Thursday, November 29, 2007

One World/One Soul

Question: Is each person's soul individual? Does it belong to us? Or is the soul a collective being, shared, responsive and interdependent? When we experience "our" soul, are we not really just hooking into the collective, partaking of, adding to and sharing in all that went before and will come after?

And if we are, indeed, each part of a collective soul, how can we build on that connection, nourishing and supporting the health of the collective while feeding and nurturing ourselves?

Author Thomas Moore notes that our ancestors “taught that our souls are inseparable from the world’s soul and that both are found in all the many things that make up nature and culture.”

Hermes Trismegistus, legendary author of esoteric texts, is credited with writing, "God is a sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere."

Expressed this way, we are each at the center of the universe--and, at the same time, we are each but a speck in a an unfolding whole.

In an interview in The Sun magazine, Shaman/Author Martin Prechtel discusses this question magnificently. "Shamans are sometimes considered healers or doctors, but really they are people who deal with the tears and holes we create in the net of life, the damage that we all cause in our search for survival. In a sense, all of us — even the most untechnological, spiritual, and benign peoples — are constantly wrecking the world. The question is: how do we respond to that destruction? If we respond as we do in modern culture, by ignoring the spiritual debt that we create just by living, then that debt will come back to bite us, hard. But there are other ways to respond. One is to try to repay that debt by giving gifts of beauty and praise to the sacred, to the invisible world that gives us life. Shamans deal with the problems that arise when we forget the relationship that exists between us and the other world that feeds us, or when, for whatever reason, we don’t feed the other world in return."


See, this is what I'm sensing--that there is this "net of life", this connectivity abuzz and alive in every particle of air, every speck of dust, every shaft of sunlight. There is this way that I am able to perceive the world when I stop hurrying long enough to really look, when I close my eyes and take a deep breath and ask my questions about how it all works, when I step out my back door into the wildness.

Humankind is poised on the precipice of a paradigm shift as earth-shaking as the discovery that the earth was not flat. We are hurtling toward a new truth, one that has been along time coming. The truth that ALL IS ONE, that we live in a net of life that includes every creature, object, thought, cloud and particle.

The shift toward ALL IS ONE is not all gentleness, as the world awakens to the environmental truth that we live on a ball of water, trees and winds that is fighting for balance--and for OUR lives. For win or lose, the earth will go on spinning. But the terrifying realization that it may spin without us has finally dawned--making people suddenly line up for hybrid cars, bio-fuels and solar panels. It absolutely astonishes me how quickly this shift happened. Tsunami, Hurricaine Katrina, Al Gore's film and voila, the whole world is going green!

And here we are, at the edge of a paradigm, looking ourselves in the eye--and the soul. Mystics and shamans and yogis and native persons and buddhas and dalai lamas and avatars of all stripes have been explaining this idea to us for centuries; and for the most part, that's just the way we've taken it in--as an idea.

But now, for the first time, I sense a turning in the world--a genuine shifting in EXPERIENCE--a great big global AH-HA!
Now, instead of mindlessly repeating this truth (ALL IS ONE) in synagogue, mosque, ashram or church, we are experiencing it as a real, palpable fact. The Earth herself is demonstrating it to us, the Internet is subtly implanting the day-to-day activity of it--so that for the first time, we have the technology to prove it coincident with the experience to "feel" it and the awareness (ever since the dawning of psychotherapy and the new age movement) of what is happening to us AS WE GO THROUGH IT.


Imagine what will happen when the churchgoer in Peoria is holding the same picture of reality as the aboriginal in Australia and the Shaman in Guatamala and the stock trader in Hong Kong and the Native American elder in the Southwest and the astrologer in Greenwich Village and the movie star in Paris and the African schoolgirl and the surfer in hawaii and the oil worker in Alaska! And we are speeding toward that Tipping Point moment when people of all languages, all walks of life, all faiths wake up to the idea that ALL IS ONE.

Okay, back to my original questions: Do we share a collective soul, and if so, how do we nourish and feed it? I'm going to assume that we do. And Prechtel's suggestion to "try to repay that debt by giving gifts of beauty and praise to the sacred, to the invisible world that gives us life," is a sound one.

Many spiritual teachers suggest that exploring the arts--whether actively making art or simply appreciating its beauty--builds and feeds the soul, collectively and individually. So do contemplation, meditation, walks in the natural world.

As Martin Prechtel writes, "For there to be a world at all, every indigenous, original, natural thing must start singing its song."

And to me, that's the place to start: Sing your song, paint your mural, dance yourself into the wildness and beauty of the world soul. And as you do so, invite and encourage every other indigenous, original, natural thing to do the same.

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