I’ve traveled all over the world and had some amazing, uplifting spiritual experiences. Yet the one that has probably made the biggest impact was when I visited an animist community. I grew up animist, but lived in a modern, western community. Having people all around me who lived their beliefs and all believed in the same thing was life changing.
Here I learned the value of community. Not just my family, ancestors, and neighbors, but the people, plants, animals, and minerals who share the planet with me. The Sun, Moon, and stars are sacred. Everything is sacred. Experiencing this expanded my whole being.
There they don’t talk about respecting Mother Earth because it’s redundant. Everyone knows this. So, they just do it.
They don’t have to discuss the wheel of life or how it works because they know it. They are deeply connected to the seasons. The seasons live within them. The Water, Air, Earth, and Fire are conscious forces that shape their lives. When they are out of balance, they adjust the elements. If they can’t, they appeal to their ancestors or gods to help.
It’s a place where values and wisdom trump education. They live with humility, gratitude, reciprocity, respect, and honesty. A person who doesn’t display these values could never lead despite how many degrees they have or how much money they have. No amount of advertising could ever give them a following. They don’t fall prey to slick talk because they are deeply rooted and are not lost.
In the west, information is king. We sell workshops on how to get rich quick, how to make money from home in your pajamas, and how to be a rich, spiritual guru. The “spiritual expert” thinks he can just walk in, buy this education, bypass the experience, and sell it or teach it to hoards of the hungry. A holistic spiritual path is a path of mind, body, and spirit, not just doing some techniques and memorizing some words. Without the values to back it up, it’s not really animism. It’s consumer spirituality.
Your life path is your choice. No path is wrong, but if what you’ve been doing doesn’t work, try something new. Try the path of the spiritual student. Hold on to that beginner’s mind even as you gain in wisdom. Be open to learning something new and being proven wrong. Humility, open mindedness, and open heartedness are gifts of the spiritual student. Try it. Let me know how it goes.