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For What It's Worth

There’s something happening here / what it is ain’t exactly clear… Buffalo Springfield, “For What It’s Worth”

Personal awakening doesn’t happen in a sphere. It’s oblong, then nearly rectangular, then look! Almost a perfect sphere, then out of balance again. It’s always pushing its boundaries out, if it’s growing at all, because that’s how natural growth happens. Ideally, it wants to happen in a sphere. Spheres and circles are Nature’s favorite shapes because they illustrate perfect balance along all edges simultaneously. There are no corners that carry the stress of the shape. All share equally the inherent stressors of the physical construct.

We may want it to happen that way, but that’s not how personal evolution happens. Not personally, and not culturally.

Let’s take a personal example. You go through a week of nothing special except that a sense of peace and well-being pervades. It’s easy, joyful. You notice ideas from some other Universe hatching in a fertile mind that is somehow less busy. You reach out to others spontaneously. You are vulnerable and don’t mind it. Others notice and are drawn to you. You say things to them that are meaningful. Your sacred items seem to want to be close to you, and tell you so. You have dreams, you write them down and they're like oracles. You wonder why the sudden shift? Is it diet? Special attention to personal daily ceremony? In the end, it doesn’t matter. You are riding a glorious wave. “Ah”, you think, “this is how it’s supposed to be. My sphere is round like the sun!”


The next week you get triggered. A parent says something thoughtless, or at least not in alignment with how we feel about ourselves. An acquaintance or friend tells us we are full of ourselves, or even hypocritical. Lines seem longer, skies cloudier. If you had a chimpanzee as a pet, she’d bite you for trying to feed her.

“What happened to my sun-like sphere?” you ask. “Now it looks like a Tom Brady football!”

Welcome to uneven growth. Less like a cue ball, more like an amoeba.

The lesson is this: the error was in the “this is how it’s supposed to be.” How it’s “supposed to be” is messy. Growing our spheres is a constant state of death, fertilization, birth, growth and death again. It swims like a sea cucumber. It walks like a thirteen year old. It slips on ice and farts in an elevator. It ain’t pretty.

So what can we do?

Only one thing: keep growing. You are here for one reason. To grow. To change and expand your insight and understanding. To what end? It doesn’t matter; that’s the property of religion and we are not religious. Spiritual people don’t ask such questions. Just grow without apologies. Those of us who are realistic about our situations aren’t going to judge you. We know what’s going on with you because as introspective people we see it in ourselves. We accept that you are a work incomplete, a simultaneous masterpiece and dumpster fire. So are we. So what?

So it is with the culture. It’s easy to do, but ultimately unhelpful to get too caught up in water, oil, hunger, extinction or guns. Those are symptoms. The cause is humans that think they are separate from meaning, from Nature. Many individuals think that fixing a problem like war or drones or Trump brings us one step closer to fixing the problem of humanity.


It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work directly on the issues, but to place too much emphasis on them, to get too energetically tied to them, puts us back in the path and grasp of the very idea of separation that spawned the problem in the first place. This is true of personal growth as well.

I’m likely going to Standing Rock in a few weeks. There is a lot of determination, a lot of anger there. I understand. People who know me know that I am also determined. I am also angry. In fact, I don’t expect it to end well because it never has for the side I am on. History is not with the indigenous of any nation. But I feel it is my joy and duty, not only as a Lakota pipe carrier but as a concerned human, to physically show up and work directly on the problem if I can create that opportunity. Still, I am under no illusions that if the pipeline were halted that this would be the end of the story.


Because like a religious person that grits his teeth to avoid looking at pornography, the issue is not the pipeline. It’s not even our addiction to cheap power. The issue with the religious person is deeper, related to something like a misappropriation of the meaning of the procreative act or an act of desperation to control something when he feels out of control in every other area. For our conflicted porn addict it becomes primarily something to make one feel good individually, rather than to connect with another embodied soul in the creation of life and/or relationship. It’s more about dopamine and serotonin, less about sacred connection.

The issue with the pipeline also stems from disconnection – a false idea of separation – from Nature. The knowledge that we can't mess with Nature without messing with ourselves hasn't taken broadly enough yet to stop it in the planning stages. Until this concept becomes an informing fact of our existence, there will always be pipelines. When this fact is in enough of our hearts, I believe that cultural agreements will change overnight. Until it does, it’s going to be messy, with fits and starts. Inspiring treaties will be like personal goals that are made, then broken, then remade, and broken again. Great waterways will be cleaned up, and two more irretrievably polluted. It’ll be Culture growing in the shape of a wiener dog, not an orange, initially. But it is growth nonetheless.

This is perfectly acceptable because every time we make progress, even temporary progress, it gets easier next time. A hole having been bored in a mountain may cave in here and there. But it’s easier to claw the rocks back out than it was to make the initial hole. It may be frustrating, but it’s still progress.

If we view things from the Q'ero shamanic Snake view, losing the pipeline battle is a tragedy. And it would be in many significant ways. After all, we need the Snake level - it’s where our bodies live. It’s sacred in that regard at the very least, let alone the fact that it involves our water, which is looking more and more like a kind of liquid terrestrial memory. But from the Q’ero view of Hummingbird or Eagle, we can see that while we humans may want growth, it is guaranteed by Creator by virtue of the fact that we are still alive. All we have to do is stay in the game. Keep asking questions. Keep working on ourselves. As we proceed, a hole may cave in. That's ok, because look at how many holes are being drilled! The mountain of Culture’s misconception is starting to resemble Swiss cheese. From environmental concerns to civil rights questions to economic theory in death throes to scientific advancement to spiritual revolutions, the Culture is reeling. Chimps are biting. Elevators are virtually uninhabitable.

My prayer is that we will take a step back and see what is happening here; that we will grant both ourselves and the Culture the room to grow with the grace of one who sees with the eyes of Creator. That we will work on the problems with the fervor of one who believes that all of Life is dependent on a positive solution, while making the choice to put it ultimately in the hands of Creator. After all, we can only do what we can do. We can intend the sphere. As products of Nature, connected and blessed with minds and bodies, it’s what we should do. But let’s be patient with the Culture as well as with ourselves. Things are exactly where they should be.

And one day, a sphere we will become.

--Eric "Aspen" Marley

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