First published in Dust Magazine
In answer to a question from a 31-year-old person, “What advice do you have for people my age in dealing with a world that tells us we are nothing but material mechanisms, and has almost no concept of the soul?”
I grew up in an England still dreary in the post-war years. Rationing only ended the year I was born. In my childhood there was religion but no spirituality. I went to church every Sunday, sang hymns and recited prayers. But nowhere was there the suggestion of spiritual states of consciousness. Spiritual bookstores did not exist. Christian mystical writings were present but just as historical texts rather than experiences to be lived. It was a grey world aspiring to middle-class materialism—a TV, a washing machine, even a car! Then in the mid- to late-sixties, another color entered the spectrum of consciousness. The Beatles went to India to meditate with the Maharishi, and orange-robed Hare Krishna devotees could be seen dancing and chanting on Oxford Street in London. Spirituality in all of its flavors and colors began to arrive in the West.
This awakening spirituality was part of my adolescence. When I was sixteen I began to practice Zen meditation, and experienced an inner dimension of emptiness completely different to my schoolboy classrooms. When I was eighteen I met the spiritual teacher Krishnamurti. I remember it was a beautiful English summer morning. I went to hear him talk and he took me into this space of complete and total freedom. He said there is no path, there is no way to get there, it just happens—but suddenly there was another reality present, completely different than anything I had known before. (read more)
"The ecological crisis is essentially a spiritual problem." These words spoken by an Eastern Orthodox theologian, Metropolitan John Zizioulas, at the Vatican news conference on the papal encyclical are profoundly important. The release of the encyclical was soon followed by a new study that confirmed the Earth has now entered a new extinction phase, its sixth great mass extinction event.
Our present environmental crisis is the world's most pressing concern, and yet, this discussion has so far taken place mostly in the arena of science, politics and economics. Science can show us the physical symptoms of a deep global imbalance, of a civilization no longer sustainable, and economic models illustrate how painfully this effects the poorest among us. But Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change, and this week's Vatican conference, shift this most vital issue firmly onto a moral and spiritual ground. He reconnects the well-being of the Earth to the well-being of our soul, care for the Earth to care for the soul. He suggests that while technology is often presented as the only solution, it "proves incapable of seeing the mysterious network of relations between things and so sometimes solves one problem only to create others." And elsewhere he adds the poignant statement, "Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise." (read more)
The Earth "now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her." So begins Pope Francis in his powerful and long-awaited encyclical on ecology. "The earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor."
Pope Francis chose to be called after a saint for whom love for all of God's creation was central to his life, and all creatures were his brothers and sisters. Speaking in the voice of this saint "who loved and protects creation," he calls for a moral response to prevent the "unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem,"--that we urgently need to recognize the consequences of, and changes required in our way of life. He reflects on our abuse, the violence creating "the symptoms of illness that we see in the Earth, the water, the air and in living things." And describing how climate change most adversely affects the poor, he combines ecological and social justice, that we "hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor." (read more)
First published on Kosmos Journal
Kosmos: Teacher, what aspect or quality of our essential human nature can best counteract the powerful pull of consumerism and greed that traps so many?
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee: Love is the greatest power in creation, and the most essential quality of our human nature that is needed to help change our present situation, particularly our love and care for the Earth. The Earth, which has given us life and nourishes us even as we continue to abuse it, desperately needs our love, our care and attention. Its species are dying, its soul is crying.
Through our love for the Earth we will have access to a deeper dimension of our own nature, a living heritage that can nourish us with the meaning and magic that comes from our soul and the world soul. We will also discover ancient forces within creation that can help free us from the spell of consumerism, from its entrancement. (read more)
Amidst headlines of terrorists and other news of a global darkness, a quiet miracle is once again taking place. While blizzards batter the North East, spring comes here in Northern California--that magical moment when buds break open, when bulbs become shoots that become flowers, and color and fragrance return to a world made grey by winter. Trees blossom, magnolias flower purple and white. One can sense the pulse of the earth, and cannot help but feel the joy of life reawakening. Nature beckons us to be present at this moment when life begins again. (read more)
The Sacred in Everyday Life
The recent UN Climate Change Summit, the marches in New York and around the world, once again brought into our collective consciousness the need for real change. As did the shocking news of the global loss of species. The vital need to protect our ecosystems is part of a cry that embraces the whole earth, from the smallest creature to the vast oceans. And in the midst of this call to cease our globally self-destructive behavior is a story that touches each of us, every day. It is in every bite of an apple, every bowl of rice, every piece of bread we butter. It is the essential and elemental story of seeds, how we are losing our heritage, and how this effects our soul as well as our body. (read more)
One of the first responses I received to my recently published book, Darkening of the Light: Witnessing the End of an Era, was that it was “a tough read,” and “I wish he would have been clearer as to what steps we can do in our complex lives to try the best we can to return the soul of the world to its former strength and beauty.” Normally I am reluctant to tell people what to do, as we each have our own inner wisdom, our own guidance and way to reconnect with the soul of the world. But this request struck a chord and in a moment of inspiration I came up with a “Four-Point Plan” to respond to this darkening. (read more)
Every morning I love to walk early beside the wetlands where I live. It is a time of natural reflection and prayer, a time to be alone with nature and the divine that is present: in the hawk sitting on the telephone lines, the skyline softening and turning golden. And now, as we move towards the winter solstice, the first light comes later, and the darkness seems more potent. In this natural time of darkening my prayer instinctively deepens, as if in response to the loss of light. I sense the energy withdrawing into the earth, and today, the first hard frost, white and brittle, drew me even more towards an inner light. (read more)
An edited version was first published online on The Huffinton Post
As our world stumbles to the brink of ecological collapse, the “tipping point” of irreversible climate change, sustainability has become a vital issue. But in order to consider the question of sustainability, it is important to begin with the question: who or what is being sustained? Does sustainability refer to “sustained economic growth,” and an environment that is able to sustain our present human civilization with its energy intensive, consumer driven needs and image of material progress? Or does sustainability refer to the whole ecosystem, an interconnected web of life with its vast and rich diversity of species? Which world are we trying to sustain? (read more)
Published in the Interspiritual E-zine: The Coming Interspiritual Age
The Interspiritual Age belongs to our awakening sense of an interconnectedness rooted in the deep awareness of the oneness to which we all belong. This knowing of the unity of being, of the divine oneness of which we are all an expression, has long been known to the mystic and spiritual practitioner, but now is awakening within the collective consciousness of humanity. We are moving from an era of separation into an era of oneness, an awareness of the unity and “interbeing” of all of creation, as expressed in the beautiful and numinous image of Indra’s Net from the Mahayana Buddhist tradition: (read more)
Published online at the Huffington Post
“The only way to change the world is to change the story.”
We know only too well the story that defines our world today. It is a tale of consumerism and greed, sustained by the empty but enticing promise of an endless stream of “stuff” as the source of our happiness and wellbeing. We are finally coming to recognize the model of an ever-expanding economy on which that promise is predicated as an unsustainable myth, the domination of nature required to fulfill it as a desecration. All around us we are beginning to see the ravages of our culture’s whole-hearted embrace of the story: a beautiful world broken and dying, on its way to becoming a polluted wasteland. (read more)
Published online at www.ecobuddhism.org
Ecobuddhism: 'Spiritual Ecology' is a concept you have put forward that we also find very relevant. Could you please expand on what you have written about ‘loss of soul’ in the context of the global ecological crisis: The inner wasteland is as barren as the Tar Sands in Alberta and Like climate change and the extinction of species, the inner wasteland is growing faster than we realize.
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee: I think the real difficulty is that we have developed a culture that only sees the outer world. It has become so intrinsic to our consciousness that the general culture has no understanding of the inner worlds, nor any framework to explore them. There has been a resurgence of Shamanism in the past few decades, but for the collective culture the inner worlds don’t exist. People see only the outer physical world. When they are confronted by ecological problems, they see only the outer physical manifestation. (read more)
Published online at Common Ground Magazine
What is the meaning of this approaching moment in time, winter solstice 2012? It is a day in cosmic time when it is said our solar system will be aligned with the center of our galaxy.[i] There are many different interpretations about what this might mean. According to the Mayan calendar it is the end of the Great Cycle of 26,000 years. Does this “end of time” mean a global cataclysm or the beginning of a Golden Age? The truth is that nobody knows. And yet our attention is drawn towards this moment in time, like moths to a lamp. Is it because in our soulless, materialistic culture we are looking for some event that can awaken us to a deeper purpose within our day-to-day existence? Or does this day in December hold a real secret for all of us? (Full article)
Published online on the Huffington Post
Prayer is the simplest and most natural way to communicate with the Divine. Prayer is the heart speaking. There are the prescribed prayers, the rituals of inner communion. But there are also our personal prayers, our way of being with the Divine, with the sacred that is our deepest nature and that of the world around us. In whatever way we are drawn to pray, there is a pressing need at this time to include the earth in our prayers. (Full Article)
This short article continues the theme of previous pieces, expanding on the importance of learning to read the book of life and glimpse the real story that life is telling us at this critical moment in time.
If we look around with open eyes it is apparent that globally we are caught in the darkness of forgetfulness, obsessed with a dream of material accumulation. In the midst of this nightmare we are gradually becoming conscious of the horrors of ecological devastation caused by this dream, and the recent disastrous oil spill in the Gulf has heightened this awareness. As well as the discussion of climate change and primary ecological concerns, there is talk of a need for a “paradigm shift,” for “global consciousness,” or “awakening into oneness.” And yet these ideas about a shift in our collective consciousness also belong to the dream of humanity. They are based upon self-created images of our own existence. At this moment in time, in what we call a crisis in our global dream, there is a pressing need to glimpse the deeper purpose of life, to tear apart the veils that hide humanity from what is really present... (Full Article)
Published online at The Huffington Post
Earlier in the year I posted a series of articles about the need to regain a symbolic consciousness, the need to see the symbolic meaning of events that happen in our inner and outer lives. Recently we have been witnessing the worst ecological disaster in North America with the oil gushing from the depths of the Gulf. We have heard the anger of politicians, the fear of fishermen and others for their livelihood, and the futility of BP to stem this ecological disaster, to stop the oil from polluting the shoreline and the sea. But have we been able to look beyond this tragic play of events to recognize the symbolic story that is being told: can we learn what life is telling us before it is too late? What is the deeper meaning of this disaster as the flow of oil meets the flow of the water, as our ecology is destroyed by our need or greed for oil?...(Full Article)
Time has come to speak to the hearts of our Nations and their Leaders. I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, to come together from the Spirit of your Nations in prayer.
We, from the heart of Turtle Island, have a great message for the World; we are guided to speak from all the White Animals showing their sacred color, which have been signs for us to pray for the sacred life of all things. As I am sending this message to you, many Animal Nations are being threatened, those that swim, those that crawl, those that fly, and the plant Nations. Eventually all will be affected by the oil disaster in the Gulf.
The dangers we are faced with at this time are not of spirit. The catastrophe that has happened with the oil spill which looks like the bleeding of Grandmother Earth, is made by human mistakes, mistakes that we cannot afford to continue to make..... (Full Article)
How can we speak about sustainability without speaking about the Sustainer?
Published online at www.sevenpillarshouse.org/article/spiritual_ecology
Finally we are waking up to our ecological imbalance, to the realities of global warming and its catastrophic consequences. It is also beginning to dawn upon us that these environmental changes are accelerating, that time is running out more quickly than we may realize...(Full Article)
©2007 ÛFÛDÛ Medicinal Arts, David Catherine
Having worked in environmental support and observed the wanton destruction of nature and its associated ecosytems (intricate feed-back systems integral to human survival on earth), I am undoubtedly concerned as to the future of all things natural on this planet. However, I am equally concerned about human perception, the paradigms or technologies that shape our perception, and the degree to which this perception impinges upon the outer world. Like many others I have come to realize that an ecologically "sustainable" future cannot be achieved merely through Environmental Law, Protected-Area Management and the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems. Parallel to these undeniably important and laudable disciplines, it is essential that we move towards an understanding and rehabilitation of consciousness... (Full Article: PDF download 1MB)
Transcription of a talk given in
Seattle, Washington, May 18 - 2007
What I want to talk about this evening is the anima mundi -- the soul of the world. And actually I don’t want to just talk about the anima mundi, I want to see if we can invoke Her presence -- this living spirit of creation...(Full Article)
How can the divine Oneness be seen?
In beautiful forms, breathtaking wonders,
The Tao is not obliged to present itself
in this way.
If you are willing to be lived by it, you will
see it everywhere, even in the most
Published in Kosmos Magazine 2005
Oneness is very simple; everything is included. Every leaf, every laugh, every tear, every child playing, every soldier weary of fighting, is part of the oneness of the world. Nothing can be excluded. Nothing is separate. Every thought, every dream, is connected to every other thought and dream. To exclude anything is to exclude everything... (Full Article: PDF download 1.89 MB)
Click here for the Spanish version: en español
You could not discover the boundaries of the soul,
even if you travelled by every path in order to do so, so deep a measure does it have.
My heart is longing for a lost knowledge, slipped down out of the minds of men.
-from the Sanscrit poem Black Marigolds, Chaura-panchasika, 1st century ce
Once upon a time, in a past so distant that we have no memory of it, the invisible and visible dimensions of life were imagined and instinctively experienced as a sacred unity. In the great civilisations of the Bronze Age (c.3000 bce), particularly those of Egypt, India and China, the whole cosmos was envisioned as a living being and the manifest world was seen as an epiphany or showing forth of an unseen source which breathed it into being, animating and sustaining it: the air itself was experienced as the invisible presence of that world - an “awesome mystery joining the human and extrahuman worlds.”(1) Just as the stars emerged each night from the darkness of the night sky, so the visible universe was born from the dark mystery of the invisible. Everything - plants, trees, animals and birds as well as moon, sun and stars - was infused with divinity because each and all were part of a living, breathing web of life... (Full Article)
Only in our love of Truth does the heart break open, and we finally stop asking, “How can I hold onto this Truth? How can I maintain this realization?” We don’t look at it that way anymore. We only look at it as “How can I serve this realization?” There’s no more interest in holding on, finding safety or satisfaction.... (Full Article)
Women Working with Oneness: A forum for women in service to life, was held in San Rafael, California, in Fall 2004. It drew together women from different spiritual, professional, cultural, and ethnic communities. The second gathering in early spring 2005, allowed for more intimacy because of its smaller venue. The third event brings together Blackfoot, Sufi and Buddhist women. In all events, it was demonstrated that when women come together from different communities for the sake of the world, the pure current of love and oneness is given. (Full Article)
For those who are awake the cosmos is one.
The breath belongs to the esoteric core of much spiritual work and the processes of inner transformation. Just as breathing is fundamental to many forms of life, breath and the awareness of the breath is central to many spiritual practices, whether it is the simple meditation practice of watching your breath, or repeating a mantra or dhikr. (Full Article)
Humanity's Fourth Awakening
In the previous chapter, we considered powerful adversity trends that are pushing humanity toward an evolutionary crash. In the next four chapters, we turn to consider equally powerful opportunity trends that are pulling us toward a positive future -- an evolutionary bounce.
The first opportunity trend that could transform our impending crash into a spectacular bounce is a shift in our shared view of the universe -- from thinking of it as dead to experiencing it as alive. In regarding the universe as alive and ourselves as continuously sustained within that aliveness, we see that we are intimately related to everything that exists. (Full Article)
When I was researching different spiritual teachings for Medicine for the Earth I found the underlying principle of esoteric beliefs is that all life is made of light. As human beings with egos we often forget our true nature and we over identify with our personalities and bodies. We are light in bodies. (Article Excerpt)
of Kalliopeia Foundation
What came to me to say, in part, has been said by many beautiful voices over the past few days. However, what came to me is a different way in, a different approach, to what has been spoken before, so I hope it will be helpful. (Full Article)
We are members of one another.
What is our responsibility at this time of global crisis? Many of us are only too aware of the precarious state of the world. We see and feel the tensions of terrorism, the plight of global poverty and hunger, and the ecological crisis that threatens our survival as a species. Any life form that knowingly destroys its own ecosystem is dangerously imbalanced. Our western focus on materialism and the power of greed is spreading over the planet, destroying its resources, polluting both the inner and outer worlds, desecrating the sacred that gives meaning to our lives. (Full Article)
It is really all about oneness
October 5, 2002
The Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders
My company Citigroup does many positive things for the world, and we do them in more than 100 countries. We do microlending, we finance affordable housing and special needs facilities, we support NGOs and nonprofits, small business development and savings incentive programs. We have a whole department dedicated to the environment and one to the diversity of our staff. And we have a couple of socially responsible funds for our clients to invest in. (Full Article)
The Contribution of the Feminine
This is an excerpt from the final chapter of the book, "Working with Oneness"
Life is an interconnected whole, and the energy of life flows through the web of connections that link part to part. Human beings can work with this energy, to help it flow freely on all levels and to reach every part of the whole. Now, at this time of transition as we move out of one stage in our evolution and into the next, we are being asked to do this-to work consciously with the energy that flows through the web of connections, so that the oneness of life can shape the consciousness of the next age. (Full Article)