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If you want to go your individual way it is the way you make for yourself, which is never prescribed, which you do not know in advance, and which simply comes into being of itself when you put one foot in front of the other. If you always do the next thing that needs to be done, you will go most safely and surefootedly along the path prescribed by your unconscious.~ C.G.Jung

The dieta is an ascetic shamanic practice whereby an initiate goes into the forest for an extended period of time (six months, a year, two years) vowing abstinence from earthly delights such as salt, sugar, oil, fats, bloody meats, alcohol, sex; any and all sensual stimulation is forsaken for meager portions of bland food in order to ‘hollow out the vessel’ of the neophyte. Shipibo onanya refer to a time when the shamanic practices of the bancomuralla, now-extinct exalted masters, would consist of spending up to ten years in the forest in isolation observing a dieta….In this state of emptiness and heightened sensitivity, the dietero consumes modest quantities of teas made from what are commonly referred to as master or teacher plants. Plants, from the common Shipibo perspective, are sentient beings animated by a spirit imbued with agency and will. Each possesses its own energetic signature — what Segundo calls a ‘personality,’ or a chemist might call the ‘property’ of a plant.

What I propose here is that silence and stillness are necessary prerequisites to tempered, attuned action geared towards building a more beautiful, sustainable human experience on Earth. For hundreds if not thousands of years, Amazonian communities have intentionally architected periods of isolation and reflection into their social structures. By appreciating these sanctioned approaches, I suggest the quarantine we are now observing is a unique opportunity to recognize the vital personal and ecological value of silence and solitude. — Sophia Rokhlin

We who have lived our whole lives in a noisy, extroverted culture can’t imagine those primitives in the jungles know anything worth knowing. To discover they communicate with plants and in fact all living things is a little disorienting. We don’t quite believe it. They must be making it up. They are, after all, like children.

The idea that it is we who are limited in comprehending life and its infinite interrelationships, that we are the ones in kindergarten when it comes to the underlying realities of existence, is a bit hard to swallow. Now that a plague has overtaken us, some of us are asking more probing questions. What, for example, has caused this outbreak of virulence? Could it be as some are suggesting, traced back to our desecration of nature, our clear cutting forests and pollution of waters, our decimation of beings we share the planet with? Could it be associated with the desacralization of the commons, the loss of reverence we used to have towards God’s green earth?

Looked at that way, we ask ourselves how it took so long. The Earth has been patient. It has been putting up with an endless string of indignities and injustices. Whole species have been disappearing from the matrix of life at accelerating speeds. We wring our hands, those of us who care, while others just shrug because we didn’t need those species anyway.

The web of life can only repair itself if humans cease their depredations, which they won’t do willingly. Maybe this present moment is just a lucky break for the non-human world, or maybe the intelligence of the matrix is fighting back, but whichever it is, now is a chance for the human race to mend its ways.

Human intelligence is challenged to see the essential and act accordingly. A lot of smart people don’t believe we’re up to that challenge, but maybe we’ll surprise ourselves. The more we resist seeing and caring, the more vulnerable we become. A lot of innocent people are dying now, in the same way that a lot of innocent species of plants and animals have been dying for the last few centuries. Stupid belief systems are endangering humans themselves now, not just in an extrapolated future.

We don’t have a spiritual science like those dwellers of the forest. We need it. We need a spiritual, a reverential approach to the roots of life so we can pay attention and learn how to live and care for life. Our culture hasn’t produced that, although there are individuals with that consciousness among us.

That has to be the next step, in my opinion. It’s a life or death question. That kind of awareness is the next step forward for all of us. We may have to face going alone.

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