“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere it’s setting
And cometh from afar.
Not in entire forgetfulness
not in utter nakedness do we come,
But trailing clouds of glory,
From God, who is our home.”
Excerpt from Intimations of Immortality: William Wordsworth.
Wordsworth’s inspired moment, at odds with the tabula rasa thinking of his and our time, is common knowledge in many native traditions, passed down as the simple truth of human incarnation. In this view, we are not an accident produced by a random Big Bang eons ago nor a simple biologically explainable meeting of egg and sperm from two people who accidentally meet. We have an omnipresent life of the Spirit already in place before we take human form and continuing in some way in the world that awaits when we depart from this body. Our Soul’s destiny, our Life’s star and purpose, come into this world with us and though we may forget it or ignore it or disbelieve it or refuse it, it is forever at our side hoping we will awaken to its presence, to remember the trailing clouds of glory that rode in with us at birth.
The ancient Greeks had a clear idea of this with their concepts of the daimon, the genius, the Muses, so it is not entirely foreign to Western civilization. But read the above paragraph to any random American at the shopping mall and dollars to donuts, the response will be “Huh?!”
Contemporary psychologist James Hillman wrote eloquently of this in his book The Soul’s Code, mythologist Michael Meade continued the idea in his book The Genius Myth and just about every speaker I listened to in the recent Collective Trauma Summit— Native Healer Sherri Mitchell from the Penobscot Nation, Colombian ritualist Hector Aristizabal, Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield, poet David Whyte and a large variety of other thinkers/ activists/ healers coming from a variety of fields and traditions, each in their own style, all said the same thing: We come to Earth already gifted and our job is to claim the gift, recognize it, feed it, nurture it, share it. Our soul is connected to the World soul and by coming to know it, we heal not only ourselves, but all around us.
And the stakes are so much higher than simply feeling better about ourselves. Those who have no experience of their inner gift, who have not even realized they needed to look for it, have never had anyone bless them for it, walk around with a hole in their soul that they try to fill with money or sex or power or dominating and/or putting down others, none of which satiates their hunger for inner fulfillment and all of which demands higher and higher levels of purposeful ignorance or hatred or harm or blind greed or deep denial. Everyone knows something is off when the once-respected position of the leader of the nation is abused with over 20,000 proven lies—with no consequence! Where provable cheating, captured violations of the inaugural oath, nepotism and personal gain in a public position, boldface lying, unashamed ignorance of the basic facts of history (the Revolutionary War air force?), refusal to concede in a fair election, instigating a violent insurrection in the nation’s capital— the list goes on— remains excused or forgiven or ignored and this person is still not in jail. Really?!
I’m suggesting that one thing driving this extraordinary state of affairs is the national style of spiritual disconnection amplified by the intensity of the crises we face. That if we believe that we are just randomly thrown into an uncaring universe and the best we can do is get as much of the pie as possible before we pass into nothingness again, what motivation do we have to consider that we can do better? Heaven and hell seem to have no weight, since our nation’s former leader flagrantly broke every one of the 10 Commandments and no one suggested that his next real estate deal will be in a burning Hell. And if we’re just in it for mere survival, to watch out for number one and get what we can get, why, it’s perfectly logical to buy into wholesale fear and hatred of the other. And if we’ve found no beauty inside ourselves that invites us to lovingly participate in creation when we wake up in the morning, how do we get through the day? Best to imagine that someone else is to blame for our feelings of failure and loneliness and abandonment and build our day around making them wrong so we can feel just a little bit right. Which, of course, doesn’t work.
And so this is so much more than a political or moral or ethical crisis. It’s a spiritual crisis founded on adopting a destructive worldview that promotes fear, cynicism, selfishness, greed, short-sightedness and so much more. Conversely, if we can begin to ease into the beauty of our particular genius that is patiently awaiting, if we can nurture the love that is the road map to our gift and understand how what we love is the cure, if we can find the medicine lying in our wounds and recognize that we’re all the walking wounded and worthy of love and compassion, both from ourselves and others, why then, things can begin to move. This has been true from the dawn of humanity. The only thing that has changed is the due date. The world needs our medicine now. Not tomorrow, not next week. Now.