The power of myths and rituals
Any metaphysics is a spiritual map that helps a specific community to navigate its changing world. It offers cues to the spiritual potentialities of human life. Metaphysics is the Song of the Universe translated by poets and prophets into human words. The poets have this amazing gift to listen to the Universe’ song and then to share with their fellow humans the wonders they saw and felt.
Although the Living Universe metaphysics is offering a spiritual map and gives clues of the spiritual potentialities of human life, it can’t offer the cultural environment that can enact the spirituality (it is talking about) into our daily life. We need a community to create this cultural environment. We have to craft and perform together the rituals that are able to enact in our midst the spiritual realm that will inform a fair human world.
Mankind has changed so much that our ancient myths (and their rituals and cultural guiding lines) can’t help us anymore to face our challenges. Our old myths are misleading us. They lost their significance. Without a guiding understanding, we feel lost and confused and act chaotic and incoherent. Without a spiritual compass, we are blind people. We are destroying our world but aren’t able to change our ways of living because we still allow ourselves to be nourished and guided by our obsolete mythology. Our civilization lost its inner compass. No meaningful truth informs it anymore. The old rituals and daily routines are impotent…
If we want our rituals to nourish us, we have to keep them alive. We have to renew them. It’s interesting to read about the primitive cultures, how the folk-tales, stories and myths are transforming all the time, in terms of the circumstances of those people. When people move from one environment to another, from a specific way to get their food to another, their mythology transforms too. A metaphysics is able to inform a society only when it shares with it the same dreams and challenges. That is why we need a new metaphysics that shares with us the same challenges.
Let’s say that we have chosen cooperation and fairness in our hearts. Still, we need rituals and a whole cultural environment to nourish us in that direction. So, we need cultural creators to bring to life small islands of that culture. This is what the Butterfly Communities project is about.
We perform rituals to make present the better world we believe in. For example, I believe in a future fair human world. Therefore, I act in this direction and acting fair is for me like performing a ritual that enacts / makes present the fair world around me. By participating in a ritual, you are participating in a specific mode of being alive. It connects you not only with the people related with that ritual, but with the spiritual realm from where that ritual comes from. And that spiritual reality – that you connect with through the ritual – nourishes you with its light, values and power.
The rituals and celebrations are strange realities, connecting the visible world with the spiritual one. Through rituals we enter the spiritual realms that are significant to us. A ritual is an open-window toward a spiritual reality and, at the same time, a nourishing umbilical cord that could nourish us spiritually. When I am acting fair because I want so and I feel so, it is not “just me” acting fair. I believe I am inspired, informed and nourished in this direction by a higher spiritual reality. Acting fair (as performing a ritual) is connecting me with this spiritual reality and, at the same time, is making it present around me, with its light and qualities. That means often, at the biological level, joy and hope, altruism and trust, even love, faith and the feeling of connection, meaning and fulfillment.
As humans evolve toward more integrative levels of consciousness, our rituals will integrate the daily activities. For the future that awaits us, our spiritual practices should be beneficial to social fairness, ecological regeneration and the well-being of those around us. A future religion of the Living Universe’ metaphysics will turn daily activities into meaningful rituals, orienting them toward correlation with others – the basis for interbeing and fairness. To cook or eat, to work or learn, to communicate or cooperate will become rituals: open-windows toward a more meaningful reality and, at the same time, the best opportunities to bring into the world our loving understanding and participation. Normal activities, when perceived and lived as a ritual, give us a sense of gratitude. This perception isn’t new. In all our “prehistory”, we used to venerate Life itself. Hunting, gathering or eating together around the campfires were perceived and performed as community rituals. Making love or nurturing children were perceived and performed as rituals. The food, the water, the air, the life – everything was perceived as gifts from the Great Goddess of Life. As in a huge Spiral Dynamics, we are returning to venerate Nature, but on a higher level of integration and reflectiveness than our hunter-and-gatherer ancestors. Venerating Nature, personifying it as The Great Goddess of Life, we return to perceive our lives as Her gifts. We return to perceive the plants and animals, the rivers and oceans, the mountains and winds, the whole web of Life as sacred. We start to feel ourselves part of this web of Life and take responsibility for its well-being.
Religious expressions and practices
A spiritual perspective – a metaphysics – expresses itself throughout all human manifestations: social, political, economical, religious, educational, artistic and so on. Some people are saying: “I am a spiritual person, but not a religious one”. Here it is a confusion of terms. Correct would be: “I express my spirituality through political, economical, religious, artistic and many other kinds of expressions”.
Religious expression is the main way to express our spiritual understanding. Of course, political, economic, social, artistic and religious expressions are in mutual consistency, reinforcing each-other, all of them being brought forth by the same metaphysical perspective and are aiming together toward a unique direction: to insert ourselves as adequate and authentic as possible into our environment.
I have had to quit the orthodox Christian priesthood because my spiritual perspective has evolved and I felt to express myself religiously in other ways. I have felt that if I continue as an orthodox priest, I will betray myself. The same with my engagement in the capitalistic economy: I felt that I was betraying myself by acting in the way the capitalist system was requesting from me. Quitting from many relatively good jobs was not only an honest decision, but also a healthy one. If you betray yourself, acting against your core values, in your political, economical or religious expression, you’ll destroy yourself, breaking your spirit. We are not only political or economical beings: we are first of all religious beings. The word “religion” comes from the latin “re-ligare”: to reconnect. The prime aim of the religious expressions is to connect us with our outer and inner world, with our purpose and meaning, to give us a sense of belonging and participation to a “greater than us” living reality.
Now, what we need to bring forth around us is a cultural environment, where we could express our new metaphysical perspective in religious, political, economic or artistic ways. We simply need around us a world that makes sense to us and where we feel home.
Working and creating may become rituals conducive to life
Following Nature’s inspiration, we can design our communities as living organisms and our technologies as processes intertwined with life-processes. In a fair society it will be easy to work in resonance with our inner core. Working with life-enhancing technologies, could be felt as a meaningful ritual that connects us with something beyond us. Working as a gardener in a biomimetic agriculture could be lived as a ritual. Gathering the fruits and vegetables from our gardens, while maintaining the cycle of life, could be a nourishing ritual for everyone. Teaching or learning in generative environments, in resonance with our curious and collaborative nature, in accord with our physiology and psychology, could be lived as a ritual. Unleashing the human spirit from the institutionalized school, offering it the chance to nourish its authenticity could make the learning process a long-life rite of passage. In a fair participative world, political and economic activities would be engaged as fulfilling rituals. With a little bit of awareness, communication could become a meaningful ritual. An ecologic human-built environment could be seen as a temple.
Writing on this article, I understood why it was harder and harder for people to perceive their working and learning activities, the political or economic endeavors and even the daily communication as rituals. Why did work and learning cease to be a joyful and meaningful endeavor? Why did life become a struggle (that separates) and not a celebration (that unites)? Because all these activities ceased to be in resonance with our inner core. We ceased to sense “at home” in our world, feeling that we are missing something very important. We can live our endeavors as rituals only if they are in resonance with our core values. Only so, they will be meaningful for us, will connect us and nourish our spirit, will be constructive to our society and conducive to life in general. We are not apart from Life. Like cells that aren’t apart from their organism, so we are intertwined parts of our living Planet.
A ritual that could change the world
In human societies, the transition from one social state to another was always perceived as a rite of passage – a time of our life especially dedicated to a specific transformation. A rite of passage provides a social frame that helps us to evolve and find our way further. Each rite of passage is marked symbolically by two ceremonies – one that marks the beginning (the initiation ritual) and another that marks the ending (the celebration of the successful metamorphosis). Primary or high school may be perceived as rites of passage, marked by beginning and end ceremonies. Marriage or baptism are examples of ceremonies that mark the beginning/initiation of a special transition in someone’s life. A rite of passage that literally changed human society was the Koryos Fellowship.
What about a Butterfly Fellowship rite of passage? What if you and some of your friends, as ancient Koryos members did, unite in a temporary fellowship, for a few years, to live solidary, learning and doing everything that it takes for deepening a more solidary way of life? This veritable rite of passage will be marked by initiation rituals. The initiation would also involve a period of theoretical and cultural preparation. Also, at the end of this journey of discovery and transformation, there will be various celebrations that will mark the successful transition from an individualistic to a cooperative human being.
Thus, I am searching for cultural creators to start a co-op enterprise and, at the same time, a community that will pioneer a cultural environment conducive to partnership. This will be a guiding culture and an organizational frame for the “early-adopters” who would choose to take this rite of passage. We can be the first pioneers who will open a new frontier! We will have to “map the territory” (to craft the cultural and organizational frame for such a life). I invite you to join me in opening this new frontier and modeling the partnership culture of the Butterfly Fellowship!