Tom Brown Jr. and his Tracker School have been one of the instrumental influences in the last two decades of my life. His survival skills and the philosophy have been central supports in the youth program that I operate. Tom has always been clear that his motivation for teaching has been Stalking Wolf’s prophecies. In a chain of prophecies he foretold the steps towards disaster, apparently pointing to acid rain, holes in the ozone layer and the wars over oil in the Middle East. The final step in these prophecies is the mysterious event of the sky turning red for days, this being the harbinger of a total collapse shortly afterwards.
We never understood what this “red sky” could possibly be, because we always were thinking about daylight. With the information about the Northern Lights display during the 1859 solar storm, the mystery has had some light shed on it (no pun intended).
I’ve always had a bit of an attraction to an apocalypse. In my youth I didn’t expect to reach 30, thinking that we’d blow ourselves out of existence in a nuclear holocaust. Didn’t happen, but as history tells us, we were, in fact, lucky. This was replaced by environmental concerns and global warming, and now we have pandemics, solar storms, nuclear terrorists, increased hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes, and a dysfunctional economic system, just to mention a few. Yellowstone National Park is scheduled to blow sky high, …sometime in the next thousand years. Paranoid? Delusional? Well, maybe if my response were to run around like chicken little.
However, I think that most people can agree that we do live in fragile times. There is clearly a statistical increase in world class disasters, acknowledged even by President Obama. There is a valid pandemic concern, acknowledged by the CDC in response to the movie, Contagion. There are dozens of nuclear weapons unaccounted for from the Russian arsenal, not to mention plutonium going missing every year. And most people outside of the most hardnosed ostriches accept the impending problems of global warming. Like the glitches building up in an old computer operating system, our environment is increasingly subject to more and more problems which can have a greater and greater impact. I think it is unavoidable to regard our world as increasingly fragile.
That’s not to say that it’s all coming down on Dec. 21st, 2012. It’s not to say that anyone can predict a particular problem doing us in at a particular time. But, given the large picture and the statistical probability of risk assessment when you have a larger number of risks, it’s prudent, in my opinion, to consider the problems seriously and, if possible, prepare for them.
That brings us back to Stalking Wolf’s prophecies and the warnings that Tom issued on the Tracker web site last week. Unfortunately Tom chose to make his warnings in conjunction with the announcement of new classes specifically geared to this threat, complete with information on how to enrol. On one had this shows a remarkable lack of tact on Tom’s part, seriously undermining his credibility. On the other hand this is classic Tom Brown, and those of us who know him somewhat understand that this is exactly how he would respond if he truly believed in his warnings. Remember, I started by saying that Tom’s prime motivation for teaching was Stalking Wolf’s prophecies. So, while Tom’s method of warning is unfortunate, I’m not sure that it is relevant to whether we heed his warnings or not.
The relevant issue is the questions of “prophesy” and “inner vision”. I have been doing a lot of personal reassessment of Tom’s cosmology and meditation practices. I have no problem with using his meditation philosophy for matters of the sub-conscious (the “path” part of the inner landscape) and have both taught and experienced excellent techniques related to it. I have little problem with the “Force” part of the meditations, even though it is a stretch for rationalists, -the main reason for this being that I’ve, again, both experienced and taught this with excellent, corroborating results. I also don’t have any problem with “Inner Vision” and its many forms, as I have seen the validity of intuition and it plays a regular and important role in my own life. However I’m having to reconsider (not reject) the more spiritual elements of the meditation practice, especially in light of the Integral Spiritual analysis that I’ve been investigating recently. This reconsideration is a current work in progress, and is the subject of the next chapter in my Philosophical Autobiography. It may take a while to work through it. But it certainly brings into question the whole matter of “prophesy”.
Stalking Wolf believed that the future was like fingers on a hand. There were many possibilities, but there was one “most likely future” which was kind of like the default. I really like that model and it fits in perfectly with the other things I’ve come to believe about the limitations of determinism. However, actual prophesy is much more specific, trying to predict a specific event at a specific time. There just isn’t the kind of proof for this that you would expect in the vastness of the world’s history and population. All prophesies proposed through history from the Book of Revelations to Nostradamus to (hopefully) the upcoming Mayan Calendar termination just haven’t hit the nail on the head. There is no clear example of prophecy that anyone can point to as unequivocal proof that the future can be predicted. There may be valid logical predictions. There may even be vague premonitions. But specifics are notably lacking.
So while I have the utmost respect for Tom Brown as someone who has contributed so much to my life, the jury’s out on this one. I don’t plan on cancelling any of my plans for 2012 or 2013. I’m not going to play chicken little.
But I am going to act in accordance with my more general assessment that we live in an increasingly fragile world, with many risks to its safety. I will continue to teach and practice my survival skills both because it is prudent and because it brings me closer to a communion with Nature. I will stockpile food and water and make sure I have access to proper resources just because the most innocuous of these dangers, -something like an ice storm-, could hit at any time and render the unprepared helpless.
And most of all, in recognition of these dangers and the fragility of the Earth, I will strive to and continue to work for peace, harmony, balance and compassion in the world, -because the most likely future is never the only future.