Touching the Soul of the World
"When things fall apart or become polarized in the extreme, it's soul that's missing. History is not outside people. History is made in the depths of the human soul. If we want the world to change, the healing of culture and greater balance in nature, it has to start inside the human soul."
- Michael Meade
Genius and the Soul of the World
The Power of Imagination
In the modern world the common connotation of the word friend might be “a contact associated with through social media.” Yet, online connections and the use of contemporary verbs friending and liking may have nothing to do with actual friendship. The older, deeper sense of friend comes from the root verb ‘fri-’ meaning “to like, to love, or be affectionate to.” As with anything meaningful, connection in depth is required for friendship; the lack of it leaves people more isolated and leaves the world with less genuine presence.
In ancient traditions around the world, each soul was considered to have an inner light that was unique in some way. This inner spark of life could grow greater by being seen and acknowledged by others. Thus, a true friend is not simply “like-minded,” but more deeply an intimate of one’s soul, an ally to one’s spirit, even a supporter of one’s reason for being alive.
“Anam cara” was an old Gaelic term for deep and abiding friendship, made widely known again by the Irish poet John O’Dononhue. Anam means soul and cara means friend and placing them together makes a “soul friend.” Such friends of the soul recognize, support and nourish the unique gifts and distinct radiance trying to grow within each other.
Angels of Friendship
A recent interview on the state of the world began with the question of whether individual humans had a role to play or even matter given massive problems like climate change, religious and political terrorism, economic disparity and institutionalized injustice. The answer came quickly- humans matter because of soul; each person matters precisely because each soul is a unique presence in the world. Imagination is the deepest power of the human soul that alone can find creative ways out of the otherwise overwhelming problems of the world.
An old idea suggests that each person comes to life at a time when they have something to give to the world. That sense of soulful giving and healing may be more needed now than ever before. Healing is a revolutionary act and we have chosen to live at a time when culture needs to be reimagined and nature needs to be healed. We are here to awaken to the true nature of our own souls and to make more soul in the world.
In a world gone wrong, where any issue can polarize people and divide religions as well as nations, soul is the missing ingredient. For, soul i the glue of the world, the unity in any community and the divine connection hidden in the heart of each individual. In the depth of our souls each person is secretly connected to the Soul of the World.
When a person, regardless of age, education or background, acts from the depths of their soul they add imagination and beauty, love and unique presence to the world.
There is no time better than the darkest time of the year, no period better than the troubled times we find ourselves in for making more soul in the world. Soul is the light inside dark times. In the midst of all the fear and resentment, in the face of all the cynicism and nihilism, make more soul. When it comes to soul, mistakes are acceptable and can even become a new style or way of being. So, start a foolish project, commit to making places sacred again, find ways to risk life and love more. Become a Friend of the World and make more soul.
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"No single idea or social movement can solve the daunting problems facing the modern world. Imagination is the deepest power of the human soul and what the world needs now is more people awakening to the power of imagination in their own soul."
- "Michael Meade
Mosaic is a network of artists, activists, community builders, healers, and spiritual teachers working in innovative ways to develop cross-cultural alliances, mentoring relationships, and forms of community healing.
Amid the rattling of cultural institutions and radical changes in nature, it may be time turn again to valuable traditional methods of cultural healing and individual mentoring. Shaping new forms from separate, estranged, or even broken pieces is a dynamic remedy for the personal isolation and spiritual dislocation that increasingly characterize modern life. The creative act of finding and fitting together the divergent yet necessary elements of a diverse culture can produce “moments of wholeness” in times of great uncertainty.
Michael Meade is a renowned storyteller, author, and scholar of mythology, anthropology, and psychology. He combines hypnotic storytelling, street-savvy perceptiveness, and spellbinding interpretations of ancient myths with a deep knowledge of cross-cultural rituals. He has an unusual ability to distill and synthesize these disciplines, tapping into ancestral sources of wisdom and connecting them to the stories we are living today. Michael is the founder of Mosaic Multicultural Foundation.
He is the author of Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of The Soul, Why the World Doesn't End, and The Water of Life: Initiation and the Tempering of the Soul.
We live in extreme times when tragedies abound and even a comic movie can provoke terrorist threats. On one hand, everyone is interconnected through the world-wide-web; on the other hand, the fault lines that divide people keep growing wider. While people are aggressively hacking the web and “fracking” the earth the ice of the protective polar caps keeps breaking apart and melting. It is hard not to notice that the cracks in the world keep getting bigger as everything seems to be either threatened or threatening.
The cracks in the human heart also grow deeper as children are mercilessly massacred in schools by deranged individuals and by those claiming to serve a higher purpose. Schoolgirls are kidnapped and enslaved by armies and college students slain by drug cartels. Unarmed youth are shot down by those sworn to protect and serve others, while some claiming to uphold the ideals of freedom defend the tactics of torture. People protest and plead with lawmakers and leaders to do something to bring even a momentary sense of justice to a world falling apart at the seams.
While anguishing over reports of both cultural and natural tragedies I keep thinking of the old Japanese practice of kintsugi or “golden repair.” The idea behind this ancient ceramic art includes the sense that when something valuable cracks or breaks it should be repaired carefully and lovingly in a way that adds to its value. Thus, the cracks and fault lines in a valuable bowl would be filled with a lacquer made of resin containing powdered gold. Such a golden repair does not try to cover up the cracks in the vessel or deny the facts of the matter. Rather, the cracks and splits and broken places become filled with gold. Beauty appears exactly where the worst faults previously existed and the golden scars add to the living story and to the value of the container.
As a piece of “living philosophy,” golden repair suggests redemptive practices through which the damages of history and the tragic mistakes we make with the fragile vessels of both nature and culture might be repaired. Like any genuine process of healing and making whole again, golden repair requires that we first acknowledge and carefully study the exact faults and divisions that damage the shared vessels of our lives. If we see the globe of the earth as a living, sacred vessel that needs artful repairs we might imagine ways of helping it heal. If we could admit more readily to the tragic injuries that divide one group from another we could replace the bloody damages with golden lines that serve to remind us of the fragility of life as well as the possibilities of repairing shattered dreams and redeeming broken lives.
The bowl of the earth is large and the deep fractures left by the weight of history are too great for any single idea or practice to repair it all. The wounds to the heart of humanity are too extensive and grievous for any single belief or ideology to heal it all. Yet, the mythical sense that the darkest times can produce a golden light of renewal permeates most religious visions and gives us countless practices and traditions that include Hanukkah and Christmas, Solstice and Festivals of Light and New Year celebrations of all kinds. The instinct to gather together in the season of darkness and in the times of tragedy is ultimately deeper and greater than the fault lines that form on the surface of the bowl of life.
Gold is hidden in dark places and that which is golden inside people is more valuable and ultimately more enduring than all the surface differences and divisions that cause the cracks in culture and the biting divisions of life. Everyone gets wounded in this world and everyone has within them some golden qualities that can serve to heal the wounds of time and the traumatic effects of human tragedy.
Golden repair depends upon a realization that there is something valuable and essentially beautiful that is worth preserving and sharing. It requires an understanding that beauty and truth are golden lines that can appear in the cracks of this world, in places where culture and nature collide and where people tragically divide. It is easier to adopt the tactics of terrorists than to stand for beauty and truth and the possibility of freedom here on earth. It is easier to vote out of fear and confusion to further arm all elements of society and pretend that safety and trust will somehow be preserved.
Because each person has some golden qualities and a unique genius to bring to the world, each has the capacity to do some golden repair. Because the troubles of the world have grown so great and encompass both culture and nature, each person can find a crack nearby that can be turned into a golden seam. Golden repair is needed in all the communities where tragedy has torn people apart, in all the places where trust has been shattered, where justice has been denied, where the earth has been ripped open and blindly exploited, where the healing presence of great forests have been turned into broad, unholy scars.
As the world around us seems to grow darker and more threatening we can either hide in terror or turn to the work at hand and find a crack that needs tending or a gap that needs healing. The practice of golden repair can begin wherever old wounds divide people; but also where the increasing tragedies of violence and suicide leave people broken in spirit and at odds with the underlying beauty of life. What we now call “holidays” were once holy days intended to bring a sense of wholeness and light in the times of greatest darkness. Like golden repair, the effort to make the world beautiful and holy was not based upon covering up the wounds of life or denying the damage done to the world. There may be no better time to turn towards each other and to face the cracks in the world than the present moment when the world needs so much healing and repair.
© 2016 Mosaic Multicultural Foundation