"To speak, think and live without saying I" - Interview by Lorenzo Merlo with Paolo D'Arpini
P D’A: An idle undeterred. In fact wearily unbridled, because I am also a fairly balanced person and also a little busy.
But this I think it's your definition of yourself, how do people define you?
If they could know the meaning of the term half-wild, I think they would be happy to use it because it represents me.
But not knowing it?
Not knowing me, perhaps they will be able to say that I am a strange anachronistic type, half windy in essence, also because my expressive way is manifested in that form.
On the occasion of your presentation at one of my publications, I wrote about you: "One of the references of humanistic research, not to mention Italian spiritualistic". In what terms does it fit you? Or does it not fit you?
It is because in spiritual research it is not important to hold an authoritative position, on the contrary, it is exactly the opposite. If we go to see the function that the teachers carried out, or saints, or teachers who were, they were always on the track. Then later, later perhaps, they were brought up and described as who knows, but when they lived their normal earthly existence, they were very normal people, probably also quite marginalized. It is an aspect to be taken into consideration.
Is there a sort of small vanity - without negative meaning - in remembering this similarity?
Of course, without a negative meaning. Because actually one cannot boast of being a master. And if there is no boasting, there is also no exposure of oneself in the world; it is a consequence. Or because you are perhaps unable to express feelings, thoughts or, sorry for the word, suggestions. It cannot be done as if it were a teaching where one stands as a teacher. The task or mission must be, or can only be done in a completely unpretentious and convivial form.
What have you just said, does it have links with your education, your family, your biography let's say youth?
Maybe. In the sense that you must know that my family (on the paternal side) was of Jewish origin. During the fascist period, to avoid the problems that we can all imagine, my grandfather decided to change the surname and convert to Christianity and thus avoided being prosecuted. As a result, it was not that our family had become Christian, but it had become secular. In the sense that he no longer followed any religious form. This imprinting somehow remained to me, although at that time it was not that I was particularly aware of what had happened.
Later I learned about it and understood why there were no particular religious conventions in my family and we limited ourselves to pursuing a human ethics. All of this was important to me because I was not impregnated with a particular religion. Following the death of my mother, however, I was sent to boarding school by the Salesians and there I also began to learn something of the Catholic religion. The novelty, however, took me briefly, in the sense that as soon as I understood that Catholicism was nothing more than a following of dogmas and fables, I understood that all in all it was not for me and therefore I continued on the path of secularism.
In the first part of life all children live in a dimension where what they dream of is realized, therefore if they dream of riding in the sky, they take a broom and it is accomplished. And they can only report having ridden in the sky.
When did that spell stop for you? Do you remember the moment, or the circumstance or episode that caused the infringement?
The interruption occurred due to a fortuitous event that suddenly made me aware of the emptiness of what appears. It happened many years ago when my parents had moved to Trieste because of my father who worked on the railways. I was a very young child, maybe three years old, or something more. One evening, rumors below the house announced a circus show. The promise of my parents, who would take me to see the show, ignited - as would have happened to every child - my excitement.
I had placed myself under the table and was shaking like a child trying to get attention. Suddenly, as I stood up, I slammed my head and passed out. Or maybe not, because I remember that I was perfectly aware of what was happening. However, I fell to the ground without being able to move. Meanwhile, however, I saw that my parents took me, took me to bed, tried to revive me. I was completely conscious and at the same time I wasn't making any gesture, no movement.
It was from that experience that I realized that what we consider real is not reality as if it were an object but it is only an inner state of awareness. That state persisted despite the apparent or actual fainting. When I opened my eyes I found myself in the middle of the world with this awareness. For the first time in my life I realized that I was not in the world despite being in the world, at least in some form.
Along your path you have approached the other dimension, the dimension that culture does not pass us, let's call it generically spiritual. While sharing your critique of the concept of teaching, did you have a teacher?
From a formal point of view you mean?
I wanted to ask you, where did your spiritual search come from?
It arose only from lived experiences, not from conscious transmissions of knowledge if we want to call it that. Aside from learning through books in which I may have learned about a certain form of "other" spirituality based on self-awareness and self-research. But that was an increase if we want intellectual. From the actual spiritual point of view, however, that knowledge cannot be transmitted on an intellectual level. Instead, it can only be absorbed through direct transmission, through direct recognition. We could call it energetic, vibratory or aesthetic. And it is exactly the type of relationship I had primarily with my spiritual master. With which I exchanged very few words, but everything went through an energetic transmission, direct, immediate. There was absolutely no need for explanations because awareness occurred by itself. Using the term telepathy is limiting. It was because there was total osmosis, total sharing. And therefore what passed was simply what was awakened. It could hardly be called a teaching.
Since then, from youth to today, several decades have passed. Can you point out the steps of your evolution, of your research?
They correspond to the phases of life. In times when youth makes us bolder, prouder and more dedicated to acting, forms of experience also manifested themselves in concrete ways such as through travel, for example. In fact, I took a long trip to Africa with makeshift vehicles, often on foot. All black Africa taught me the return to presence in nature, I felt very close to animals. I also met animals that we consider dangerous as lions, elephants, monkeys in particular. They are a form of recognition of our origin that makes us understand how close we are to them.
Is the moment in which you are inserted now, on which you are concentrated, called secular spirituality, profound ecology and bioregionalism?
At this stage it is like when you go ahead with age. At a certain point, a synthesis is made of everything that has been lived and learned through experience. In some ways it is called processing and reworking, memory, internal vision and projection. It also happens in the form of dialogue, as we are doing right now.
Maybe, as in the past years, when I was not so inclined to a dialogue of this type, which in some way also involves a conceptualization if we want to call it that, I had a more poetic spirit, I wrote poetry or short stories. Now, however, in order to be able to share I do not disdain the use of terminologies that could perhaps be called intellectualisms, because in any case it is a way to clarify the meaning.
I am reminded of a friend, Massimo Angelini. He is also a journalist who has written (and which we have presented here in Treia) a book entitled Ecology of the word. In which, through the etymological path, the changes of meanings are discovered. We value the word through its true meaning. It is a study on the real meanings that words have assumed over time, without ever neglecting the original meaning. So, when we talk about secular spirituality - a topic I have been writing for several years for Non Credo magazine - The secular primacy of doubt, I keep in mind that the first point of lay spirituality is that of not identifying with any creed, with any religious faith , because secular spirituality is not only a form of secularism or secularism, it is the natural spirituality of man. What in the form of deep ecology we can define intelligence-consciousness, which allows us to be able to witness life.
However, in lay spirituality there is a predilection for the relationship with nature or even an annulment of the relationship with nature, due to an identification of ourselves as part of nature.
Isn't this somehow related to paganism or animism and therefore with a content of faith?
There are affinities. The main difference is that in paganism reference was made to entities, to real entities representative of nature. So Genius Loci or, Spiritus Loci. While in secular spirituality it is held conto the value of all living elements, or even non-living elements which, however, represent a substantiality in nature, but not as other forms of dignity, are only different expressions of the total naturalistic manifestation. Then we could define deep ecology a form of naturalism, but in the sense in which everything is, not in the meaning of a fragmentation of forms.
This difference of forms is clear that there exists as the difference exists between all human beings or between all that is living. There is not one leaf from the same tree that is the same as the other. There is not a grain of sand on thousands and thousands of grains that is the same as the other. This does not mean that everyone does not represent the same substance, origin, mother. This is important.
So lay spirituality is detached even with respect to lay spirituality.
Let's try to describe the nature or identity of Bioregionalism and Deep Ecology.
Bioregionalism initially had a predominantly geographical character. He adopted natural habitats to divide regions of nature. It gave the area considered the title of organic entity. As its different inhabitants, minerals, plants and animals had joined together as a single organism.
Peter Berg was the one who invented the word. We remember him Raise the mail. Historical essays on bioregionalism. His trail was followed by others, including Gary Snyder with The Wild Game. Good, wild, sacred and other titles.
In the meantime - the question had started in the 1960s, in the United States, connected to the Beat Culture - bioregionalism has evolved its content by practically sharing the basic principle of Deep Ecology, that is, that there is only one life, that everything is its expression. But your own book On the bottom of the barrel - Social crisis and recovery of the self or that of Guido della Casa, Deep Ecology, although, precisely, in the key of deep ecology they refer to the expressions of nature as formal differences, all interdependent, of a only life. As it is for the various organs of a living organism. Only later does the description of the specific organs intervene, but always bearing in mind that it, like all the others, are terminals of the same nature. A mountain, a river, a desert, a plain, that is, everything, has its specificity, in which life manifests itself in a certain way, with different shapes and with functional aggregations. Any pan-engineering would be disastrous.
Are we expressions of a great body then?
This great body is not only the earth. Usually in deep ecology we deal with the planet Earth, Gaia, as a living form in itself, right? At the same time, deep ecology takes a step towards what we could also call pantheism, according to Giordano Bruno's vision, where everything that is One is manifested in what is in all forms.
With respect to these three themes, Lay Spirituality, Deep Ecology and Bioregionalism, and by combining your research and simultaneously running a blog and several sites dedicated to these topics, do you think you have the pulse of spreading these concepts and the culture they imply? Or, what is the greatest difficulty or the most frequent misunderstanding in which people risk running into these issues that affect the Spirit and the Whole? In what is it captured, in what is it misunderstood?
The misunderstanding occurs at all levels, for example in the bioregional context, I remember that many years ago we started with the Italian Bioregional Network (officially born in Acquapendente during the spring of 1996) and with the idea of spreading bioregionalism. The Northern League appropriated it to define bioregions as ethnic backgrounds, where people's lives were practically conditioned by local culture and therefore by the ethnic group living in that place. This was a misunderstanding, because all of us bioregionalists recognize ourselves in the place where we were born or live.
Therefore a bioregionalist can be a person who was not born in the place, but who lives in it recognizing it as an expression of himself. At that point he feel integrate completely into the place. But not only in the place, also in the community with which it lives. And not only the human one, but of all living beings who participate in it. For this reason anyone can be bioregionalist in any place, because it is only an opening towards presence in the place. This was the first misunderstanding.
The second misunderstanding concerns deep ecology. As you said before, almost mention is made of a sort of New-age, where everything related to nature and the Wicca rites and this and that.
We bioregionalists also organize the celebrations of the various equinoxes and solstices ... there are certain times of the year that must be recognized as important. But we don't give it any absolute importance as recognition of some naturalistic divinity. It is only a moment to be celebrated to be happy, to be able to live in the moment we are. A way to recognize that all moments, more beautiful or uglier, have their own meaning and value.
Most people, especially those who do rituals a little, let's say, pagans, perhaps prefer to celebrate the summer solstice, remember the Celts, Stone Age and all things of that kind, to contemplate the beauty of the sun in the its fullness. But just as important, of course, is the winter solstice because after the life that has closed to deepen the roots, it rises and slowly returns to express itself. Or the spring equinox, where life brings us back to beauty. Or the autumn one, as on this occasion, where we share the awareness that this beauty has great value.
If we do not realize this value in the spring because everything blooms, in the autumn things, that slowly begin to wane, have a stronger meaning. It is no coincidence that it is said that autumn is the time for the harvest of the best fruits of man, for man. Such as the vine and the olive tree. The olive tree is an absolute symbol of life, not only in Christian terms. The vine because represents the spirit, the sense of the spirit, and not by chance in the Christian religion also wine is used for communion.
My thought is that the message of Christ has a great value, that the contents of Christianity have a great value, I refer for example not only to love but to forgiveness, especially compared to what happens in other religions, where forgiveness is replaced by the law of retaliation. The true Christic message rather than Christian, in the vulgate has been lost and those are the dogmas, the schemes, the hierarchies. Do you agree with this reading? Do you agree with the fact that Christianity has a great announcement to make and has made it in its time, completely misunderstood, completely forgotten?
I certainly agree with the teaching of Christ of which we have received only crumbs and also misrepresented and manipulated. A search would be nice, especially as regards the more genuine messages of what are called the Apocryphal Gospels and also of the famous Scrolls of Qumran, where there is the Essene teaching that corresponds to the Christic one but antecedent to him. However, we can find that this philosophy, we continue to call it Christism, is certainly an innovative message within a whole series of religious settings that were dominant in the Mediterranean Middle East at that time.
The sense of forgiveness that is not as it is understood, a calculation to escape our responsibilities, as many do towards confession. As I was reading in a text written by Franco Berrino, Daniel Lumera, David Mariani - Twenty one days to be reborn - Mondadori, where forgiveness is a regent of healing if authentic love.
Then there is the rational forgiveness that calculates, which is considered valid to erase the tendency to recrimination from our mind. And then there is the emotional one, which is instead aimed at forgiveness towards oneself and therefore also at the cancellation of the sense of offense, because it is seen in the transposition of the position as: "it happened" and that's it. And therefore there is no longer any need for forgiveness.
Does forgiveness therefore correspond to or is it superimposable to what the Eastern tradition has handed down to us as acceptance?
I would say it is very similar to the concept of Buddhist compassion. In that case, compassion equals forgiveness.
So forgiveness, compassion, have a therapeutic value towards the individual who manages to reach that level in order to no longer feel offended in pride?
Of course not only that, but it is also the entrance door to be able to access self-knowledge. Because then being able to identify ourselves in the other through forgiveness, automatically we are also more inclined to accept ourselves for who we are and therefore we are able to see ourselves more and more deeply, up to overcome that veil of illusion that it makes us identify with a name and a shape only. That seeing oneself deeper and deeper is further therapeutic. Well at that point I would say that the therapy disappears. Up to a certain point there can be, up to transpersonal psychology we can guess that there is a path through the deepening, but then there is a subsequent phase that can no longer be rationally analyzed and therefore there can no longer be even a therapy. If we want to embark on a path in which we slowly get rid of the ballast and from the superstructures it is however correct to interpret it as forgiveness-therapy. The spiritual ways, if they are sincere and honest all in all give this direction. In Taoism, there is abandonment. Slowly we learn to relax what made us take a position, which made us consider particularly blessed, to the point of thinking that we were able to decide, by nature, for life, for other sentient beings. So to the point of making us believe in our selfishness as true.
Interview released in Treia on 21 September 2019