Your inner and outer worlds are two facets of the same reality. The microcosm and macrocosm reflect each other much more than we typically recognize. Understanding, recognizing, and following this principle is probably one of the most important and basic things that we can learn, at any point in our lives. Of course, the earlier the better, and that is why Integral Deep Listening is an ideal way to change the life trajectories of the children who will inherit and create the future world. By helping children understand their dreams, tune into their inner compass, and heal the life issues that keep them stuck, they not only lead happier, healthier lives, but grow up to raise happier, healthier children.
The following interview illustrates the relationship between healing oneself and healing the planet. It not only deals with cancer, but with healing the split between the rational, left side of your brain and its creative right side. Which is more important?
Life, illustrated by the Amazon in the following interview, teaches us that we need both, balancing and supporting each other. Laura’s interview not only addresses her ongoing struggle with cancer but deals with healing the Earth and confronting assaults upon it by capitalism and the military. From the point of view of dreaming, as disclosed by Integral Deep Listening, these issues are different manifestations of the same problem: our alienation from our inner compass and life itself.
Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery during the last four weeks of pregnancy. A 3.5 cm tumor mass was removed. Histology showed an aggressive, hormone-dependent cancer. She decided for a normal birth procedure and no chemotherapy, against the recommendations of her doctor. Now that her baby was born, she has elected to nurse – with both breasts – and avoid chemotherapy, against the strong admonitions of her oncologist, who was also a practicing Zen Buddhist. Instead, she consulted two naturopaths, a Reiki practitioner, and a masseus and energy healer from South Africa. She has done a previous IDL interview in which her cancer, personified by a leech, experienced itself being broken up and eliminated by Laura’s body. Was this wishful thinking? Was going against the advice of medical science and taking a “natural” way suicide? Laura had her doubts, and so did I. Was she allowing herself to be seduced away from common sense by New Age energy medicine or was she being wise and realistic?
Through discussions about the Drama Triangle, Laura moved away from an adversarial reaction to the pressure she felt from her doctor, allowing her to have an open and honest conversation with him about her choices and preferences. This in turn allowed him to agree to support her with continued medical expertise even though she was not taking the course of treatment he recommended.
Laura shared the following dream that she had two or three years earlier:
I was in the Amazon with a few people. I saw something like an American air base behind the trees. There were grey, square warehouses, trucks and lights. There were some rare animals being pulled on leashes, carried around and put into trucks. I was really concerned. I felt we needed to do something about it. We started to connect with people. I saw thousands of faces. I thought, “It’s a Facebook connection of people linking up and forming a group.”
I was again walking in the jungle by some uniformed people, streetworkers doing repairs. They gave me a signal they wouldn’t tell anyone what we were doing. The mission was to save the soul of the world: The Amazon or Mother Nature.
Laura said that this dream had a strong impact on her. It led her to get involved with permaculture as a way to contribute to healing the environment. It gave her a sense that she was alive for a purpose, that she was on a mission. She wrote, in the front of her journal, as a statement of her healing mission, “If I can heal myself with the help of Mother Earth I can help Mother Earth to heal herself.”
One character in this dream stood out very differently from the others, so we chose to interview it: the American Air Base. It said that it was gathering specimens of plants and animals for scientific research into natural cures to patent and be sold by American pharmaceutical companies. There were several motives: to cure illness, to make a profit, and to support American interests. To protect those interests the Base had to fence itself off so it wouldn’t face interference from indigenous groups that didn’t share its interests.
Laura said that the American Air Base personified parts of her left brain, parts that are in charge of justice, order, common sense, and rational thinking. What is important about this is that those in the environmental movement tend to externalize the “enemy.” It’s the polluters, the capitalists, the bought politicians, the pharmaceutical and big agricultural/chemical companies that exploit environmental resources for their own gain that are the enemy. Laura herself has some of that, and it shows up in her dream narrative. But notice that when she gets out of her waking perspective and starts to look at the situation from other perspectives that the picture changes.
If these forces are personifications of her own left brain, then her dream and her cancer are at least as much about her exploitation of herself as it is about mankind’s exploitation of nature. In one sense, the struggle between big business and the military, on the one hand, and nature and indigenous peoples on the other is a mythological projection or externalization of Laura’s own conflict between the left and right sides of her own life. If that is the case for Laura, is it also true for you and me? Is it also true for environmentalists and crusaders to save the planet?
Even if it is true, the solution is not to give up environmental and conservational efforts, but to become more effective at them by withdrawing our projections and separating our own unresolved conflicts from those of the world, so that we can respond more adequately to both.
As the interview continued, it became obvious that the American Air Base was serving the interests of US industries, or capitalism. Therefore, questioning shifted, to address both as one group character. The Base/Industries said that it has to be scared because it has to protect itself and its interests against resistance from competing interests. We are hearing from a part of Laura, according to its scores in six core qualities of enlightenment, that is confident in its power, not interested in compassion or wisdom, but is very intelligent. It sees itself as altruistic and benefiting the world with its products but blind to the disruptive and selfish means it uses to that end. It sees itself as having inner peace, “but it is good to have the armed forces to protect us!”
This reflects a very natural tension. It is good for us to have inner peace within us, but we also need a strong immune system and killer T cells to protect us from cancer and disease. Similarly, we need to have inner peace in our hearts and at the same time the strength to still fight in our lives for what we believe to be right. It’s a conflict, a paradox, that many people don’t like to look at. But just as we need the left hemisphere of our brains, we need the military, capitalism, and the profit motive. An either/or solution puts us at war within ourselves, and that makes us sick and keeps us sick
The rational, left brain does not understand why it gets resistance from the right brain because it is out of touch with it. Besides, it sees itself as reasonable and is proposing solutions that help. What’s wrong with that? The problem is not in the goodness of these solutions, but in their partiality, which means that they mostly serve the interests of the left hemisphere rather than the whole person. They serve short-term interests based on fear and separation, at the expense of the entirety of self.
A central goal of IDL, as with any genuine integral life practice, is to heal this split within ourselves through teaching both halves to talk to each other. The result is not the end of internal conflict, but balanced conflict, called homeostasis, which is essential as a foundation or higher order synthesis.
Once the perspective of the left hemisphere was clearly and thoroughly expressed by the Base/Industry, it was time to hear from the Amazon, as the strongest voice for the right hemisphere in the dream. It said, “They have no idea! They only have their knowledge. We have our wisdom!” The implication is that knowledge is based on the information available to our waking sense of who we are while wisdom is based on growth processes based on millennia of life, growth, and death.
From its perspective, the Base and Industry personify Laura’s fears about her cancer getting worse and killing her, leaving her mission undone and her children motherless. The advice of the Amazon was to look at those fears instead of letting the fears drive life choices.
“She should look at them and transform them by convincing the military that they are not right with their view of the world; by transforming the fear into action; to do her work with permaculture to get ready to heal the world rather than to destroy it.”
Laura is metaphorically telling herself to confront her fears and short-term interests; to take constructive action that is not fear-based, in particular to persue her permaculture, probably for what it symbolizes as a real contribution to healing, both externally in the world and within herself.
“We have a lot of ancient wisdom. She needs to stay connected with it and activate the self-healing power that we have. Mother Nature will always continue to regenerate, and so will Laura’s body, no matter what interference. We will always find a way to heal ourselves.”
Notice that the Amazon is not focused on defending itself against the Bases and Industry; it knows that in time it will over-run them and cover them over. Instead it is focused on its own growth, as a means of self-healing. Notice also its confidence that as an aspect of Laura’s consciousness that life will regenerate and evolve itself.
Is this realistic or foolish? We don’t know. But we do know that Laura is trying to find and be true to what is not based on fear within her. So if she dies without fear, is that foolish? Or is it foolish to live a life of fighting, resistance, and defense, based on fear?
The truth is that there is a time for both, and wisdom is knowing when to use which approach. Listening to and following your inner compass is designed to help you to learn to use this central life skill.
Why did Laura have this dream? From the perspective of the Amazon and her left hemisphere, she had it “to encourage her on her mission; that a positive change in the world is possible. There is a lot of support out there with people sharing the same ideas; the network is growing and growing; it is the beginning of a new time.”
This is one reason IDL in the introductory self-help text, Waking Up, emphasizes goal setting. Finding and following your life mission brings life meaning and that meaning helps keep you well. It helps you recover from illness and deal with the disappointments and rejections that are a part of life. It creates an identity that attracts like-minded people to you who can and will see who you are, respect you, and support you in what you are trying to accomplish in your life.
What did Laura get out of this interview? “I will heal naturally if I stay the Amazon. I do not need to be at war with my left brain! I can transcend and include the concerns of my rational brain, that are based on fear that I will die of cancer. If I focus on my mission, to heal Mother Earth with permaculture, it will base my life on growth and healing rather than exploitation and fear.”
This seems to be good advice not only to those of us concerned with our own health, but to those who want to heal the planet. First, we must focus on finding and following our own inner compass, to heal our own inner splits, or else our political and social actions to save the planet will be an expression of our own schizophrenia. We need to recognize that efforts to heal the planet can easily be ritualistic externalizations of our own need to heal ourselves. By helping us recognize this and to take the time to recognize and focus our energies on simple steps of self-healing, our ability to make a difference for our children and all life are greatly increased.
What will it “mean” if Laura dies of her cancer? Does it mean that she did not succeed in becoming and amplifying the consciousness of the Amazon within her? Does it mean that she was foolish to embrace natural approaches to healing instead of allopathic medicine? Does it mean that she was too smart and intelligent for her own good? Does it mean that her encounter with Integral Deep Listening did not help her? Would it portend the destruction of humanity due to its own short-sighted exploitation of the planet? It may be none or all of these. However, there is no doubt that it would be a tragedy; she would leave two young children who need her. The world would lose a dedicated voice for permaculture and regeneration of the environment. It is all too easy to forget that such tragedies are hard-wired into evolution. That awareness has been put in a political sense by Thomas Jefferson, who said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots.”
Here is the transcript of Laura’s interview.
What are fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?
Balance my needs vs. my needs for time with my child.
Continue my healing.
Tell me a dream you remember. It can be an old one, a repetitive dream, a nightmare, or one that you’re sure you understand.
I was in the Amazon with a few people. I saw something like an American air base behind the trees. Grey, square warehouses. Trucks, lights. There were some rare animals being pulled on leashes, carried around and put into trucks. I was really concerned. I felt we needed to do something about it. We started to connect with people. I saw thousands of faces. I thought, “It’s a Facebook connection of people linking up and forming a group.” I was again walking in the jungle by some uniformed people, streetworkers doing repairs. They gave me a signal they wouldn’t tell anyone what we were doing. The mission was to save the soul of the world: The Amazon or Mother Nature.
Why do you think that you had this dream?
It was two or three years ago. It had a strong impact on me. I feel even now I am on that mission. I wrote down a sentence the other day. I started permaculture…”If I can heal myself with the help of Mother Earth I can help Mother Earth to heal herself.” I put this in the front of my journal as my healing mission.
If this dream were playing at a theater, what name would be on the marquee?
The Soul of the World
American Air Base, are you a character in Laura’s dream?
American Air Base, look out at the world from your perspective and tell us what you see…
We want to research. We want to know. Therefore we need some specimens of plants and animals for our scientific researches.
American Air Base, what are the purposes of your research?
What wealth is here? Are there curing plants that we can patent? We collaborate with American industries. We need to protect our interests; therefore we have fenced ourselves off so we don’t face interference from indigenous or rebellious groups that don’t share our interests.
American Air Base, what do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?
We’re strong; we have power. We have determination. We are doing the right thing. We are confident about our mission.
American Air Base, what do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses? What are they?
We are not popular with the indigenous peoples; we’re not connected. We employ some of them but we have to keep things closed off and in order.
American Air Base, what aspect of Laura do you represent or most closely personify?
Parts of her left brain! Parts of her that are in charge of justice, order, common sense, rational thinking.
American Air Base, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change? If so, how?
If the industry and the science proves that these herbs are healing, then we will follow the demands of industry and the scientific world. We obey their orders.
Industry, it sounds like the American Air Base works for you. Is that correct?
Yes. If they find out the plants are healing we will try to patent the right to use them for medicines; we will work with these animals to extract strategies for healing. We believe it is for both our growth and profit as well as for the good of humanity.
(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)
American Air Base and Industry, how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities: confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing? Why?
Confidence, 0-10. Why? 5 From our perspective we have to be scared; we have to protect ourselves. We see there is a lot of resistance. We are confident of our power.
Compassion, 0-10. Why? 1 That’s not our job. We do a little bit for charity.
Wisdom, 0-10. Why? ? We don’t talk about wisdom; we talk about knowlege.
Acceptance, 0-10. Why? 10 of ourselves; 2 of others. We need to convince others to trust us. We can use our knowledge to reproduce those plants and animals that we feel will improve the world.
Inner Peace, 0-10. Why? 5 We feel like we have inner peace within ourselves, but it is good to have the armed forces to protect us!
Witnessing, 0-10. Why? 10 We believe we know everything.
American Air Base and Industry, if you scored tens in all six of these qualities, would you be different? If so, how?
We would understand why there is so much resistance.
American Air Base and Industry, how would Laura’s life be different if she naturally scored like you do in all six of these qualities all the time?
Her living quality would be quite poor, from her view. We think it would be great. There would be no resistance. For her, it would be against some of her beliefs.
American Air Base and Industry, if you could live Laura’s life for her, how would you live it differently?
We believe we are more disciplined and straight.
American Air Base and Industry, if you could liveLaura’s waking life for him/her today, would you handle Laura’s three life issues differently? If so, how?
We would take the chemicals and follow science!
Amazon, what do you think!
They have no idea! They only have their knowledge. We have our wisdom!
What parts of Laura do you think the American Air Base and the Industry represent?
Not her body but in her emotions and in her fear.
What would you have her do about that, Amazon?
Confront that; Look at those fears. That will help her to lose them. She should look at them and transform them by convincing the military that they are not right with their view of the world; by transforming the fear into action; to do her work with permaculture to get ready to heal the world rather than to destroy it.
Amazon, in what life situations would it be most beneficial for Laura to imagine that she is you and act as you would?
We have a lot of ancient wisdom. She needs to stay connected with it and activate the self-healing power that we have. Mother Nature will always continue to regenerate, and so will Laura’s body, no matter what interference. We will always find a way to heal ourselves.
Amazon, why do you think Laura had this dream?
To encourage her on her mission; that a positive change in the world is possible. There is a lot of support out there with people sharing the same ideas; the network is growing and growing; it is the beginning of a new time.
Thank you, character! And now a couple questions for the person that dreamed you:
What have you heard yourself say?
I will heal naturally if I stay the Amazon. I do not need to be at war with my left brain! I can transcend and include the concerns of my rational brain , that are based on fear that I will die of cancer. If I focus on my mission, to heal Mother Earth with permaculture, it will base my life on growth and healing rather than exploitation and fear.
If this experience were a wake-up call from your inner compass, what do you think it would be saying to you?
Be the Amazon!