The Eagle chapter of Spirit Paths: The Quest for Authenticity is challenging. It leaps from a discussion of personal authenticity within family and community (Tribe) to an overarching view of responsibility for nurturing human evolution as a whole. That is a view difficult to comprehend, much less hold, for many people.
Eagle sees the vast curve of the Earth, as well as a mouse on the ground.
The perspective of Eagle requires the ability to hold two disparate views of the state of the world. In one very broad worldview, a vast perspective like gazing down at the globe from a great height, everything is perfectly balanced and aligned. The dimensional poles of light and shadow, love and fear, joy and suffering are completely balanced, everything is perfect just as it is. There are no boundaries, no partitioning of the land and features into distinctly separate pieces. All things are held in an exquisite and dynamic wholeness.
Yet, far below, Eagle also sees Mouse on the ground. From Mouse’s worldview, it is clear that there is suffering, that the dimensionality of love and fear are not experienced as so balanced. The individual—and even group—experience is quite different from that of Eagle soaring overhead. There is work to do on the ground, big work.
For an example of the work needed, I selected a topic that is very important to me: the plight of Family in our society. Family is at the root of any culture, and the plight of Family is the cornerstone of mending what is broken in it.
The EuroAmerican culture has pulled apart the nuclear and extended family and scattered the pieces to the winds. Just more that 50 years ago, individuals within a family lived within 10-20 miles from where they were born or where the family called home. Now, members of families may be separated by hundreds or thousands of miles: separate states, countries, even continents. Some of this is driven by a hyper-monitized society, in which money and the accumulation of wealth is seen to be the path to happiness, or even a necessity for security.
Family farms dwindle as the children move to urban areas in search of work or success, and the children of Elders who carry generations of wisdom come down from the mountains in pursuit of “something better.” Family fields are abandoned to corporate farms, and the Wisdom Keepers find no one to teach.
Gaps between the generations are widened also by the cultural focus on the value of youth, rather than the wisdom of age. The distances between children, youth, adulthood, and the elderly have become increasingly clear. Rather than being integral parts of an organic evolution of family, the care of both children and the elderly are being outsourced into childcare and eldercare institutions. Whereas children used to be reared by grandparents while the parents worked the fields, in a blink of an eye, in terms of the human experience, their connection has been severed and pulled apart.
The cost has been unacceptable. More children in schools are on medication to manage their behavior than ever before, and the trend continues at an alarming rate. Many of the elderly are sequestered into “nursing” homes or other long term care institutions—mostly discarded and abandoned as their children continue their pursuit of money, whether from desperation or desire for security no longer found within the intact extended family system.
Yes, there is work to do to rebalance the human experience, to bring together the strained dimensionality of love versus fear… to realize the greater vision of Eagle.
Eagle perspective shows that all is not lost, however. Upstream, in the mouth of the future, there is hope. Much of the solution lies in our not-so-distant cultural past. Although returning to these earlier days is not an option, by looking forward toward a renewed integration of the potential of future generations, we can create a new vision of wholeness. A key, I strongly believe, is the institution of Spiritual Eldership that grows from authentic community.
When the focus of culture and society can be changed from short-term gain to longer-term vision, balance can be achieved. When it is recognized that the wisdom of age is as valuable, or perhaps more so, than the raw energetic of youthful exuberance, a renewed emphasis on spiritual community can emerge.
When you know enough about enough things, then you become truly useful.
Spiritual Eldership is a term that describes the place of people who through experience have learned many things about many subjects and situations. In culturally organic societies and tribes, for example, it is the elderly who care for the children. they have the patience to handle the vast energy of children, and the time to be available for care and nurturing. Children truly love to be with the elderly when they can, and the elders find the energy of children to be refreshing.
I believe that we are several generations away from this possibility, however. Our culture has created a relatively new phenomenon called toxic elders, older people who have lost their place in the flow of society and family, and have become suspicious and often angry. They feel cut off and abandoned. Many times they feel betrayed by family in particular and society as a whole. They did what they were supposed to in order to be happy, but in the end, the social promises failed them. Some do not recover and refocus their lives afterward. They become bitter and angry instead.
Yet, the experience of the Intergenerational Learning Center, a preschool located within Providence Mount St. Vincent, a senior care center in West Seattle, is a prime example of how powerful this pairing can be. It is a template which can be used and expanded to help heal the generational divide. Imagine an entire educational and apprenticeship system that uses such creative initiatives as the base, rather than the current view!
The results of such a societal change could be the return of a more balanced way of living as a whole, since the intergenerational wisdom that could be formed creates an upward spiral. Each generation adding to the wisdom of the previous, with Spiritual Elders as mentors to human evolution once again.
This holding of the grand vision of humankind as part of the exquisite balance of nature, as well as the ability to perceive and address suffering, is the challenge of Eagle. It requires patience, persistence, non-judgement, and overall trust in the mysterious unfolding of Spirit in everyday living. We can do this.
Eagle: The Path of Spirit
Where Everything Is One Thing
Spirit Paths: The Quest for Authenticity