Steps on the Pathway of Transformation
Where did the breakfast you ate this morning come from? When you take that question back far enough, you always end up with the elements that make up our world - soil, air, sunshine, water – and with someone working with those elements to produce our food. We are utterly dependent on the Earth we inhabit, in all her natural complexity, and on each other. That much is obvious, although we don't always live as though this is true.
Also true is that we are just as deeply connected, through time, to the world of the past – to our Ancestors who passed the life force to us – and to the future – to the people who will inherit what we build. We are all one family.
By studying our mitochondrial DNA, scientist have recently traced the ancestral line of ALL currently living human beings back to one woman who lived in East Africa some 99,000-200,000 years ago. That's right. All of us, however different we look superficially, are children, in a direct unbroken female line, of this one mother. We are all genetically related.
Over the millennia, our big human family has contained people who have displayed every variation of human character and ingenuity. Somewhere in our family line, there was someone who knew about whatever it is you need to know about now. And they are present right there, in your DNA, in every cell of you.
And imagine: all those people who came before us have left us a legacy of stunning achievements. The world we live in would not be the same without them.
Similarly, we will leave behind a legacy for the future members of our human family, whether we have children of our own or not. Whatever we do in our lifetime will be part of their reality. They are our family as certainly as Mitochondrial Eve. For their sake, it is time for us to become conscious of that family relationship and to make choices that will support their lives, not hamper them.
There are many gateways to the past, where we can ask for the support of our ancestors. There are also many gateways to the future, where we can go and seek inspiration from the children yet unborn. But all of those gateways are in the here and now. We can find them if we open ourselves to the reality of our interrelatedness with all of life, right here in the present.
It is in the present that we make the choices that will bless the children, and use the wisdom of the parents that went before.
A meditation of past, present and future
Go to your favourite meditation space and sit down in a comfortable position. Become aware of your breathing. Let every out-breath relax you. Allow yourself to drop down into the floor or chair that supports you.
When you feel relaxed, imagine yourself at the shore of a great lake. This is the lake of the Ancestors. Take some time to feel yourself present in this place. Use all your senses to ground yourself there.
At the shore of the lake, you find a thread, red as blood, that runs from where you are standing into the water. Pick up the end of the thread and slowly start winding it into a ball.
As you wind the thread, you feel the support and love from your Ancestors come to you along that thread. Notice how that parental love feels, that love that made you.
After a while, a person emerges out of the lake, holding on to the thread. They are an Ancestor of your family. Greet them. Let them guide you from here. Perhaps they invite you to go for a walk along the shore, or to just sit down and talk. Let it happen. You can ask any questions.
When your conversation comes to an end, your Ancestor gives you a gift. Take time to take it in with all your senses. Give thanks, and say goodbye, as the Ancestor returns to the lake.
As you start walking along the shore again, you find another red thread. This one runs from where you are standing into the landscape around the lake. When you pick up the end of the thread, you feel a gentle tug. Hold on to the end of the red thread and follow it where it leads.
After some time, you find the person who is winding in the red thread. They are a Descendant of your family. Notice the place where they are. Greet them, and again let this Descendant take the lead. You can ask them any question.
When your conversation comes to an end, the Descendant has a request for you. Listen carefully and take it into your heart. Ask for clarification if you need. Then, take your leave and return to the shore of the lake.
Sitting by the edge of the Ancestral lake, remember your gift and the request. Is there a way these two are related? Can you use the gift to fulfil the request? Ponder this for a while. It doesn't matter if this doesn't make sense immediately. Things will come clear over time.
When you are ready, make a commitment for something you can do in your own here and now for the good of the children. Make it as specific as you can, and give yourself a specific time to begin. Know that you have the support of your Ancestors to draw upon.
End the meditation by becoming aware of your body sitting in your place of meditation. Use your everyday senses to come home there. When you feel fully present again in our world, take action on the commitment you made.
If you know of any other practices that connect us with our Ancestors or Descendants, please describe them in the comments below.