As we all know by now, the Earth has shifted once again. Just the slightest change from deep beneath the waters, a crack in the fabric of her lining, and islands quake while tsunami waves rush across shorelines. We awake believing the world -- our world -- is stable, only to learn again and again that this Earth is as much a living, breathing, moving, active instrument of life as we are. It is the grandest live organism we shall ever encounter, this wondrous Being that sustains us each second of our lives. Weeks ago, a cyclone of unprecedented size hit Australia, and an earthquake shortly afterwards moved the ground beneath Christchurch, New Zealand. Buildings fell like toys, leaving much of the town in pieces. Who knows what the final death toll will be in Japan?
It would appear that the pace, as well as the intensity, of long-predicted earth activity and climate change is accelerating. Like many people familiar with prediction-oriented literature, all sorts of reasons can be put forward as to why the Earth goes through a period of increased seismic activity. Scientists will come up with "scientific" data, as expected. From my point of view, if they were so knowledgeable in the first place, the massive abuses to the Earth would have never occurred because they would have used their scientific data to protect the Earth. They're great at riding the caboose on the train of environmental change. Unfortunately, the few who have had the courage to attempt to direct the engine have been thwarted by corporate and political interests who insist that all data suggesting even a hint of climate change activity is a liberal conspiracy.
On the extreme other side, I have heard many people make the comment, "Mother Nature is angry," and that's why these events are happening. I'm not all that certain that Mother Nature functions from the same emotional system of "anger-vengeance/love-reward" that human beings do. I certainly hope not. Given that Mother Nature was an active, alive force long before we occupied this planet, I suspect that She is far more of a cosmic system of intelligence, transcendent of emotions such as anger or vengeance. Rather, if anything, I suspect that the way to understand Mother Nature is best found through the study of the Tao -- the study of the laws of balance that essentially govern the activity of Nature. When Nature is out of balance, the system itself will initiate whatever action it must take in order to reestablish an environment capable of sustaining all life -- not just human life, but all life. Within the realm of Nature, all life is equal. Life is precious because it is life, not because it is human life or wealthy life or educated life or young life -- but because it is life.
We are now living at a time when all cycles and systems of life are out of balance, including our system of perception itself. We do not "perceive" life clearly at all, and thus we, as a society, make choices that are based on endless illusions. And illusions lead to disasters. There was a time not so long ago, for example, when human beings walked more humbly on the Earth and under the Sun, the Moon and the stars. Before the "Age of Reason," a person walked into a forest filled with the awareness that the forest was as aware of him as he was of it. He shared the ground with the forest and all the creatures who lived there. They were not his for the taking, for the slaughtering, for dominating. In times gone by, people lived in a type of consciousness in which even the slightest movement of the wind meant something -- perhaps that heaven was piercing the veil between dimensions, speaking in a soft breeze, moving a branch or a leaf in order to communicate a message, or a warning, or signal its approval. The stars that filled the sky at night were not just pretty, shining objects, but proof of a celestial homeland, the blanket of the Divine covering humanity. Every living creature had purpose and meaning, a place in which it was given a natural dignity because it was created by a God no one doubted existed.
Of course, human beings were still human beings in those days before the Age of Reason introduced a love of logic and a God who (obviously) had scientific reasons up "his" celestial sleeve for why all things happen as they do in this whole big universe. Civilization was also a dark and dreary place back then, with disease and the plague, and endless wars -- oh, wait, am I describing then or now? Oh, I'm describing their version of then, not ours. Though they also had war, and they also had epidemics, and they also had starvation, what they did not have that has driven our civilization to the brink of madness is an epidemic of narcissism blended with an epidemic of blind doubt about the existence of the cosmic structure that holds together this fragile place called Earth. Back then, no one doubted the existence of this invisible reality. Today, that doubt is an epidemic and the absence of respect and reverence for the Earth is reflected in the choices governments and corporations make, as well as the choices made by individuals.
Is Mother Earth angry? Don't be silly. A cosmic force hardly gets angry. But a cosmic force is seeking balance, just as your individual body seeks balance when it has been struck with a toxin. What is the difference?
The Earth will continue to have an increase in earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, droughts, and whatever else is required to reestablish balance in Her environment. She is a living organism that is, in effect, rebooting Herself. Only the human community has the idea that we somehow live apart from the Earth, that the Earth does not respond to our breathing, to our thoughts, to our actions. It's incomprehensible, to be sure, to even hold such a perspective. But the Earth is that sensitive. Recycling, I assure you, is not enough. Consider the Earth as a family member instead, as a Being that sees you as clearly as you see it. And you are on the "Earth" as much when you are standing in the midst of New York City or London as you are in the middle of a forest. You are still "on the Earth." Standing on concrete or in a building does not make it any less "Earth," except if you hold to the perception that what qualifies for the "Earth" is out of the city in green or desert nature. But that's an illusion. How can you ever be off or away from the "Earth"? It's precisely that perception -- that Nature is in the country but not in the city -- that maintains the illusion of separateness. You may prefer to be in the country, but you always on the Earth.
Having said all this, let me turn to the loss of human life. While earth shifts are essential for the Earth to survive, they are tragic for us. They result in enormous loss of human life and we must all hold in prayer the souls and the families of the people of Japan. The fear, pain, and grief of the thousands of people is unimaginable. We learn from this tragedy once again that the life we awaken to each morning may well be completely different by the end of the day. We kid ourselves by telling ourselves that we are in charge of the length of our lifetime. We are not. We must treat each day, as well as every person dear to us, as a gift. We learn from this event in Japan that we can be with the Japanese community of people through prayer, through e-mail and through Facebook in an instant. We are truly learning an enormous cosmic truth: We are one. And we are meant to use that truth to pray together, heal our fellow human beings together and heal our beloved Earth together. Put your soul to work.