By Dennis Rivers and friends. This book is offered to all free of charge in PDF format, thanks to the generous
support of many benefactors including the Estates of Hector and Winnifred Tate.





Introduction: Global Emergency and Human Emergence

The Five-Wings-of-the-Heart is a mandala teaching, a vision of spiritual life expressed through vivid visual forms. This vision is about saying YES to life in five widening circles, and about nurturing that life under very difficult circumstances.

The Five Wings path mirrors the deep journey of human spiritual development, from asking for blessings, to opening to blessings, to becoming a living blessing.

I share it with you as one possible path toward living mindfully, compassionately and creatively in a world facing a set of enormous and overlapping challenges. These include the climate crisis, perpetual war, relentless inequalities, runaway industrial poisoning of the Earth, and global species extinction.
 
The Five Wings mandala series, influenced by both systems theory and ancient wisdom, is an open-ended invitation to, and exploration of, living an eco-spirituality of kindness and clarity, no matter how violent and confused the world around us has become, or may yet become.
 
In the course of my life I have become convinced that to live for peace, reconciliation with nature, and creative love, in a world as profoundly addicted to war and greed as our is, is the true "Great Work", as Father Thomas Berry named it, the noblest calling of every person in our time.
 
Inspired by the lives of many eco-saints, the Five Wings practices express my desire to begin “living the answer,” “being the world I want to see,” and personally embodying the reverence-for-life virtues I hope everyone will practice. In my view, two elements make this “living the answer” different today from how it might have unfolded in previous eras.

First, through electronic communication, we know much, much more about the unprecedented damage being done, and about the pain being inflicted. And thus we have, many of us, a more keenly felt pain for the world, and an unavoidable sense of responsibility to transform the world in which we live, and clean up the toxic messes we have made.
 
And second, there is a growing mountain of evidence, from all the Earth sciences and from the study of complex systems, that everything here on Earth, including us, is deeply interwoven with everything else. We are all in the same ecological, climate crisis, nuclear meltdown boat. So the fate of all those “others,” way over there, will soon be our fate.
 
(Many native peoples appear to have known this for a long time. Ecology and systems theory seem to me to be modern rediscoveries of it.)
 
This theme of deep connectedness is also at the heart, both uplifting and challenging, of most spiritual traditions across the world. But in our individualistic, short-sighted, take-all-you-can-get culture, so many people do not want to recognize that essential interwovenness This seems to be true no matter how many regretful and traumatized combat veterans come back from our wars abroad, or how many species of plants and animals disappear forever as we humans push them over the cliff of extinction.
 
It is not at all clear how we humans will survive if we do not develop a more interwoven and cooperative vision of the world and ourselves. The work of the great ecologist, Donella Meadows, on inflection points in complex systems, suggests that creating and living such a vision is the deepest social change work we can do.
 
More than half a century ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., contemplating U.S. preparations for a nuclear war that (we now know) would have killed all of us, warned us in the strongest possible language, that if we did not learn to live together as brothers [and sisters] we would surely perish together as fools. Today, it is clear that learning to live together as sisters and brothers desperately needs to be reaffirmed in relation to all people on Earth, and extended to reach the entire web of life, upon which our lives are utterly and totally dependent.
 
Please find your way to live that deep green awakening of connectedness and compassion, and to garden it in the garden of human life.

May the Five-Wings-of-the-Heart mandalas help you on your way.