Written by Iris Disse
A hummingbird flew into our jungle house. It is three meters high, the walls do not go up to the roof, there is a big empty space only protected with fly screen, so that the air circulates. The hummingbird keeps flying against it, looking for the exit. I try to catch him, to carry him out, to freedom. I feel his racing heart. “He’s going to die of fright”… All the doors and windows are open, but he’s looking for the exit upstairs, where I can’t reach him. Even at night I can’t catch him, he is alert. I sleep badly. I am the hummingbird. Afraid to find him dead on the floorboards….
In the morning I meditate. I feel what the hummingbird is showing me, see the invisible wall I keep running into: I trust only myself, want to solve everything alone. Tears. Now – from my heart to his and then into the depths to the window and out, a thread of golden light stretches.
I am unique
I exist only once. That’s good to know: I exist only once. Really. Whether I want to or not. I don’t have to make an effort, prove myself, do anything for it. It is just like that. I only mean my fingerprint. My laugh, my view of the world, my sensuality, my way of feeling, thinking, enjoying, my connection to “Spirit”, my creativity – yes, everything about me is unique. I am an individual.
You exist only once. You, my counterpart. That is really exciting.
And if it is so, so immutably true – why do we so often feel we have to prove our so – being? Hide it? To represent something other than what we feel?
Why do we do so many things that we are not convinced of? Where does the feeling of not being enough come from? Why do we so often feel unfree?
In our Western world, the illusion has been nurtured that my need takes precedence over community. I no longer feel a sense of belonging, and the word home has little depth or resonance within us at a time when people prioritize mobility. I was surprised at first and am alarmed as more and more young people tell me: I have a longing for a partner, a partner. But I don’t know where to find a job… Actually there is no time in my life for partnership,
for love… I don’t want to give up my freedom… . We avoid conflicts and obligations with friends and partners, but we allow the inner division that arises when I give my life energy to an unloved job.
If I ask further, the demand on the job is low – the expectation that I earn my money by contributing something meaningful in the world is often not seen as a possibility. The job is work, work is not fun, and therefore must bring money and prestige. And what do I do in the free time, in this time “only for me”?
So I don’t identify with my love, with what I do in the world, not with my family, but with an illusion of “freedom”: I have the feeling that I am as unattached, therefore free. The world around me is there to be used by me. I don’t even take responsibility for myself. It seems normal to me to delegate them to doctors, kindergartens, insurance companies, schools, the state, funeral homes, employers. This image of freedom is sick:
Only a few of us still have the feeling that we can make a difference, change something. We have become homeless within ourselves. Refugees – we flee from our uniqueness, our lows and highs, we let ourselves be lulled by the promise that we are safe if we “behave”. And are we then free? No, we are isolated, lonely, homeless. Trapped in our little neuroses. No one has to order us anymore: we enslave ourselves voluntarily. We have no time to investigate what I actually want to be free for: what can I individually contribute to make the world a little better? What is my gift, my very special talent? My very own longing, which I pursue with all the powers and means at my disposal, my spiritual path, which I pursue even if there are crises and obstacles?
It’s good to know that I can manage on my own, that I don’t need other people as a “crutch”. It is a first, important step. And now? With what do I fill the inner space, this freedom that has arisen? What do I do with this freedom? Do I adapt myself to the conditions of the labor market – become a mobile isolated unit that likes to work overtime because no one is ever waiting at home? Do I fill this emptiness with consumption, with surfing in the worldwide net, with pub crawls, with superficial sexual encounters?
It is important to admit that the proud statement: “I can do everything alone in my life, I don’t need anyone” is an illusion. We are group beings. Only a Waorani can survive naked if dropped somewhere in the jungle. But they say that a hunter who is lost and finds his way home only after weeks remains a bit crazy all his life. Every Waorani cherishes their clan. They talk about how they enjoy listening to each other’s breathing at night in their hammocks under the palm leaf canopy. How nice it is to need each other. In the city, we are talked into a pseudo-individualism. I am alone in my small apartment and “free” when I live without family and partner or friends. But who made my clothes? Where does the food in the supermarket come from? Where does my car come from? Is the masseuse who touches me when I need it “nobody” just because I pay her? Hmm.
The only way out is in
The only way out is in, going inside. We face our demons, our fears. That which is called “shadow”. Let’s get out of here, let’s get out. This going in is not a walk, it is a groping forward, a jumping, a running, a climbing, a crawling, is a winding meandering path: “Again I come to this cliff! Am I always walking in circles? How am I going to get over there? Maybe I really need to go down?” I leave my luggage behind, begin to climb down the cliff. Now the voice of my fear, disguised as logic: “But there’s a wild river down there – there’s no way across! You are crazy. Go back, there you will find safety.” But I have already experienced: this kind of logic does not work, it creates more fears than safety. I continue to climb. And then suddenly, unexpectedly: a light. A path. A ford. A clearing by a small waterfall. I meet – myself. Now I am in humility. In gratitude. Joy. Yes, I am everything. Yes, I am nothing. Yes, I am perfect. Yes, I have faults. Yes, I am. Yes. And there are then no more words for the experience. The “inside” is like love. A mystery. A constant process. It is not a state. It is an adventure. In this time for me alone, I find the trust in me. The acceptance. The respect. The lightness. My beauty. My child. My wisdom. Everything I had been looking for on the outside. Also my freedom. In this time of surrender to life, to myself as I am, and to my love, I find my way out. Out into the trust in others. To experience myself as an unmistakable unique individual is a gift, and again: the only way to escape from the dilemma of my fears and neuroses is the way inside. When I have found myself there, in simplicity and beauty, in wildness and sadness, in vastness and narrowness, and may accept myself in this way, it is time to share this fullness with the world.
When I decide in this moment to walk a communal path, I renounce the unloved job and follow my vision, share my talent. I renounce the fear of old age, of death from the experience that my knowledge is needed and death is part of life. I renounce the fear of being at the mercy of those who cannot perform. I renounce a life in permanent stress. I renounce “functioning” like a machine.
The truth is: if I can develop in a community with others and life is easier from a material point of view, it is deeply satisfying. I suddenly need very little to be abundant, even happy. I have more time for my children, my loved ones. My daily life is no longer divided between “work” and “free time”. I live in every moment.
I now have the courage to admit to myself: I need other people because I am a human being. A group being. I need them not as a crutch, but as allies. I accept that I can find the truth about myself and the world only in the mirror of others. And that I don’t need to be afraid of that. I am not perfect, but I am ready to grow, to let go of patterns of behavior that no longer suit me. The tantric yoga path and Indian knowledge or transpersonal psychology support me with techniques to deepen the knowledge that I am unique and at the same time only a thread in the infinite fabric of our universe. They are techniques that are pleasurable: singing, laughing, dancing, meditating, crying, practicing asanas, praying, celebrating my sexuality as “sacred” – and all these techniques are traditionally practiced in communities. I don’t need to be a hero, a heroine, to make a difference.
An African song text expresses this wonderfully:
“Many small people, in many small places, taking many small steps, can change the world“.
In my experience, my fellow humans are inherently good. Unsocial behaviors usually come from fear. Who does not know it, the tightness in the heart that arises when I get scared. Fear isolates, makes antisocial, intolerant. In recent years we have been collectively made afraid – afraid of covid, of poverty, of war. We have allowed our democratic gains to be suspended, to be disempowered. Now it’s time to rally, and use our knowledge, strength, and personal power to improve the world around us. Together, we are no longer so easily manipulated. When we set common goals, seemingly selflessly support other people or ideas and projects we find meaningful, when we give ourselves fully to our visions for a different world, it brings deep satisfaction. The feeling that what we do makes sense. By nature, we are generous. Who doesn’t enjoy giving, sharing! Being there for others frees us from constantly worrying about ourselves. Fear loses its power over us when it is no longer just about myself, but about bringing love and awareness into the world. “Align your decisions so that your actions serve the next seven generations,” says a Native American wisdom, and I have experienced indigenous people in Ecuador acting on this knowledge. And I experience that it makes me free when I align my own actions in this way:
Free to live in community and and celebrate the otherness of my counterpart. Free to cultivate heart-to-heart communication. Free to be individually imperfect and yet part of something beautiful. We are then no longer “against”, – we are for using our creativity, letting new collectives grow. Inspired and in connection with the ancestral knowledge of our ancestors and with new contents of consciousness we create realities, in which being human is again in the center. We acknowledge that the earth is alive and that our food is its gift to us. We seek harmony between man and woman, with the land, the plants, the animals. We allow ourselves to be guided by the “Great Mystery.” We choose to trust. It is an adventure. A process. Fullness. A life in which our children have a home again.