Soul Source
Autumn Newsletter, 2014

Willingness, Openness, Acceptance;
The Heart's Bountiful Harvest

In This Issue
Autumn Equinox
Spiritual Bypass
The Right Place for Life
Avoidance in Holy Drag
Peace is This Moment Without Judgment




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Embracing Pain

by Joanna Macy


by Adyashanti 








"Beauty and Beast"

"Phantom of the Opera"  



When The Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd
The Shadow Effect by Debbie Ford

Loving What Is by Byron Katie
























































"Let life happen to you.

Believe me: life is in the right,


-Rainer Maria Rilke


Once we stop seeking pleasure, 
we may actually discover the beauty in the pain.

Once we stop looking for answers, 

we may learn to love the questions again.

Sometimes healing only begins 
when we stop trying to fix something, 
and acknowledge its brokenness.

Out of truth, transformation.
Out of breakdown, the seeds of grace.

 - Jeff Foster 
































































































































































Forget About Enlightenment


Sit down wherever you are
And listen to the wind singing in your veins. 

Feel the love, the longing, the fear in your bones. 

Open your heart to who you are, right now, 
Not who you would like to be, 
Not the saint you are striving to become, 
But the being right here before you, inside you, around you. 

All of you is holy. 

You are already more and less 
Than whatever you can know.
Breathe out, 
Touch in, 

Let go.


-John Welwood

































































































The Ink Dark Moon


Although the wind
blows terribly here,

the moonlight also leaks

between the roof planks

of this ruined house.


-Izumi Shikibu













Autumn Equinox 


Autumn Equinox is a midpoint in the annual cycle that corresponds to the fall harvest. Taken literally, the fall harvest is a time of gathering together what we have grown in our garden in the first half of the year and sifting the wheat from the chaff, the edible from the inedible. 
This process reminds us of how easy it is to savor and treasure the good fruit in our lives, the grace and the beauty, and ignore or attempt to deflect the most challenging and difficult elements of life. Yet, if we are to truly integrate and be made whole, we must be willing to embrace and find the sacred in all of life, including the chaff, and not just the best parts. When we focus on the chaff and give it the same weight and value as the wheat, we do not bypass the nutrient rich chaff that is present in our life experience and learn to be present, stay and work with what is painful, uncomfortable and unpleasant as well. In this way, everything in the garden of our lives is sacred and serves our awakening process.

Please join us in celebrating the Autumn Equinox on Monday, September 22 at 10:29pm (eastern time). Take the time to notice and open to your experience. We hope you read this newsletter and allow it to connect deeply with you.


Autumn Equinox Blessings! 


Spiritual Bypass

by Josh Korda


The Buddha taught that the greatest source of suffering in life arises from our attempts to avoid inevitable discomforts; essentially, we crave immunity from discomfort and an escape route from difficult emotions. Yet we humans all work from the same universal, basic emotional palette: anger, fear, sadness, happiness, disgust, contempt, surprise.

 Now, many of us are trained, in the formative years of childhood, that some of these inevitable emotional states aren't safe to express, such as sadness and anger; they must be avoided at all costs. (As infants we run to our caretakers during emotional events, seeking regulation and security; whatever emotions make our caretakers uncomfortable, we'll struggle with as well). While many of our emotions will be tolerated, others will be rejected or shamed; this experience of disrupted connection creates what can be a lifelong tendency to suppress and repress core human energies, rather than learning to face and tolerate all of our core emotional states.

 And so we try to feel good all the time, which results in desperate measures to avoid any emotional discomfort. At first we may choose unskillful strategies, such as drugs or alcohol to alter our emotional states; when these fail we may find ourselves turning to the more socially palatable strategies of yoga, meditation, fasting, and so on. In other words, we may seek a spiritual escapes, or spiritual bypasses, from our emotions, and mistake the initial elation as a form of emotional health.

 As a meditation teacher I'd be thrilled if I could claim, with a straight face, that practice will lead to a life without frustration, sadness, disappointment. I can claim that spiritual practice will lead to a state where we can hold our difficult emotions.

 The attempt to be without core emotional experiences is just another form of craving. Using spiritual endeavor as an attempt to bypass emotions is simply another escapist, avoidance tendency, like workaholism, rumination, indulging in the utopian day dream of "when the revolution comes..." While spiritual bypasses may be more palatable than slamming back a few drinks to cope with agitation and stress, all forms of bypass have the same ultimate goal, which is to disconnect us from feeling and holding difficult emotions. Essentially this is avoidance, tuning out from experience, even though we're unaware.

There's nothing healthy about using spiritual practice to escape loneliness, sadness, disappointment, whatever we're feeling; its actually a form of self-harm to tell ourselves we shouldn't feel something. Again: we only have a few emotions in our human palate, and many of them are unpleasant, but they're necessary nonetheless; in life there's anger, fear, sadness, whether we like it or not; attempting to circumvent these states creates even greater suppressive tendencies.

 Every tool in spiritual practice has its uses, but when hijacked by avoidance strategies and defensive mechanism, they'll lead to only more suffering in life. While we may learn to detach from the stories that needlessly trigger depression or blame, the desire to fully escape sadness is unattainable, and we'll feel let down by our practice if we're hoping for such a state. Liberation is not a state without emotion; it's a state where emotions and sensations can be held and tolerated without adding additional reactivity or suffering.

 While we can update our operating systems to trigger less fight-flight-or-freeze impulses, and we can be less reactive to emotions, we cannot transcend being in human bodies and brains, and bodies and brains create emotions, which are meant to be felt, attended to and processed. Attending to emotions requires sitting through difficult sensations, especially as we open to energies we'd prefer to suppress.

 So spiritual growth should not be seen as the achievement of lasting elation or those "everything is beautiful" tones of voices one hears at some yoga centers. To be a spiritual practitioner means being available and present with whatever IS present, no matter what the sensations and energies are present, without anything defining us. It's not really about being above it all; it's about being with it all.

Want to hear more? Listen to Josh Korda's dharma talk about the same topic here.

The Right Place for Life

by Jeff Foster

Your heart is broken. You no longer feel at home. The world as you know it is crumbling. You feel you have lost something very precious to you. Life doesn't seem fair, kind, or right. You long to escape. To rewind to the way things were or to fast-forward to how things could be. You feel disconnected, lonely and lost, even beyond help. 




Perhaps this is exactly how things are supposed to be right now. Perhaps this is life, not a violation of life. Perhaps a Universe cannot go 'wrong'. Perhaps life only goes 'wrong' in our thinking. 

Come out of the movie of past and future, time and space, and turn to meet a sacred moment, this moment, the only moment there is. Remember your presence, here and now. Feel the body pulsating. Feel the heart pounding, the chest expanding and contracting. Feel the raw life that is here, enveloping you, filling you, animating you, being you. Feel your feet on the ground. 

Know that the next step can only be taken from here, where you are, the true ground. 

Relax into never knowing what the next step will be before it is actually taken. 

Trust that you cannot trust right now. 

Be here. Yes, be here.

Your heart may be broken, friend, your dreams may be crumbling to dust, but you're always in the right place for life.


Avoidance in Holy Drag: An Introduction to Spiritual Bypassing

by Robert Masters


Spiritual bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs. It is much more common than we might think and, in fact, is so pervasive as to go largely unnoticed, except in its more obvious extremes.

Part of the reason for this is that we tend not to have very much tolerance, either personally or collectively, for facing, entering, and working through our pain, strongly preferring pain-numbing "solutions," regardless of how much suffering such "remedies" may catalyze. Because this preference has so deeply and thoroughly infiltrated our culture that it has become all but normalized, spiritual bypassing fits almost seamlessly into our collective habit of turning away from what is painful, as a kind of higher analgesic with seemingly minimal side effects. 

It is a spiritualized strategy not only for avoiding pain but also for legitimizing such avoidance, in ways ranging from the blatantly obvious to the extremely subtle.

Spiritual bypassing is a very persistent shadow of spirituality, manifesting in many forms, often without being acknowledged as such. Aspects of spiritual bypassing include exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing and repression, overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, weak or too porous boundaries, lopsided development (cognitive intelligence often being far ahead of emotional and moral intelligence), debilitating judgment about one's negativity or shadow side, devaluation of the personal relative to the 
spiritual, and delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being.

The explosion of interest in spirituality since the mid-1960s, especially Eastern spirituality, has been accompanied by a corresponding interest and immersion in spiritual bypassing - which has, however, not very often been named, let alone viewed, as such. It has been easier to frame spiritual bypassing as a religion-transcending, spiritually advanced practice or perspective, especially in the fast-food spirituality epitomized by faddish phenomena like The Secret. Some of the more glaringly facile features, such as drive-through servings of reheated wisdom like "Don't take it personally" or "Whatever bothers you about someone is really only about you" or "It's all just an illusion," are available for consumption and parroting by just about anyone.

Happily, the honeymoon with false or superficial notions of spirituality is starting to wane. Enough bubbles have been burst; enough spiritual teachers, Eastern and Western, have been caught with pants or halo down; enough cults have come and gone; enough time has been spent with spiritual baubles, credentials, energy transmissions, and guru-centrism to sense deeper treasures. But valuable as the desire for a more authentic spirituality is, such change will not occur on any significant scale and really take root until spiritual bypassing is outgrown, and that is not as easy as it might sound, for it asks that we cease turning away from our pain, numbing ourselves, and expecting spirituality to make us feel better. 

True spirituality is not a high, not a rush, not an altered state. It has been fine to romance it for a while, but our times call for something far more real, grounded, and responsible; something radically alive and naturally integral; something that shakes us to our very core until we stop treating spiritual deepening as something to dabble in here and there.

Authentic spirituality is not some little flicker or buzz of knowingness, not a psychedelic blast-through or a mellow hanging-out on some 
exalted plane of consciousness, not a bubble of immunity, but a vast fire of liberation, an exquisitely fitting crucible and sanctuary, providing both heat and light for the healing and awakening we need.

Most of the time when we're immersed in spiritual bypassing, we like the light but not the heat. And when we're caught up in the grosser forms of spiritual bypassing, we'd usually much rather theorize about the frontiers of consciousness than actually go there, suppressing the fire rather than breathing it even more alive, espousing the ideal of unconditional love but not permitting love to show up in its more challenging, personal dimensions. To do so would be too hot, too scary, and too out-of-control, bringing things to the surface that we have long disowned or suppressed.

But if we really want the light, we cannot afford to flee the heat. As Victor Frankl said, "What gives light must endure burning." And being with the fire's heat doesn't just mean sitting with the difficult stuff in meditation, but also going into it, trekking to its core, facing and entering and getting intimate with whatever is there, however scary or traumatic or sad or raw.

We have had quite an affair with Eastern spiritual pathways, but now it is time to go deeper. We must do this not only to get more intimate with the essence of these wisdom traditions beyond ritual and belief and dogma but also to make room for the healthy evolution, not just the necessary Westernization, of these traditions so that their presentation ceases encouraging spiritual bypassing (however indirectly) and, in fact, consciously and actively ceases giving it soil to flower. These changes won't happen to any significant degree, however, unless we work in-depth and integratively with our physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and social dimensions to generate an ever deeper sense of wholeness, vitality, and basic sanity.

Any spiritual path, Eastern or Western, that does not deal in real depth with psychological issues, and deal with these in more than just spiritual contexts, is setting itself up for an abundance of spiritual bypassing. If there is not sufficient encouragement and support from spiritual teachers and teachings for practitioners to engage in significant depth in psycho emotional work, and if those students who really need such work don't then do it, they'll be left trying to work out their psycho emotional issues, traumatic and otherwise, only through the spiritual practices they have been given, as if doing so is somehow superior to -or a "higher" activity than- engaging in quality psychotherapy.


Psychotherapy is often viewed as an inferior undertaking relative to spiritual practice, perhaps even something we shouldn't have to do. When our spiritual bypassing is more subtle, the idea of psychotherapy may be considered more acceptable, but we will still shy away from a full-blooded investigation of our core wounds.

Spiritual bypassing is largely occupied, at least in its New Age forms, by the idea of wholeness and the innate unity of Being - "Oneness" being perhaps its favorite bumper sticker - but actually generates and reinforces fragmentation by separating out from and rejecting what is painful, distressed, and unhealed; all the far-from-flattering aspects of being human. By consistently keeping these in the dark, "down below" (when we're locked into our headquarters, our body and feelings seem to be below us), they tend to behave badly when let out, much like animals that have spent too long in cages. Our neglect of these aspects of ourselves, however gently framed, is akin to that of otherwise caring parents who leave their children without sufficient food, clothing, or care. 


The trappings of spiritual bypassing can look good, particularly when they seem to promise freedom from life's fuss and fury, but this supposed serenity and detachment is often little more than metaphysical valium, especially for those who have made too much of a virtue out of being and looking positive.

A common telltale sign of spiritual bypassing is a lack of grounding and in-the-body experience that tends to keep us either spacey and afloat in how we relate to the world or too rigidly tethered to a spiritual system that seemingly provides the solidity we lack. We also may fall into premature forgiveness and emotional dissociation, and confuse anger with aggression and ill will, which leaves us disempowered, riddled with weak boundaries. The overdone niceness that often characterizes spiritual bypassing strands it from emotional depth and authenticity; and its underlying grief -mostly unspoken, untouched, unacknowledged - keeps it marooned from the very caring that would unwrap and undo it, like a baby being readied for a bath by a loving parent.

Spiritual bypassing distances us not only from our pain and difficult personal issues but also from our own authentic spirituality, stranding us in a metaphysical limbo, a zone of exaggerated gentleness, niceness, and superficiality. Its frequently disconnected nature keeps it adrift, clinging to the life jacket of its self-conferred spiritual credentials. As such, it maroons us from embodying our full humanity.

But let us not be too hard on spiritual bypassing, for every one of us who has entered into the spiritual has engaged in spiritual bypassing, at least to some degree, having for years used other means to make ourselves feel better or more secure. Why would we not also approach spirituality, particularly at first, with much the same expectation that it make us feel better or more secure in various areas of our life?

To truly outgrow spiritual bypassing - which in part means releasing spirituality (and everything else!) from the obligation to make us feel better or more secure or more whole - we must not only see it for what it is and cease engaging in it but also view it with genuine compassion, however fiery that might be or need to be. The spiritual bypasser in us needs not censure nor shaming but rather to be consciously and caringly included in our awareness without being allowed to run the show. Becoming intimate with our own capacity for spiritual bypassing allows us to keep it in healthy perspective.

I have worked with many clients who described themselves as being on a spiritual path, particularly as meditators. Most were preoccupied, at least initially, with being nice, trying to be positive and nonjudgmental, while impaling themselves on various spiritual "shoulds," such as "I should not show anger" or "I should be more loving" or "I should be more open after all the time I've put into my spiritual practice." Fleeing their darker (or "less spiritual") emotions, impulses, and intentions, they had, to varying degrees, trapped themselves within the very practices and beliefs that they had hoped might liberate them, or at least make them feel better.

Even the most exquisitely designed spiritual methodologies can become traps, leading not to freedom but only to reinforcement, however subtle, of the "I" that wants to be a somebody who has attained or realized

freedom (the very same "I" that doesn't realize there are no Oscars for awakening).


The most obvious potential traps-in-waiting include the belief that we should rise above our difficulties and simply embrace Oneness, even as the tendency to divide everything into positive and negative, higher and lower, spiritual and nonspiritual, runs wild in us. Subtler traps-in-waiting, less densely
populated with metaphysical lullabies and ascension metaphors, and cloaked in the appearance of discernment, teach non-aversion through cultivating a capacity for dispassionate witnessing and/or various devotional rituals. Subtler still are those that emphasize meeting everything with acceptance and compassion. Each approach has its own value, if only to eventually propel us into an even deeper direction, and each is far from immune to being possessed by spiritual bypassing, especially when we are still hoping, whatever our depth of spiritual practice, to reach a state of immunity to suffering(both personally and collectively).

As my spiritually inclined clients become more intimate with their pain and difficulties, coming to understand the origins of their troubles with a more open ear and heart, they either abandon their misguided spiritual practices and reenter a more fitting version of them with less 
submissiveness and more integrity and creativity or find new practices that better suit their needs, coming to recognize more deeply that everything-everything!-can serve their healing and awakening.

If we can outgrow spiritual bypassing, we might enter a deeper life-a life of full-blooded integrity, depth, love, and sanity; a life of authenticity on every level; a life in which the personal, interpersonal, and transpersonal are all honored and lived to the fullest.

May what I have written serve you well. 
Peace is This Moment Without Judgment
by Dorothy Hunt

Do you think peace requires an end to war?
Or tigers eating only vegetables?
Does peace require an absence from
your boss, your spouse, yourself? ...
Do you think peace will come some other place than here?
Some other time than Now?
In some other heart than yours?

Peace is this moment without judgment.
That is all. This moment in the Heart-space
where everything that is is welcome.
Peace is this moment without thinking
that it should be some other way,
that you should feel some other thing,
that your life should unfold according to your plans.

Peace is this moment without judgment,
this moment in the heart-space where
everything that is is welcome.


by Joanna Macy


When our children were growing up, one of the books we enjoyed together as a family was The Once and Future King by T. H. White, a retelling of the legend of King Arthur. We loved reading about Arthur's boyhood and the sort of education he received at the hands of Merlin. Knowing that great responsibilities were in store for the boy, the wizard changed him. for short peri�ods of time, into various creatures-a falcon, to start with, then an ant, a bad�ger, a wild goose, a carp in the castle moat. Each episode stretched our view of things, too, opened us to new per�ceptions and perspectives.


One evening at bedtime we were reading aloud from the book. "One of the reasons I really trust the Buddha," I said as I handed my daughter Peggy her pajamas, "is that he was an animal so many times." When we lived in India we had read from the popular oldjataka tales, or "birth stories," adapted from folklore to describe Guatama Sakyamuni's earlier incarnations. It took many lifetimes of noble generosity to prepare him for full Buddhahood. While many of these lives were in human form, in others he embodied compassion while living as a monkey, a rabbit, an elephant. It occurred to me now, as I put it to my family, that "he got the same kind of education that Merlin gave Arthur."


Our favorite part of the story was how Arthur pulled the sword from the stone. The children wanted to hear it again before going to sleep, so we jumped ahead in the book-to the great gathering in Londontown that would determine the new king of all England. It was foretold that the king would be the one who could draw the sword from the stone. We loved picturing in our minds how the knights of the land crowded into the churchyard where the stone mysteriously stood, grasped the hilt protruding from it, yanked with all their might. Even the brawniest one failed, as we knew they would; and Arthur, who was only a teenager then, failed too-at first. With glad suspense we followed the familiar denouement-how, after straining and sweating, the boy paused and looked around; how he saw, peering at him from the edges of the churchyard, the friends who had been his teachers-badger, falcon, goose, and the others. They were watching and cheering for him. Arthur recalled the powers he had known in each of them-the industry, the cunning, a cer�tain kind of balance, a particular gift of patience and timing. Then, turning back to the sword, he grasped its handle and drew it straight out of the stone, as easily as a knife from butter.


The story stayed with me over the years, teasing my mind as if it held some wonderful secret. Grace was a concept I had loved as a Christian. The church presented it as the action of God, enabling us to do more than our own individual powers allowed. When I gave up belief in a Big Daddy God, I didn't stop

believing in grace. Sometimes I seemed to feel it coming through great beings like Gandhi or Rosa Luxemburg, sometimes through nonhumans, too. The maple tree I used to climb on my grandfather's farm still filled me at moments with her shimmering, whis�pering wisdom. And I had only to think of Spotty, for that noble old horse to steady my heart, as if his patient valor were always there, ready to fuel me.

Decades later, in Australia, Arthur's story returned. It was early 1985, and I was offering workshops to Australian activists who were resisting nuclear test�ing, uranium mining, and the logging of their last old forests. They found that the despair and empowerment work freed them from burnout and kindled their love for each other. What I was offering seemed the best I could do, until I met forest activist John Seed.

He was born Janos Kaempfner in Budapest at the end of the second world war, and had grown up in Australia. Three years before we met, his life was seized by a larger purpose when he found himself defending the Nightcap Range, a vestige of the great primordial rainforests of Gondwanaland, Australia's mother continent.

John wanted to show me the Rainforest Information Center that he had launched, housed in an old, vinedraped double-decker bus, almost invisi�ble among the trees. There he kept his finger on the pulse of efforts to defend forests around the Pacific Rim. But there was no way, John said, that these efforts could save the situation, even if they were multiplied tenfold, a hundredfold. Look at the world demand for lumber and the collusion of local politicians with foreign industries. I looked at him won�dering. "

What do you do with the despair?" I asked him.


"When I feel despair," he said,"I try to remember that it's not me, John Seed, who's protecting the rainforest. The rainforest is protecting itself, through me and my mates, through this small part of it that's recently emerged into human thinking."

Ah, of course, that changes every�thing. You would know you were sup�ported by a power greater than your own, you'd feel graced.

"What kind of group work could move us beyond our shrunken human self-interest?" The question turned in my mind as I swam down into the brown water of the forest pond a short distance from John's bus. The answer that emerged was the Council of All Beings, a ritual now prac�ticed the world over. By the time we dried off and dressed, it was taking shape in our minds: a simply structured rite, in circular form, where people would step aside from their human identities and speak on behalf of other lifeforms.

It was easier than I expected. One afternoon, midway in a weeklong work�shop outside of Sydney, I simply invited the forty people present to let themselves be chosen by another lifeform. From cardboard, colored markers, paste, leaves, we made masks. To drumbeat, we moved in procession to a wide gorge and gath�ered in a circle on flat boulders, down�stream from a waterfall. We identified ourselves, one by one.


"I am Wild Goose," I said," I speak for migratory birds."


"I am Wheat, and I speak for all culti�vated grains," said the next.


"I am Red Kangaroo, I speak for the large marsupials."

"I am Mycorrhyzae, the fungal net�work interconnecting the roots of trees in the forest." That was John.


We began to speak of what we saw happening to our world, our lives. Laughter bubbled up at the implausibility of what we were attempting, and tears came, too, for the losses we were allow�ing ourselves to feel. The depth of feel�ing and the playfulness mixed well, as they do with children.


"I speak for Weeds-weeds, a name humans give to plants they do not use. I am vigorous and strong. I heal the burned and wounded Earth. Yet I am doused with poison now, as are the crea�tures living in me, through me."


"I am Mountain. I am ancient, strong, and solid, built to endure. But now I am being dynamited and mined, my forest skin is ripped off me, my topsoil washed away, my streams and rivers choked."


One upstart species was at the root of all this trouble; its representatives had better come and hear this Council. So we took turns, a few at a time, putting down our masks and moving to the cen�ter of the circle, as humans. There we sat facing outwards, forced to listen only.

When I sat for a spell in the center, a human in the presence of the other lifeforms, I felt stripped and wanted to protest. "I'm different from the loggers and miners, the multinational CEOs and the consumers they fatten on," I wanted to say. But then I saw my self-justifications for what they were-essentially irrelevant. If I was linked to the wild goose and the mycorrhyzae, I was far more linked to the investment speculators and compulsive shoppers.

But I wasn't allowed to stay sitting there as a human, marooned in human culpability. As the others had, I moved back from the center to the periphery. From here we could see clearly the isolation in which humans imagine them�selves to exist, and the fear that seizes them-a fear that generates greed and panic. For our own survival we-all beings-must help them, the way we helped Arthur pull the sword from the stone.

"As Weeds I offer you humans tenacity. However hard the ground, we don't give up. We know how to keep at it, resting when needed, keeping on, until suddenly-crack! we're in the sun�light again."

"I offer you peace and stability," said Mountain. "Come to me at any time to rest, to dream. Without dreams you lose vision and hope. Come, too, for my solid strength."

Each being spoke, often more than once. Much of the gladness in the giv�ing came from the fact that the powers we named were already within us and just now brought to consciousness. Could we even speak them, were that not so?


John and I soon found ourselves leading Councils around the world. At the outset I was often Wild Goose. She helped me to be brave in flying beyond borders over new terrain, into new ideas and experiences. She also knew I needed to cultivate endurance, so that I could keep on going for the long haul.

Other people, too, found a gradual disclosure of meaning from the beings that had chosen them in the Council. Sometimes the being that chose a person led to action on its behalf, as my husband discovered when he spoke for Lake Baikal in Siberia. Fran had always known that this fresh-water sea was sacred to the Russian soul, but now he began to immerse himself

in reports of its current condition and went there in person. "Baikal Watch" was born-and from it came topographical and biological stud�ies, and a development plan with controls on the paper mills. It all unfolded within a few years, as if that mysteriously beauti�ful sea herself were taking part in her own protection.


Often, in the Councils, I thought of Indra's Net. In that vision of reality from the Hua Yen scriptures of Buddhism, the jewel at each node of the net reflects all the others-sarvasattva, all beings-and catches its own reflections in them, too, back and forth in an ongoing display of our interconnectedness.

The Empress of China, in the late seventh century, invited the scholar Master Fa Tsang to the palace to preach about Indra's Net and the interexistence of all phenomena. He was brilliant, and she thanked him. "You have explained the teaching to me with great clarity," she said. "Sometimes I can almost see the vast truth of it in my mind's eye. But all this, I realize, is still conjecture." She remind�ed Fa Tsang of the Buddha's insistence that direct experience was more reliable than inference.


A few days later Fa Tsang escorted the Empress to the demonstration he had prepared for her in one of the palace rooms. On its four walls and four cor�ners, its ceiling and floor, mirrors were affixed. Then the scholar placed in the center a small statue of the Buddha with a candle beside it.

"Oh, how marvelous!" cried the empress, beholding in awe the panorama of infinite interreflections. She thanked Fa Tsang for helping her to know the great teachings, not only with her intel�lect, but with her senses.

To me the Council of All Beings was that kind of demonstration. Here the concepts harvested over the years from Buddhist teachings and general systems theory, arguments for the intrinsic reci�procity among all things, distilled them�selves in tangible, playful form. Each time I was surprised by the spontaneous accu�racy, the authenticity of feeling, that arose from those who took part.


In June 1989 John Seed and I boarded the Orient Express to Budapest. John and I were booked for two weekends fea�turing the Council of All Beings. These workshops were new to Eastern Europe, so some Poles and Czechs, getting wind of them through John's rainforest net�work, arrived to take part as well.

We arrived in Kiskunsfelegshazs in a cold rain, and no one there seemed to know who was coming. Eighteen peo�ple were in the gray, bare meeting room. It was slow going, with pauses for translation and latecomers opening and closing the door, seeking hooks for their dripping raincoats. John dragged in pieces of cardboard boxes he'd disassem�bled, along with scissors, paints, glue, yarn, scraps of cloth and colored paper, and the people of Kiskunsfelegshazs set to work. There was none of the silent absorption I preferred for the making of masks. Chatter prevailed, and speed too. Before I had finished my vulture's beak, there was a sudden hush, and looking up, I saw the floor was cleared of scraps and paints; the other lifeforms were ready, positioned in a circle.

Never had I seen full-body masks in a Council. Birds bore not only beaks but wings; trees had trunks and branch�es. Only their voices seemed human, and I needed no Hungarian to get the sense of what they said. The Danube was mesmerizing. I had met him earlier as a civil engineer, but now he had become pure river, an ancient, majestic presence, flowing in streaming bluegreen and grays around the island of humans. He uttered his shame for the poisons he carried now, and his fear of yet greater harm from the dams and reactors on the Czech border. And he offered promise.

"Beauty and abundance can come again," the Danube, said, "if you humans would do as your ancestors did-and take joy in me."

The next day when John and I climbed in the car to return to Budapest, several participants in the workshop stood talking by the curbside. They wanted us to understand what they were saying, so one of them fetched the interpreter.

"These years, we wonder, do we belong to the East or the West? Do we want to be socialist or capitalist? These confusions divide us from each other. Now we see what we really are. We are the living Earth."

A Bountiful Heart Harvest to All,
Virtual World
Delaware CountyPennsylvania 19078