite common in cultures where self-alienated “parents” are challenged to see, hear or move in attunement with the ancestral, life-logical wisdom natural to all children. Children promptly find themselves in adversarial dynamics with those who supposedly “care” for them.
That last sentence points to something quite specific about the alteration empire forces upon its captives: a way of “life” that is adversarial with just about everything actually alive. If we do more than just read these words, and take a moment and notice how much adversariality defines our own “intimacy,” we might discover something worthy of close attention.
Many parents have been severed from their own inner connection since their own childhood, and even more so in their connection to a child whose undomesticated naturalness awakens their terror and the shame at their own desire for connection which they experienced, and were rebuffed for, at that same age. That’s true for a lot of people in modern cultures.
I have heard countless people, since traveling and sometimes teaching around the world, who have told me “I don’t feel like I belong here.” Many of us were not truly welcome among our own parents; not in a way that did us well. We aren’t welcome and we don’t even feel safe desiring what it is that we truly desire, but got rebuffed or assaulted for, as children, for desiring and expressing. Please don’t take that on as an idea or a judgment.
Your body knows. Go listen to how parents speak to their children, with your body. Tune in, from your body, to what kinds of tones, interactions and dynamics are naturally welcoming and unfold in mutual attunement, and which are adversarial. Don’t explain, don’t excuse, don’t accuse: SENSE! FEEL! DARE TO CONNECT SENSE-ABLY IN YOUR EXPERIENCE!
Feel, in your body, if your experience is one of being WELL-COME, or one that makes you want to get the hell out of there. Then consider that, for a child, leaving is not an option. He’s going to have to adapt to, and be shaped, by that relational experience. If she has to adopt the “shape” of what she is not, in order to minimize physical and emotional abuse, and isolation, and in order to gather up whatever crumbs of connection are possible for her to develop, she will do THAT.
All Life grows and develops relationally. We are shaped in relationship. If the invitation to relationship is “park your ass in front of the TV and don’t bother me!” we grow in that shape.
This is not about morality. This is about consciousness and whether our developmental potential is fulfilled or arrested. This quality of knowing gets shut down at a very early age in children seeking relational connection from people where the connection and desire are often frustrated. Our bodies guide us to demand the connection that is essential for our childhood development. When that is not offered, then we have “demanding children,” whom we shame, blame, assault or relegate to lifelong dissociation in front of televisions and mechanical screens.
The child with an iPad in his lap for hours a day is not the child of privilege who is welcome. Such a child is invited to adapt himself to a “life” of substitution for the real developmental potential that can only be realized IN RELATIONSHIP, and the constant soothing and distraction from the despair that the relational reality he has been invited to adapt to is one where that quality of relationship simply IS NOT AVAILABLE. Self-soothing and distraction will often become such people’s permanent relational setpoint.
To welcome someone is to treat them in a way that lets them know that they are invited to BE WELL, to be WHOLE, to be CONNECTED, in having come to be with us, and that they are welcome in the fullness of their Life-Logical Wisdom and Vitality.
Modern children soon discover that we are not really welcome, not as we are designed to be welcome, through unconditional connection with our people and LIFE, not general disconnection with occasional moments of receiving positive or negative attention, depending on how we “behave.”
Early on, instead of knowing ourselves as welcome among our own people, we discover that we have to be or do something “special.” We have to “behave” to “deserve” attention, at times, and only when we can “get enough attention” to break the suction of distraction and substitution that “parents” are also addicted to. Instead of connection with our mothers, fathers, siblings, elders and a whole bright, colorful crew of different shapes and ages of folks who form a capital-P People – our so-called “people” aren’t even around for most of the hours of our days from real early on – we settle for attention. We “earn” it by “being this, that, or the other,” and by sucking up to strangers and to machines that teach us how to be “human,” just like machines.
Soon we become some grotesque, attention-getting version of “unique,” but as artifacts. If we are condemned to isolation among those “closest to us,” at least we can be “unique.” We develop “personality,” from the Latin persona: “mask.” We “project an image,” rather than being ourselves and, more importantly, growing relationally into greater dimension of related reality. That leads to a very self-involved way of engaging with the world, which we neither See, Hear nor really Move in.
Being “self-involved” is not merely “good” or “bad.” It is a necessary development stage that more and more people spend their entire lives stuck in. To be self-involved at age two is a marvelous stage of discovery of relational capacities in a living structure discovering itself. To be self-involved at seventy-two years of age is the sure sign of an unresolved relational disturbance in those early years, leading to the development of a living structure stuck in relational disturbance. The consequences are all too obvious. It is, in fact and consequence, an anti-culture. Rather than cultivating full development, it arrests it relationally, institutionally, nutritionally, socially, economically, and in every other way imaginable. We call this “modern culture.”
We fancy that this is “a problem with humanity.” Sorry, it is not. It is a problem that is particular to persons acculturated to live permanently at odds with our humanity. The confusion is further aggravated by the fact that those who have most profoundly frustrated, assaulted, shamed, and set us at odds with ourselves are not the bankers, politicians, and predatory psychopaths who ride herd upon a traumatized humanity. No, unfortunately, the ones who have done us most harm are the ones, generally, who are “closest’ to us, the ones who we were born to and raised by, who unconsciously raised us in the relational patterning they, too, grew up in and were ill-equipped to recognize, much less transform.
Strange as that may seem, slow down and look around and inside you. You might actually SEE what these words can only point to. Do that and you’ll start on the Journey back through the Labyrinth you’ve been neuro-culturally caged in.
There’s no one to blame for all of this. It’s been this way since our ancestors got conquered and owned. Our once Sacred (Whole) People got displaced, disoriented, traumatized, molested physically, emotionally, sexually, culturally, economically, spiritually, linguistically and relationally. Our healthy, connected way of living together, as human beings, got shattered, and scattered. We then replicate these self-alienating relational dynamics from generation to generation, from the expressions of our preconscious relational structures.
As human beings develop, we adapt to what we experience. Disrupt the experience, and the human who develops in the disruption adapts to, is shaped by, and replicates that disruption. It’s far more impersonal than most of us dare imagine. We are the result.
If we are lucky, we meet someone who can show us how to reconnect ourselves to the Spark of our Aliveness, who hands it back to us, glowing, to know, to tend to, to care for, to pass on, sometimes upsetting our entitled sense that the measure of the world is whether we like or not, as if it only existed to entertain us, and maybe… maybe… we learn something…
and it’s a damn good Journey…
That is the Journey of Learning and Unlearning in the Reality of EARTH that I committed to when I met People who taught me how to re-orient in LIVING Reality. It’s far simpler, grounded, and real than our imaginings. Life’s Mysteries are Alive and True. I am a Student of the Stone People and of Rock Old Woman. We practice three Arts: SEEing, HEARing, and MOV, in Reality.
I have also spent a lifetime paying attention to the impact of a relational disturbance that has beset so-called “modern” peoples since our ancestral conquest. Conquered peoples get gang-pressed into a way of relating to ourselves, each other, and the Invitation of Aliveness in a way that is toxic to Life inside and all around us. Many people today are looking for an exit hatch from Life itself.
People who take Learning and Unlearning Journeys on the Stone Roads live in all kinds of places, cultures, languages, and human possibilities. We live with all the Shapes of Aliveness. We’re Students of What Is Alive. Our Authority for Living is the Wisdom that Authors Living Reality. We are Her Students. We also learn with all kinds of different people and cultures (ways of relating).
We might be able to show you a few things you never noticed about you, and your world. We don’t need to try to be special because we already are, as a Human Shape of the Ground that all of us are. What all of us are naturally is more amazing than all of those tricks and acts we learned to put on so we could draw attention. We can learn to live again, for real, and in connection.
When we pay attention in new ways, we learn something new. The invitation that matters most is your own. For that you’ve got to quit pretending and getting all wrapped up in who you think you are and what you’re trying to be, and discover who and what is really being you. Grab a fistful of Ground and you have a fistful of Real, Living Intelligence. Then you’ll really get a sense of how amazing your being is from the get-go. There’s an amazing adventure you’re designed for called being a Human Shape of the Ground.
You know who the Ground is, don’t you?
Did I say “who”?
The Ground is Who everything that’s been Alive becomes.
All of Life Rises Up and Returns to Her.
The Ground is the Sacred Creative Generative Source of all Being. From the Ground Life sprouts up and Lives Again. We have a million different shapes. Right now we’re in a Human Shape. Maybe there’s more to learn than trying to “be somebody.” The Ground is a good Teacher.
You are made of wet stones having a human experience. You are already a miracle.
Replace searching with noticing
and soon you’ll discover what you are.
Stone Journey People come and go. That’s traditional. Sometimes we’ve got some stories for you. Sometimes we’ve got some teachings for you. Sometimes we call you to notice where you actually are and call your attention to message and wisdom that People who came before you left so that you can find your Way. Sometimes we can show you how we learn and live with the Rock Old Woman. Sometimes you ask us for something and then immediately get in your own, and your own people’s, way. We might stay for a while, even a good long while, but one day we go.
Many times we simply remain quiet.
One day you go to knock on the door at our place by the Mountain. The door’s ajar. The threshold stone’s overgrown with moss, and something fast and alive rushes out of a hole in the roof where the rain’s seeped in… and we’re gone; down some trail through the mountains to the mountains. That’s how we go. Old School Mountain Story Stone Journeys.
You go inside and everything smells of GONE.
You look about the place, step outside, and there it is; we left you one of those Sacred Story Stones, by the doorway, so you can find your way in reality again, and get oriented to who you are, where you are, and the Living Journey you’ve been invited to.
You hear a gang of hermit thrushes singing, catch a current of jasmine on the wind, feel the joy of sun through the wet green, breathe in the unfathomable beauty and sadness of the world and the absence of one whose Presence, Patience, Impatience and Persistence seemed like such the Certain Gift in your world; the one that you could count on.
And nothing remains of any and all that we gave you but an overgrown path up the Mountain and the wet that’s soaked your boots.
We come and go.
Many of you ask and ask and ask. Are you prepared to Receive what has already been Offered to you countless times? Are you prepared to even notice, or are you too busy and agitated in the conviction of your unwelcome that you’re still waiting for your welcome, and need more, more, and more, yet still can’t feel Welcome?
BE that Welcome.
Grow that Welcome.
Offer Your Welcome to those whom you say you “love,” for real.
Stone People remind us of the Sacred Journey; the One we’re made of; the One that’s making us and our world, the One that waits for us in the Womb and the Tomb of the Mountain, the One that will bite our ass and devour us and hatch us into a thousand different Shapes and Songs when we’re ripe, the One we love to replace with more ideas of what we think it is and how we think we’ve already taken it, and it’s a metaphor, an allegory, and all our tiresome, precious, sanctimonious, blathering bullshit.
And we either take it with our Feet, our Heart, our Eyes, our Ears, our Being, all the way.
Or we don’t.
But nobody takes it for us.
And it’s been like that for a long, long time.
What we asked for a thousand times was already offered to us a thousand and one times. For most of us, as soon as what we ask for is offered to us, we toss it aside and ask for it again. Notice that. Most of us are too busy seeking, instead of noticing.
If you take the Journey, then you realize, with real eyes, what you asked for and what you were Invited to, from the Beginning to the Beginning, without End. You’ll know the Journey, you’ll be of the Journey, and you’ll know your Journey’s just begun. Every step along the Circle is its Beginning. To Journey is a Return to Beginnings.
Everything you need for the Journey has already been offered every time you asked for it. But you only took it. Most of you toss it immediately into the smallness of what you think you “know” and what you think you were given, instead of Receiving it, not yet knowing the difference. Why? Because those who brought you into their world took you into their world, but never truly Received you. You have been Shaped in the Shape of taking, not receiving, much less Offering. We live in a culture where children are had, and end up being had, for a lifetime. Consider that.
Now it’s up to you to Receive the Invitation that the Aliveness is making to you.Then make the Invitation, the Offering, to the Continuity of an Aliveness Bigger than just you. But start with you, first. Complete the parts that are missing. Dare to Re-Parent yourself.
Notice what YOU Offer to the Journey, to those whom you say you “love,” starting with the willingness to Journey beyond your precious delusions, your need for certainty – straight into the certainty that you WILL be UNDONE.
How it is can’t be said, but it can be Sung, and it’s Singing How-It-Is right now.
And it’s been Singing like that for a long, long time. It’s an Old, Old Song. It only gets Sung One Time.
When I met the Rock Man he said,
“You can read words but you can’t read reality. You have never Seen, you have never Heard, you have never Moved. Not once. You walk in a world of pure imagination, woven of ideas totally disconnected from the Living Reality you walk and breathe in. Your only criteria for anything is ‘how it sounds to you.’ You don’t know who you are, where you come from, what happened to your People, what their Name is, the sense of the words you use every day, or even where you’re at. All you do is pile ideas on top of ideas woven of pure non-sense, literally. If someday you want to grow up you will have to learn to See – with your EYES. Once you start Seeing then you’ll discover Hearing, with your EARS, and then maybe someday you’ll actually MOVE, in Reality. Then you might discover something far more wonderful than what you think you, and the world, are, but aren’t.”
In 1984 I started learning to See, Hear and Move for the first time, Journeying on the Mountain Paths. The Journey bit my ass and Undid me in 2001. Seeing, Hearing and Moving in Living, Related Reality was once the Way of BEING of ALL of our ancestors, worldwide, prior to our ancestral conquest and submission to imperial (imperative, i.e. “thou shalt”), command-and-control ways. I learned with my teacher, Rockman, a Danish-American from Los Angeles, and his teacher, Suh-geh-seh who, along with his wife, was the last of the Takelma Don Goo-yah-oh. More than thirty years into this adventure, even claiming the title of Rank Beginner would be presumptuous.
I’m on a Journey From Beginning to Beginnings. Every time I find One, it shows me another Beginning. That’s where I go. Most of you want to travel somewhere else. Journey People travel to Beginnings, to Origins. It’s a Good Journey.
In response to the challenge of a Klamath elder to serve my people, to find out what happened to us displaced white crackers, as a people dispossessed – not only of our ancestral languages, homelands, healing ways, land-based economies, histories, our ancestral wisdom, courage and magnificence – but even of the memory of our ancestral and human dispossession, dislocation, and systematic debasement, I started serving people as a Critical Care Nurse, specializing in Trauma, Neuro-Trauma, and Neurological Illnesses, with a full range of experience in all aspects of critical care and, even more critically, caring and paying attention.
I’ve seen first-hand what’s at play in the lives of immigrants, of conquered peoples, displaced peoples, and of people who descend from histories of enslavement, victims of dictatorship, and how that plays out in the most intimate aspects of our lives many generations forward.
Having grown up in Belgium and Polish immigrant and multi-ethnic Chicago, living with all kinds of people and Peoples, around the world, I’ve learned how culture and language affect our perception and relationships deeply. Getting that was a matter of survival for me, and not just some intellectual pursuit.
I spent a childhood getting bounced around, rather rudely and violently, between worlds. I learned to navigate those differences, masquerading as other people’s “certainties,” since my youngest years.
In the Don Goo-yah-oh Way of Finding Our Way, apprentices traditionally travel from Oregon all the way to the Arctic, then all the way South to the tip of South America, living, learning, and exercising different professions and skills we pick up while living in different cultures, languages, kinds of civilizations, ecosystems and social structures. This way of learning through the Journey is traditional in many wisdom systems worldwide. Wisdom, from the Proto-Germanic, actually means “knowing the conditions of the ways, path, trails.” You’ve got to walk and live them to see what kind of condition they are in.
My teachers encouraged me to travel, live, learn and unlearn worldwide, and to gain a broad spectrum of experience and skills. The Don Goo-yah-oh are traditionally what my teachers call “cultural mechanics,” knowledgeable and skilled in a whole range of human possibilities and abilities in all kinds of different circumstances and environments.
I spent twenty years in Critical Care Medicine. I had a number of successful business in advertising, medical and scientific translation and interpretation, international healthcare ventures. I have also worked in, and taught, jewelry-making in Mexico. I compulsively grow permaculture gardens anywhere I spend some time, around the world, not just so people can eat, but so that the Aliveness in all Her Expressions is honored and recognized with bounteous, celebratory places to Birth Her Shapes. I speak six languages and teach in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
If this seems impressive to you, don’t kid yourself. Human beings are extraordinary Shapes of Aliveness. Whatever my small accomplishments, they are minute compared to those of the people I’ve had the pleasure and the privilege of learning with and from. I say this without any humility whatsoever. It’s just true.
The invitation to BE human is extraordinarily Beautiful. We’ve got some serious, wonderful, at times painful, learning and unlearning to do if we are up for even getting a hint of a taste of the sense of that; learning from the Ground up.
Since 2009 I have traveled and taught in the United States, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay on topics related to:
- Restoring Cellular Vitality
- Awakening Our Natural Genius
- Developmental Neuro-Dynamics and Leading Ourselves in Thriving
- Get Rich First and Let the Money Follow
- Deep Cultural and Relational Dynamics of “Modern” People.
Occasionally I show people, whose daily lives afford them contact with the Real, Living World, and who are living in service to something bigger than themselves, how to Read the Sacred Stones and Find their Way on the Sacred Mountains.
Mostly, I live and Journey where Stone People have traditionally lived and Journeyed: on Sacred Mountains, around the world. I’ve learned to live very richly, anywhere in the world, owning far less, enjoying far more, than most people could even imagine – it’s simple, it’s rich, it’s easy. Wealth is our natural state. Wealth is to well as warmth is to warm.
“Survival” is a very disoriented way of “living.” No other life form is “trying to survive.” Most humans, through time, and in place, haven’t been on a survival trip.
There’s an Adventure in Seeing, Hearing, and Moving in the Old Way that’s perfectly applicable to life today. It has nothing to do with “going to the past.” It has everything to do with recovering the Intelligence that’s Natural to us, as a Life Form, starting with the capacity to See, Hear and Move, in reality, and not just believe non-sense.
We come in for a sense-able landing on our Planet, We begin to recognize experientially, sense-ably, and connectively that She is Alive. She is You. We are Shapes of an Experience Aliveness itself is having. We weren’t just born here for absurd reasons: we were born into a Living Reality that is Absolutely and Sense-Ably Coherent, Wise, and Generous with Gifts that far surpass our imaginings.
As for teaching… well, traditional teachings are for and from students. “Student,” comes from the Latin, studium: “application and care.” In traditional teaching ways anybody who bothers to show you anything only does so because you have the passion of a student for some aspect of the Aliveness that calls to you. That means you bring true application and care because you have heart for the life you are living. You feel called from your innermost depths and you truly, passionately, and patiently want and choose to learn and master the Arts we jealously care for with care-FULL-ness. Students are not lukewarm, half-hearted or half-ass. Nor are grizzly bear, bumble bees, prickly pear cactus, or anything else that applies itself completely to fulfilling it’s Living Nature.
You have no “right” to a teaching. You have to catch it, with your heart, your passion, your elegance, your devotion, your attention, your patience, your cunning, your beauty. You have to be UP FOR IT. You have to learn to track reality, not just be spell-bound in a world of your imagination. You have to actually demonstrate and choose and walk in the passion of that learning. Then the Living Wisdom System you are, in connection with Living Reality, shows you the marvelous Journey you’ve been invited, from Beginning to Beginning, Eternally Re-Membered and Re-Newed.
Only then does someone who’s really delved into the Art and Majesty of any aspect of this Superlative Aliveness that inhabits and surrounds us give you a clue, maybe even some trail markers. No true teacher, who is a dedicated student first and foremost, is interested in what you “want.” We are interested in what you choose and do. If you say you want, but you don’t DO, then the student’s treasures are not for you, not because we shut you out, but because you do. IT’S UP TO YOU!
It’s not enough to WANT, you have to WILL and DO.
True Learners live with application and care. That’s the nature of true learning.
After six years of traveling and teaching around the world, I’ve learned the same lesson repeatedly, until I got it: teachings are for students, the kind who apply and lead themselves with application and care. The rest are looking for entertainment (literally “being held in between,” i.e. corralled) and there’s little on offer here that’s very entertaining.
Many people want something. Exceedingly few ACT to choose it. If you read my articles here, you’ll understand why. This condition is structural and developmental. It’s a degraded biological and relational state that is the perfect (literally “made completely”) adaptation to the biocidal sociopathology of an imperial human livestock operation masquerading as “modern culture.”
Most “modern” children are not raised in conditions that foster their natural Vitality, Brilliance and Desire for Real Connection with their Inner and with the Greater Aliveness. That’s how it is.
“Modern” people are not “humanity.” We are one passing expression of people who got owned, literally, over a thousand years ago. We are rushing headlong to extinction. As dramatic as this sounds to people who don’t observe life very closely, this is part of the Life cycle. It’s part of the Way-Finding Dynamic of this Planet. Life feeds life. ALL Life is edible. What does Life feed Life with? The devitalized, the degenerate, the apathetic, the distracted, the ones who prefer to ignore.
All Beings grow, and we decay. Decay nourishes Vitality, necessarily. You can choose to live Vitally, or in Decay. Both choices are perfectly nourishing of Life. One choice nourishes the Life you ARE. The other nourishes the Life that’s paying attention to what and how you ARE. Consider that. YOUR Life is YOUR Business – unless you want someone else to make it THEIR Business, maybe even their business LUNCH!
Many other Peoples live in many other ways, on this planet. There are amazing possibilities for you to live in connection with Aliveness. That takes learning something.
To learn means unlearning a lot of the precious, sanctimonious bullshit that sounds really, really good to us with only one shortcoming: it just ain’t so. And it takes learning to meet what actually happened to our People, and how that affects our way of relating to everything, and not just putting on some costume and pretending to be somebody we’re not.
Eventually, if we’re True Learners, we get used to having our precious bullshit regularly undone and unspun, until we actually anticipate and even look forward to any learning that frees us from being the cowherd of fictitious Sacred Cows.
This website is dedicated to that proposition, and the courage to face, embrace, and transform what sets us up against our own Aliveness. I’m dedicated to the Wisdom in a fistful of Ground, the Generosity, the Intelligence, the Patience, the Creativity, the Spaciousness of the Ground, and of Rock Old Woman.
There are communities of People in the world where a tiny seed of effort blossoms into something humanly astounding, inspiring, amazing. There are Capital-P People who ARE full-on committed to doing everything for their children. Some People still value Wisdom enough to pay attention to the paths, trails, and ways that brought them and their ancestry to where they are, and to the trail markers, hints and clues left behind by those who skillfully and, at times, catastrophically navigated their Journeys.
It is good to Journey in the company of those who share Life Passionately, with Awareness and with Sense-Able Feeling.
With all of that, who I am is writ upon the sands of time, right alongside your story. It’s an Old, Old Story. We are like the space between a period and the next sentence, that’s it. It seems like nothing at all but it is very beautiful and spacious, when we relax, take a breath, feel the world, with our senses, and notice. Very Simple.
We get to dance, sing, love and weep in the sun and the rain that nourishes Aliveness. We get to dance the fire and the water that stir within. We have hands with thumbs that allow us to make Offerings, to Touch the World, and to Hold Her.
Our stories are not insignificant. Our stories are Sacred and much vaster than the puffed-up smallnesses we imagine ourselves to be. Life travels in a Circling, in a Cycling. We travel in a Shaping. Our stories are part of a Sacred Story, which is to say, a Whole Story.
When we eave out the parts we don’t “like,” we lose the necessary Wisdom to find our Way.
Our ancestors lived and traveled in that Story and discovered the subtleties, the mysteries, the realities, and the detours, of the Journey it reveals, in our Aliveness. We live in that Story today, or rather, it’s the Story of Aliveness that lives as us, today. We’ve forgotten to notice, too distracted to listen to the Wisdom that our bones, our blood, our breath are woven of. But the Story lives on uninterrupted, even in our distraction, and the “modern human experience” is but that small pause that the Storyteller makes, before letting you know how the Rock Old Woman, once again and against all odds, used Catastrophe as the very stuff of Her Creativity, and as Her Sacred Invitation back into the Aliveness that is Her Ceremony.
We are fed. We are edible. We inhale, exhale, inspire and expire. It’s a Long Story. It has many Shapes. Consider that.
Call me “O.” I lost my names and my self-possessed self-enchantment years ago when I finally landed my awareness on and in Earth and got interested.
The Earth said to me, “Just start back at the Beginning and the Roundness of My shape and be ‘O,’ like a Beginner on a Lifelong Pilgrimage back to the Beginnings and Originations of MY Reality. Become something bigger than your ‘self’ by starting back at Zero.”
I’m here in the Joy of having a Human Shape, these Human Capacities for Wonder, for Noticing, for Offering and Receiving – not just giving and taking – for Singing to the Beauty of this World of BEING which Births Us into the Journey of our Sacred Capacity for Caring For and Enlivening the Greater Aliveness. I’m a Student of the Aliveness, an Adult who emerged from the Sacred, Sumptuous, Grinding, Boiling, Shattering, Undoing, Flowering and Birthing Crotch of the Rock Old Woman. I Journey with those who still have it in their BONES, their HEART, and their BREATH to learn and care fully for the Beauty, Wisdom, Creativity, and Sumptuous Generosity of the Rock Old Woman, who is a Being, not just a Place or a “Planet.”
As for the lukewarm, the half-hearted, and the half-assed… well, they’ll still get the Rock Old Woman’s Sacred Invitation to Feed and Journey in Her Countless Living Shapes. They’ll still be edible to the Greater Aliveness, don’t worry. Everybody gets to make the Journey to the Old Woman’s Sacred Shaping Cookpot in the Ground.
Have a Good Journey!
Gather Seeds – of Wisdom!
Make an Offering – there are People who are still to come!