Returning to Sacred World: A Spiritual Toolkit for the Emerging Reality was published in 2010 by the British mind/body/spirit publisher O Books/John Hunt Publishing. Writings associated with themes from the book can be found at www.stephengrayvision.com.
My original choice for the main title was “Uniting the Four Directions.” This image comes from a pre-Columbian Incan prophecy that foresaw a centuries-long period of darkness for indigenous peoples and a festering imbalance on the Earth that would finally reach a breaking point. At that time the Condor of the South would join the Eagle of the North and empower a new vision for Earth.
‘That’ time has arrived and this prophecy stands as a metaphor for a dawning coalescence of intention and commitment rising in the hearts of artists and seekers, healers and wisdom carriers worldwide. They’re saying our window of opportunity is all too brief and we’re being called to transcend division and hesitation in an urgent summons to heal ourselves and our planet by all the means available to us.
My intention in Returning to Sacred World: A Spiritual Toolkit for the Emerging Reality was to offer information, inspiration, and encouragement that, first, although nobody can have complete confidence in our future, and although the changes may well be wrenching, there is a widely held Spirit-empowered vision and prayer for a renaissance of radically realigned priorities on Earth, and second, that there are powerful practices, techniques, and tools available that if employed skillfully are fully capable of uncovering the awakened state that will allow us to manifest this vision.
The book is divided into three major sections as follows.
I begin by giving readers compelling explanations for the historical spiritual disconnect that has brought us to this precipitous moment. Using the image of partnership versus dominator societies as a starting point, I describe how the authentic state of mind innate to us has been hidden, suppressed, at great cost, until now we’ve reached the inevitable karmic endpoint of that mentality.
Along the way I make the causal connection between this ego-encased mind and the denigration of and violence directed toward women, indigenous peoples, and the living Earth itself. I’ve also shown that there’s a vigorous community of committed elders and visionaries focused on this subject. I’ve drawn readers’ attention to the insights of many of these wisdom carriers through instructive anecdotes and quotations.
The second section presents useable, perhaps even essential, visions and teachings. These include:
- chapters on topics like the role of art in the vision of planetary renewal
- the need to reconfigure our relationship to time and nowness
- the central importance of indigenous world views and prophecies
- the role of spiritual teachers and guides
- the shift ‘back’ toward community and reconnection to the living intelligence(s) of the Earth
- selected Buddhist and indigenous teachings on letting go of the goal, using all of who you are now, discovering the power in humility
- working with fear, getting strong, and developing confidence in the awakened state—or as is taught in some traditions—the living presence of the Creator
Ideas only go so far, and so the third and final section presents a number of powerful techniques and tools of awakening. There are detailed chapters on the two most universally accessible of these tools; mindfulness/awareness meditation, and prayer, particularly as practiced in the ceremonies of the Native American Church and in Tibetan Buddhism. In the final chapters I lead readers through a highly informative explication of the very poorly understood but remarkable potential of several spirit-medicine, healing, entheogenic plants and substances.
The thesis is, and it’s far from mine alone: that there are authentic indigenous traditions that have expertly and safely employed these plants as conduits to awakening; that elders from these traditions, as well as other guides, have much to teach us about the effective use of these plants; and that at this pivotal juncture these plant allies are here to play key roles in awakening a critical number who can add their prayers and their efforts to the healing of the planet.