05/17/2010 03:10 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Just Another Spiritual Oil Slick

Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

I don't know about you but the list of things I just don't get keeps getting longer and longer.

For instance, how can we devise the technology to drill oil five-thousand feet down in the ocean and not come up with the technology to plug the hole if something goes wrong?

Or, how can we be so forward thinking as to drill oil wells close to home in order to decrease our future dependence on foreign oil and not be able to look forward as far as how to prevent or repair the possible and predictable failure of those wells?

Or, how can a bunch of super-rich industrialists be allowed to make blundering decisions that impact the rest of us -- not to mention the environment at large or future generations -- in the most obscene and life-negating ways possible?

I mean, are these soulless automatons who cannot conceive that there are other people on this planet who see the earth with different eyes -- who do not look at the earth as dead matter to be squeezed dry but, rather, see it as a living organism invested with spirit? They are paid millions of dollars a year to make decisions that risk catastrophic damage to us all and they are actually willing to risk it and then they actually deny any culpability when the catastrophe occurs and they still collect their paycheck and bonus? Do they not have children and grandchildren? Do they simply not understand that we need a living, viable planet in order to exist out here in the cold of space?

Nature, once a harsh and feared master, now lies in subjection, and needs protection against man's powers. Yet because man, no matter what intellectual and technical heights he may scale, remains embedded in nature, the balance has shifted against him, too, and the threat that he poses to the earth is a threat to him as well. --Jonathan Schell

Is it just me or does it seem to anyone else that these unrepentant materialists are growing crasser and more short-sighted in direct proportion to their wealth and power? Is this really their planet, to do with whatever they want? Are they really able to unleash this kind of assault on the biodiversity of the globe with impunity?

To those of us who revere nature and the future generations as sacred, this oil slick is an emotional and intellectual catastrophe. The harm it brings the ocean, the suffering it causes the innocent animals, the privation it causes those who make their living along the coast -- it is all a symbolic scar on our collective soul, just one more spiritual oil slick degrading human beings and disgracing civilization.

In our book, The Toltec I Ching, my coauthor, Martha Ramirez-Oropeza, and I discuss this issue from the point of view of "Safeguarding Life."


IMAGE: A male warrior holds the funeral bundle of his child, preparing to place it in its burial site. His face reflects the shock, anguish, and horror that fills his heart.

INTERPRETATION: This hexagram depicts the inevitable result of carelessness and irreverence. The male warrior symbolizes the versatility and fortitude that are at the core of outer nurturing. That he prepares to place the funeral bundle of his child in its burial site means that strength cannot accomplish afterwards what nurturing can accomplish beforehand. That his face and heart are filled with shock, anguish, and horror means that he is in the grips of the most terrible truth: that which we most cherish cannot be replaced. Taken together, these symbols mean that you avoid causing suffering by honoring and nurturing all that your spirit touches.

ACTION: The masculine half of the spirit warrior draws back from the brink before it is too late. Those who cannot temper their strength run the risk of losing a source of that strength. When our masculine half goes too far in pursuit of goals and becomes short-sighted and impatient, it is necessary to balance it with the strongest medicine possible: real problems can be avoided only by balancing the masculine half with the power of the feminine half's protective love. It is the feminine half's sense of caring and reverence that holds the key to fulfilling the real goal of happiness, companionship, and a clear conscience: those who do not hold the emotions of caring and reverence dear to their hearts run the risk of causing pain for themselves and others. Just because we can acquire something doesn't mean we should, just because we can accomplish something doesn't mean we have to: stopping to really consider what we are risking, allowing ourselves to feel the full brunt of such an emotional loss--this is the protective and loving nature of the feminine half's medicine. Likewise, stubborn pursuit of goals even in the face of warning signs, longing for something that threatens to cause suffering for others, refusal to change course when it endangers the greater good--this is the short-sighted and zealous nature of the masculine half when it loses its balance and sense of proportion. Because you treat nature, other people, and your own creations with the care and reverence you would your own infant child, you counteract every self-defeating action before it ever arises in thought or feeling.

INTENT: The foolish ruin even that upon which they depend. When we recognize the sanctity of life, however, and work to protect it from unnecessary and pointless harm, then we safeguard our own spiritual foundation and that of all who touch our spirit. Consider what cannot be replaced and then cherish it, planting seeds of intent in the spirit realm to nurture it and keep it from being lost forever. Shun materialism and self-interest as you would a poisoned well: keep to the path of the balanced and harmonious way of life, revering all that the life-giving and life-sustaining forces themselves love. By maintaining an unbroken alliance with the helping spirits, the community of spirit warriors ensures that the hidden storehouse of life-giving power is never depleted: only in this way can human nature continue to draw upon the power to create its own, unforeseeable, future.


I am deeply gratified that The Toltec I Ching has been selected a Silver Winner of the 2010 Nautilus Book Awards. My deepest gratitude extends to my co-author, Martha Ramirez-Oropeza and our enlightened publishers, Larson Publications.

The Toltec I Ching, by Martha Ramirez-Oropeza and William Douglas Horden has just been released by Larson Publications. It recasts the I Ching in the symbology of the Native Americans of ancient Mexico and includes original illustrations interpreting each of the hexagrams. Its subtitle, 64 Keys to Inspired Action in the New World, hints at its focus on the ethics of the emerging world culture.

Click here to go to the main site to see sample chapters, reviews and the link to Larson Publications for ordering the book.