by Kingsley Dennis
June 04, 2018
dreamed and went into the world
where there is nothing
but the spirits of all things.
That is the real world that is behind
and everything we see here
is something like a shadow from
Black Elk Speaks
I dutifully noted,
is in search of a soul,
and the age
is an age of longing.
Where the Wasteland Ends
Perhaps the reason some of us are feeling a sense of loss and
longing is that we are, as Black Elk informs us, living in the
Our reality on this side may only be the fleeting
ghosts of a place that is more real somewhere else. On this side we
have broken our commitment to the earth and have unsouled (unsoul
= to deprive of soul, spirit, or principle) ourselves
from the wilderness.
By the first century CE, the essayist
"Why is it that the gods are no longer speaking to us?"
For a long time now, we have been trying to create a new and
different image of ourselves.
It is an image where modern humanity
is placed at the center of its own universe. We learn by observing,
probing, experimenting, and finally dissecting and destroying the
dynamic world we live within.
From this, the modern mind started to
develop a new reality for itself.
The collective reality in which we now reside does not take kindly
to opposing perspectives. We have inherited an alienated
consciousness that views the world as an outside entity - a world of
objects that move in mechanical motion.
This alienated consciousness
has substituted the enchantment and mystery of living within a
dynamic and animated world with a dream of the artificial, and
ultimately the unreal.
The modern landscape is now more scattered
with administration than adventure.
The central image of our modern
age has been that of consumerism:
the ability of the average person
to buy the material goods they require in order to have a decent
standard of living.
A standard of living albeit promoted to us
through our mainstream media and glamorous propaganda.
Only recently have some of us come to realize that
now become a contemporary form of crash therapy for unsatisfied
people wanting to buy their way into happiness to escape from the
very system they are simultaneously supporting.
The easy acquisition
of things has become more about trying to cover up anxiety as a
substitute for contentment.
Modern life, especially in the
highly-developed West, is now rife with people parading their false
selves in place of authenticity.
The modern history of the West has been about the removal of
mystery, mind, and magic from the world around us. In the past there
were realms of wilderness that existed outside of the social order,
and each culture had these 'wild zones' where people danced with the
little folk in the woods, undertook initiations in caves, circles,
and hard-to-find corners.
There were pagan rituals, crazy ecstasies,
and unknown zones where primal energies were released. These were
the places of wilderness, where dreamtime reigned, and clock-time
And now these wild places are fewer and fewer as a new
'reality order' becomes the manifesto of the day. Now it is many of
us who are feeling haunted. We have lost the presence of the
'transcendent' within our modern societies.
We must now recognize that something has happened:
a break, a
mutation, has occurred that has placed us in an 'intermediate' stage
Modern life is being not so much rewritten as
We are seeing odd things occurring in relation to
time, speed, and distance. It's as if right now the clock, and our
sense of timing, is malfunctioning.
This ahistorical period is out
of time, until it resets itself. And here, the possibility of
transcendence lingers like a phantasma.
We are in a time of carnivalesque distortion where,
'fast food' is a
parody of our normal food preparation and consumption
sport is a spectacle of its original form
the music industry is
one huge commercial carnival that mocks genuine creativity
pop music industry, the spectacle, the live show - the 'carnival
performance' - is often more important than the actual merit of the
song (even when the performer mimes, as they often do).
We are in a
different world right now - or at least a seemingly different
In this new world of different relations, symbols, and meanings we
have become unmoored from our harbors.
We are talking about,
fractal, the quantum, the molecular, the nano, the bots, artificial
intelligence, and the singularity,
...yet we find we have no soulful
connection with any of these terms or their significances.
we have entered a void-time....
The Sense of the Void
With human life having lost its reference to transcendence and the
notion of the sacred, there is the ever-present danger that we may
descend to a form of human morality that lacks any real meaning or
It is not hard to believe that a degree of
inertia has crept into our modern societies.
The result is that many
of us may now be finding ourselves with a hollow space inside. This
space becomes the perfect seedbed for the consuming desires,
distractions, and attractions of modernity's excesses.
an environment we wonder whether we may find ourselves waking up to
a world where the dream is still dreaming itself and we can no
longer distinguish what is real.
An age of the quantifiable has been ushered in and everyone, and
everything, gets given a mark or a measurement.
Ever since the
industrial age brought in the points system - the marking scores - into mass education we've been carrying numbers around with us.
Before then, students were known as apprentices and they spent time
embedded in their discipline learning its skills.
They either learnt
great skills or they didn't; now they get an 85, a 78, a 66, or a
45. Now all modern institutions think in numbers and our social
status is quantified by such numbers, or grades, that allow us into
other specialized zones - such as the members clubs, the elite
institutions, or even into the 'good credit' rating books.
organic nature and capacity of a person has been stripped down to
the quantifiable, and this measures the worth of an individual
according to such grades. These associated numbers then follow the
person around for the rest of their lives, influencing their
careers, associations, and social freedoms.
Society is now
The mesmerizing void that is modern life tries to appease us with
simulated pleasures. Through our unsouling from the greater
transcendent wilderness we have become all too easily appeased by
seeking inadequate answers to life's meaning.
By not seeking for the
essential, we cannot hope to be anything other than temporary.
Within the past century millions of people in developed parts of the
world have distanced and divorced themselves from nature. We are
negotiating how to adapt to a world structured within an
increasingly artificial environment.
The mutational shift is well
underway, and new arrangements will need to be sought.
A potential lack of understanding can disconnect us from a world
that is at the same time becoming increasingly connected. For
thousands of years our ancestors lived alongside natural forces,
learning from environmental cycles, and reading the world around
This uncoupling from the wilderness is not only in favor of
urban settings but eventually artificially constructed settings that
will soon be made 'smart.'
The profusion of what are called
'mega-cities' are set to implement 'smart' technologies which will
be a combination of connected information and communication
A Moment of Reflection
We are, it is said, the most highly-developed and articulate species
on planet Earth, and yet we live in a world of reflections.
doomed never to be able to see directly our own faces. Our face, as
well as our 'true face' as they say, is non-visible to us; and so we
are guided by reflections and their appearances.
There is a short-story from Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges
entitled 'Fauna of Mirrors' that tells of a time during the reign of
the Yellow Emperor when the world of mirrors and the world of men
were not, like today, cut off from one another. [i]
[i] See his short-story collection
The Book of Imaginary Beings.
lived in harmony and each could come and go through the mirrors.
one night the mirror people invaded the earth and a mighty battle
ensued until finally the magic arts of the Yellow Emperor prevailed.
The mirror people were pushed back and imprisoned into their
mirrors, and punished by being forced to repeat, as if in a dream,
all the actions of the world of men.
They were stripped of their
power and their forms and reduced to mere reflections.
A day will
come, however, when the magic spell will be broken and little by
little these reflections will awaken and will slowly differ from us.
Then they will stop imitating the world of humans and eventually
they will break through the glass once again to enter the earth.
They say that life imitates art far more than art imitates life.
Upon reflection, every culture and society claim a portion of our
private psyche as its own.
With the narrowing of our sensibilities
comes not only a much-diminished reality but also a contracted
perspective whereby this condensed form of perception and visibility
becomes as hyper-reality to us.
If it's true that modern life has
muffled the call of transcendental mystery, then it is equally true
that it has made transcendence both a more needed and yet more
The cry for the 'death of the soul' and the unsouling from the wilderness has helped to pave the slippery path
toward a simplified hyper-reality that is now stealing the show.
A Bardo Chat
with Aranyani, Hindu Goddess of the Forests
Hello Aranyani. Are you there?
Aranyani (Ai): (short pause) Hello…hello!
A: Hello Aranyani. How are you today?
Ai: Today? Why today? I don't have days like you do.
A: Ah yes, sorry. I was thinking in my own terms of time. It's a
Ai: That's okay, we understand. Traps are there to break out of.
I am good, thank you. I am well.
A: That is good to hear. I am glad to know you are well amidst
all this disconnection going on right now.
Ai: Disconnection? I am gently strolling through my forests.
There is no disconnection (another short pause). All is well
A: Sorry, I should have been more specific. I meant
disconnection between us, humans, and the natural world. It
seems that we've done a terrible job of respecting Nature and
Ai: Mmm, yes, that is so. I am not fond of strolling too near to
your civilizations. But why do you call it a job? You see,
already you show a wrong way to look at things. Your way of
words shows how your mind thinks.
Looking after the natural
world, as you put it, is not a 'job.' It is a recognition of
respect, or mutual interdependence, and of compassion and love.
A: Sorry again. I know that I use my words too loosely. It is
the way we use phrases here.
Ai: Yes, I know how your species is. For one thing, you don't
listen at all very well. You consider yourselves as a separate
species. My dear, nothing is separate.
You see space between
bodies and you label this as separation. You think and behave
like children, and Nature is your forgiving mother.
A: I know, we've got a lot of things back-to-front. Would you
care to explain more on this relationship?
Ai: (a soft sigh) Maybe a little. Everything communicates here,
it always has. You don't necessarily need a mouth or words or
letters to communicate. It all communicates energetically, and
you humans are also attuned to this.
Every part was supposed to
work together. You are strange in that you forgot how to
And now you build devices outside of yourselves
to wrap around the earth - but you don't need them. And there
will be a time when you shall know this, and learn to
communicate correctly, as you were always meant to - and not
with your machine things.
All of nature is alive, don't you know
A: Yes, some of us do; but not enough, unfortunately.
Ai: You knew better before, a long time ago.
A: Yes, I have a feeling we did. Yet we now need to learn how to
know in a different way.
Ai: Well….. (long pause)
A: Hello, are you there Aranyani?
Ai: Oh yes, sorry, I was dancing. I have a tune in my head. It's
been given to me from the trees.
A: Wonderful! I was saying that we need to learn how to know in
a different way.
Ai: That's not really how it is. Learning, knowing, and all
these things - it's all head stuff. You live too much in your
heads. You always think you need to grab onto something - to
know better, and the like.
I would say you have to open up more,
and to remember everything that was placed inside you. You are
coming to a different place now…
A: Yes, thank you. And what do you mean by 'coming to a
Ai: I mean you are not in your little tribal units anymore. You
are now all over the earth. You grew and connected as you
should, and now you are coming to a time when you can really be
of help to the earth.
A: You mean as a global species?
Ai: (laughs) You and your fancy words. Yes, you are connecting
more strongly with the body of Gaia now. Soon you will find your
minds being changed for you. That should be fun!
A: Ah, and what do you mean by that?
Ai: (hums to herself) I don't feel I should reveal too much just
now. Not too many of you have realized that your minds are
attuned to Gaia, your planet consciousness.
Consciousness is not
only those thoughts in your head, silly! (laughs). This is the
true language, the natural language, and it is everywhere. This
language flows through the trees, the plants, the animals, and
through all of Gaia.
There is a language that connects, and the
humans are disconnected from this. Yes, that is the true
disconnection. You talk about disconnect from Nature, but really
it is disconnection from your shared language.
You speak in
tongues but only babble silly words.
A: Yes, true - we do babble a lot.
Ai: Babble, babble, yes you do! Like that story you tell
yourselves. You call it the Tower of Babel, right?
A: Yes, that's true. And it's a perfect analogy. We tried to
build a tower to our Creator and we ended up being divided in
languages through our ignorance.
Ai: Yes, that's it right there. You were disconnected through
A: Mm…yes (sighs)
Ai: Don't worry, dear. You still have it all inside of you. Your
connection to Origin and the universal language is still there.
And you are not disconnected from us either. You are always with
us, and you always have been.
A: Okay, sure. And thanks. But by being with you always are we
not making the balance of Nature worse?
Ai: Oh, dear ones - it's always about you, isn't it!? Let me
tell you that Nature is far more capable of taking care of
herself than you are. Things change, yes.
And you are making a
mess and not clearing up your mess, like children. This is true
too. Yet so many more things come to pass that are not in your
hands - that is Nature. She is so far beyond your comprehension
You think of these separate things within Nature, like
the trees and the forests, and the rivers. But you cannot yet
see them as being all together as a wondrous Being. She is a
Being far beyond your little minds. And she cares for you.
Little children, wake up!
A: Yes, yes.
Ai: Be more joyful and love the things you have, and which
surround you. The disconnection you speak of is less from Nature
and more from yourselves (starts to sing)
A: That is so true - thank you.
Ai: I have to go now… byeee (voice fades into distance)
A: Yes, thank you Aranyani - bye!