AS OF TODAY, the time of internal preparations for the ceremony to restore balance to the rainforest in Muara Tae has begun. The core group hosting the ceremony, along with the shamans, are preparing themselves spiritually — creating a strong field of intention. Once this phase is complete, they will issue invitations for others to join them in this field. So for those of us who are following the ceremony spiritually or creating companion meditations, this is also our time to prepare ourselves spiritually and strengthen our collective field of intention. The following summary of this beginning phase of the ceremony comes to us from Muara Tae:
WE BEGIN by building a Rampa Longan — a platform made out of potukng wood with a place underneath to keep ritual objects. The Rampa Longan serves as the center of the Belian Longan, which is the primary ceremony during this preparation period. Underneath the Rampa Longan, all ritual objects of the Belian Longan are placed, both those that will eventually be hung and those that can be laid on the ground. The objects to be hung are longan jejar, bananas, sugarcane and banana trees. Those to be placed on the ground are the gong, antang [old big bowls], spear, machete and red fabric.
The platform is large enough for the shaman/pemeliatn timek (usually two males) and beliant bawe (three females) to sit beneath and do rituals where they talk to the Creator and ancestors/nayuk seniang, juata tondoi, and all ancestor spirits about the objectives and purpose of the ceremony. Here the shaman will explain the basis of the Belian Longan ceremony, the tempuutn tempujatn (the origin) of the earth and sky and the world and all in it (including the origin of humans, wood, chickens, pigs, buffalo, statues, etc.) related to the ceremony.
The first thing the shaman will do is preside over the Pesengket ritual, which will take place for about two hours in the afternoon on the lawn of Asuy’s house. This is like official notification to the Creator, ancestor spirits, and guardians of the environment (spirits/juata tondoi) about the start of the ceremony and who is participating in this first phase. All of those spirits will be called on and will be with us throughout the ceremony. Participants will hold one spear together for as long as the shaman/pemeliatn timek talks to the ancestor spirits and Creator.
The focus of the prayers of Belian Longan (the first phase) are the healing and purification of the Muara Tae community, and environmental renewal of the entire Nayan river area — including its branches and everything in it. In general, the purpose of this phase is to pray for the sky, the earth and everything in it to be renewed, as well as a good relationship between living beings, the environment, and the Creator.
Here are some suggestions for aligning your personal or public meditations and inquiry circles with this phase of the ceremony:
1. Consider creating a “sacred space” to be the center of the ceremony for you. If you are doing an individual practice, it might be a table top where you can place one or more objects that remind you of the ceremony and its purpose. If you are meeting in an ongoing or one-time circle with others, you can do a more portable version of this, or include only a few of these possible elements:
—pictures of the people and forest of Muara Tae that you can get from our Facebook page
—natural objects from a forest or outdoor area that you love (such as a leaf, stone, shell, feather); photos of the natural world that move your heart into a sense of awe and appreciation
—reminders of your own connection to something larger than your daily life — such as an image of the universe or a representation of the source of life, God or a diety that you personally feel connected to; a photo of someone who embodies your higher values — such as Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Sitting Bull, Dalai Lama; a few sentences that distill your aspiration for this period.
—candles, incense or other scent, a bowl of water, some fruit, flowers, and a bell or other representation of music or sound. These serve to remind us of the nourishment and enjoyment that the earth and the elements bring through the senses, and as a way of offering our appreciation of this nourishment to the positive energy of the ceremony.
2. If you intend to follow along with the tribe during this 64-day period, you might want to do something to mark the beginning for yourself or your circle, just as they are doing the initial ritual with the shaman to open the ceremony. It might be as small as sitting in front of a photo you place on a table of the people of Muara Tae, taking a few conscious breaths, and then making an intention to hold the tribe in your awareness for this period as they go about their ceremony. (Don’t worry about tracking their exact days — we are creating a field of intention around the world and it doesn’t have to be precise!)
3. Consider spending a little time reflecting on the origin of the earth, the sky and all in it. You might consider reading about this as well, whether from a scientific or spiritual perspective — or both.
4. You might want to spend some time reflecting on our ancestors — those from your own family, and those from the entire human family who came before us and built up the knowledge, practices, cultures, and ways of life that we inherited — who made investments and personal sacrifices for the continuation of life. In the west, we tend to think of ourselves as individuals with vague family connections to those currently living, and forget that we are just the current manifestation of a human process that is quite extended — it was here before us and will hopefully continue long after we are gone. If you have children, you might want to add their photos to the sacred space you have created, as well as photos of grandparents, parents, or admirable people from the past who have made your life possible. If you are one who is uncomfortable with the idea of calling in spirits, you can think of this as the equivalent of remembering the contributions of those who came before us.
5. You can join your intentions with those in Muara Tae by focusing your meditations, reflections, prayers or inquiries during this first phase specifically on the healing and purification of the Muara Tae community and environmental renewal of the entire Nayan river area — including its branches and everything in it. In a larger sense, you can also hold the intention that the sky, the earth and everything in it be renewed to health and balance; that good relationships between living beings and the environment — as well as good relationships between humans and the larger view of life — become the norm. This larger view extends beyond our immediate needs, desires and comforts, keeping in mind the needs of all those now living on the earth (whether we know them or not) and all those to come long after we are gone.
For more ideas on creating a parallel “ceremony,” inquiry or time of reflection alone or with a circle of friends, be sure to visit the resources page. And please consider sharing your ideas and experiences with us in our ambassador’s circle on Facebook.
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