Listen up. Leave your chores and worries. You need to know where we are.First there is Nainema. He is illusion. He is called “Father with an Illusion”. He is all there is.
The illusion that is Nainema affects itself deeply.
Nainema takes the illusion that is himself into himself. He holds the illusion by the thread of a dream and looks into it. He is searching, but finds nothing.
He looks again. He breathes. He holds the phantasm and binds it to the dream thread with a magical glue that comes from inside himself.. Then he takes the phantasm and tramples the bottom of it, He goes on stamping until he has made an earth that is big enough for him to sit on.
Seated on the earth he has made, holding onto the dream, he spits out a stream of saliva. The forests are born from this and begin to grow.
He stretches himself out on the earth and dreams a sky above it. He pulls blue and white out of the earth. Now there is sky.
Gazing at himself, he – the one who is the story itself – creates this story to tell us how it is.
Now do you understand?
This is the creation story as told by the Huitoto (or Uitoto) a people of the Colombian rainforest who live by slash-and-burn agriculture, fishing, and their deep connection with the life of the jungle around them. They move through the forest at night using luminous fungi as flashlights.
Their cosmogony is no more strange than the discovery, in quantum physics, that the act of observation plucks events into manifestation from a cosmic noodle soup of potentialities. Reality begins with illusion. A cosmic illusion becomes self-aware, looks into itself. The act of observation begins to collapse a formless wave into form. But nothing is definite until the process is tied down with the thread of a dream, and juiced by divine acts of emission.
As in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the place of creation is a state of conscious dreaming. In this Upanishad, whose title means The Great Forest Book, the state of conscious dreaming is described as a state of "emitting" [srj], a word that can also mean the ejaculation of semen. The dreamer "emits" [srjate] or projects from himself "joys, happinesses and delights...ponds, lotus pools and flowing streams, for he is the Maker." The word srj is also used to describe the way a turtle projects its head and paws from under its shell.
In both stories from the forest, we learn that ancient wisdom traditions have taught for millennia that quantum effects observed at the smallest levels of the universe may be at work in the largest: that microcosm is macrocosm. Nainema's story tells us that reality starts with illusion. Quantum physics suggests that the universe is made of dream stuff. Go dream on it.
Note: I have based my retelling of the Huitoto creation story on two texts. The older is in Paul Radin, Monotheism among Primitive Peoples (Basel: Ethnographical Museum 1954) pp 13-14; paraphrasing and summarizing K. T.Preuss, Religion und Mythologie der Uitoto (Gottingen, 1921). The more recent is in David Leeming and Jake Page, God: Myths of the Male Divine (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997) 157-158
Top image: I found this photo from Huitoto country, showing the largest water lilies in the Amazon region, in a fascinating blog "Wandering Philosophies"