“This is not a time to live without a practice. It is a time when all of us will need the most faithful self-generated enthusiasm … in order to survive in human fashion” – Alice Walker.
The earth is resilient and bountiful, but oblivious to our individual and collective wellbeing. We owe it wonder and stewardship – though not sentimentalisation and spiritualisation. For we are in danger of generating myths and miracles just at a time when clear heads and loving hearts are required. We are moral beings by evolution (not by design or belief) and are more than capable of making the right decisions – if we wake up and stop searching in the wrong places.
To come back to life means going into the shadows and back again. It involves recognising and naming the social forces that create inequalities and that curb human liberty and fulfilment. And it means taking a stand against the evasions and ‘mumbo jumbo’ of post-modernist, post-rationalist culture. And it means shifting our perspectives towards the natural world so that our lives are more in step with its rhythms.
Movements tend to focus on one aspect or other. What is needed is an integral approach that incorporates all wisdoms and imperatives. Politics, psychology, soul, ecology, economics, humanism, science, art, poetry and new stories of our humanity. All should be enfolded in a multi-dimensional activism. Then new integral practices can emerge with soul, integrity and bite…! The challenge is to craft a new movement. One which does not shy away from the shadows; one that integrates these interconnected imperatives:
First, and fundamentally, the soul’s psychological imperative - the need for us to to know ourselves, to be fulfilled in our work, be rich in our connections and live our inner life deeply and imaginatively;
Second, and most urgently, the ecological imperative, demanding of us a committed re-connection – rational, hard-headed, wondrous and spirited – to our planet, its wilderness and fellow inhabitants.
Third, the economic imperative to find new economic paradigms that are “good for people, society and the natural world”, and new definitions of how we measure ‘wealth’ – what Umair Haque terms betterness rather than business.
Fourth, the political imperatives of equality, liberty and fraternity, without which there will be no end to human conflict; and which includes new ways of defining democracy and re-establishing the social contract between people and ‘government’;
Meeting these imperatives – psychological, ecological, economic and political – requires us to build, from deep foundations, a new way of thinking about the human soul. This metaphorical, imaginative imperative draws on the experiences of those who live in the borderlands; recognising that poetry, economics, science, politics and spirit – all emerge from the same animal mind.
If you’re interested in the challenges facing the twenty-first century soul – and want to explore these ideas further with me and others – please get in touch!!