by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, August 2010
This short article continues the theme of previous pieces, expanding on the importance of learning to read the book of life and glimpse the real story that life is telling us at this critical moment in time.
If we look around with open eyes it is apparent that globally we are caught in the darkness of forgetfulness, obsessed with a dream of material accumulation. In the midst of this nightmare we are gradually becoming conscious of the horrors of ecological devastation caused by this dream, and the recent disastrous oil spill in the Gulf has heightened this awareness. As well as the discussion of climate change and primary ecological concerns, there is talk of a need for a “paradigm shift,” for “global consciousness,” or “awakening into oneness.” And yet these ideas about a shift in our collective consciousness also belong to the dream of humanity. They are based upon self-created images of our own existence. At this moment in time, in what we call a crisis in our global dream, there is a pressing need to glimpse the deeper purpose of life, to tear apart the veils that hide humanity from what is really present.
If, just for an instant, the mist would lift, our collective dream dissolve, then there might be a glimpse of the moment that is, of the life that belongs to the Creator, an existence that is real. We need this moment more than we know. Without it we will not be able to find our way.
If there can be such a moment, if a knowing of the deeper story of creation can be brought back into our collective dream, then we will find a way to work with this dream that is destroying us. We will learn how to shift the energy patterns that underlie the life of the collective. If for an instant we can remember what it is to be awake, see the world that is always around us, then we will know what to do, how to be. And something within the heart and soul of the world will respond. It is so simple, even if it is so far from our collective consciousness, a collective consciousness that has long forgotten even the fundamental reality that the world belongs to God.
The danger of our present situation is that our collective dream has lost any foundation in what is sacred. It is a dream built upon the illusion of the “I” and its many desires. In past times the dreams of humanity had a sacred foundation, whether based upon the teachings of a religion or the practices of shamans. Often the work of the priests, priestesses and shamans, was to watch over the dream of the collective, so that it did not divert too far from its sacred foundation. They kept the balance between the worlds. Now we have nothing to balance us and our collective dream is spinning out of control, as imaged in how our material desires are polluting and destroying our ecosystem. And sadly we are only able to look for solutions within the same materialistic dream, perpetuating a vicious cycle of self-destruction.
Few shamans remain, and sadly, over the last decades, in the West many spiritual paths that could have helped us, have been subverted by the ego, serving the images of self-development, or self-enlightenment. They have overlooked, or been turned away from the basic truth that it is never about us. They have not dared to confront the dream that belongs to the “I.” So many pathways have been closed, so many opportunities lost. And yet the moment is always present, beckoning to us, calling us to know what is real. God is a simple essence and that essence is not other than us. We belong to the life of the One even if we do not know it.
So how can we remember? How can we step over the unbridgeable chasm that separates the true revelation of divine creation from our dream? How can we be present, if only for a moment, in the world that belongs to God and see what is being written?
In today’s dream we are being made aware of the crisis of global warming and other threatening disasters. Our water and air are polluted, and much of the earth is toxic with fertilizers and pesticides. We also know that something radical has changed in our patterns of communication, in the global network of the internet and cell phone coverage. Caught in our dream it is difficult for us to see that the earth itself is changing, that this pattern of global communication has meaning for the earth itself.
Because we have been conditioned to think of our self as separate from the earth, we do not realize how this evolving network belongs not just to humanity but to the body of the earth itself. The world is struggling to come alive as a living whole in a new way: threatened by global disaster it is trying to awaken the consciousness of humanity through this living web of light we call global communication. Our consciousness is part of the light body of the world that is presently changing, evolving through these new patterns of communication and interrelationship.
“As above so below.”1 The changes happening to the earth belong to the way the Creator is rewriting creation’s story, bringing into our consciousness a new awareness of divine oneness. What is disturbing is that we have forgotten this bigger, spiritual perspective for so long we do not notice what is happening. We may be aware of some of the signs but do not know how to read them. We can remember the old images, the grail, the blood and wine. In recent years we have even become excited by some of this old symbolism retold in popular fiction. But the new images alive with the presence of the divine do not touch us with their sacred meaning. Maybe they are too ordinary. For example, the internet has become too much part of the fabric of daily life for us to recognize the signs of oneness that it images: how it reconnects us to a sacred whole. And so once again we miss the meaning of the moment. We overlook the real potential for global change: what is being rewritten in the book of life. We do not see how this awakening oneness is a sign of divine presence.
What does it mean that we do not see what is happening, that we cannot read the book of life? Is it just another sign of our forgetfulness and self-immersion? Or does this veil of separation between human and divine consciousness have a deeper meaning? We can neither see what is happening to the world nor recognize the signs of God. We are so fast asleep what can awaken us? What can bring us back to the primal awareness that we are a part of the world just as we are a part of God? How can we become aware of the divine oneness that is all around us? Is it too radical to suggest that the answer can only belong to God, to that divine oneness of which we are all a part? Our dream is so dangerous, and so far away from any foundation in anything real, that only divine intercession can save us. Only the Divine can lift the veils that cover us. Only the Creator can heal the split between the worlds and awaken us, if only for a moment, to divine presence.
But what might this mean? In old images we may see a God who lives in heaven and is separate from the world, sending tribulation upon us, floods or plagues, banishing our darkness with destruction. In Christianity we were given a God who incarnated and suffered with us and for us, bringing love and forgiveness into the world. If we are stepping into an era of oneness how would this presence be revealed, how would God’s all embracing love and unlimited power become known? If we are once again to experience heaven and earth, spirit and matter, as united, how would we know where to find God? Would the divine come in a thunderbolt, be hidden in a manger, or arrive within our own hearts? Would we even recognize this presence? All we can know is that it will be different to anything we can imagine—“He never reveals Himself in the same form twice.” We can only hope that we are ready.
In the depths of our dreaming there is a sense that a dawn is coming. There is a deep anxiety that the images and structures that sustain us are breaking down. Like animals before the arrival of a storm, there is an instinctual knowing that the time of our present dream is running out. There is a sense that we cannot misuse this world much longer—that God will reclaim what belongs to God. We can only pray that “Divine mercy is greater than divine justice,” even though we will still have to take responsibility for what we have done, for our acts of forgetfulness, for our desecration and destruction of the world. There is both hope and fear.
And yet these are just images from a dreaming mind, and reality is something very different.
Reality is not a succession of events, or a problem to be solved. Reality embraces the fact that we are not separate from God even as we have forgotten God. Reality is always present, and we may glimpse it at the edges of our dream, hear its silent laughter, “Quick now, here, now, always—.”2
Our journey and the world’s journey will take us back to this still point, because there is nowhere else to go. We need to realize that we are the book of life, even if we have long disowned our divine heritage. We are the moment in time, even if we never directly experience this moment. We are the world struggling to awaken as much as we are the dream. Oneness means that no one is going to save or condemn us: we are both the lead and the gold. We are both the forgetfulness and the moment of remembrance, and in that moment of remembrance all forgetfulness falls away.
In the out-pouring of the one endless love the world is being reborn, even as our civilization dreams its self-destructive dream. The light of divine consciousness held in our hearts longs to see this rebirth, even to act as midwife. Although there are veils that hide us from this moment, there is grace that can reveal it to us. And the great mystery is that it is all according to God’s will, because there is nothing other than God.
1From the beginning of the Emerald Tablet, one of the earliest alchemical texts.
2T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets, Little Gidding, l. 252.