On one of my recent dates I found myself disagreeing with the man I was meeting when we spoke about the ‘tribal nature’ of the struggle for, and the natural progression into conflict to have access to and procession of resources as a normal part of human behaviour.
To me patriarchal forms of human behaviour and power over are normal but not a part of our natural way of being.
It made me think and re-examine what words and ideas like ‘Tribe’ and ‘Stranger’ or ‘Other’ actually mean to me and how the beliefs we have around them manifest as what we consider what is normal in our personal and political behaviour?
I believe ‘Tribe’ is about consciousness, honour, courage, love, responsibility, respect, support and generosity, not at the expense of the ‘Other’ but in co-operation of the shared abundant nature of the gifts of life.
Consciousness is nature’s own narrative; it is the intention that brings everything into manifestation, it is that which directs energy into form.
According to Max Velmans, matter and consciousness co-evolved at the birth of the universe, so that as matter becomes more differentiated and complex, so did consciousness.
If each biological form therefore has a unique associated consciousness, it follows that higher degrees of differentiation into ‘tribes’ also bring their own evolutionary forms of consciousness.
From this point of view how we choose to treat those within our own tribe and even more; how we choose to treat those from other tribes: the ‘Strangers’, the ‘Others’, whether friend or enemy defines the tribe and identifies the nature and boundaries of the consciousness of that tribe.
We used to know about this. Not for nothing is ‘charity’ at the foundation of both Christianity and Islam. Our myths and wisdom stories are full of the honour of hospitality and generosity towards strangers as being of great value both to the Tribe and to the Gods who smiled on those who consciously chose these courageous respectful ways over those of violence, fear and greed.
In the current refugee crisis, I think an important question to re-examine for us all is: How do we behave as ‘European Tribe’? Are we consciously choosing to be a part of a Tribe that behaves honourably or otherwise?
Do we have the courage to step through fear, generously sharing resources with ease and respectfully holding the boundaries of relationships with trust and empathy?
The way in which we as a society in Europe today are avoiding engaging in ‘honour’ by actively ignoring the plight of the ‘Other’ for which we have collective co-responsibility is not the behaviour of the Tribe I am choosing to belong to.
As a society and as many individuals within it, we are making it very obvious that we are ignoring ‘strangers’ to avoid empathy, hospitality, generosity and responsibility.
This reduces the ‘stranger’ or ‘other’ to no more then a help or hindrance to our own aim of achieving an objective – we have reduced the honour of our tribe by presuming we do not have moral obligations to the ‘other’ who has become an object, a ‘lesser than’ to be used and abused.
The American philosopher William James said
Moralities and ethics built on a foundation of persecution are always twisted by defensive priorities.
These are the opposite of generosity and empathy, charity and respect and are firmly at the root of war, violence, inertia and suffering. I belief that it is our loss of tribal honour that is undermining the evolution of our collective consciousness, that keeps us from a greater recognition of the Divine nature within us all, no matter what personal tribe we choose to belong to. It is this loss that creates such rich grounds to grow fear, hatred and intolerance.
Part of walking the Path of Love as Dakini and priestess of the Goddess is to consciously choose connectedness and endeavour to live with honour and love, with honesty, generosity, empathy, responsibility and respect, as awake to relationship as you can be. This is at the center of the work we do as a circle of equals of women and men in the Tribe of Rhiannon. So from that perspective, that promise to a way of life, I would like to ask this:
What if we were to step into a real meeting with the ‘Strangers at our tribal door’?
What if we had the courage to be in real meeting–soul to soul, each person wholly present and awake to the essence of the ‘Other’ finding similarities, opening to empathic recognition, and perceiving the Divine within them and bowing to that mirror?
We would not have to like, agree or even make peace with the ‘Stranger’ but we would have to meet in honour as equals and let that perspective direct our actions and thoughts.
We would help manifest and make conscious the Tribe of Love in directed action, in our ways of thinking, in the responsibly of sharing resources. I feel this would go a long way towards healing the breeding ground of greed, hate, intolerance, violence and war.
All this is a complex issue and easy to take a particular point of view and see things accordingly, I know I do. I do not mean to deny the body of evidence that indicates we have not come from some ‘golden age’ of loving kindness, but have indeed become the most successful species through survival strategies that include competition and aggression.
There are examples in our joined human history, of cultures that were gift economy based, having a barter system not leading to greed and hoarding and I find it interesting that this part of our history is not taught, talked or thought about more often.
Instead we seem to be fed the perpetuating stream of active and passive aggression both within ‘Tribes’ and between them, as the only way it’s ever been and therefore can be.
This evidence indicates that our Tribal ancestry was not only seemingly able to go beyond the conditioning of fight/flight in times of stress as a species, but when we do, our cultural, individual and society’s wellbeing and development thrives and consciousness increases.
In other words, all this points to us having a choice.
The fear triggered instinctual reaction which appears to be contradictory to a way of being present with the ‘Stranger’, the ‘Other’ especially at times of perceived or real resource scarcity are generally known as the ‘Flight/Fight/Freeze’ response.
This instinctual part of our behaviour within us all, is a part of our hormonal make up, and is mainly, though not solely, associated with testosterone (and hence sometimes called the ‘male responses’ of active aggression, where as in fact they are within all of us when competition for resources arises).
There is however newer evidence (Dr Shelley E Tayler and team in particular) which points to the Oxytocin driven ‘Tend/Befriend/Protect’ response. This response is due to high Oxytocin levels in women especially when pregnant and nursing called the ‘female response’, though, again in all of us that is equally present within the instinctual part of our humanness.
It is this ‘befriend’ part that is particularly interesting in relation to our ways of being and re-acting to the ‘Other’. Substantial mental, physical and spiritual levels of wellbeing are experienced in times of stress if we create, maintain and encourage social support and co-operation.
This response, especially in times of resource competition has been shown to be not only beneficial for the survival of the species (in particular for the survival of the weaker members of a social group i.e. the children) but is an integral part of the development of what makes us human, our mind, consciousness and social structure, as well as our art and spiritual experiences.
Steven Mithen’s ‘prehistory of the mind’ is a particularly good and enjoyable read into this recent research into archeology, psychology and brain chemistry biology.
The choice to think in certain ways and then act from that place of inquiry is what being more conscious is all about. It is hard wired in our brain chemistry and completely interwoven in the social and spiritual development of our minds and social structures.
It is also a learned imprinting, something we take on or over from our family, social group and society. I belief that if even a few of us are beginning to become awake to the alternative ways of thinking and then acting accordingly, we will change the status quo of the field of reality by creating a new dimple of being, and more will follow.
Lots of love to you fellow travellers on the path of consciousness