Monthly Archives: July 2014

FIELD CENTERED INTIMACY…IS SUCH A PRAYER?

Here are  common inquiries concerning prayer—how does it work? We may send prayers, supposedly to a transcendent god, but how do such messages get there? Are there carriers? Does anyone hear? If so, how do he/she/it answer? And in what language? Are we really talking to our deeper selves in a form of inner dialogue? Trapped within our own psychology?

If we are able to escape the confines of our own personalities, do our prayers actually influence the situation? If another person has requested prayers, how are they helped? Or is it just one unending mystery about which little is actually known and, as such, resistant to understanding and conversation? Maybe, it is all a matter of faith and outside our domain of discussion? If that is true, how can we possibly learn the skills sets of prayer?

Many other questions arise, and maybe honest questions themselves are a form of larger communication. Let’s respond to the questions with a proposal and a story.

 First, the proposal. Prayer can be thought of as a linking to a larger perspective in a living Universe propelled by a vast intelligence leading us to greater intimacy. The linking in prayer is completely necessary and may be discovered through common connections within our eco-fields.

Now, for the story.

For three weeks now a tufted titmouse has been pecking on a window near where Judith and I eat our meals. This little bird is sparrow-sized and about six inches from the tip of the cute tuft perched on its head to its tail. Gray above and gray/white underneath, it is scrawny and appears young. The usual range of the common , black crested titmouse is in swampy or moist woodlands, so our semi-desert Hill Country does not fit such an eco-field. We are neither swampy or moist. My guy is definitely not black crested.

 As I look at my feathered friend, I observe he looks more like a juniper titmouse, gray all over and no black markings. Trouble is, we are not in juniper titmouse natural range. Frustrated, I pause for a moment to take stock of myself.In my books I have taken issue with Aristotle for his obsession with classifying and identifying different species and likely obscuring the soul, yet here I am engaged in a similar pursuit. I imagine that I can gain some control over the situation if I know who my visitor is and what his behaviors are. By now in the story, the bird has been pecking on the window near our dining area for a week, including first light in the morning. I wake up to the tap-tap-tap, and I can’t seem to discourage him. At first I was inspired by his presence, but now he is an annoyance.

Ten days into the experience, I have exhausted internet sources with little success in gaining knowledge of behaviors. Then, Judith finds a reference in a field guide to birds published in 1960, one we have carried with us for over 40 years. This book identifies my visitor as a plain titmouse frequently reported in my area. Likely, the account says, my annoying friend is just a plain old titmouse. Plain, you say! This experience thus far is annoying but not plain by any stretch of the imagination. Sadly, acquiring these data gives me no peace.

But still I search.

The pecking behavior is not terribly uncommon and has a common-sense, 20th Century science explanation. Titmice, cardinals, and robins are territorial birds. When our tiny titmouse sees a reflection of himself in the window, it perceives an intruder into its eco-field that might be a competitor for breeding or feeding. So when he gets close enough to the window to see his own reflection, he interprets the images as an intruder and pecks at the window to chase the intruder away. That explanation makes sense but my experience is much larger than that deduction and reduction.

Why I am going to all this trouble to identify this bird? How does it relate to prayer? At this point, it is not clear to me. But nearing the end of the second week of tapping, it slowly dawns on me that the behavior of the bird is somehow connected to the prayers Judith and I engage in each early morning just a few feet from where he likes to perch and, shall I say, drum. Or maybe, just tapping.

Tapping Prayer

Twenty-five years ago I trained with Roger Callahan, creator of a tapping technique called thought field therapy. A fellow student, Gary Craig, refined this approach and called it Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). At the time that Gary made his refinement, I suggested the title Energy Free Tapping because the tapping of certain meridian points on the body freed energy from the field to flow freely through the field, including humans and other creatures in the field. This free flow of energy linked aspects of the field in such a way that a greater wholeness emerged. Healing, if you will. Slow learner that I am from time-to-time, it was dawning on me that the tapping of my visitor was there to allow energy to flow freely through Judith and me in response to our singing, chanting, drumming, and burning of herbs. In service of healing? And was the tapping titmouse the larger Whole responding to our utterances in a very sensual, immediate way?

Resistance To Natural Flow

Still, I could not resist the impulse to control the situation because of the sleep deprivation. I covered the inside of the window with a blanket to reduce the reflection, and he no longer was pecking. At first I was relieved, but then I felt a loss.

Listening to my inner core I had known all along that the eco-field was responding to my utterances, prayer if you will. Yet, here I was sabotaging the possibility of a message coming through the field. I was covering over the possibility of flow and new information. I found myself laughing at this human tendency to constrict the very flow of quantum energy that carries packets of information from the fields that are part of this conversation I am calling prayer.

Revisiting the Proposal

 Let’s expand my proposal. Assume that quantum prayer connects us to the web of fields all around us. Further, consider that the larger system of fields includes a matrix of eco-fields and that the eco-fields consist of interlaced communications between all aspects of the fields. The rocks birth the soil; the soil, the grass; the insects, the birds; the birds, the foxes and predators, including humans, and so on. This mutual birthing includes a field-centered epistemology or, to be more precise, a knowing field. Then, let’s stretch ourselves to think that this matrix of fields is suffused with an intelligence, an intelligence that has a vested interest in the evolutionary impulse.

Recall an earlier blog where I quote mathematical cosmologist, Bryan Swimme, that describes the direction of an evolutionary Universe as moving toward every aspect knowing every other aspect in its depths. In other words, everything in the Universe is moving toward greater and greater intimacy.

If this proposal has even a modicum of truth in it, then the matrix of eco-fields all around me where I live has a vested interest in my unfolding awareness, connectivity, and compassion. Why? Because that is the direction of the Universe.

In such a scenario my impulse and practice of connecting and opening myself are communications from myself to the larger fields. The question becomes, then, does the matrix of fields speak back to me,providing me with packets of information. That’s what intimacy is, isn’t it? The exchange of authentic information. Sadly, I had walled off my side of the conduit. And we explore those blocked conduits and moving beyond them in the next post.

QUANTUM PRAYER: Charting A Path Through Chaos In A Return To Prayer

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Today, I received a post from a friend,Larry, telling of giving up on prayer as he trudged through the jungles of Viet Nam in the midst of a pointless war. Lately, he developed a brain tumor and received multiple prayers from Earthtribers. His experience of being immersed in prayerful eco-fields has him reconsidering the validity of prayers since he has been deeply touched through a mysterious energy generated through a tribal practice of prayer. A healing energy, I suppose.

I know what he means, this reconsideration in the midst of a serious illness. Judith, my life partner, was diagnosed with breast cancer in March of this year, and now both of us are swimming our way through chaos toward coherence, a coherence of greater wholeness. Prayer seems to be integral to our splashing with purpose. The experience of having many of you pray regularly for me and Judith has me rethinking prayer. Earlier in this blog I wrote of rethinking thinking as a return of humans to the cycle of life, so here I am doing that very thing with a focus on prayer. It may take several posts, so off we go.

Me And Prayer: A Very Short History

Me and prayer, we go back a ways. The first prayer I recall was as an eight-year-old. I was hiking in a red rock canyon near my home on a late August afternoon. A brief summer thunder shower had come and gone, leaving behind the pungent greetings of a juniper forest. Suddenly, I was more alive. Even, now I can smell the crisp olfactory greeting of that canyon. I responded with giggles and wonder. In retrospect it seems like prayer to me.

Then, in my twenties, I momentarily abandoned my nature-base and practiced arduously Christian mysticism and its various forms of prayer. God was over there, and I was linked to the Divine through a Living Christ, who also was over there most of the time. But not all of the time. Sometimes, there seemed a presence, a very present help. In this model of prayer, I reached out through petition, confession,intercession, and gratitude. All human centered activity.

After a while emotional tangles surfaced that would not yield to that variety of mystic prayer and meditation, so I took a long hiatus from prayer, unless you consider profound encounters in psychotherapy (both as a provider and receiver) as sacred connection and, therefore, a form of prayer. Maybe so. In any case I stopped using the term altogether. It seemed an embarrassment to my post-modern sensitivities. Or maybe I was just angry with God because She/He didn’t seem to help with emotional contractions. The god of Western Civilization and mainline Abrahamic religions seemed mostly interested in repression, even of the sublime. It didn’t occur to me that there was a sacred presence in face-to-face therapy since the psychology of that era was allergic to the spiritual.

Inipi: Place of Spirit And Prayer

Then, in a return to ancient tribal practices, I sat on the ground around hot stones and allowed the sweat of my body to roll off, and, to my surprise, that act seemed to link me to something greater. At first we in the Earthribe practiced these ancient ways as a very hot form of group therapy. The intense heat cut through the B.S. But soon our utterances went far beyond our own psychological conditions. We found ourselves crying out in joy and gratitude as well as suffering and pain. The heat, the burning herbs, the glowing rocks, the fire, and the grass on our bare feet seemed to awaken a language beneath our usual rational expressions. Later, I would call this ceremony an experience of praying in the mother tongue, those utterances beneath the abstractions of modern languages.

Circles of Fasting and Prayer

Like many humans over the last 200,000 years, our return to the life cycle pulled us in the Earthtribe to sit in wilderness circles, fasting and crying for a vision over a 24 hour period. After a while, some intrepids fasted even longer. To my great surprise, visions appeared, songs were gifted, healings happened, traumas resolved, and creatures came bearing gifts and messages. Could it be, I asked myself, that my earlier versions of prayer were limited to sending messages outward? Could it be that prayer is actually a two-way conversation, a give-and-take, or a dialogue within creation?

If so, with whom or what?

To me, a process was developing, a relationship with the immediate environment that seemed to mediate an energetic presence. And the language of that presence was not transmitted through usual mainline rationality or common sense or abstract mysticism or even meditation toward emptiness. It all seemed like one piece of cloth to me, this intimate exchange. Something or someone was reaching out to me through an intimate environment. It wasn’t just a narcissistic exercise, and I was surprised by joy and, even happiness. Moments of ecstasy emerged from a sometimes realization that the universe was not a machine with a deity settled in some far-off place. The Universe–and the web of eco-fields where I happened to be—was alive, interactive, and brimming with intelligent exchanges I might well call prayer.

The Inner Scientist Wants In The Circle

In addition to being a psychologist, my hobby of quantum physics had by this time taken a more formal direction in inquiry and graduate research. It soon became clear that I had to find a way to include the inner scientist in the conversation. If not, I would continue with civilization’s split between spiritual experience and scientific thought. There had to be a way because these conversations—prayers if you will– in the mother tongue were moving me toward greater and greater wholeness. As I talked with clients and students, I discovered that all of us have introjected an inner scientist/skeptic whether we are aware of it or not. These inner scientists are crucial players because they can put the kibosh on interactions I was thinking of as prayer. Plus, I knew I needed an inner scientist to balance out the wild-hearted, shamanic practitioner. In daily practice I was benefitting from the confluence of 21st Century science and ancient wisdom. In fact, the motion of that meeting place itself is a form of prayer.

The Quantum World As Prayer Context

As I probed 21st Century science, I found that there is compelling support for a cosmic map of an underlying reality, an implicate order, out of which all our perceived reality emerges. In quantum physics there is, according to physicists Amit Goswami, David Bohm, and Ilya Prigogine, a science based on the primacy of consciousness. We are aspects of that consciousness, is the daring proposal of newer scientists. All the world of experience, including all the creatures around us, are manifestations of this underlying and overreaching consciousness.

 See what I mean: I am discovering a new way of thinking. The quantum way, and what I am experiencing might be called quantum prayer.

Quantum Fields, Information Exchange, and Prayer

Wholistic Consciousness employs an intermediary of a system or web of fields to link in such a way that everything is connected to all else within the Universe, called quantum entanglement by scientists. The technical definition of a field is a region of non-material influence, such as the gravitational, the electromagnetic, and strong and weak nuclear fields. Let’s see briefly how this notion relates to prayer.

 Imagine for a moment that an underlying consciousness—what Bohm calls the implicate order—sends forth wave after wave of pulsations through the fields eventuating in the common sense world, including ourselves. As I said in my last post, this common sense world appears to be fixed and solid, but under further scientific scrutiny there is widespread motion wherein pulsating waves birth particles that in turn make up the domain of matter.

Tiny sub-atomic particles come into being as steep waves collapse under certain conditions such as human, experimental awareness. Quantum scientists have convincingly demonstrated the sensitivity of the wave/particle continuum to human awareness. As such there is now a consistent quantum proposal that the wave/particle dance demonstrates an interactive awareness/sensitivity to humans and, perhaps, many aspects of creation.

Do you see where I am going here? The Universe is fundamentally interactive awareness wherein there is constant exchange of information. Such a proposal sets the table for what I am calling quantum prayer.

In a series of well-known experiments, Alain Aspect, a French physicist, provided strong evidence that a quantum event at one location can interact with another event without any known mechanism for communication between the two locations. A photon that has been split(through a beam splitter) has an affinity of interactive information with its twin if that twin is in the next room or across a galaxy.

Simply expressed, there are information exchanges between tiny particles across space and time. You and I are—don’t forget—made up of waves-becoming particles, becoming molecules, becoming cells, becoming organs, and so on.

Quantum Prayer

I am not reducing all prayer to quantum exchanges of information, but I do find it quite helpful to note that a shift in my consciousness(since I am, among other identities, a field of photons) links with and sends information through the fields that has the potential to influence particles, molecules, cells, organs, people, societies, nations, solar systems, and distant galaxies. It now appears that the butterfly effect closely describes the actual quantum domain. It is not just new age jargon.

 Revisiting An Eight Year Old

So the circle closes, and I return to the wisdom of an eight-year old. The juniper forest and the passing thunder storm sent packets of information to me in the form of soul-stirring sights and smells. I responded with a sense of wonder, awe, and laughter. It was as if the locale was calling me to something greater. And, as best I could, I said,”Here am I send me.”  In a time of trouble this seems like a path through chaos and disorder.

“…the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started

and know the place for the first time.”   T.S. Eliot

Let’s take this conversation on quantum prayer to the next level when next we meet.

A FOUNDING MOTHER: Calls Us To Return

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In this time of memory and honor around July 4th, citizens of the USA celebrate the Founding Fathers and their independence. That is well and good, but I invite you to honor and celebrate Nonhelema, in my view one of North America’s greatest leaders, our Founding Mother.

 What? You never heard of her? Read on.

It is time for us to honor the Founding Mothers, and I refer here not only to the nation state we call the USA but to the continent our indigenous grandparents called Turtle Island. The sooner we can connect with the spirit of the land, the web of eco-fields, before the European invaders arrived, the better we will be able to make a return as humans to the cycle of life. One way to begin this return is to delve deeper into history, to a domain beneath accepted text books in our educational systems. We will have to acknowledge that most of our histories have been written by historians dominated by a European view of life. For this reason Nonhelema has been relegated to a footnote, if that.

The Cosmic Story of Nonhelema

Once we dive beneath the surface of history’s waters, we discover Nonhelema as an imposing figure to assist us in our journey of return. Swim into a brief narrative, actually a cosmic story of her life. Born in 1720, she sang her death song in 1786. Her life spanned what we revere as the American Revolution. She was 6’6” tall, and, early in her life, a fearsome warrior. She painted her body and fought nude in battle . Picture that for a moment. You are a British or American soldier, and you look up to see a 6’6” Amazon charging you in the buff, hair flowing in the wind on a painted horse.

No wonder her Shawnee name translates as “not-a-man.”

 We have had many warrior leaders arise from our continent, including George Washington early on and Dwight Eisenhower in recent times, who made the transition to peaceful leaders as Presidents. Why would I think of Nonhelema as one our greatest leaders? Perhaps surpassing these more well known figures? Let’s proceed.

By the time she was forty, Nonhelema had a spiritual vision that led her to see that war would not settle issues between indigenous peoples, Great Britain, and the emerging American nation state. Based on her vision, she shifted from war and identified herself as a Peace Chief. For the rest of her life, she studied war no more. She never wavered even though her own people entreated her to return to the battlefield.

Her brother, Cornstalk, also was an able War Chief, but she convinced him to join her to support efforts of peace with the infant American state in 1776. In 1777 the United States government –- in a shocking turn of events –- murdered Cornstalk, thus setting a dangerous precedence of not only breaking agreements but destroying the very people capable of building a viable society. In spite of this dastardly act, Nonhelema continued to support efforts at linking indigenous tribes with the new American government. She believe not so much in the new Americans as she did in her vision of peace that grew out of her deep connection to the rivers and land that sprouted her. Indeed, she returned time and again to the wilderness to refresh and renew her vision and heal the wounds of grief over the loss of her beloved brother. Her spirit guides gave her a wide angle lens that allowed her to see beyond any of her male counterparts in either the indigenous or American state world.

Soon, this remarkable mother of peace made a heroic transition to the emergence of a new era. Born into a hunter/gatherer tribe, she now had to face the inundation of a capitalistic society. As part of her transition, she married an American citizen, Richard Butler, with whom she had a child. Together they built a thriving cattle business that made her one of the most influential persons in the nation’s struggling economy.

Although Nonhelema was still revered as a key chief of the Shawnee, a more conservative Shawnee contingent considered her a traitor for adapting to the “new ways.” Still, she persevered and insisted on being a link between vMemes, the indigenous people on the one hand and the newly arrived Europeans on the other. In retribution for her support of peace, various American, British, and tribal factions completely destroyed her considerable herds of cattle. Consistently, she sacrificed her personal life and wealth on behalf of the larger good.

She understood better and better how the new capitalistic system worked and in 1785 petitioned Congress for a 1,000 acre grant in Ohio as compensation for her support during the American Revolution. Although the Shawnee did not practice property ownership, Nonhelema had had under her care hundreds of thousands of acres, including much of Ohio and Illinois. She and her brother, Cornstalk, governed this vast region. So, the request for a 1,000 acres was quite humble. Congress responded by granting her a small pension of daily rations and an allotment of blankets. Blankets! Really?

Some historians see her support of the War of the American Revolution as being entirely crucial, especially on the Western Front. And for that key support, Congress insulted her. Some things never change. But I digress.

Consider this bifurcation point in the new nation. On the Eastern front, Ben Franklin was under the considerable influence of the Iroquois Confederacy. You recall that the Iroquois were the oldest democracy on the planet at the time, an honor some historians still bestow on them. They advocated face-to-face conversation as the seat of a primal politics, a balance of masculine and feminine principles deeply connected to the web of what I call the eco-fields. Women were not only included but also had very powerful positions.

On the Western front stood Nonhelema casting her large shadow of feminine influence. It is no stretch to describe her life at this time as an embodiment of the Divine Feminine. Her American husband died, and she returned to a more tribal lifestyle by marrying an esteemed Shawnee chief, Moluntha. By the close of her Earth walk, she was fluent in English, a translator of languages and cultures, and the author of an English/Shawnee dictionary. She continued to practice her shamanistic ways of healing individuals and also working tirelessly to heal the wounds between her Shawnee people and the newly minted government of the United States. She was a brilliant scholar, a mature healer, and peace activist.

 Strangely and for reasons of “national security” General Benjamin Logan captured Nonhelema and her Shawnee husband, Moluntha, and threw them into prison at Ft. Pitt in 1896. Within a few days Moluntha was executed. Shocked and more aware members of congress and likely George Washington himself intervened to release Nonhelema. Her health broken and her energy zapped after the stay in prison, Nonhelema completed her journey on Earth that same year. Honored at the time by Daniel Boone and General George Rodgers Clark.

Brilliant as the Founding Fathers were, they ignored both the indigenous Mothers of the East in the Iroquois and the primal Mother of the West in Nonhelema, a choice that would lead to a tragic civil war and the repression of the sublime feminine with which we are still struggling.

Brief Reflections

This morning when I told this story to Judith, she commented with an ironic tone in her voice,”Now that’s a pleasant story for July 4th.” She speaks a truth. Part of our return as humans to the circle of life means looking with clear eyes at an adult version of our history. Not always pleasant. That said, Nonhelema is finally a story of profound compassion and love.

I personally have followed Nonhelema’s story for several reasons. One, being that she was, according to one source, a contemporary of Tilitha, my great grandmother who likely lived in a Shawnee village with Nonhelema. Whether that is historically valid or not, I look to these transitional women as founding mothers. I once heard Brian Swimme say that a mother’s love is the most powerful human example of cosmic love. Both Judith and I have been gifted with mothers who incarnate the Divine Feminine, so I find that existentially true. Now, I invite us all to honor and accept Nonhelema as a Founding Mother, one whose ancestral energy can assist us in our return to a deep connection with the land and all its creatures. There, we may find peace in the lap of our mother Earth.

Our Founding Fathers ignored the Divine Feminine to our detriment, saying the peace advocated by the Mothers was unrealistic. We are at the bifucation point once again. This time, may we choose the path of peace, affiliation, and collaboration. If so, we will make Nonhelema proud.