Ecuador's Rain Forest and Us

Written by Tayria Ward on May 4, 2013

I have been following the news about what is happening in Ecuador as their government plans to destroy rain forest and the way of life for the Waorani tribes people as well as a vast diversity of plant, insect and animal life in order to drill for more oil. The U.S. is their largest importer of that oil, so we in this country are deeply connected to this problem, a travesty and tragedy in the opinion of many, and certainly in mine. The whole world is deeply connected to this, we are one organism on this planet. We lose that forest and those people and we lose a significant and sacred part of ourselves. Tragic denial is at play here. Concern for this is trumping nearly every other concern in my life right now. My heart wants to know what to do with it.

Since moving into town during this past year my psyche has been adjusting. It has not been an easy adjustment. I love, appreciate and enjoy immensely the value of what town and city offer, and know the absolute necessity of congregating in towns to feed and support each other at every level. But experientially it has become clearer and clearer to me how much the landscape of where we live affects and creates who we are and how we think. I had been living in wild, raw, undomesticated terrain, for better and for worse unfettered my much of what human progress is about. The values of what it is to be a part of that, and what benefits THAT, are what I was living at a cellular level for more than 8 years. It took over my being in a way I invited and hungered for.

My dissertation for doctoral work in depth psychology was titled Reawakening Indigenous Sensibilities in the Western Psyche. It was to me not only a matter of historical and anthropological interest to understand how indigenous peoples perceive and interact with the earth and each other, but a matter of survival. My inner experience was telling me that if we do not rediscover and reclaim our human birthright demonstrated in the modes of perception and capacities indigenous people maintain to be in clear conversation, mutual respect and intelligent interaction with the natural world we will destroy ourselves with certainty. These ways of theirs are the baby that was thrown out with the bathwater in modernization and civilization. I cannot easily describe how this concern took over the deepest level of my heart and being.

When I recently moved back into town and listened to all that is around me I was having an almost violent reaction inside, which I learned to monitor and be quiet about for the most part. I am learning to train and domesticate my internal psyche, attempting to trust the process while maintaining connection to all that I had reclaimed of my original nature, as I see it, while living away from all of this. The focus, the concerns, the values, the conversations reflected to me in an urban environment scream, at times, of a disconnection from what I had been awakening. I have felt like a lone tribal person with persons around me unaware even of the existence of the landscapes of psyche which I had come to know as home. Part of me cried “These are not my people.”  As I have looked at the faces of the Waoroni tribe people on the news these  last days I have instinctively felt, “Those are my people,” even as biologically and culturally I am worlds apart from them. Their internal values, their inner GPS, seems more familiar and significant to me than that of the world I now inhabit and was raised in.

This is not just theory, it is very personal for me. I believe if we are to remember who we are as a species, something about this needs to become more personal for all of us humans. We are developing a collective pathology that urgently needs a cure before we destroy ourselves and our nest. To pour poison in rivers and into the air is the same as injecting arsenic into our own blood stream. The shortsightedness of our modern way of life has made us addicts who need to come out of denial and into recovery. It is nobody’s fault, yet each of our responsibility – personally, individually, one-by-one – to wake up. This is my belief, and an urgently, deeply held conviction.

Obviously I have to learn how to stand with a foot in each world psychologically and spiritually, to integrate the seemingly opposite value systems into an inspired and careful relationship in my life, internally and externally. That is the private part of the work for me. But the public part is to make this cry, to find voice for my crying.

One of Carl Jung’s favorite stories was of a Chinese village that was suffering a devastating drought. They heard of a famous rainmaker and brought him to come help them. He asked only for a hut where he could sit alone for 5 days. He stayed in there, and on the 4th day the rains came. The rainmaker explained to the village that they had become terribly out of Tao, and this was producing the imbalances that were creating the harsh circumstances for their village. Jung loved the part of the story that all it took was one person to come and to sit in Tao to bring the whole village, and nature, back into harmony and allow them to flourish once again.

How can we measure the out of Tao-ness that we are experiencing all over our tiny Spaceship Earth, with war and hunger, social and psychological ills? What might Ecuador’s diverse rain forest and these Waoroni people be doing to help us powerfully to survive as they hold a certain relationship to Tao? What can each of us do to assist in this situation?

I have written a massive dissertation on this, I want to make it a book, I need to do more, I want to do more to address this passion in my heart and my gut. Meanwhile I am trying to find Tao within and to say these few words, hoping they are good for today.