Sunday, May 27, 2018

Awakening The Dreamer

                                                                                                written 19 May, 2018
                                                                                                published 26 May 18

            On Saturday, June 2nd, the Ukiah United Methodist Church and the Climate Action Group of Ukiah, will host a Pachamama Alliance Symposium, called "Awakening The Dreamer".  The event is free and will be held at the Methodist Church, 270 N. Pine St., Ukiah, beginning at noon until 4pm.
            The Pachamama Alliance website provides information about their origins.  Pachamama is the Incan Mother Earth goddess.  The Alliance began with the Achuar people who have lived for millennia on the borders of modern-day Ecuador and Peru.  In the mid 20th century, corporations began exploiting the Amazon Basin for its oil, unmoved by the irreplaceable ecological and cultural wealth.  By the early 1990s, Achuar shamans and elders were having dreams of imminent threat to their land and way of life.  From contact with neighboring tribes, they knew that oil companies were poisoning the rainforest, steadily moving closer to their home.
            The Achuar were influenced by an ancient prophecy shared by many Andean and Amazonian indigenous cultures about the Eagle and the Condor.  According to the prophecy, this is a moment in history when the Eagle (representing intellect and the mind) and the Condor (representing wisdom and the heart) must come together to ensure the survival of humankind.  Emboldened by this prophecy and the threat to their very existence, they decided to reach out to the modern world.
            In 1995, the Achuar leaders invited a group of North Americans to travel to visit the rainforest, and shared with this group the urgent threat to their lands and culture, as well as their vision for self-determination.  They requested cooperation to help "change the dream" of the modern world.  This change requires shifting from a culture of consumption to a culture that honors and sustains life.  A partnership was begun and the Pachamama Alliance was founded to carry out the commitment.
            Since 1997 the Alliance has worked in Ecuador's Amazon, defending the rights and homeland of the Achuar, who are committed to maintaining their stewardship of the rainforest, preserving this invaluable resource on behalf of all life.  Legal and technical expertise strengthened indigenous self-governance and preserved their lands and cultures, including mapping, land titling, and sustainable economic development.  This allowed the Achuar to gain full title to nearly 1.8 million acres of rainforest.  Based on this success, work expanded to other indigenous groups in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia, continuing to innovate education and advocacy initiatives.  More than 60 million acres of the Amazon Basin are now in permanent protection.
            With its wealth of natural resources, including minerals, metals, lumber and oil, Ecuador had been a lucrative colony since at least the mid-16th century.  When the Pachamama Alliance was founded, Ecuador was still not completely in control of its own resources.  International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies kept Ecuador in a debt cycle, for the benefit of industrialized countries.  In the face of these global economic and political pressures, halting individual projects is insufficient.  To fulfill the commitment to the Achuar and get to the root of the problem, the cultural story behind these policies must change. 
            The globalized economy consumes the planet for profit while driving species to extinction, perhaps even our own.  Religions preach hate in the name of God and justify wars.  Political systems impoverish millions to enrich a few.  The common factor is an assumption of separation between everyone and everything, and this cultural story drives the nightmare dream we currently inhabit.  
            Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh says "we are here to awaken from the illusion of separation", for the world is whole, and our fates are connected.  The picture of the Earth, taken from space, is the most widely reproduced image in history, calling to our deep awareness of connection 
            In 2005, after years of investigating how to effect a change of story, the Alliance launched a suite of learning workshops called "Awakening The Dreamer", sharing the values of ancient wisdom in addressing our modern crises and our personal role in bringing forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling, and socially just human presence on this planet.
            Please join us on Saturday, June 2nd, at noon.