Sue Ellen Parkinson

‘’One night, while studying Joseph Campbell’s Masks of God series, I read for the first time that the Garden of Eden story was the retelling of a much earlier motif in which the woman, the tree, the serpent, and the garden formed an emblematic expression of the highest spiritual quest. I was absolutely stunned, as though an explosion had gone off within me. At that moment, I realized I was not wrong, as a small child, to yearn to become Eve―not the biblical Eve, but the one who is simultaneously the tree as axis mundi connecting earth and sky, the serpent of death and regeneration, and the garden as the matrix of all life. I asked myself: What ground am I standing on? The answer came in a flash: that my feet had been cut off and I was planted with my bloody stumps on the desiccated ground of the Punitive Father. At that moment, I knew I had to find the Sacred Ground under my own feet, and to recover this ancient female lineage within myself.’’

— Joan Marler


…I suddenly realized that the tree standing in front of me allowed my movement to be possible. I saw very clearly that I was able to breathe in because of its presence in front of me. It was standing there for me, and I was breathing in and out for the tree. I saw this connection very profoundly.

In my tradition we speak of ‘interbeing’. We cannot ‘be’ by ourselves alone; we must be with everything else. So, for example, we ‘inter-are’ with a tree: if it is not there, we are not there either.

- Thich Nhat Hahn

In some way we inter-are with everything in nature, everything in existence probably. We imagine we embody a separateness that doesn’t exist actually, except as a belief, a concept. Basing our lives on a false belief creates a lot of mischief. The natural world can’t absorb much more of this kind of treatment.

I’m a man who has come very slowly to see this. Growing up, I lacked the deeper sense of things that women can have more naturally. We men are more easily severed from a sense of connection. In our modern enlightened society, we no longer have the rituals and initiations for boys to ground them in the world of inter-being.

My focus as a young man was on being successful and looking good while doing it, but something else was pulling at me all the while. Something in me wanted my life to mean something, and I see now that I longed for an illusive sense of beauty. It was all mixed up with ego and self image and it took me a long time to sort it out.

Looking over the long years of my little story I can’t help but see some wreckage caused by my shallowness, but I also see that beauty has been created. I am proud of having been involved in creating any beauty whatsoever, but I recognize that anything I’ve created has been a co-creation, beautiful or not.

I’m glad I’m too old now to be the flailing loose cannon I was as a rootless youngster. My awareness of the trend and quality of my inner world has evolved to become a kind of ongoing meditation. Noticing the flows of energies going through my body and mind acquaints me with who I am and have been in this lifetime.

It’s a process of healing family and cultural wounds. It’s amazing how thoroughly we are imprinted by the clichés and unexamined assumptions of the little world we grow up in. It’s not easy to sidestep the shallow life that has been planned for us.

We come into the world with a desire to be as alive as possible but we stumble over love and its mysteries very early. Only when we connect to our earthly paradigm through the heart will everything start to make sense. Only when I could feel connected could my life have meaning.

From Nath Nath

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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