An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of March 31, 2008
Written in the community of 28 de Junio and ssued from a ciber 8kms to the west in
Pujiltic, Chiapas, MÉXICO

WORSHIPING ROCKS?

At the altar where I photographed the objects in plastic bags I asked Don Andrés to whom people made their requests: "Jesus, The Virgin, The Creator, the rocks themselves... ?" -- because Don Andrés had just described people praying to "las santas piedras," "the sacred rocks."

"The rocks," he said without skipping a beat.

An observer from Sweden, unable to believe his ears, wanted clarification.

"What about God?" the Swede asked. "Don't you pray to God?"

"Wellllll... " replied Don Andrés a bit confused, "It's the same thing, right?"

Maybe the Western mind just can't register what Don Andrés was thinking that day. We insist on knowing whether Don Andrés and his people ask favors from a pile of rocks, from a spiritual entity beyond, or something in between. But I think people here are perfectly content not sorting it all out, and maybe find the notion of dissecting their beliefs unnerving, unpleasant, and sacrilegious.

Myself, I used to be quite clear about the evolution of human spirituality. The first humans started out with a natural curiosity about where they came from and what it all means. Religions arose spontaneously providing supposed answers, some more convincing than others. Priesthoods arose to administer and perpetuate the religious systems, the religions evolved in all directions to the point of absurdity, and today a few people are beginning to see the outlines of humanity's next step in spirituality, which will be the understanding that the Universe's spiritual content is most evident in the workings of the Universe itself, which on Earth we refer to as Nature. Or something else?

In the past I visualized the above-outlined evolution of understanding as a kind of linear progression, but now hardly anything seems linear to me; all is cyclical or like a three-dimensional web, maybe not even open to being framed in words and human thoughts.

But, I wonder: Did "It's the same thing, right?" reflect a relict animistic belief from back when primitive people began humanity's march toward spiritual understanding? Or on Big Cross Hill were we hearing a kind of revelation crystallized after eons of mostly subconscious communal spiritual evolution after which it's come to be understood that... "the Universe's spiritual content is most evident in the workings of the Universe itself, which on Earth we refer to as Nature"?

Don Andrés' thoughts are those he was taught as a child. However, I'm open to the idea that in pre-Columbian times Tzotzil-speaking people in these mountains and many other indigenous cultures throughout the world may have come to the same conclusion about the Creation and the Creator that I have, after my own long evolution of thought.

Which admits the notion that if one feels compelled to enter into communion with the Creator in a conversational manner, addressing a rock is as good a way as any. Facebook Icon.