Attending a Council of All Beings* is a way for us humans to widen our awareness and appreciation for other forms of life by entering into their perspectives as best we can. Each human participant prepares by meditating to feel which being wants to speak through them or who they are drawn to speak for. Then they make a mask of the one they will represent. During the actual council humans set their own identity aside and speak through the masks as that being. Sometimes seeming strange for those on the outside; for those in it and willing to try something different to shake us out of our regular way of seeing things, it is an interesting, enlightening experience.
While we know on an intellectual level that we are inseparable from all Life, in Council we explore experiencing deep interconnection with nonhuman beings in order to feel it. Through this practice, we let go of our isolated selves and deeply attune to the lives, concerns, hopes, and wisdoms of another being. It is transformative. During these Councils, understandings from spiritual teachings, biology, and physics come together to create a dramatic shift in how we see nature.
Our summer Council had representation from all levels of Life, from a caterpillar to the Earth herself. From the small to the large we came together in unity, and speaking as brothers and sisters, opened to the wisdom that our non-human beings had to offer. Caterpillar shared, “Please remember that all life is valuable, sacred, loving and full of energy. Even when we are tiny like I am.” Hawk, offered, “I am Hawk and I wish for the humans to simplify. To simply be a presence that is deep within them, for in that presence all Life makes sense, all actions come from a space of harmony, from a space of cooperation, from joy. In the simplicity, presence arising in stillness and quietness. I invite the humans to remember that, to remember the bigger picture to which we all come from.”
The ancient wisdom of treating Life with respect and the practical wisdom of saving all species are the basis of these councils. How do we use this awareness to honor the invaluable role each plays in the collaboration of life? How do we take action to preserve Life?
Earth’s answer: “I am Earth. I suggest to you that you breathe. That you take time. That you listen to what’s around you. Not just the sounds but the silence, too. Root yourself in a place and you will be nurtured and enriched. Take time to visit me. Go to all of the lovely places of my body, tune to my resonance, breathe, take time, listen, ground yourselves in me, and we will all heal.”
These councils are a way to explore how to operate from a wider perspective with all that we do. None of us are experts in Life, yet we each have our unique gifts and wisdoms and perspectives to offer, and it is in that spirit that we will host these Council meetings throughout each year. We hope you will join us for our autumn Council. We do one each season.
We share a transcription of our summer Council below: The format is several rounds of questions with a specific focus for each.
Who are you? What are your lives like?
Earth: “I am Earth. I am creativity. Generativity. The life force expressed over the eons, the innumerable beings of great beauty. I love you all. You all sprang from me. You are all my children, born of my rocks and my soil, of my water and my air, of my fire, and my warmth. You have arisen from me, but many of my human children remember me, my wisdom and my nurturence. You pursue things of not real worth, they do great harm to me. I hurt. They do not see the beauty and gifts around them and I am sad for their folly. They are lost. I am lonely for my children. Come back to me.”
Sea Turtle: “I am very old, I swim in the ocean. I spend time looking around, I eat, and I think a lot. I am a very curious animal. At times I have to avoid difficulty, plastics and garbage. But I spend a lot of time in beauty. I spend a lot of time contemplating and I cover a whole lot of the Earth. I feel the currents and the warming of the water. I see the Orcas. I see the coral. I spend a lot of time thinking about the past and the future.”
White Caterpillar: “I am white caterpillar. My life is short. Many of us give up ourselves for the birds, for their nourishment. Those of us who do live on become moths or butterflies and we enter into a new sphere. And then we die before too long and we become part of the energy of what is all of us. That is my life.”
Deer: “I am Deer. and Our life is beautiful. It’s so rich and tranquil. We walk gently upon the earth, feeling the essence flow in and out of our every step. We feel the cool air, we feel the warmth of the sun. We meander around, stopping to feast on the abundance that is given to us daily. We delight in the other creatures. The birds and the butterfly and the cool mountain water. At night we bed down in the embrace, the soft warm embrace of the earth. We are rarely in fear. Our life here is beautiful and bountiful. We are blessed.”
Dog: “I am dog. We have much to teach and we have much joy to share with you. We are happiest when we are outside, roaming in nature with human by our side. The one we have called our pack, yes dog but human is our friend, our companion. We are best suited to be with you. Our goal is happiness and joy and teaching that it is not just finding happiness but it is to be shared. Happiness shared is when we have the great joy.”
Hawk: “I am hawk. I am flying high on a warm thermal that effortlessly carries me. Around and around. The predator and the art of destruction, in our effort to rebuild and be creative. The cycle of life and death. That is very much a part of the circle of life. These are all wisdoms that we know intuitively. There is no fear of death for us. There are many challenges from the humans but we hold no animosity from them. We simply wish for them to come back into the oneness of all Life. For the harmony that is always oneness for the hawk is what we want for the humans, always. I love being a hawk. I love flying. Life is priceless and we enjoy it that way every moment of every day of our lives.”
Leopard: “I am leopard. I spend my days in great open plains, among other giants of this world. I am fierce. But I am also soft. I know hot, hot sun and seeking water, seeking prey, I spend my days finding shade and resting, saving my energy. Always listening, always watching, and always smelling. For I know when my kin are close. For I have a territory that I mark, but sometimes I wander. And in the night I go searching to fill my belly and I am fast. I am swift on my big paws and claws that come out and I know that by taking a life, mine is strengthened. I do not take lightly. The nourishment feeds and gives energy and allows me to birth cubs, to bring about new life. I spend most of my time alone, but I do love raising young, sharing and showing them the ways of this wild earth that we share with so many beings. Beings that are disappearing, but beings that are strong and capable and wise. Like me. And like you all.”
What wisdoms, knowledge, and unique gifts do you have to offer each other and what might we teach people if they are willing to listen?
“I am Earth. Ground yourselves in me. Root yourself in a place and you will be nurtured and enriched. I am the source of creativity and inspiration, feeling and peace. Ground yourselves in me.”
“I am Dog. And we as dogs, so many of us different looking but so similar inside, knowing that we are the teachers of love. Deep love, real love to the humans. This is our joy, teaching humans to go deeper to unconditional love. And we have your ears, and some are listening, but some are too busy. Living in other times, in times that came before, things to come in the future. We as dogs know that what is real is what is now. We try to teach, to play, to show, we walk, beg for you to bring us to nature, to bring you to nature. To let go of your separateness from us and other beings. You humans are hard to teach but we insist because we love you and we love our bonds. We have been together, teaching and helping, for eons. We are here for you but we are also here for ourself. We must work together. Dog and Human.”
“I am Hawk. I come to teach the humans how their misdirection for answers comes when they seek outside of themselves. Seeking outside is a futile orientation. An orientation that can never bring truth. To one, to the whole, to the oneness of all that is. Air represents our mental capacities and when our ability to think is based from an internal perspective. A perspective that is aware of the oneness and a lack of separation, then all beings are considered naturally and effortlessly. The direction of going within is the first step to empowering ourselves and all Life on this beautiful mother earth that we all share. It is the hawks’ hope that through the awe, when humans see us flying in the skies, that this will trigger something in their hearts, heads, and bellies. That it is they themselves they see in the sky, the aspect of higher thinking. The aspects of essence and our true nature. This is our hope for all humanity, always.”
“We are Deer. We listen. We observe. We are highly sensitive. We feel even the slightest change in vibration in our surrounding. We give and receive energy with every step. We are gentleness, we balance things. To keep harmony. Yes we are here to bring peace and harmony. We are deer.”
“We are White Caterpillar. We know that you are very concerned about climate change, of climate emergency, even extinction, but Life is one, time is one. Life is impermanent. So we will go on no matter what, including as we metamorphosize into something else. Like butterflies and moths. So do not fear, because life will go on somewhere, no matter what.”
“I am Sea Turtle. My gift is to buffer the energies of the Earth. And balance. You as a human animal do not know the full relationship between spirit and nature and matter. I live mostly a solitary life, I spend my days not seeing another sea creature or even a human on the ocean. But I do know how to move from a solitary life to that of a group. I do know that when I do that I learn from others, I learn from humans, I learn from pods, I even learn from my enemies. The orcas, the dolphins- I am great food for them. But there are times when all creatures of the ocean must exist in community, which some humans are struggling with today, and it requires cooperation for us to continue to live in the ocean, peacefully. My gift is that of time- that of seeing and knowing the past because I have lived them but I am becoming extinct. Green sea turtles are hardly around anymore. So therefore we have to learn to coexist, to cocreate, in order for all forms of life and diversity to survive.”
“I am Leopard. I too, humans, must take from the Earth in order to feed myself, just as all of us here in this council must do. But my lesson, my wisdom, to share is to only take what you need. For we all need each other, to support one another, to allow Life to flourish. For if we take more, what will be left? Every year, every season gets harder for me, for my cubs, to find food and water. It is hotter. The sun, the days. I feel weaker. I must run farther. So please take only what you need and use your power with grace. Respect all Life. For we are all on this same Earth and need each other.”
This is an offering to our human friends to how you would like to see them change the way they treat your being, or this planet.
“I am Dog. My message is important. You know that all dogs teach love and compassion. But we are now teaching the humans something that makes all of us very sad and breaks our hearts, because we as your companions are suffering from the mistakes humans are making to the environment. We are suffering from the poisons you are putting on our food, on the land, in your yard. In the areas where we and your children walk and play. We are forming disease from these practices, and we ask you to be mindful to STOP poisoning our earth, our land, our food, our water. We hope to live long lives next to you humans but they are being cut short due to ignorance and greed and those who seek power beyond the joy of the present. We are trying to show you your good-enoughness that comes from within, not from these things that you seek from without. Hear all of us please, hear us please. Thank you.”
“I am Turtle. Most humans spend no time in the sea, most have no concept of the damage that occurs below sea level. My message is for you to understand that the noise pollution in the oceans is lethal. Noise and sound have no respect for boundaries, sound travels faster in water than air. The fracking, the searching for oil. The deafening noise makes myself and my friends orcas and dolphins lose our ways. That is why we beach. We lose our partners because we cannot communicate. Please stop putting sound into the ocean. Please stop.”
“I am Caterpillar. Please remember that all life is valuable, sacred, loving and full of energy. Even when we are tiny like I am.”
“I am Earth. I suggest to you that you breathe. That you take time. That you listen to what’s around you. Not just the sounds but the silence, too. Root yourself in a place and you will be nurtured and enriched. Take time to visit me. Go to all of the lovely places of my body, tune to my resonance, breathe, take time, listen, ground yourselves in me, and we will all heal.”
“We are Deer. It is not for us to tell humans, for each creature has its own wisdoms and its own way. We respect the inherent nobility in all and we wish for them to remember their nobility. We do not much concern ourselves with how they see or even treat us because it does not reflect who we are. It is rather a reflection of who they are, of their current state. If you ask our perspective, all humans may appear to be crunched, small and tight. We feel sad as they look uncomfortable in their bodies and on this Earth place. It is curious. It is as if they feel as if they don’t belong, from our perspective. We wish for them to honor themselves. To honor others. And to remember that they belong here as we all do. Perhaps if they slow down and listen and feel the Earth they will remember that they do belong. This is our wish for them. That they remember they belong here, too.”
“I am Hawk and I wish for the humans to simplify. To simply be a presence that is deep within them, for in that presence all Life makes sense, all actions come from a space of harmony, from a space of cooperation, from joy. In the simplicity, presence arising in stillness and quietness. I invite the humans to remember that, to remember the bigger picture to which we all come from.”
“As Leopard, dear humans, I ask simply that you let all beings be. Allow them to share this Earth, just as we, too, allow you to be. For we all belong here.”
* The Council of All Beings was started by Joanna Macy and John Seed. For more information see https://www.newsociety.com/Books/T/Thinking-Like-a-Mountain.