Let The Soul Speak

Bev. Champion

Magazine Article: Theosophy in Australia, June 1999.
Condensed version of talk given at 1999 Convention.

In recent times, the significance of acknowledging our spirituality as the primary force of our very existence, indeed the first and foremost requirement for our health and wellbeing, has been less and less understood. So many of the established churches stand empty as organised religion is no longer actively sought by the majority. This lack of the sacred has left a void in the lives of many, resulting in a vague feeling of emptiness. So many, in the Western world at least, are without a sense of purpose — with no sense of belonging to a greater Whole or an understanding of our proper place in the overall Cosmic picture.

With the passage of time, humanity moves along and in the process, formerly accepted spiritual traditions change and many are discarded. However, unless they are replaced by new ‘soul nurturing’ practices the lives of the people become sterile, without inner nourishment. Despite clever advertising, the secular does not satisfy and the emptiness increases but humans keep looking for replacements to fill the aching void.

Sport as Ritual

If so many have forsaken the rites and rituals of the past, what have they been replaced with? Melbourne sociologist and academic John Carroll, in his book Ego and Soul, suggests that in Australia today former religious practices have largely been replaced by the rites and rituals of sport, and he states that this is where our passion is to be found. He cites studies conducted at an Australian university over several years, which showed quite clearly that the only group of students with any strongly held ‘beliefs’ were male students who played football! Other team members and the club itself were their first priority.

He gives examples of how sport has become full of ‘sacred’ resonances with commentators describing the ‘hallowed turf’, the club song as an ‘anthem’ and victorious players falling to their knees with arms raised in thanks. Anyone living near a major football ground hears the extraordinary sound of a deep, primitive chant rising and falling like a heaving ocean swell. The point that Carroll makes is that the passion of the crowd is acted out as a rite and serves to strengthen the sense of community, a community to which one belongs.

A New Creation Story?

“The work before us now is to restore the activity of the soul to its rightful place in our world and to again actively engage the soul within ourselves.”

The human ‘story’ or ‘myth’ is no longer actively being told today. We are between myths and Western humanity, having largely rejected the creation stories of the past, is therefore without a meaningful creation or universe story. Such a story would provide people with true goals and values, thus reinforcing the feeling of belonging to a larger system and informing humans who they are!

In a recently released book, The Forsaken Garden, author Nancy Ryley talks of the soul sickness of our planet and interviews four well-known environmentalists, including Father Thomas Berry. Thomas Berry speaks of the ‘sacred universe’ and the need to transform our whole culture. He tells us that a creation or universe story is an attempt to relate humans to the larger cosmic picture and that the life of our human soul is dependent, not only on the Divine splendour of the natural world of Nature, but also on our access to that world.

Theosophists will not be surprised to hear Father Berry say that the evolution of our universe is the myth or epic story of our time. This is the sacred story that will fulfil, in the twenty-first century, the purposes of past, now discarded, creation stories. He calls it ‘Revisioning Nature’ and urges us once again to view the natural world as a communion of subjects, rather than a collection of objects. The human race must return, he says, to a celebration of nature, and when we recognise again that all life is conscious, the unfolding of the universe will then become a Sacred Story.

Father Berry suggests that revisioning Nature from an ‘It’ into a ‘Thou’ would end the terrible destruction of our planet and that this is the part of the universe story which most concerns us as we enter the twenty-first century. He asks whether it is because humanity has become so diminished in soul values that the secular holds such an attraction today. The wonderworld which technology has built is ending in a wasteworld and he feels that we have become anaesthetised into accepting the poisoning of the planet. Moreover, he says that humanity does not have the slightest idea of the real consequences of what we are doing and that we have already run our world into absurdity with the assault and destruction of Nature at a rate which is beyond comprehension.

If, as Thom Berry suggests, humanity has largely separated itself from the natural, would it not follow that in that process we have also distanced ourselves from the Soul of the world? Can humanity still hear the cries of the forest and also the animals whose habitats we have wilfully destroyed? Have we lost the connection, not only to other species, but to Nature itself? Have we lost sight of the Sacred in all life forms? Have we yet to understand that we all prosper or fail together?

“The work before us now is to restore the activity of the soul to its rightful place in our world and to again actively engage the soul within ourselves.”

The few remaining Sacred observances in the Western world today, such as Christmas and Easter, have already been taken over by the secular society to sell its products. Former holy days are now just holidays. However, more and more people are discovering that the material cannot fulfil human needs, because these needs are not material, they are needs of the Soul.

A Soul Change

So what has to happen to bring about real change? Ecological awareness, whilst so important, is not enough. A soul change is needed. The work before us now is to restore the activity of the soul to its rightful place in our world and to again actively engage the soul within ourselves.

Happily, many publications today propose that there is an energy which is universal, and ecologists like Thomas Berry tell us that it is this One Energy which is today’s Universe Story. He says it is not simply the voice of the earth but the power of the earth, and that this power will deal with the crisis which humanity has created — in fact, it is already doing so.

How then do we regain intimacy with the natural world? The earth is to be communed with and we must again learn to listen and attune ourselves so that we can respond creatively to the glory of the unfolding of the evolutionary process. Here is the ritual or religion we are missing today! Here is our story for today’s humanity — the realisation that the human story and the universe story is a single story.

The theosophical message of the interconnectedness of all life is again being heard. By not only acknowledging this, but also celebrating it, we will strengthen our tie to the Sacred which is grounded in this planet. Humanity could indeed be on the threshold of a new awakening in consciousness. H.P. Blavatsky told us that, provided certain conditions had been met, this great step would be possible in the twenty-first century. She did not actually specify those conditions, but we could make an educated guess that one of them would be the recognition of the unity and the interconnectedness of all life.

Self-Reliance

The science of the soul has been said to be the unfolding of the life of the human soul into the cosmic flow of the World Soul. For some time, Western humanity has been looking to an outer God, but today so many are actively seeking their own divinity and discovering that the responsibility for cognising this rests with each individual. Our understanding of our spirituality is escaping from the closet in which religions have traditionally placed it.

Soul growth is to grasp the notion that there is a Sacred purpose in each and every individual life and the quest is not only to discover that, but also to understand its relation to the Whole. To spiritualise matter is to give it a sacred purpose. Have we lost the art of sac- ramentalising our actions? No wonder HPB referred to us as ‘poor orphan humanity’. An orphan is one deprived of parents, cut off from source and origin.

Philosophers have written that the individual task is just to ‘become oneself’, and to understand and to know ‘Who I am’. We are told that there is only one specific way which each individual can take and that no-one else can build this particular bridge of understanding.

In his essay on ‘Self Reliance’ Emerson wrote on this same theme. He told us that ‘there comes a time in each life when we realise that no kernel of nourishing corn can come to us but through the toil bestowed on that particular plot of ground given to us to till. The power resides within each one, and nobody knows what they can do until they have tried.’

Humanity still divides itself into races, creeds and sects and fiercely promotes differences rather than emphasising the common essence which underlies our very existence as one human race. On a personal level we could ask whether we isolate ourselves on the periphery, expecting others to come out to the edge and join us. Have we given consideration as to how it could work if we all, voluntarily, came to the centre and offered unconditional cooperation? Is this possible or just a fantasy? In our daily personal relationships how often do we question whether we are catering to the demands of the personality at the expense of the soul’s needs.

What is Grace?

Most spiritual traditions teach a combination of personal effort and reliance on what has been called Grace. It is suggested by one writer that the irony is that the two are indistinguishable; that personal effort and a reliance on Grace are one and the same thing. I wonder if that means that any effort we think we are making is, in fact, an action of Divine Grace. We are led to believe that Grace comes from an external source but, in reality, does it come when we knowingly act from our Soul centre, thus receiving a momentary glimpse of true understanding? Is any act of personal effort to live in a more sacred way in fact the Soul successfully getting its message through to its vehicle, the personality?

To understand the oneness of all life is to enter a communal relationship with Nature. Thoreau, writing about his experiences at Walden Pond, described this relationship in a very moving way:

In the midst of a gentle rain, I was suddenly sensible of such sweet and beneficent society in Nature, in the very patterning of the rain drops and in every sound and sight around my house. An infinite and unaccountable friendliness, like an atmosphere sustaining me, as made the fancied advantages of human neighbourhood, insignificant … I was distinctly made aware of the presence of something kindred to me …

He went on to explain that following this spiritual experience he never felt lonely again and warned us to simplify our lives. He said he went to the woods to commune with Nature because he didn’t want to come to the end of his life and find out that he had never really lived!

Australia’s Role in the Future

In his book Edge of the Sacred, Dr David Tacey speaks of the new experience of the sacred being felt in this country today. He feels that a world-wide transformative experience is happening and that the feminine face of Deity, Gaia, Sophia or the Spirit of the Earth, is just waiting and wanting to be acknowledged and again admitted fully into human consciousness. He believes that Australia is uniquely placed not only to demonstrate this world-wide experience, but also to act as a guiding example to the rest of the world. This is because Nature in this country is so deep, archaic and primordial, that what will arise from this archetypal fusion may well be awesome and spectacular.

David Tacey says that this same idea is expressed by Max Charlesworth in his essay, Terra Australis and the Holy Spirit, in which he states that ‘there is a possibility of a creative, religious explosion occurring in the next millennium with the ancient land of Australia at the centre of it.’ Is this not what HPB told us more than a century ago?

When we let the soul speak we put true colour into our life.
When we let the soul speak we change direction — to the soul’s direction.
When we let the soul speak we live with purpose — the soul’s purpose.
When we let the soul speak, we start to really live.

To daily seek the sacred in our own life is to keep before us the vision of a world which is sacred in all aspects.

The soul already knows that which the mind is desperately seeking to understand.
The soul already knows that which we have not remembered in this lifetime.
The soul already knows, and can if allowed, remind us.
Let the soul speak.

References:

Carroll, John, Ego and Soul, Harper Collins, 1998.

Ryley, Nancy, The Foresaken Garden, Quest, TPH Wheaton, 1998

Tacey, David, Edge of the Sacred, Harper Collins, 1995