Even in the face of this awful possibility, however, we must recognize the power of the human spirit, especially in the collective. When we decide together to change, we can turn our culture on a dime. The force that binds us together in such an effort is not reason, logic, shared information or rational self-interest. It is awakened spirit.
Awakened spirit is inaccessible to the inhuman forces shaping the culture that enfolds us in our collective myth. Indeed, awakened spirit cannot even be seen by those governing institutions except as a vaguely threatening shadow flitting in and out of their awareness. Despite its insubstantial appearance, however, that spirit is what moves the mountains of hierarchy. To see it at work in the world, we need only look at the Soviet Union, at Eastern Europe, at the Europe of the Renaissance, at the America of Abolition and Civil Rights.
I would even go further than that. I have come to view the transformation that's occurring around the planet, as documented by such writers as Paul Hawken and Andrew Harvey, in frankly spiritual terms. I see it as a mystical transfiguration of the human soul, born out of the stresses and traumas (known by mystics as the Dark Night of the Soul) that we have visited upon ourselves in this civilization we have created.
This awakening is much more profound than just looking around and saying, "Oh crap, we ate all the fish!" It is a softly stirring recognition at the very deepest levels of our collective psyche that we have been telling ourselves the wrong story about who we are. It is the nascent realization that our focus on materialism in all things (including our science and our spirituality) has seduced us out into a karmic wasteland. It is also the dawning awareness that another story is possible, and that we are already creating it. It is the blossoming conviction that our shared souls have the power to reshape the world at an Essential level.
If my perception is correct then this Awakening holds the promise of much more power than a simple recognition of community would confer. More than just accessing the power of human connection, it is in some unforeseen, mysterious way opening up the whole of the human endeavor to the sacred or the divine (whatever those words mean for each of us).
This is still very unfamiliar territory for me, as up to a year ago I was the hardest-nosed atheist you've ever met. Nonetheless, the truth of it resonates within me more deeply than anything I've ever felt. If this is in some general way true, and not just my personal response to despair, then humanity may very well be on the brink of something magical.
I hope with all my heart that this is indeed true. I intend to act as though it is.
October 22, 2009
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