TOWARDS AN INTEGRAL CONSCIOUSNESS
In Melbourne, my hometown, the story goes that if you want the weather to change, just wait five minutes. My roof leaked in the latest rainstorms, and strategically placed buckets are still collecting drips. Yet a source of delight happens when you go outside in the follow-up and breathe in the freshness, or you notice the lovely way raindrops on a spider web scintillate in the emerging sunlight.
The picture even weaves into your dreams. That happened to me. I dreamt I was in my garden after a thunderstorm, peering in to one of the tiny watery orbs to see what was reflected there.
I noticed then that it was night. The raindrop became like those photos of earth taken from space, with the darkness of the globe’s surface scattered with the lights of a host of cities, dense in patches, less so in areas with few inhabitants. In my dream I leaned even closer and saw spaces between even the densest clusters. Then something beautiful happened. The lights became miniature dewdrops with fine threads spun out like spider-silk, clothing the planet in an exquisite fractal-like garment. And along all these delicate threads I saw movement in each direction as if along highways. Somehow, I knew these were living souls.
It was a haunting dream that stayed with me. And in the way of dreams, I understood that it linked up with other thoughts of the day.
Melbourne, like the world, is in the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic. Here there has been lockdown during much of 2020-21. People continued to reach out to help the lonely and struggling; neighbours checked in on one another, front line medical workers still give their all and more to save lives. But there is plenty of simmering discontent and unease.
Rather than bonding people as we deal with the disruption to the lives we thought were normal, many divisions have been exacerbated – state against state, city against the country, individual against individual, blame being thrown around, conflict building between ‘my rights’ and ‘our responsibilities’. Even good friends are in danger of becoming divided.
Meanwhile across the world one tumultuous event follows another. And faced with enormous upheavals people try to navigate between the breaking down of traditional and familiar values and self-focused survival anxiety. In the early 21st century this is where we dwell.
How did I see my dream connecting with all the troubles?
There was something different about those souls I saw moving along the delicate spider-silk network. It seemed that each one made their journey singly yet were united like jewels in an inclusive whole.
The secular, materialistic understanding of our planet as physical matter there for us to exploit was ushered in by what is known as the age of reason about 300 years ago. This shift, closely connected with a scientific revolution, burst apart an older unified view of existence. Evidence-based thinking required everything to be separated into its parts and experimented upon. This scientific modality is dynamic, and industrial and technological invention has flourished since, but a negative outcome is a utilitarian world of things.
Others see it differently. James Lovelock’s 1970s Gaia theory of the earth as a single interacting, living system has had a profound influence on changing that separationist understanding of our world. From environmentalists dedicated to reversing the ongoing extinction of wildlife, to efforts to change the trajectory of disastrous climate change, to involvement in movements that aim do away with harm to creatures that are ‘not us’, including refusal to discriminate against people who are different and other – all these actions reveal in human souls a deep and widespread longing for renewal.
I feel it and I’m convinced it heralds the emergence of a mighty shift in consciousness. It’s about convergence, a reuniting of separate parts involving every aspect of existence. This looks towards an integral, holistic and post-materialistic world view.
Often today people speak of Mother Earth, on some level aware of a profound and awesome reality. Our planet is indeed a living being, and like other living beings she consists of body, soul and spirit. All that live on Mother Earth are her children. But humans have a unique place in this interacting world system. We can become conscious agents of change because humans have evolved a sense of ‘I’. Only humans can say, ‘I am able to change the way things stand.’ And consciously undertake to do it.
In this context healing the soul is a vital precursor to the healing of the whole world. Founder of Anthroposophy Rudolf Steiner draws our attention to the unfolding spiritual ‘I’ within the soul. This ‘I’ is not ego, needing approval, recognition or dominance. It’s a courageous and free individuality, the true self, willing to let go fear and judgement and to embrace all that is other. Through such a consciousness, inter-relationship on a profound level can be restored. It happens when we ‘walk the talk’ through deeds born of love.
I dreamt that I witnessed our mechanistic, utilitarian world view transformed, with souls reconnected to ancient unity but without losing their hard-won individuality, souls that in freedom are alive with generosity and empathy, who express love unconditionally. Such threads of connection, once we make them, are as strong and enduring as spider-silk. I believe my dream was, and is, telling the story of who we can be.