Letter to Earth: An Interview with Elia Wise


Who We are Becoming…What We Need to Know

What is life about, really? And how does it work? What is synchronicity? And do we really create it in our own lives? Elia Wise, a transformative spiritual teacher and author who, from 1990 to 1996, led groups in the Twin Cities, has caught the attention of the mainstream with a groundbreaking book that potentially could reshape the way human beings view themselves and their surroundings.

Letter to Earth (2000, Random House), which Wise spent more than a decade working on, is one of those rare books that comes along that tells things the way they are. “There are no necessary exercises,” it states. “There are no necessary techniques. There is nothing external you must do in order to grow into Soul alignment.” A bold statement, but also a harbinger of the message that we create all that we experience, and that returning to that inner place of heart–and being it, living it–is the key.

Wise, who sold her house to self-publish this book in 1998, said Random House picked up the book and, in a move fitting of its content, made Letter to Earth its first release in the 21st century. “It’s clear that the spirit of the book is in its time,” said Wise, who wrote the first draft of the book in the 1980s. “I’ve waited this long to have inner direction tell me that now is the time.”

She spoke with The EDGE from her office in California.

How are we representing spirit, in the flesh, and how are we doing that in community?
Elia Wise:
There is a premise in what you are asking: How are we representing spirit? One of the things that is so powerful and challenging about our time right now is that we’re asked to transcend the notion of representing spirit and recognize that we simply are it. It’s not that we’re aspiring to a better life that would be more like God or more like the spiritual truth, because this really is the spiritual truth of our condition right now. And the better one, or the finer one, or the more loving, caring one that we imagine, is imagined. It would never manifest like that.

As we grow in our love and our consciousness, the things that we will demonstrate or manifest that are the natural expression of our spirit, I don’t think they will look quite like the ones we aspire to in our models of godliness and our models of spirituality. I think things will spring forth far more original, and far more intimate and idiosyncratic, less able to draw broad strokes of good will and good action. It’ll be so much more vitally in the moment, without such a social sense of behavior. So I’m not so sure about the notion of representing spirit. We are it, in our best efforts at this very moment, and when we get better at it, I don’t think we’re going to look much like those religious and spiritual models that have been handed to us.

I like that vision.
All of us, in our heart of hearts, are reaching for those models, because that’s what we’ve always been given, and they include love and kindness and goodness. We just attach the pictures to them. I don’t think those pictures are what will manifest. If we were to look back from that position, I think we would say, look at the greater kindness and love–and the natural emergence of true community.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the introduction of Letter to Earth where you include the comment your daughter made to you about why we’re here: “I think we all come here to get the courage of life and then we go back to where we came from and make a big circle around everything.” That is such a power statement from a young, wise one.
Wise: Right now, hearing it read, I have chills all over and tears in my eyes. It is so powerful. It is a knowing so simple I couldn’t have gotten to it.

Life does take so much courage. Life is hard, no matter how many resources we have going for us. It’s very challenging. The more we know the potentials of what could be, the more we suffer the disappointments, even if we let them go quickly and we are facile with non-attachment and facile with surrender. Still, that poignant moment where the potential is so obvious and yet, the actual occurs.

The courage is not to quit at any level, to stay alive for your whole lifetime. To not let any moment inhibit or shadow the potential of any other. I think that is an enormous challenge. I remember in my 30s, people I loved were, in one way or another, quitting. In many ways, it’s uphill to keep breaking ground into your own spiritual truth and identity. At some point, when you find success and comfort, when you feel like a niche has been shaped, there’s a desire to want to settle in there for a while. A certain kind of stasis will occur. I’m not saying we should not be comfortable and settle into those niches, but never hold them more dear than the inner direction and the inner governing moment.

The challenge is to stay alive for a whole lifetime, regardless of the challenges of fear: “How can I give up this job? It is good and it does pay. How could I leave this? It’s already in place.” We wouldn’t even be thinking of those questions if it weren’t time to take some new creative action. That’s the kind of staying alive that takes courage. For those of us who are blessed with health and the means to survive, we have the privilege of having our staying alive at that level.

While many see themselves as just surviving, just hanging on.
Yes, I’ve been there, where there is little and just taking care of your basic needs was the challenge–and to do that with integrity. Can I do this as a whole person? And then I’ve been in the position of having plenty, and I didn’t have to worry about if there was a tomorrow. But I still felt like I was struggling to survive, because the backwash of the world and the collective programming of the ages was making it so tediously hard for me to do what I most wanted to do. I couldn’t let anything smother my voice. I couldn’t let anything smother my trust that my voice would emerge.

At every level, there are challenges that can be seen as survival. But on the other hand, if one is identified with the expression of being of one’s highest truth and best self at any moment–no judgment–if one’s identified with inner direction, you don’t have so much energy even focused on the survival issue. Survival means being true to the inner self. And the other things do follow.

And some of us feel compelled to spend time with like-minded people by moving away from the society at large just to be able to express ourselves the way we want to.
I support that. There are times when we must go and garner strength and actually build this collective that is now. Fifty-five million people strong in America are changing the world. We were just alternative individuals who were considered too young to be a culture. Because of the confluence of our vast numbers, starting with the Baby Boomers, and the alternative movement, we are now the transformative force in the world. We are no longer an abstract, invisible force. Our impact is now visible. There were times when we had to go off and just cluster with our own in order to feel that want, to know that want, to garner the inner strength, the courage, the momentum, the support and the like-mindedness to reinforce us in our younger stages of development. That way, if we had to, we could then break from our own pack to go out and sickle out our own path. We knew where the pack lived, what it felt like and how to come home to it, and we would draw from that strength.

It’s not separation or rejection or hiding to do that, as long as one listens to the inner direction for when it is time to go in, that they’ve been out in the cold too long, and when it’s time to come out again.

We are continuing to see a growth in intentional communities, people who are doing just that.
I’m very excited by that movement. And I hope we will learn from Esalen, and Findhorn, and from the Farm in Tennessee, not to have a lot of governing systems and rules, not to have a lot of dogma. There are techniques just beginning to emerge to rise above the tedium of group process work. It was our door, our opening, our tool at one level. It has been said that the tools of one level are the limitations of the next. We are outgrowing this process mode. We’re going to be distilling it into something much more effective. We couldn’t have gotten here without it. We had to take that step.

Those of us who spent years in personal process, family of origin work, all the deep processing– collective, group and community processing–have sickled out pathways and have made it possible for some of us to see ways to alchemically cover that ground, without having to struggle through the tedium of each of those steps and still touch the depths and do the work. That’s next on our transformative horizon, I think.

But I hope the intentional communities will form with enough maturity around a spirit of service. That’s hard to do before somewhere in your 30s, because there’s the seeking of self. It’s natural to be seeking self, with the gratification and discovery of the realms of self. I think the earliest you can get past that, unless you’re a rare individual, is somewhere in your 30s. Findhorn is suffering desperately at this time, because of its democratic approach. There are many people too young to have the wisdom. That’s not saying that age makes wisdom. But it’s not maturity yet. So at Findhorn, with so many young people with ideas appropriate to their age, it is not the highest common denominator of leadership or wisdom that is inspiring the community at this time. It is the democratic common denominator, which is not mature, and as a result it is struggling.

We have a lot of challenges ahead for us. How do we not produce new leaders and still allow wisdom to lead?

You write in your book: “Many of you think you need to be more than you are now before you can make a contribution that will change the world.”
The fact is, you need to be exactly where you are now. Because we can see our more-than-perfect self, almost a surreal perfect self or at least one far better than the one we are actually being in this moment, we think we are a lesser self. In fact, if we look back the other way, we would see the smaller self that we grew from to get to this moment.

I think it’s so critical to embrace the self as the very best creation possible in this moment, even if you can see more. Even if you know what better would be like. It doesn’t matter. It’s not here yet. It’s so important to say, this is this moment’s best. It doesn’t matter that I know how I’m going to be better.

When we are in that state, we all make a contribution, because that’s a self-love state. And if there is a moment-to-moment self-love and self-acceptance state, it’s a blanket of love and acceptance for everyone else who doesn’t know how to do that. And that moves the world.

And the judgments and beliefs we have about ourselves, that we’re less than or not good enough, closes down the doorway to awakening to all that we are.
Exactly. What it does is breaks the momentum. We were moving forward. We are clearly more than we were a week or a month or a year ago. We’re clearly more expanded into the truth of ourselves. And yet, if we look ahead and judge the moment, then we break the momentum. And then we wonder why we’ll never get out of this spot.

You’re always in the flow, but you don’t let yourself feel the flow. You’ve made yourself not worthy of the flow in that moment, not worthy of forward and uplifting momentum by judging yourself as less.

You also say in the book that we’re about to enter an Age of Inspired Realism. Describe that age.
I think Letter to Earth is all about that. In fact, it’s the last sentence in the book. Inspired Realism is the process of transcending or breaking through our denial. A lot of us have already. When you break through denial and see the world in its situation, it is painful. Therefore, it is hard to break through denial–in relation to ourselves and things around us.

Breaking through the denial will bring us to a realistic look at what’s going on. I think the environmental movement, the ecological movement, sustainable agriculture and these primary, fundamental spiritual movements have to do with survival: eating and drinking and staying on our planet and breathing the air. They are bringing us back to the reality. And then, what do you do when you confront your own reality in any moment, when you have broken through denial? Or your collective reality of the condition of humanity and the planet? The only thing you can do is inspiration.

In the inspiration, there is alchemy. There are quantum opportunities. There are actions that you cannot explain or consider. If you take them, you’ll get to where you are going, but you could not get there on the linear path. It’s only through inspiration, by reaching within, that people will find out which piece of the transformation is really theirs, what they can do about what they really see in this reality that is dawning.

I think an Age of Inspired Realism is one in which you come to the recognition of the human condition and how it has produced a planetary condition. Then you say, “What can we possibly do?” There will be many people who are pragmatic beings. It is their gift to do the pragmatic work. They will put one foot in front of the other in getting us from here to there. Their inspiration will tell them, “Just get out there and lay a practical path. Get the stones and put down one after another so we can get from here to there.” And there will be others whose inspiration says, “Create the poetic statement that shows us the new world.” Write the children’s books that stop being Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Give us real literature of mythic proportion that deal with the great challenge of the human being without making them fairy tales of duality, where women put children in ovens.

We’re going to get real as we are already. More and more of us will get real. And the collective consciousness of the awakening community will move the consciousness of the entrenched community. Whether they are potent or aggressive as a political or activist force in the usual terms or not, they are changing the environment of consciousness in which that force operates.

Person by person.
And collectively. As soon as you bond yourself spiritually with the awakening process and the awakening collective, you then have the momentum of community. It’s one by one, but as soon as you make the step as one, you will feel the inflow and give the outbreath to the entire community.

We now have vast community that understands our language and its meanings and our devotions and desires and shares them with us. All we need now is more pleasure to be drawn from that community. That’s the piece we don’t have yet. We don’t know how to create the pleasure and the comfort that comes from that community, because we’re busy in the trenches and laying the stones and following the inner direction. We’re all so new at this transformational process that we have yet to learn how to find collective community comfort in it.

But it’s coming.
Yes, and there are things we need to do. What we’ve done today, as I see it, is picked up traditions from ancient cultures that would replace the encrusted rituals of religion, and even socially habituated holiday rituals like Christmas. Somehow, we’ve known that we need to free ourselves of those–not because they were devoid of spirit, but because they were laden with trappings that held the spirit in and down. We’ve reached to other ancient cultures that not so polluted or encrusted and tried to tap the exact same essence of what was there, but ones that did not include the trappings on them.

We need to ask the ancients to put us in the spiritual awareness within ourselves of those essences. Those of us who have the words, have the music, have the drums, have the dancing feet, have the painting hands, have the outward expression, need to produce new expressions of the transforming human.

Create new, beautiful rituals of the transforming human that will be a translation of the ancient values. We have to embody it three or four years in a row, in the same season when the stars are moving and the elements are moving, so they can hold the embodiment, too, that the environment can grasp and hold for us when we approach that time each year. And then we can move into something that speaks our current spiritual essence–in our time.

That requires a really committed, organized effort of those in each community among those who have these talents and capacities. And then invite all those who are the workers in other areas, and the contributors and artists in other ways who are building the transformation, to come and partake. Be organized about it. Let them know why we’re doing this particular song. Let them learn it in advance, so when they come it won’t be like church, wondering if they know the song. They can come and sing full voice and dance with feet that know the steps, and be part of the emergence of a collective community expression.

This is what we need to build. It’s a new form of theater. Theater is so hard for most people who try to break in. All the arts are so limited. Let some of the ones who have not broken through, but have the gifts, create the next layer of artfulness and produce this theater of the spirit, and this music and dance of the spirit, and this poetry and art and photography of the spirit. It will organize and find its own support, in modest ways at first, but those who want it in their lives will support in the same way they used to tithe to church.

I can’t wait.
I can’t wait either. While I’m doing the tour of Letter to Earth and sharing what it’s all about, what I’m really devoted to doing during this time is sharing the core of the book. It is groundbreaking. It is moving the transformational population from the abstract, spiritual, formerly occult, metaphysical realm into some very solid explanations of how our magic works, why healing works, why visualization works and how it works, why intention produces reality. We’ve known these things worked, but we haven’t known why. Letter to Earth is about why.

It helps us all move forward because it gives us the how and the why in tangible terms. And while I’m doing that, I’m really committed to bonding this population and hoping to stimulate it and inspire it into a place of action, to produce its own theater of new life, of the emerging spirit in the human condition.

Spiritual pursuits often are a mental process. Letter to Earth speaks to the heart.
Thanks. It is a challenge to get an intellectual body of understanding to channel itself into the pathways of the heart.

A lot of what you write requires a lot of careful, intellectual process to understand what you are saying. But you have a way of moving your words deeper. Every so often a book like this is released, and I wonder, “Why haven’t we been given this information before now?” I guess it’s the integration and transformation, the growth process.
This book is an over-arching principle. We’ve been through the self-help movement, the personal growth movement and through all of these processes, we’ve been working on the little pieces. And they build a ladder. You climb up a little and get a better view of things.

We have to get enough steps built to get a perspective on ourselves to know how we operate before we can get to the over-arching view and have it be meaningful. Letter to Earth offers in understanding the workings of the universe and how we produce reality through what we have always called synchronicity. I know we did get this information as humans, but we just don’t have it in our conscious awareness. Every letter I get tells me that I’ve put words to what people know is true. By some grace, I have been given a gift to speak that which is inside us all but hasn’t yet come into conscious integration.

Let’s address the concept of the book.
Yes, and I invite all those who are reading what we are saying to each other to read it to get the wholeness of the over-arching principle. The magic or alchemy of the book is that every page is about the workings of synchronicity, or what I call Sympathetic Vibrational Magnetism, whether it says so or not. The connective tissue of all the streams of consciousness of the book, and all the ideas of the book, are woven together by Sympathetic Vibrational Magnetism. Hopefully by the time you get to the end of the book, it’s not just the definition I can give you here, but it’s alive now and you see it in your life and world and from a hundred angles or more. To just define it here is not to do the alchemy that the book inspires.

To me, the book is alive. As a reader, it was as if I was in communication with a being itself.
The being of the book, the being who wrote it, or the being of your self, your soul knower?

Reading Letter to Earth is like being involved in a discussion group among all of those parts. That’s how I felt about it.
That is so gratifying to know you felt it like that.

For more on Letter to Earth, go to www.lettertoearth.com

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Tim Miejan
Tim Miejan is a writer who served as former editor and publisher of The Edge for twenty-five years. Contact him at [email protected].


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