“The words that you’re liable to read in the Bible, it ain’t necessarily so” – these words from Ira Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess have been very significant to me since I first heard them on dad’s gramophone way back in the 1950s. They helped me to know that the following words from the, beginning of Genesis, have caused so many problems and resulted in so much of the suffering of all the other species with whom we’re supposed to share this Earth.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Humans have taken the words “dominion over” to mean we can do what we like with any other species if we think it will somehow enhance our own lives. Add in the doctrine that nothing but human beings has a soul and you create an incredibly authoritative and controlling philosophy of domination and power that has no concept of sharing or learning at all.
Current research suggests first book of the Bible to be written, likely Genesis or Job, was completed in around 1400 BC. The last book of the Bible to be written, likely Revelation, was completed around AD 90. So it’s probably over 3,400 years old. It’s followed by some 1+ billion Christians, about 1.6 billion Muslims and some 18+ million Jews, so just under a third of the population of the Earth follow this doctrine. They also all believe themselves to be kind, considerate, compassionate, good people!
At first glance, and without doing too much thinking, this invention has all the weasel-words of good advertising that makes you think it’s probably all right, OK, good stuff, and certainly worth that people should thoughtfully evaluate this new procedure to quote one comment to the blog. The concept behind this comes, IMO, directly from those words, from the concept of dominion over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. This idea is horrifying to the shaman.
For us shamans everything about the Earth, including herself, is our Elder Brethren, our teachers from whom we learn, it’s everything that we’re a part of. In our tradition we don’t “own” the Earth … we are a part of the Earth, if anything we’re owned by her! Consequently, we don’t have dominion over anything. We may be in a position of guardianship to some part of the Earth like our home, our children, the animals we live with, our car, furniture, fridge even. Yes, all of these things, even the apparently inanimate, are made from the body and fabric of the Earth and so are hers. We are guardians, for our lifetime, of some little pieces of her body.
This attitude changes the whole way you think about everything. It encourages you to be a part of everything, to learn your interconnections with everything, to make friends with everything. It also takes away the fears created by believing yourself to be separate and “in dominion over” everything. It changes the way you work. You no longer believe yourself to be at the pinnacle of creation; you no longer think, like a spoilt child, that everything is there just for your benefit; your wants-tantrums fade into non-existence because you know that they make a nonsense of reality.
If everyone, including that 1/3rd of the world population that follows the Bible, managed to move away from those dreadful words that so many of us grew up with at school, just think how different the world would be. The selfishness that dominates all modern life would shrivel away from neglect, our attitudes even to each other would be so different. We would no longer want to maintain our separateness, our superiority, all the attitudes that we currently carefully nurture to convince ourselves we’re better than animals, and the rest of creation. Even insult-phrases we currently use – he’s no better than an animal, he’s a pig, she’s a cow, what a bitch, like a dog, etc, etc – wouldn’t even occur to us without this concept of being the pinnacle of creation. Without that we’d know, as the shaman knows, that far from being insults they say how much better a person is than the average selfish, insular human.
For the shaman, the whole concept that creation climaxed with the making of human beings and has only gone on getting better since then is a non sequitur, laughable, nonsense. It’s also a very serious problem to the Earth. We have to grow out of this, and fast … or we will kill ourselves!