By Charles Eisenstein
I want to share with you a gorgeous rendering of my allegory “A Gathering of the Tribe” in the form of this 9-minute film conceived by Aubrey Marcus, with animation by Aldous Massie and an original score by Jon Hopkins. I narrated the piece, though not quite on purpose—it was part of the podcast last spring with Aubrey. Since it was done in a single take, the imperfections are obvious, and I kind of like it that way.
I said “my allegory,” but I really cannot lay claim to it. The story is in some sense obviously true, and how can one make up a true story? I’m just the one whom the story employed as its teller. It is the finale of my 2013 book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible. I am planning to write scripts for more short films in the coming year, so stay tuned.
“A Gathering of the Tribe” TRANSCRIPT
Once upon a time, a great tribe of people lived in a world far away from ours, whether far away in space or in time or even outside of time – we do not know. They lived in a state of enchantment and joy that few of us today dare to believe could exist, except in those exceptional peak experiences where we glimpse the true potential of life and mind.
One day, the elders of the tribe called a meeting. They gathered around, and one of them spoke very solemnly:
My friends, she said. There is a world that needs our help. It is called Earth and its fate hangs in the balance. Its humans have reached a critical point in their collective birthing – the same point our own planet was at 1 million years ago. And they will be stillborn without our help. Who would like to volunteer for a mission to this time and place and render service to humanity?
Tell us more about the mission, they asked.
It is no small thing. Our shaman will put you into a deep, deep trance – so complete that you will forget who you are. You will live a human life and in the beginning, you will completely forget your origins. You will forget even our language and our own true name. You will be separated from the wonder and beauty of our world and from the love that bathes us all. You will miss a deeply yet. You will be unable to name what you are missing. You will remember the love and beauty that we know to be normal only as a longing in your heart. Your memory will take the form of intuitive knowledge. As you plunge into the painfully marred Earth that a more beautiful world is possible.
As you grow up in that world, your knowledge will be under constant assault. You will be told in a million ways that a world of destruction, violence, drudgery, anxiety, and degradation is normal. You may go through a time when you were completely alone, with no allies to affirm your knowledge of a more beautiful world. You may plunge into a depth of despair that we and our world of light cannot imagine. But no matter what, a spark of knowledge will never leave you. A memory of your true origin will be encoded in your DNA. That spark will lie within you in inextinguishable – until one day is awakened.
You see, even though you will feel for a time utterly alone, you will not be alone. We will send you assistance – help that you will experience as miraculous, experiences that you will describe as transcendent. These will fan that spark into a flame. For a few moments or hours or days, you will be awakened to the beauty and the joy that is meant to be. You will see it on Earth for even though the planet and its people are deeply wounded, there is beauty there still – projected from past and future on to the present as a promise of what is possible and a reminder of what he's real.
After that glimpse, the flame may die down into an ember again, as the routines of normal life there swallow you up. But after each awakening, they will seem less normal. And the story of that world will seem less real. The ember will glow brighter. When enough members do that, they will all burst into flame together and sustain each other – because remember, you will not be there alone. As you begin to awaken to your mission, you will meet others of our tribe. You will recognize them by your common purpose values and intuitions, and by the similarity of the paths you've walked.
As the condition of planet Earth reaches crisis proportions, your paths will cross more and more, The time of loneliness, the time of thinking you might be crazy with the over. You will find people of your tribe all over the Earth and become aware of them through the long-distance, communication technologies used on that planet. But the real shift, the real quickening will happen in face-to-face gatherings – gatherings in special places.
When many of you gather together, you will launch a new stage on your journey – a journey that I assure you will end where it begins right now. Then the mission that lay unconscious within you will flower into consciousness. Your intuitive rebellion against the world presented to you as normal will become an explicit quest to create a more beautiful one.
A woman said: tell me more about the time of loneliness that we might prepare for it.
The elder said: in the time of loneliness, you will always be seeking to reassure yourself that you are not crazy. You will do that by telling people all about what is wrong with the world and you will feel a sense of betrayal when they don't listen to you. You might hunger for stories of wrongness, atrocity, and ecological destruction – all of which confirm the validity of your intuition that a more beautiful world exists. But, after you have fully received the help we will send you and the quickening of your gatherings, you will no longer need to do that because you will know. Your energy will thereafter turn toward actively creating that more beautiful world.
A tribe's woman asked: How do you know, this will work? Are you sure our shaman's powers are great enough to send us on such a journey?
The elder replied: I know it will work because he's done it many times before. Many have already been sent to Earth to live human lives and to lay the groundwork for the mission you will undertake now. He's been practicing. The only difference now is that many of you will venture there at once. What is new in the time you will live in is that you will gather in critical mass and will each awaken the other to your mission. The heat you will generate will kindle the same spark that lies in every human being. For in truth, each one is from a tribe like ours. The whole galaxy and beyond is converging on Earth. For never before has a planet journeyed so far into separation and made it back again. Those of you who go will be part of a new step in cosmic evolution.
A tribesman asked: Is there a danger we will become lost in that world and never wake up from the shamanic trance? Is there a danger that the despair, the cynicism, the pain of separation will be so great that it will extinguish the spark of hope, the spark of our true selves and origin, and that we will be separated from our beloved ones forever?
The elder replied: That is impossible. The more deeply you get lost, the more powerful the help we will send you. You might experience it at the time as a collapse of your personal world, the loss of everything important to you, Later you will recognize the gift within it. We will never abandon you.
Another man asked: Is it possible that our mission will fail and that this planet Earth will perish?
The elder replied: I will answer your question with a paradox. It is impossible that your mission will fail. Yet, its success hangs on your own actions. The fate of the world is in your hands. The key to this paradox lies within you, in the feeling you carry that each of your actions, even your personal secret struggles, has Cosmic significance. You will know then as you know now that everything you do matters.
There were no more questions. Volunteers gathered in a circle and the shaman went to each one. The last thing each was aware of was the shaman blowing smoke in his or her face. They entered a deep trance and dreamed themselves into the world where we find ourselves today.
Here we are.