In the annals of Kabbalah there is recorded that before the present Earth-world—of beauty imperiled, of diversity being diminished—there were seven other worlds, brute works of monstrous forces and inhabitants; worlds out of balance, lacking perfection and even the potential for perfection. But God destroyed each of the seven and created anew until arriving at this present Earth-world, which with the help of another I have come to call the dreamsphere of “God’s excesses,” being excesses of beauty, love and wisdom. Only here and now there is this difference and it is unprecedented: the human species is about to destroy the entire living world, a world we did not create and cannot create again after destruction. This is a radical horror that mutates the dream of God into becoming the nightmare of human pathology, of anthropocentric narcissism inflated to perverse proportions—our species suicide threatening omnicide.
Those who are not recklessly addicted to the nonstop carnival of planetary death are asking: What is our alternative? The impossible-possibility and in three words: maturity, responsibility, repentance.
Repentance is an act of beauty, a turning, turning away from the narcotic funk of existential alienation and returning to belonging—repentance as a way of living that reconnects and cultivates, instinctively and culturally, the feeling-sense and ecosophy of maturity and responsibility (response-ability) as a core skill and value birthed out of integral belonging. For where you do not belong, you do not care. You are rootless and careless. But that to which you do belong you attend to, you look after, watch over, and, as necessity requires, you defend. This necessary defense of place, as belonging in time and space, and the integrity of one’s placement, is what makes up the identity of an eco-warrior and the standing ground of a warrior’s choice.
Think deeply on the differences between madness and soulful awakening, between cursing behavior and acts of beauty; of the restorative power of adoration and the healing mutuality of respect.
Of course the issue of maturity is a serious, significant question, difficult to get into dialogically from within a nation possessed by a decaying adolescent psyche; obsessed with convincing the entirety of humankind that the cult of youth, with all of its cosmetic technologies, the pollution of pop culture and extravagant consumerism comprises ultimate happiness and is the crowning glory of planetary evolution.
The challenge brings to mind a few words written by deep ecologist Bill Devall: “Contemporary ecophilosophers recall Native Americans as examples of maturity, of having broader and deeper relations with place.... When the Native American says, What a man does to the earth, he does to himself, we understand that the self he is speaking about is not the minimal self but the Great Self.*
But all of this is far removed from an mythic narrative out of Kabbalah. Or is it? Are there lovely seeds in the esoteric past that may yet yield the holistic paradigms of the future? Is there a tradition yet to be received that involves not only humanity but a God who may be possible and an Earth of many possible tomorrows?
Try this: step up to somebody—up to a friend, a loved one, even a stranger, look into the eyes and say openly, with emotion, “Earth dweller, Earth walker, nature mystic—do you know the Earth is dying?”
*Simple In Means, Rich In Ends, Bill Devall, Peregrine Smith Books
8 May, Mother’s Day, 2011