Keeping The Smoke Hole Open

Martin Shaw

Reading by Liz Helgesen (Download file)

Awakin FeatureIn Siberian myth, when you want to hurt someone, you crawl into their tent and close the smoke hole.

That way God can’t see them.

Close the smoke hole and you break connection to the divine world. Mountains, rivers, trees.

Close the smoke hole and we become mad.

Close the smoke hole and we are possessed by ourselves and only ourselves.

Close the smoke hole and you have only your neurosis for company.

Well, enough of that. Really, c’mon. We’re grown-ups. Let’s take a breath.

We may have to seek some solitude, but let’s not isolate from the marvelous.

High alert is the nature of the moment, and rightly so, but I do not intend to lose the reality that as a culture we are entering deeply mythic ground.

I am forgetting business as usual. No great story begins like that.

What needs to change? Deepen? What kindness in me have I so abandoned that I could seek relationship with again?

It is useful to inspect my ruin.

Could I strike up an old relationship with my soul again?

You don’t need me to tell you how to keep the smoke hole open. You have a myriad of ways.

We are awash with the power of words -- virus, isolate, pandemic -- and they point toward very real things. To some degree we need the organizational harassment of them.

But do they grow corn on your tongue when you speak them?

Where is the beauty-making in all of this?

That is part -- part -- of the correct response. The absolute heft of grief may well be the weave to such a prayer mat.

Before we burn the whole world down in the wider rage, could we collectively seek vigil in this moment?

Cry for a vision?

It’s what we’ve always done.

Excerpted from Emergence Magazine.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the allegory of the smoke hole as our connection to all that's beyond our little ego? What is helping you connect with the marvelous while remaining in solitude at this time? What is an old relationship with your own soul that you are rekindling now?

Add Your Reflection:

17 Previous Reflections:

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    On Apr 5, 2020 Eileen wrote:
    Yes: "Let's not isolate from the marvelous " because yes: are we not more ready to see the marvelous, and to be the marvelous,
    NOW - more than we ever have been before, since our childhood?

    Post Your Reply
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    On Apr 5, 2020 Kevin Decoteau wrote:
    Thank you for this reminder. We are all being told we need to isolate, stay away from others. At my work I work with the public, I see so may taking evasive actions when they/we see another walking towards us and we quickly look for a way, a direction to avoid them, yes I understand the distancing, can we take the distance and share a hello or a smile or an acknowledgement of our fears? I want us to remember we are here in this moment to take care of each other, to support each other in whatever way we feel is appropriate.
    Take care of ourselves too, because if we are not feeling willing, strong and able we will not have anything to give to our brothers and sisters. Rest, eat healthy foods, spend time in prayer/meditation and we will move forward in this challenge. Do what is right for ourselves and don't forget our neighbors.
    Community.

    Post Your Reply
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    On Apr 5, 2020 Carlen Wahl wrote:
    It is a beautiful allegory and in my minds eye I can see how it let's the air and light in. Music is helping me, I've rediscovered the magic of beautiful piano music again. I'm rekindling or perhaps rediscovering self compassion with my soul

    Post Your Reply
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    On Apr 4, 2020 Kaitlyn wrote:
    Thank you for this.

    Post Your Reply
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    On Apr 2, 2020 Gasongi wrote:
    Reminds me of my grandmother's teaching about how our body is only our another layer of our wigwam that provides shelter for our soul, our spirit. What we feed our body provides the outcome. What we bring into our wigwam and who we bring into our wigwam, (our tent) is a reflection of what shines and burns in the inside us and our wigwam. Canada is a bastardized word for Kinada pronounced Kin-nah-dah, meaning there is room for everyone! That was how this country was formed on welcoming all, no one was or is to be shut out. We must continue this practice of kindness and generoisity, it is what has been keepng us alive thoroughout all the atrocities and barriers put at our feet. The teaching is to be kind, welcoming in good spirit to all spirits that enter your wigwam, your tent, your spirit, your soul...as with goodness can only grow and spread generousity,
    Gasongi...from Nokomis Jane Manitowabi

    1 reply: Midtown | Post Your Reply
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    On Apr 1, 2020 Emilia wrote:
    Thank you very much for this Martin Shaw. Your invitation warms my heart. These times pull me deep into the lap of ancient myth and story. The mind-boggling shared collective experience contrasted against our very own individual is absolutely asking to 'grow corn on my tongue' (I love this image! Thank you!). Leaving small prayers by the base of the old oak. Whispering love poems to our growing moon while wiping tears of grief for those that cannot breathe. Celebrating every blossom that opens, every broken eggshell on the forest ground. I have the space and need to revisit last nights dreams, weaving my own tapestry of symbols and meanings (and oh what a delight!). So despite all the dizzying uncertainty, smoke hole open, and poking through to the other side. And wowowowowow the stars shine bright!Because when sense fails the resonating of our imaginations can indeed help keep us sane.

    Post Your Reply
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    On Mar 31, 2020 Bonnie wrote:
    Closing the smoke hole is the way each of us turns away from the other. While turning away for healing may be necessary, turning back in good time is essential. We need each other, we need the complications of a virus, to show us how life can also be lead. Many have said this and I will say it again, this is an opportunity of such a worldwide magnitude that gratitude can be the response. Thank you that we are in this together and that we can be united as one.

    1 reply: Kaitlyn | Post Your Reply
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    On Mar 31, 2020 Renata wrote:
    The Awakening If you want to know who you are, if you want to know the truth of your friends, the caring of your neighbors or that of the stranger down the street, if you want to know , then you will have to relinquish everything. You will know when you have lost your freedom, your dependence on the old way of life, the plentitude of food. when nothing is what it once was. Then you will know. You will be stripped bare, down to the bones of your soul, in the aloneness of your Self. In this nakedness you will discover the pearl of your essence, recognize the power of love, the light of love in the eyes of others, the suffering of those who struggle in the darkness of their souls. And there will come a stillness in which there is born an awakening, a slow, shivering awakening which calls us calls us forward to step into the new day unfolding, to step into the future of our making. © Renata Amedea Santerre ... [View Full Comment] The Awakening


    If you want to know
    who you are,
    if you want to know
    the truth of your friends,
    the caring of your neighbors
    or that of the stranger down the street,

    if you want to know ,
    then you will have to relinquish everything.

    You will know
    when you have lost your freedom,
    your dependence on the old way of life,
    the plentitude of food.
    when nothing is what it once was.

    Then you will know.

    You will be stripped bare,
    down to the bones
    of your soul,
    in the aloneness of your Self.

    In this nakedness
    you will discover the pearl of your essence,
    recognize the power of love,
    the light of love in the eyes of others,
    the suffering of those who struggle
    in the darkness of their souls.

    And there will come a stillness
    in which there is born an awakening,
    a slow, shivering awakening
    which calls us
    calls us forward
    to step into the new day unfolding,
    to step into the future of our making.


    © Renata Amedea Santerre
    [Hide Full Comment]

    1 reply: Kay | Post Your Reply
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    On Mar 31, 2020 Martha Nelson wrote:
    As I die to self more and more in this isolated state of being, I wonder what will be left on the stone when this is over. Will I be more pure of heart? Or will this unnatural state of the smoke hole closing create in me a heart afraid, unconvinced of the possibilities of life again?
    A good hard cleansing can leave a garment faded, uncolorful in its purity, flatly folded to rest in a hidden cupboard, silent to the outside world, craving nothing. Some would say, "At last." I would say, "Not for me."

    Post Your Reply
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    On Mar 27, 2020 David Doane wrote:
    Martin Shaw's allegory of the smoke hole is profound for me. The Western World has closed the smoke hole, and in so doing we have broken our connection to divinity not only outside our tent but also inside and closed ourselves in on ourselves with our little egos. How tragic what we've done to ourselves. What helps me while in solitude is knowing that all creation is divine or sacred and I am part of all sacred creation. I and this world can forget, deny, or ignore that, but it's still true. Maybe the crisis that is happening at this time will wake us up to our connection with sacred creation. What helps me is growing in awareness that the extension of God called my soul is my embodied essence. With that awareness I am enhancing relationship with my soul. With that awareness the smoke hole is open.

    1 reply: Rachel | Post Your Reply
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    On Mar 27, 2020 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    The Coronavirus presents a great challenge to all of us for safety and survival.Whose safety and whose survival? The little ego says " the safety and survival for me at the cost of others." When we face a huge crisis we need to go beyond our little ego. This is a call to all of us to learn how to tackle personal or collective crisis. How to grow from it? All wisdom traditions emphasize to offer selfless service to those who need. When we go beyond our ego, when we close the " smoke whole", we get connected with the divine world within us. It opens the door of compassion, generosity and unconditional love., the Divine Love. I always find time and a quiet place to do Mindfulness Meditation. I seek solitude to practice Mindfulness Meditation for quieting my inner noise, the busy and chattering mind, to connect with the marvelous, the Divine Light within me. The marvelous Divine Light guides me to walk on the path of serving others. Like others, I miss walking on the ... [View Full Comment] The Coronavirus presents a great challenge to all of us for safety and survival.Whose safety and whose survival? The little ego says " the safety and survival for me at the cost of others." When we face a huge crisis we need to go beyond our little ego. This is a call to all of us to learn how to tackle personal or collective crisis. How to grow from it? All wisdom traditions emphasize to offer selfless service to those who need. When we go beyond our ego, when we close the " smoke whole", we get connected with the divine world within us. It opens the door of compassion, generosity and unconditional love., the Divine Love.

    I always find time and a quiet place to do Mindfulness Meditation. I seek solitude to practice Mindfulness Meditation for quieting my inner noise, the busy and chattering mind, to connect with the marvelous, the Divine Light within me. The marvelous Divine Light guides me to walk on the path of serving others.

    Like others, I miss walking on the spiritual path and lose my connection with the Divine within me. I go to sleep. Unconsciously I dim the light within me. My pure consciousness shrinks. It is covered by darkness. I wake up and open my inner door and invite the Divine Light to guide me.
    Namste!
    Jagdish P Dave'




    [Hide Full Comment]

    2 replies: Sonali, Rachel | Post Your Reply

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