(Originally posted on http://www.myss.com/ and Facebook on 12/8/09)
This week Denmark becomes the epicenter of the world for eleven days, when thousands of people from around the globe—including spiritual, social, scientific, entrepreneurial and political leaders—gather in Copenhagen to engage in an unprecedented undertaking. Their task: to reach a consensus about how to address the warming of the planet while there is still enough time for something meaningful to be done. And as they know so well, the clock is ticking.
Each of us has a very deep stake in the outcomes there. Why? Because, while the news sound bites may center on the various countries’ carbon dioxide emissions targets or what energy alternative may be the most efficient and cost-effective, there’s a much deeper truth unfolding. Copenhagen isn’t just the stage on which the nuts and bolts of the solutions to global warming are being hammered out. It can also be seen as a confluence of two sides: the disciples of reason and intellect joining forces with the disciples of spirit and intuition—much like the left and right sides of our brains—meeting in a country that models how commerce and consciousness about the ecology of the earth can coexist—and thrive. It is also a highly cosmically significant event because it represents the first time that a key mystical principle has been recognized on a global scale.
In the language that Caroline Myss has brought to the world through her teaching about the human energy system, Denmark’s Climate Change Conference will promote the cosmic truth of our first chakra: All is One. What affects one affects the whole.
This truth resides in our spiritual energy systems, and it is an invisible one. But its power lies in the fact that it is now directing us to some very visible world consequences being played out in the great planetary drama of global warming and climate change. Ever more rapidly and undeniably, we are beginning to see the stark reality of this very real drama—in what is happening to our ice masses, our water resources, our exhausted and overworked soil, our polluted air, and our dying oceans—and it is taking a toll on us. Psychotherapist and author Miriam Greenspan addressed this when she said that the condition PTSD isn’t restricted to soldiers and civilians caught in the grip of war and whims of vicious storms. It resides in the collective unconscious now. At some level, no matter how “normal” the world seems, tumultuous change and fast shifting sands move with dizzying speed beneath our feet. And we all know it; we sense it, even if we cannot yet articulate it.
Clearly the challenges the change agents in Copenhagen face are monumental. It is no secret that there is tremendous opposition from the many political and economic interests who have a vested interest in maintaining business as usual, no matter the cost to the earth. But more and more, other voices are piercing that fog and increasingly they are coming from spiritual leaders. In late November the Dalai Lama wrote of the urgency of addressing global warming. It should be “number one” on the list of critical global issues, he said. “As far as the natural environment is concerned, we have a two-fold responsibility; firstly to take greater steps to care for our world and, secondly, to undo the serious environmental degradation that has resulted from incorrect human behaviour.” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf affirms this. “Among the duties of a proper Islamic state today,” he said, “is to act and to make its decisions in such a manner that the environment is not adversely impacted.” The late Father Thomas Berry put an even finer point on it when he said, “No nation has a future if the planet does not have a future.” What these wise men are acknowledging is a truth that politicians have yet to grapple with but it is one that a finely-tuned soul sees with instant clarity.
All is one.
How did we get to this place, where we are so blind that we have become not only complacent about living on a planet that is dying under our feet but—in a disheartening number of cases—even want to fight to maintain that condition at status quo? Where does such madness come from? It comes from having a shattered first chakra, from being disconnected from our material “rootedness.” It is here at the bottom of our tailbones—the foundation of what Myss calls our “energy spinal column”—that the connections of our physical, social, emotional—even our immune—systems merge with our primary connection to the earth itself. When we sit on the earth, we are literally plugging our energy systems into the earth—the original power station.
This root chakra is the filter of every transaction and the gateway to the rest of the chakras. It tells us whether we fight, flee or relax when someone or some task approaches. It tells us who to trust and when we’re safe. It tells us when we are in danger and in the millennia before fire departments, civil defense warning horns and The Weather Channel it told us how to listen to the land, to sense coming storms, even to smell fire in the air. Our first chakra ties us to the earth, to nature. When we lose that connection, when it shatters—through neglect, indifference or a refusal to acknowledge its centrality to our lives—we are out of balance at a very basic level of survival, safety and sanity. We literally lose a critical sense of how we are related to one another and the earth. Over the last century as more of us moved from rural to urban areas, we slowly lost our connection and closeness to nature and the earth, becoming numbed to the havoc being wreaked on our planet and the illness of pollution that is slowly suffocating us all.
We are connected to the earth and to each other by every element in our environment. In Beijing, for example, as much as 80 percent of cancer deaths are related to the highly polluted air, with lung cancer the leading cause of death. On any given day, as much as one-fourth of the air pollution in Los Angeles comes from what has blown eastward from the Chinese mainland. Likewise, the toxic residues pumped skyward from our coal-burning plants can end up in the lungs of children in Europe and Asia. What happens to the earth happens to us. And what happens to one happens to all.
This is how our broken first chakra affects us. This is how it is playing out in the environmental crises we find ourselves surrounded by. But this is no time to sit idly by. Gandhi said to be the change you want to see. He knew that the human tendency is to wait for others to fix things. Waiting is spiritually lazy. We must become engaged and fix things too, starting with ourselves and the way we view and honor the earth that sustains us. We must understand that in the end the earth will endure. It is not the earth that needs us; it is humankind that needs the earth.
Keep Copenhagen on your spiritual radar for the next two weeks. Someday it may be remembered as the spot on the planet where a new kind of consciousness began to emerge, where a dimension beyond ego and self-interest first revealed itself and where the seeds of healing first took root and trumped the profit motive, giving birth to the cosmic human, caught like a snapshot in that week in December at the beginning of the end of the age of Hydrocarbon Man.
What you can do
The great German philosopher Goethe said, “Knowing isn’t enough; neither is being willing. We must do.” This is reflected in the single most common question that clients ask me: “What can I DO?” We all want for our actions to have some meaningful connection to the spiritual journeys we find ourselves on. We want to be mindful, as awake as we can consciously be. Whatever we can do to heighten our awareness in turn enlarges our vision so we can see more deeply. Seeing more deeply is the first step in healing a broken first chakra:
o EDUCATE YOURSELF: There are dozens of books and thousands of articles and websites that can explain in great detail how global warming is caused and how its effects are seen in every aspect of our lives, from stronger storms and longer wildfire seasons to more widespread drought and loss of vital nutrients in our soil.
o ASK QUESTIONS: Learn what’s happening in your own region. Call your agricultural extension service at your state university (in the U.S.) and ask for data that describes weather, rainfall, temperature and soil trends within a 50-mile area of where you live. Talk to the elders in your church or community. Ask a local farmer how life on his or her farm has changed in the last five decades—how the soil is different, how the quality of food has changed, how the relationship between the farmer and the land has evolved.
o BE DISCERNING: Whether you agree or disagree with someone who insists global warming is a myth, find out who pays his or her salary. The data available about the facts of global warming are overwhelming. But by all means, explore the rhetoric on both sides. Know why you believe what you believe. Question the character assassination and scare tactics of those who condemn holistic changes to the norm. This is one reason we can trust the work of NGOs (nongovernmental organizations). They are working for the good of the community and for the good of mankind, for intrinsic values and issues outside of themselves or a profit motive.
o KNOW YOU’RE IN GOOD COMPANY: We’re all in this together. As Einstein once said, the idea that we are separate from one another is an illusion. Everyone matters and everyone’s efforts count. Just like prayer, there is power in numbers. The more threads in a net, the stronger it is.
o DON’T GET DISCOURAGED: To paraphrase Voltaire, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The slowest beginning is still a beginning. Remember the riddle of the Chinese gardener. His employer asks him, “When is the best time to plant a tree?” The gardener says, “100 years ago—but the second best time is today.” The same applies to the environmental crises we face today. The best time to start was thirty years ago but the second best time is right now.
o WANT TO DO MORE? Consider going to one of the next large gatherings of experts in issues affecting the environment, whether you want to be part of the actual solution or simply support others who are embracing that responsibility. Look into the international meeting of experts—and concerned world citizens—being held in Washington, D.C. in late February, 2010: http://www.worldforum.org/
o REMEMBER: Loving the earth you live on IS part of the solution. (For more about the Copenhagen conference, see http://en.cop15.dk/)
NEXT: How a shattered first chakra robs you of your spiritual birthright.