In a time when so many of us feel like cultural orphans, confused about our origins and overwhelmed with the superficial society we currently live in, it can be hard to reconnect with our own spiritual roots. Some of us may have inherited meaningful spiritual teachings from our parents and grandparents, but many of us feel we have "no culture" to reflect meaningfully on and therefore we feel that something important is missing in our lives. In response, so many people in our society are constantly seeking their wisdom from the teachings and experience of others, sometimes getting caught up in cultural appropriation
and an obsession with the different, exotic, and elaborate. We may end up taking tools,
practices, and concepts completely out of context from their original cultural environment, thereby altering their meaning and value while also possibly treading on or forgetting those whose traditions have been "borrowed" from. In a consumerist society such as ours, it can be hard for us to remember to respect the boundaries and rules of others' traditions. We are tempted to take whatever we find appealing, mix it all together, and discard the parts we dislike, possibly hurting ourselves and others in the process. It then becomes even more easy to forget about the innate wisdom hidden inside each of us.
This community challenges the assumption of "no culture" and the unending search for the ultimate spiritual experience, and instead encourages us to reflect on the simple lessons,
practices, and pleasures that our lives contain already. It is about honouring our own dreams, ideas, intuition, and personal experiences, as well as choosing to see the beautiful sacred in our every-day life.
Have you taken your personal culture for granted because it seems too normal and
mundane? The truth is, ceremony is only ceremony for those who leave the space behind afterwards; only when ceremony becomes integrated into our essence can it become truly and authentically sacred to us...then it is no longer ceremony, it is life.
Sharing this kind of spiritual practice with a community takes it even further. Supportive community is not only important for personal spiritual growth, it is also integral for social, physical, emotional, and mental health. We highly value diversity and believe this enhances the balance of the group while also introducing dynamic energy. Therefore, we welcome the unique perspectives within each individual's expression of inner wisdom as part of the whole.
Rhythms of Nature
Another one of the central concepts behind One Tree Village and our gatherings is recognition and respect for the power of the natural cycles that create rhythm in our lives. By recognizing the changes of the moon, sun, and earth, as well as honouring all other aspects of the natural world, our spiritual practice takes on a more sustainable and universal tone.
There is a concept called the "Sacred Commons," which we interpret to describe the inherantly sacred relationship between human beings and the land, resources, and other living beings within their environment. It also conveys the important point that these sacred aspects of the natural world are colletively shared by everyone...or, truly, owned by nobody, but accessible to everyone. At the same time, it describes our responsibility as protectors and respectful cultivators within our environment. We are the reverant keepers of the air, water, soil, minerals, plants, and animals of this world...resources that we must honour and use wisely for both our physical and spiritual matainance. Afterall, it is from these basic building blocks of nature that an authentic spiritual practice can be constructed through both first-hand relationship experience and collective knowledge. And it is through the mindset of the "Sacred Commons" that a community can become more harmoniously tuned with nature.
Teachings of Old
As mentioned above, when one feels spiritually lost, it can be comforting and enlightening to find direction from the teachings of others. Those who have come before us have built upon generations of knowledge and experience and many have spent their entire lifetime
immersed in a sacred practice and study. It is understandable and even admirable to feel drawn to the wisdom present in these traditions and to have a desire to integrate it into our own lives. While this is certainly not wrong, it must be done with care and respect for both the person/people/tradition from which these teachings are received and with honour for one's own inner wisdom as well. Immense care must be taken to avoid the pitfalls of misappropriation, especially within the context of an already sensitive political/economic/
social situation that we may not fully understand or be affected by, should this be the case.
Therefore, when it comes to social responsibility within the spiritual context, the best way to honour the practices and traditions of a culture is to honour the people of that culture and respect their guardianship of these traditions. This means learning to recieve only what is given freely and not overstep the rules and boundaries placed by the keepers of this knowledge. It is a big lesson to learn that just because we are attracted to something, just because we admire or value something, doesn't mean we have to own it!
Recconnecting with your own ancesters and the traditions of your lineage can be a way to rekindle your family relationships as well as enhance your spiritual practice. It is also a way to feel a connection to something ancient without appropriating others' tradition. We celebrate and embrace people who bring their own unique ancestral traditions to our circles! However, this is not completely necessary for a healthy spiritual path and it is still possible to misunderstand and misuse practices, tools, and concepts even from our own long lost heritage. So again, care must be taken when seeking guidance from these teachings, and, of course, the most important things to remember are respect and context.
Therefore, while some traditional teachings and practices are integrated into our gatherings and other parts of One Tree Village, we strive continually to honour and respect the sources of these teachings as well as maintain the cultural integrity of their purpose and intention.