Our Place in Space
What is our place in space? We’re so caught up in the temporal, saving for the future and managing our calendar, that maybe we’re missing something fundamental.
Reading God is Red by Vine Delora, Jr., who was named by Time magazine in 1974 one of the influential religious thinkers of the twentieth century after the book was originally published in 1973. Picked it up on my community building travels that took me through Dartmouth College, which has a rich history of Native American studies. Native Americans, or First Nations in Canada, have been a on-going focus for me. I spend summers out in the boreal forest of northwestern Ontario, originally land of the Ojibwe (Anglicized as Chippewa). Anishinabe is how they refer to themselves, meaning original people, and the name of a tribe in Evolved.
God is Red is valuable for its insights into Native American spirituality. Delora drills down into some basics, including connection to the land, heaven/ after life and death. For these insights I believe the book is worth reading. However, Delora clearly has an agenda to cast the Christian and Jewish religions in a negative light. I found this effort to highlight the weaknesses of western religions rather disappointing when both sides can learn from each other.
Delora clearly channels much of the outrage felt by Native Americans at what they feel has been the illegal and immoral capture and then destruction of their land. Western leaders can learn a lot from the teachings of the Native American, a wisdom that is unfortunately vanishing back into the land as elders pass away.
Seeking Holistic View
Our land in Canada abuts spiritual land for the local tribe, offering deep connections to the land and life of the space. The bald eagle, loon, beaver and bear are all strong forces that surround us while living on the property.
Perennial Tradition, a term coined by Aldous Huxley, argues that all religions are seeking to explain the same spiritual nature of our world. Each of us strain to explain what stirs inside and around us. The true crime committed by the European settlers, in my mind, was their effort to belittle and destroy a spiritual people with a deep wisdom complementing western beliefs. Heaven surrounds us on earth, an opinion the Native Americans could have helped enlighten.
I actively seek out material that offers alternative views of the world. My base includes both science and Christian views. However, Judaism, Buddhism, Hindu and Muslim also influence my views of the world. Native American spirituality offers a strong counter-point to western religions. Basic assumptions about our justice system and environmental views are challenged by Native American views.
I believe humanity is evolving towards something greater. Our trajectory appears pointed towards a unified consciousness, what I call the Superconscious. Advancements in AI, Neurology, and our understanding of quantum mechanics suggest we will dramatically artificially enhance our intelligence (“AEI”) within our lifetime. Yet, the ethical and psychology risks threaten to destroy life as we know it, for better or worse. Humanity needs to address these risks before we launch ourselves into the next evolutionary cycle with little understanding or control. We need to understand ourselves, as holistically as possible, drawing on as much wisdom as possible from our collective efforts. For these reasons, I plan to offer a few posts that attempt to explain Native American thought and how modern science may actually support their views.
Is God Red?
Delora argues that American identity is strongly associated with progress, a temporal concept that may lead to over consumption and the end of the world. He identifies the root cause of this identity on Jewish/ Christian religious beliefs. These beliefs, he argues, are largely based on temporal thinking, emphasizing words spoken thousands of years ago, sacrificing today for the future, focusing on preparing for the after life. Progress demands consuming resources, expanding opportunities, and self-improvement.
In Delora’s mind, however, the sense of self in Native American belief systems is not temporal, it is a sense of place in relation to the world. If the self emphasizes the relationships within the world, then harming life ultimately diminishes the self as the world around us diminishes. He goes on to argue that Christians have replaced place with heaven (the “up there” heaven often emphasized by Christians), thus further alienating humanity from the spirituality of the earth. In his mind, many of the environmental issues we face are a direct result of this disconnect between human spirit and the land.
Delora makes many excellent points and has forced me to reconsider some of the hidden assumptions behind my own views of the world. Yet, I don’t believe the question is between our desire for temporal progress versus our need for place in relation to our surroundings. In science, we often link space and time together, even giving time the possible fourth dimension fundamental to our existence. Yet, if time is emergent (instead of fundamental), as many science experiments seem to imply, then maybe we’re all being duped and place is the only fundamental.
Personally, I believe Christianity has an answer to this dilemma, one which I will explain in a later post.