What Indigenous spiritual knowledge can teach us about regenerative design

by Matilde Magro

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Native stories about natural spirits which comprise the reality of things can help us a lot in thinking in regenerative terms. I mean, what’s best than to believe in the good-heartedness of reality? A bit of magical thinking doesn’t do any harm if we know that life is here to help us if we understand that goodness and compassion are the true forces that help our lives.

Orishas are a wonderful start to investigate if you’re new to this subject. The framework of this spiritual knowledge really does help in understanding not only the type of world Indigenous knowledge wants from us, but also from where the “new age” hippie movements got their mind at when speaking of “energy” or “spirit”. It’s quite interesting to dive into it if you’re a complete beginner because it’s not only a beautiful way to look into the unknown and not call it an abyss, but also a wonderful introduction without the need to join any weird cult.

Orishas, in the native religion of the Yoruba people, are spirits. Spirit of the ocean, of the trees, of the dolphins, of people, of rivers, of pumas, of cats, dogs, parakeets, and also mice, lice, and possibly dice.

It’s a wonderful and in my experience, quite accurate way of relating to this home we live in. In this understanding, we stop to see things black and white, good being the opposite of evil, and deeply and truly understand that evil in itself is one sort of spirit as well, and not that widespread as the media wishes us to believe. A nice tip is to travel, just go somewhere and everywhere you go try to see what’s more fluent — and you’ll realize there is a lot more good than bad in most places and situations. So this opposition barely resembles an opposition, more like an idea that evil will oppose everything which feels like a threat to it. Think of Wallstreet manipulating media so the populace continues to accept it blindly — it’s a similar behavior as gaslighting as well, it will shower you with fake affection so you like it and adhere to its behaviors.

Everything else does not work this way, and everything else comprises just about everything else that exists.

So, when we speak about Regeneration, we also speak about regenerating thinking, the mind. One big Buddhist teaching is that the mind is not your enemy, but it does get crowded with useless information, fear, and prejudices. To achieve peace of mind, it is not needed to undergo a huge battle between your inner good and inner bad, because, like most of what is, you’ll realize you have no inner bad, even if you’ve made bad decisions along the way. What comes to the forefront with this type of awakening is how precious life is, and how all we truly really want is love, freedom, and peace. All of us.

In several Indigenous cultures, where I’m including China because it has survived colonization without heavy marks and has existed for 5000 years, most of what we think, feel and speak, is under the heavy influence of everything else that exists — the law of interconnectedness. The idea that we are all linked to each other and everything that exists is fairly correct, the more we understand that we are interdependent the more we understand that fact is also a big reason to smile and be happy.

Adyashanti, a Western spiritual guide and for some, master, said once in an interview that awakening can be devastating, absolutely devastating. It’s the most heartbreaking thing one can go through, and a lot of people go through several, and I attest to that for two reasons. First, there is a reason why a lot of people are not interested in it. One needs to go through a period of seclusion and borderline insanity or actual insanity to start seeing through the veil. The only reason that is is that we tend to look for answers everywhere else but in the obvious, and we are not humanly trained for common sense, most of us anyway. And second, because once we start lifting the veil, we understand that all those little hatreds, those little pesky feelings about someone, the grudges, the traumas, the envy, all that, is naught but a blip in the radar of what we call living and we do give a lot of energy to it. It’s mostly devastating because we start looking at ourselves and start seeing a lot of complex potentials, and a lot of little use of our own potential. And I don’t mean superpowers, or spiritual superiority in any way, I mean, the hardest thing most people need to go through is understanding the lack of human superiority on this planet. That is a very hard awakening. When I mention that our potential is in little use, is because the focus has been on things rather than what matters. If what matters to you is to be kind to others above all else, it doesn’t really matter if you understand these spiritual pieces of knowledge or not, you’re on the right path. If above all else, you aim to “succeed regardless of the truth” then you’re in for a lot of weird reincarnations.

I’ve been having a lot of discussions in supposedly awakened groups of people, or at least people who try to do what’s best for them and the planet, and most haven’t really thought about what it means to live on an intelligent planet, and if that planet can be more intelligent than every human combined. That baffles me in a way because it is that reassurance I need every time I go down some sort of spiral of fear, the trust in this essential truth has saved my life in ways unimaginable for some, bordering on miraculous for others.

I saw somewhere that humanity faces its hardest challenge yet: to understand what is in fact living for.

That’s why I’m writing this article because for a long time this question has been a moot point for me. I’ve lived on the other side of the world and some things are similar: one, everyone needs healing. And two, everyone needs love. That for me is the only response plausible to that question. Healing and love. The way we distance ourselves from those two things that are so interconnected it’s very difficult to separate the two, we understand what Indigenous cultures have been telling us all along: trust and care for Mother Earth, she knows what she’s doing.

That innate knowledge is so needed in Regenerative Design nowadays, where it seems it is going towards becoming another capitalist rat race. I do work in the field, and I do hope to continuously learn with everyone else along the journey, but it is weary to keep having a conversation which for me and many others is just a very small learning curve that a lot of people try desperately not to learn. I also fought internally with the idea that the planet does know a lot more than I do, and it’s more than the ego, it’s a sense of security and control. It’s when we relinquish that control and surrender to be kind, good and loving, that we understand the ultimate plan behind both creation and evolution, and that those sides aren’t sides at all, just different perspectives on the same thing.

You can say you don’t believe in God, that’s fine. You can truly say whatever you want, and defend your heart with whatever you choose. But to tell yourself you know better than the planet becomes ridiculous when you observe a single speck of grass growing. And then you look around, and you surrender.

Peace.

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