The Practice of Living Consequently is the second of four lessons in The Way of the Seer.
The Way of the Seer, in turn, is one of four wisdom teachings known as The Four Insights, which were protected for centuries by secret societies of Earthkeepers, the medicine men and women of the Americas. The ancients used their mastery of the insights to heal disease, eliminate emotional suffering, and grow new bodies that age and die differently. In earlier blogs, we covered the First Insight: The Way of the Hero, and the Second Insight: The Way of the Luminous Warrior.
The second practice in The Way of the Seer entails that you recognize the impact each action you take has on future generations. Many Native Americans believe that their every act affects the destiny of seven generations into the future; Earthkeepers understand that even thoughts have an impact on tomorrow, so they’re mindful of every image and feeling they experience.
As Earthkeepers, we don’t become so self-involved that we leave a trail of destruction behind us as we noisily tromp a path in the woods. When we’re aware of the effects of our actions seven generations down the road, we don’t try to calculate just how much pollution we can dump into the environment and still protect our profit margin; instead, we recognize the true cost of poisoning our resources. We’re aware that our children’s children will be drinking the same water and breathing the same air that we are.
I clearly remember one summer when I was a teenager. I was riding in a car with four of my friends, and I pulled a carton of milk out of our cooler. I was about to take a swig when I realized that it had turned sour; in disgust, I threw it out the window. Immediately, I saw the carton lying in naked contrast to the beautiful green forest alongside the road, and its ugliness made a powerful impression on me. Now whenever I’m hiking, I pick up any garbage I see. It’s so easy to do, and I know that by removing the litter, I’m beautifying the forest, not only for myself and for others who might come along, but for generations to come.
Living consequently means that without having to agonize over it, you sell the SUV and choose to limit your burning of fossil fuels because you know that such a vehicle’s exhaust will cut a larger hole in the ozone layer. It means that when you purchase something, you recognize that you’re supporting that store or company and its policies, so you spend a little more money to buy the item from one whose ethics you subscribe to, one who respects the environment and compensates its workers well.
When you practice living consequently, you’re fully conscious of the impact of each thought, intention, and action you have, and you take care to make them positive and healing instead of selfish and destructive. You recognize when you’re acting out of fear, and you deliberately choose to act out of love instead. You take full responsibility for all your actions, and the universe notices this, making your good (as well as your bad) karma immediate. Since you get instant feedback and support for all of your actions, you won’t leave the grocery store when the clerk has given you too much change―you’ll feel compelled to return it. Then you’ll get the reward back tenfold.
Emotional and Generational Curses
In this practice, we also become aware of the consequences of our behavior. The emotional wounds we cause to others can be so powerful that they can be felt not only over a lifetime, but for generations. In the Amazon, they refer to these as generational curses: The terror that a troubled mother inflicts on her daughters is felt by their daughters and their daughters’ daughters, and the harsh punishment a father exacts on his son is felt by many generations. This operates on a collective level as well. For example, the legacy of colonialism and slavery didn’t disappear when the original slaves died―their experiences affected the way they raised their children and the way those children raised their children. This is also true in families where there’s alcoholism, mental illness, or abuse. Even the grandkids of people who lost everything during the Great Depression still deal with issues of scarcity.
Generational curses are often invisible to us, since we’re born with them and consider them part of our “skin.” It’s important to be aware of such legacies so that we can heal them instead of damning our children to living in reaction to a wound that was inflicted on our grandmother 75 years ago. Living consequently means healing this wound rather than passing it on as an inheritance to our children.
When you believe that someone you’re close to is caught in the grip of a story that is not her own, you can offer wisdom, guidance, and support. But please keep in mind that if you become self-righteous and play the role of noble rescuer, you cast her in the role of hapless victim who needs some “tough love,” and you start to impose your dogma on her. There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing someone smugly say, “Drop your story already and get over it.”