I watched TAWAI - A Voice from the Forest, Bruce Parry’s latest film yesterday. It was a beautiful film, which touched upon Bruce Parry’s personal journey, and his exploration of our interconnectedness.
"Tawai is the word the nomadic hunter gatherers of Borneo use to describe their inner feeling of connection to nature." It is difficult to translate into English, though it struck me as similar to but different from syntony - the state of being in harmony with the environment, and in particular with nature, perhaps even with life itself.
What moved me most during the film was the brief moments in the film that touched on the shift of the tribes from living as hunter gatherers in harmony with the forest to cultivating crops, i.e. planned agriculture.
Little was said, and it seemed that the tribes were reluctant to discuss this too much. But this shift was profound—not simply as a way of life, but way beyond that. This shift seemed to go against the very essence of who these people were, as well as their beliefs, their practices, and the very source of their sense of purpose, peace and harmony. And yet, knowing all this, they were reluctantly entering into a more settled, agricultural way of life to ensure their survival.
This shift startled me. It struck me as akin to the fall from the Garden of Eden, albeit forced upon them, not fully chosen. Their conscious choice was not to listen to the wisdom that had guided them so clearly before. But why? Was the wisdom no longer giving them useful guidance? Was it no longer relevant? Was it just not speaking to them about this time, this step? Or was it wanting them to take this step?
We have historically thought that the natural path of human progression has been from hunter/gatherer, to settled agriculture, to development of cities and states…. This historical view has been questioned by many for some time, and is increasingly being challenged as new evidence comes to light, as we open our minds to holistic systems of thought beyond Western linear logic, and as we come to terms with where our beliefs about development have led us.
Survival has been the default paradigm for so long in the "developed" world. So how is it that our “development” has forced peoples who have lived for centuries in syntony with their environment without worrying about survival into a survival based consciousness.
We are unlikely to go back to a hunter gather lifestyle. And for all our current challenges, we have gained much from following the development path that we have. But what wisdom are these people gifting us at this point in time. I sense so much more there wanting to be shared. Much of great value to us at this juncture, if and when we are ready to receive it. They will know when the time is right, if they survive long enough to reveal it to us. Unless, they already have?
In her book, Conscious Evolution, Barbara Marx Hubbard defines syntony as "attunement with the patterns of creation experienced as one’s own inner motivation and intuition." It "feels like guidance, intuition, or direct knowing. We do not have to figure out what to do. We know. We perform with spontaneous right action. The inner world of subjective experience and the outer world of objective reality blend and become one. We and the world “outside us” are interconnected in one larger field of intelligence."
The right action is there waiting for each one of us to open to it. Tune in. Listen. When you know it, take action.