Suggested inquiry practice to parallel the Borneo ceremony

women make preparationINTERESTED IN CREATING an ongoing group, event or individual practice that roughly parallels the ceremony? Here is a simple structure for you to draw from that can last an afternoon, a day or a number of weeks:

1- Begin with a process that reminds you of the interconnectedness of life: the long view that includes the time before humans, as well as our ancestors and descendants, and what our role on the earth really is. The Dayak say humans were put here with the role of keeping the earth in balance. Their tribe was assigned to their particular rainforest. So what is our role in keeping the earth in balance, as members of the industrial culture? That is the inquiry we are doing together — to come to a shared sense of purpose. In the campaign, we have been using “What would love do?” as the organizing question for our inquiries and actions.

2- Get in touch with your love of life and dedication to its continuation. You can use time in nature, inquiry, meditation, songs, writing, praying, reading an inspiring book with others — whatever reminds you of what is good and precious about life and it’s fluorishing. This is also a good time to build our capacity for being aware of our feelings and holding ourselves and one another with love. You can do this in a talking circle, a writing from the soul circle, or by doing tonglen or body meditation by yourself or in a group.

3- Make space for the grief you feel at the destruction of life both in the forests and rivers in Borneo and around the world. It’s good to have a way to experience this as a community.

4- From a place of connection, friendship and non-judgment, examine and confess (either to your circle or to your sense of the higher power) your role in the destruction of the forests of the world. You can think specifically about the Dayak people here — do you eat and use palm oil without knowing where it comes from? It is hidden in most cosmetics, cleaning products, and many common foods, including organic. You can also examine your purchase of items when you don’t know how they were made or resourced in other parts of the world. This is not to induce blame or guilt, but simple awareness. It is difficult to know the effects of our purchases or of our focus on materialism which the culture so encourages — and which feels normal to us.

5- Once everyone has done a thorough self-examination, the Dayak Benuaq people do an eight-day fast which you can emulate in some way — such as by fasting yourself or giving up a certain food. You might want to fast on anything that contains palm oil.

6- Alone or with your group, make a vow to protect the forests and the beings who rely on them by living your values as best you can and participating in shifting the culture’s blind spots by first shifting your own. It can be as simple as standing and reciting a common vow together with friends or family as witnesses, and agreeing to help each other truly live the vow of protecting the earth and its inhabitants.

7- In the tribe’s ceremony, the group breaks the fast together with a solemn ceremony, followed by a Buffalo feast. This is when the tribe surrenders judgments and any desire for blame or revenge by turning the “policing” over to the higher power — for them, the highest ancestors who protect life on earth, and for us, whatever we see as the higher power — God, or the Tao, or Buddha Nature are some possibilities. In AA terms, this is where we “let go and let God.”

8- Finally, spend time meeting and celebrating together to integrate and reinforce your sense of shared purpose in this vow, building a sense of strong community with the circle of local friends and family, as well as with the wider circle that you can connect with online of all the people around the world who are doing similar circles or personal meditations.

You can join our ambassadors group on Facebook to connect to the larger circle, and sign up for the flamingseed newsletter and blog for updates, which will include further suggestions for local circles and individual practices. You can also get updates on the public Facebook page.

More suggestions and resources for inquiries and practices, alone or with a group.
More on the ceremony, the tribe, and ways to join in.
Guardians of the Forest on Facebook.

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