The Dayak Benuaq people of Muara Tae in Borneo are losing their forest to palm oil. Western-style negotiations have failed them. With the bulldozers poised to take what little remains of their 140 million year-old ancestral rainforest, tribal elders say their best hope is to hold a ceremony that since ancient times has been used to resolve difficult disputes with great power. Because we rely on the rainforest for our oxygen, tribal leaders are inviting us to join them in this ancient vow ceremony (called Sumpah Adat) to protect their forest. We don’t have to travel to Borneo to participate.
This ceremonial method of conflict resolution taps into the heart and the big picture, where we examine our part in the conflict, reconnect to our true values and recommit to our original purpose as humans — to nurture the health and balance of the earth. The ceremony will address tensions with neighboring villages over disputed land by creating an opportunity to inquire deeply, celebrate and feast together. The tribe will also invite company and government officials to join in this process of remembering the long view that includes the duty of humans to each other and to the earth.
Our participation, and joint intention, add power to the ceremony by extending it across the globe, help avert violence and, with great hope, will change some minds and hearts so that the remaining forest can be preserved.
Jane Brunette teaches and writes about meditation, spirituality and creating a soulful life in challenging times. She created Writing from the Soul, an approach to writing circles that has sprouted groups around the world. Trained as a psychotherapist and Buddhist teacher, she travels widely, living simply in cultures where this is still possible so that she can explore the intersection between spirituality, human culture and the natural world. Author of the poetry book Grasshopper Guru, her essays can be found on The Huffington Post and on her blog at flamingseed.com.