The Dream of the Cosmos: a Quest for the Soul
The infamous quest of the Holy Grail is a mysterious one infused with ago-old wisdom, a quest of the soul no less. As the ancient Greece philosopher Heraclitus noted,
‘You could not discover the limits of the soul, even if you travelled by every path in order to do so; so profound is its meaning.’ – Heraclitus
Yet, is not the quest of the soul the dream and destiny of humanity?
What better way, then, to end 2014 and begin 2015 with an article about the quest of the soul, or rather a review of a book which explores just that. The Dream of the Cosmos: a Quest of the Soul is a magus opus written by Anne Baring, published by Transpersonal Books. It is a work of epic proportions penetrating the root of our plethora of crises and presenting the now desperate need for humanity to awaken the Divine Feminine within.
And so it is with trepidation, passion and grace that we embark on such a sacred path guided by the wisdom of Anne Baring, who some years before co-authored the profoundly influential book The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image with Jules Cashford.
In times before us societies called upon shamans, seers, bards, poets, philosophers and storytellers to activate a deeper consciousness within us through mythopoetic sacred imagination which allowed for a permeating of rational consciousness with the soulful awareness of our intuitive wisdom. It was through this soulful awareness that we ensured our immersion within the Good, Truth and Beautiful. Nature – as understood by these ancient and medieval societies – is the unfolding epiphany, the shining forth of this deeper wisdom within and all around us, and so to be in harmony with Nature was to flow with this wisdom.
As Anne Baring charts, the myth of separation and opposition (of light versus dark, of heaven separate from earth, of Creator separate from Creation) warped this ancient insight into what has now become a pathological perspective setting ourselves apart from each other, Nature and the Divine; a cultural pathology which has been greatly exacerbated by the materialism and reductionism of modernity. As a result our perception of the world has largely become de-sacralised whereupon we find it normal to behave in a systemically anti-life manner, with a socio-economic paradigm dependent on the exploitation and degradation of Nature and, consequently, ourselves.
It is this sense of separation and accompanying de-sacralisation that lies at the root of our plethora of crises. Any new society that fails to transcend this separateness and de-sacralisation will apply the same flawed logic that created the problems in the first place. For Baring, we can move beyond separateness through the realignment of our conscious mind with the deeper dimension of our soul. This requires a journey of personal transformation whereupon we open up to the wild depths of our psyche nested within the deeper matrix of Nature leading to an opening of the Eye of the Heart.
By facing up to our shadows and opening up to our fears we can bring conscious attention into the dark places of our inner psyche. In-so-doing we allow our bodyminds to become alchemic vessels where ego and soul, psychic and physical, feminine and masculine, yin and yang become dancing partners, and the tensions of life become the crucibles for our deeper conscious realisation of Heaven on Earth. For Baring, it is only with this personal awakening that we begin to re-sacralise our lives while re-cognising our inclusive influence within the diverse matrix of life; becoming conscious co-creators within the Dance of Life; a re-membering of who we truly are. And so our quest for the soul lies in our own way of living, our own ability to open the Eye of the Heart through which the soul can flow within the seas of synchronicity.
Alchemy, Gnosticism, Sufism, Kabbalah, Taoism, Tantra, Druidic wisdom and many more ancient ways all point to a sacred marriage of our rational mind and instinctive, intuitive soul. Christian mysticism, for instance, speaks of the communion of Christ and Sophia giving birth to the awakened human within each of us. This is the rich, fertile soil from which a truly sustainable society takes root, allowing a re-orientation of our inter-relations with each other and Nature.
‘The story of the Sleeping Beauty says that at the right moment, for the right person, the hedge of thorns turns to roses and a way opens through it. I think we are, in this new millennium, at the moment of breakthrough. A deep instinct is attempting to restore balance and wholeness in us by recovering the lost feminine dimension of soul personified by the Sleeping Beauty. Over the past fifty years a gradual restoration of a sense of the sacred has been taking place beneath the surface of our culture. Millions are awakening to awareness of our relationship with the greater organism of the planet and beyond this with the deeper field of soul which unites all our lives… The journey in search of the soul is difficult and even dangerous because it requires that we relinquish the certainty of what we think we know and what we have been taught for generations to believe. It means surrendering the desire to be in control and opening ourselves to a quest, a path of discovery. Many myths and fairy tales emphasize the need for surrender and trust in the strange non-rational guidance offered by animals or shamans on the quest. As the hero follows their guidance, so the hedge opens, the way unfolds. Following the guidance and wisdom of the instinct is the royal road into the realm of the soul.’ – Anne Baring
These times are what the ancient Greeks called Kairos – a supreme moment. These times bring opportunity and also danger, as Baring notes: ‘we tread a path which is on the knife-edge between the conscious integration of a new vision on the one hand and social disintegration and regression into barbarism – perhaps the virtual annihilation of our species – on the other.’
As C. G. Jung knew, as long as the evil is projected as ‘out there’ without us also looking inward, we create an inflated ego-consciousness characterised by oppositional mind-sets, anti-stances and control-based logic. This is what corrupts our attunement of our inner and outer worlds. Our way of attending can soon slip into the deluding obsession with the outer world (materialism) while the inner world perishes (depression, anxiety, violence, selfishness, egotism). Consumerism and the competitive ideology of capitalism are but symptoms of this deeper malaise. To transform capitalism without undertaking a quest of the soul runs the risk of applying the same logic that created the problems in the first place; an error we no longer have the luxury of time to make.
‘So many of our grandiose plans for a better future rest on the unstable foundation of the separate self and its alienation from the ground of the soul – a separation which ensures that we unwittingly repeat the patterns of the past.’ – Anne Baring
To redress this cultural corruption is the primary task ahead for pioneering cultural entrepreneurs and social catalysts at the vanguard of this paradigmic [r]evolution. It is what Andrew Harvey calls sacred activism. Such sacred activists consciously participate in the alchemic transformation of themselves and, through their relations, others and so catalysing a metamorphosis likened to that of a caterpillar to a butterfly – a transformed psyche at the individual and collective level. This process of transformation is an unfolding within each of us, with no predefined plan or map, only an experience of continually opening up to a more intimate, heartfelt relationship with our humanity.
As we open up to this deeper unifying cosmic ground of being, our lives open up to synchronicities, healings, epiphanies and visionary experiences. A deeper wisdom, far beyond what our rational consciousness can grasp, starts to flow into our everyday awareness. Each day, each moment, offers us the opportunity to embrace life beyond separateness, to become fully present in opening up to our soulscape within and all around us. To open up to this sacred ground through our meditative imagination is to permeate with the soul of Nature, seeing the world through the Eye of the Heart.
‘It is beginning to dawn on us at this perilous moment that moving to a new level of consciousness is not an optional extra but an imperative if we are to survive as a species and safeguard the life of the planet.’ – Anne Baring
If we are honest with ourselves, we may see that much of today’s culture – whether it be fear-based ‘news’, celebrity gossip, exam-based education, debt-based economics, KPI-obsessed management, reductionist science – severs us from a deeper connection with this ground of being.
The good news is that opening ourselves up to our deeper ground of being is where we find deep love, joy, fulfilment and gratitude in our lives. It is only through this inner transformation that our outer behaviour transforms in a sustainable way.
While Anne Baring is all too aware that there is much to be down-beat about in our world today, she is also aware of a spiritual awakening on a planetary scale taking place that is healing what she calls ‘the great split in the patriarchal psyche between Spirit and Nature and the dissociation between thinking and feeling that lies at the core of scientific reductionism.’ This awakening is a re-sacralisation of the world within and all around us. To bring this direct relationship with the deeper ground of our being into our daily waking consciousness is, therefore, our most fundamental purpose and goal for the transformational times we live in. It is through this direct heartfelt, soulful experience of life that we reveal the Divine within and through us, in-so-doing allowing our lives to flow with love, compassion and wisdom.
Our body, our creativity, our inter-relating is a theophany, a showing forth, an outpouring of divinity flowing through us. To live with the conscious awareness of this theophany – this Dance of Life – is to open up to the sacred order within life. Here we heal the split between Creation and Creator and we begin to walk the sacred path, with our heart as our compass. This is our destiny and our dream – the dream of the cosmos no less. What an awesome journey life affords us.
Wishing you a very Happy New Year! 🙂
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Here is a link to a short video of a talk I gave in London recently exploring the importance of our attunement with Nature.