Once upon a time a great tribe of people lived in a world far
away from ours. Whether far away in space, or in time, or even
outside of time, we do not know. They lived in a state of enchantment
and joy that few of us today dare to believe could exist, except
in those exceptional peak experiences when we glimpse the true
potential of life and mind.
day the shaman of the tribe called a meeting. They gathered around
him, and he spoke very solemnly. "My friends," he said,
"there is a world that needs our help. It is called earth,
and its fate hangs in the balance. Its humans have reached a critical
point in their collective birthing, and they will be stillborn
without our help. Who would like to volunteer for a mission to
this time and place, and render service to humanity?"
us more about his mission," they asked.
am glad you asked, because it is no small thing. I will put you
into a deep, deep trance, so complete that you will forget who
you are. You will live a human life, and in the beginning you
will completely forget your origins. You will forget even our
language and your own true name. You will be separated from the
wonder and beauty of our world, and from the love that bathes
us all. You will miss it deeply, yet you will not know what it
is you are missing. You will only remember the love and beauty
that we know to be normal as a longing in your heart. Your memory
will take the form of an intuitive knowledge, as you plunge into
the painfully marred earth, that a more beautiful world is possible.
you grow up in that world, your knowledge will be under constant
assault. You will be told in a million ways that a world of destruction,
violence, drudgery, anxiety, and degradation is normal. You may
go through a time when you are completely alone, with no allies
to affirm your knowledge of a more beautiful world. You may plunge
into a depth of despair that we, in our world of light, cannot
imagine. But no matter what, a spark of knowledge will never leave
you. A memory of your true origin will be encoded in your DNA.
That spark will lie within you, inextinguishable, until one day
it is awakened.
see, even though you will feel, for a time, utterly alone, you
will not be alone. I will send you assistance, help that you will
experience as miraculous, experiences that you will describe as
transcendent. For a few moments or hours or days, you will reawaken
to the beauty and the joy that is meant to be. You will see it
on earth, for even though the planet and its people are deeply
wounded, there is beauty there still, projected from past and
future onto the present as a promise of what is possible and a
reminder of what is real.
will also receive help from each other. As you begin to awaken
to your mission you will meet others of our tribe. You will recognize
them by your common purpose, values, and intuitions, and by the
similarity of the paths you have walked. As the condition of the
planet earth reaches crisis proportions, your paths will cross
more and more. The time of loneliness, the time of thinking you
might be crazy, will be over.
will find the people of your tribe all over the earth, and become
aware of them through the long-distance communication technologies
used on that planet. But the real shift, the real quickening,
will happen in face-to-face gatherings in special places on earth.
When many of you gather together you will launch a new stage on
your journey, a journey that, I assure you, will end where it
the mission that lay unconscious within you will flower into consciousness.
Your intuitive rebellion against the world presented you as normal
will become an explicit quest to create a more beautiful one.
the time of loneliness, you will always be seeking to reassure
yourself that you are not crazy. You will do that by telling people
all about what is wrong with the world, and you will feel a sense
of betrayal when they don't listen to you. You will be hungry
for stories of wrongness, atrocity, and ecological destruction,
all of which confirm the validity of your intuition that a more
beautiful world exists. But after you have fully received the
help I will send you, and the quickening of your gatherings, you
will no longer need to do that. Because, you will Know. Your energy
will thereafter turn toward actively creating that more beautiful
tribeswoman asked the shaman, "How do you know this will
work? Are you sure your shamanic powers are great enough to send
us on such a journey?"
The shaman replied, "I know it will work because I have done
it many times before. Many have already been sent to earth, to
live human lives, and to lay the groundwork for the mission you
will undertake now. I've been practicing! The only difference
now is that many of you will venture there at once. What is new
in the time you will live in is that the Gatherings are beginning
asked, "Is there a danger we will become lost in that world,
and never wake up from the shamanic trance? Is there a danger
that the despair, the cynicism, the pain of separation will be
so great that it will extinguish the spark of hope, the spark
of our true selves and origin, and that we will separated from
our beloved ones forever?"
shaman replied, "That is impossible. The more deeply you
get lost, the more powerful the help I will send you. You might
experience it at the time as a collapse of your personal world,
the loss of everything important to you. Later you will recognize
the gift within it. We will never abandon you."
man asked, "Is it possible that our mission will fail, and
that this planet, earth, will perish?"
shaman replied, "I will answer your question with a paradox.
It is impossible that your mission will fail. Yet, its success
hangs on your own actions. The fate of the world is in your hands.
The key to this paradox lies within you, in the feeling you carry
that each of your actions, even your personal, secret struggles
within, has cosmic significance. You will know then, as you do
now, that everything you do matters. God sees everything."
were no more questions. The volunteers gathered in a circle, and
the shaman went to each one. The last thing each was aware of
was the shaman blowing smoke in his face. They entered a deep
trance and dreamed themselves into the world where we find ourselves
are these missionaries from the more beautiful world? You and
I are surely among them. Where else could this longing come from,
for this magical place to be found nowhere on earth, this beautiful
time outside of time? It comes from our intuitive knowledge of
our origin and destination. The longing, indomitable, will never
settle for a world that is less. Against all reason, we look upon
the horrors of our age, mounting over the millennia, and we say
NO, it does not have to be this way! We know it, because we have
been there. We carry in our souls the knowledge that a more beautiful
world is possible. Reason says it is impossible; reason says that
even to slow -- much less reverse -- the degradation of the planet
is an impossible task: politically unfeasible, opposed by the
Money Power and its oligarchies. It is true that those powers
will fight to uphold the world we have known. Their allies lurk
within even ourselves: despair, cynicism, and resignation to carving
out a life that is "good enough" for me and mine.
we of the tribe know better. In the darkest despair a spark of
hope lies inextinguishable within us, ready to be fanned into
flames at the slightest turn of good news. However compelling
the cynicism, a jejune idealism lives within us, always ready
to believe, always ready to look upon new possibilities with fresh
eyes, surviving despite infinite disappointments. And however
resigned we may have felt, our aggrandizement of me and mine is
half-hearted, for part of our energy is looking elsewhere, outward
toward our true mission.
like to advise caution against dividing the world into two types
of people, those who are of the tribe and those who are not. How
often have you felt like an alien in a world of people who don't
get it and don't care? The irony is that nearly everyone feels
that way, deep down. When we are young the feeling of mission
and the sense of magnificent origins and a magnificent destination
is strong. Any career or way of life lived in betrayal of that
knowing is painful, and can only be maintained through an inner
struggle that shuts down a part of our being. For a time, we can
keep ourselves functioning through various kinds of addictions
or trivial pleasures to consume the life force and dull the pain.
In earlier times, we might have kept the sense of mission and
destiny buried for a lifetime, and called that condition maturity.
Times are changing now though, as millions of people are awakening
to their mission all at the same time. The condition of the planet
is waking us up. Another way to put it is that we are becoming
you feel that sense of alienation, when you look upon that sea
of faces mired so inextricably in the old world and fighting to
maintain it, think back to a time when you too were, to all outside
appearances, a full and willing participant in that world as well.
The same spark of revolution you carried then, the same secret
refusal, dwells in all people. How was it that you finally stopped
was it that you came to realize that you were right all along,
that the world offered to us is wrong, and that no life is worth
living that does not in some way strive to create a better one?
How was it that it became intolerable to devote your life energy
toward the perpetuation of the old world? Most likely, it happened
when the old world fell apart around your ears.
the multiple crises of money, health, energy, ecology, and more
converge upon us, the world is going to collapse for millions
more. We must stand ready to welcome them into the tribe. We must
stand ready to welcome them back home.
time of loneliness, of walking the path alone, of thinking maybe
the world is right and I am wrong for refusing to participate
fully in it... that time is over. For years we walked around talking
about how wrong everything is: the political system, the educational
system, religious institutions, the military-industrial complex,
the banking industry, the medical system -- really, any system
you study deeply enough. We needed to talk about it because we
needed to assure ourselves that we were not, in fact, crazy. We
needed as well to talk about alternatives, the way things should
be. "We" should eliminate CFCs. "They" should
stop cutting down the rain forests. "The government"
should declare no fishing zones. This talk, too, was necessary,
for it validated our vision of the world that could be: a peaceful
and exuberant humanity living in co-creative partnership with
a wild garden earth.
time, though, for talking merely to assure ourselves that we are
right is coming to an end. People everywhere are tired of it,
tired of attending yet another lecture, organizing yet another
discussion group online. We want more. A few weeks ago as I was
preparing for a speaking trip to Oregon, the organizers told me,
"These people don't need to be told what the problems are.
They don't even need to be told what the solutions are. They already
know that, and many of them are already in action. What they want
is to take their activism to the next level."
do that, to fully step into one's mission here on earth, one must
experience an inner shift that cannot be merely willed upon oneself.
It does not normally happen through the gathering or receiving
of information, but through various kinds of experiences that
reach deep into our unconscious minds. Whenever I am blessed with
such an experience, I get the sense that some benevolent yet pitiless
power -- the shaman in the story -- has reached across the void
to quicken me, to reorganize my DNA, to rewire my nervous system.
I come away changed.
way it happens is through the "gathering of the tribe"
I described in this story. I think many people who attended the
recent Reality Sandwich retreat in Utah experienced something
like this. Such gatherings are happening now all over the world.
You go back, perhaps, to "real life" afterwards, but
it no longer seems so real. Your perceptions and priorities change.
New possibilities emerge. Instead of feeling stuck in your routines,
life changes around you at a vertiginous pace. The unthinkable
becomes commonsense and the impossible becomes easy. It may not
happen right away, but once the internal shift has occurred, it
I am, a speaker and a writer, going on about how the time for
mere talk has ended. Yet not all words are mere talk. A spirit
can ride the vehicle of words, a spirit that is larger than, yet
not separate from, their meaning. Sometimes I find that when I
bow into service, that spirit inhabits the space in which I speak
and affects all present. A sacredness infuses our conversations
and the non-verbal experiences that are becoming part of my events.
In the absence of that sacredness, I feel like a smart-ass, up
there entertaining people and telling them information they could
just as easily read online. Last Friday night I spoke on a panel
in New York, one of three smart-asses, and I think many in the
audience left disappointed (though maybe not as disappointed as
I was in myself). We are looking for something more, and it is
revolutionary spark of our true mission has been fanned into flames
before, only to return again to an ember. You may remember an
acid trip in 1975, a Grateful Dead concert in 1982, a Kundalini
awakening in 1999 -- an event that, in the midst of it, you knew
was real, a privileged glimpse into a future that can actually
manifest. Then later, as its reality faded into memory and the
inertial routines of life consumed you, you perhaps dismissed
it and all such experiences as an excursion from life, a mere
"trip." But something in you knows it was real, realer
than the routines of normalcy. Today, such experiences are accelerating
in frequency even as "normal" falls apart. We are at
the beginning of a new phase. Our gatherings are not a substitute
for action; they are an initiation into a state of being from
which the necessary kinds of actions arise. Soon you will say,
with wonder and serenity, "I know what to do, and I trust
myself to do it."