Palingenesia

Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire. ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin                                   

Tomorrow we celebrate the Spring Equinox, a day of equal light and darkness, a lovely metaphor and invitation to reflect upon the balance in our lives, and certainly, the equinox may serve as a portal leading to the new life granted us by spring.

I’ve been pondering these words “new life” a lot the past few months, in light of the physical and spiritual shifts in my own life; the choices Phillip and I have made to pursue a life marked by greater simplicity, earnest dedication to using our gifts, and tending to being present, but also in terms of the political climate of my state, and country, and energies shifting throughout the world. We’re running on fuel that’s depleted—in every way possible—and at a pace that doesn’t allow for reflection or peace. The energy seems to be shifting and our future as a species seems deservedly precarious. Quo vadimus?

New life implies more to me than “the same old thing, but one more time.” Rather, it connotes a path, or method, or being that is evolved, a genetic sport, a surprising new synthesis that is now possible and which just a year, or month, or day ago may have been perceived only through a glass, darkly, or not at all. Serendipity and synchronicity are involved in this new life’s revelation, but so are hard work, paying attention, and listening.

And it involves a great deal of dying and acceptance. Joseph Campbell, discussing Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History (1934), writes:

In his six-volume study of the laws of the rise and disintegration of civilizations, [Toynbee believes that] schism in the soul, schism in the body social, will not be resolved by any scheme to return to the good old days (archaism), or by programs guaranteed to render an ideal projected future (futurism), or even by the most realistic, hardheaded work to wield together again the deteriorating elements. Only birth can conquer death—the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new. Within the soul, within the body social, there must be—if we are to experience long survival—a continuous “recurrence of birth” (palingenesia) to nullify the unremitting recurrences of death. ~ The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1949)

In our current political climate, I think we see those who, possibly out of their great fear that vital patterns of human interaction are changing (and must), resist the threats these calls to new life pose and seek to return to a time they imagine actually existed and has passed–when men (i.e., Caucasian men) were men and women were invisible. When education was readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmatic, taught by low(er)-paid drones. When the earth was an endless resource to be infinitely plundered. When aggression and domination were impulses lauded and given free reign over the “inferior others” (those unlike us), and when all these things could be validated by and receive the imprimatur of those who form the hierarchies of belief systems we value (over yours).

That dog don’t hunt no more, folks. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that dog led to the 1960’s—Civil Rights? Vatican II? The EPA? Unions? Earth Day? We should be evolving beyond these wonderful human achievements, not regressing to a mind state prior to their birth.

Regression is natural and can be a very healthy response to change; we want to “go home,” to safety and a time when  the parental figures—mature adults—handled all the world’s problems, choices, decisions and stress. Perhaps a healthier way to allow for this is to grant ourselves peace, quiet, reflection, meditation, and engagement with creativity every day. Hang out in our center, re-charge, and then re-engage as the mature adults we are called upon to be, now.

And, as Toynbee indicates, time spent cobbling together and mending those failing patterns and institutions we currently have, is also wasted energy. Let them die. Rumi said this better:

Quietness

Inside this new love, die. Your way begins on the other side. Become the sky. Take an axe to the prison wall. Escape. Walk out like someone suddenly born into color. Do it now. You’re covered with thick cloud. Slide out the side. Die, and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign that you’ve died. Your old life was a frantic running from silence. The speechless full moon comes out now.

(From The Essential Rumitranslation by Coleman Barks, with John Moyne, published by Harper Collins)

I like that Rumi says, “Do it now;” Toynbee also wrote that generating pie-in-the-sky visions of a perfect future is also wasting energy. It absolves us of doing too much to effect change while we can and should, and the time has run out for “dream and avoid” behavior.

Check this out: http://www.worldometers.info/ The times they are a-changin’, and what we do with our time, our money, our gifts, our relationships, and our interactions with everything on earth matters more than it ever has, and quite possibly more than it may ever have the chance to exceed.

We have witnessed many examples of humans who have called us to be the changes the earth and all creation need to “nullify the unremitting recurrences of death.” (I would use the word “balance” rather than nullify; I think a rejection and fear of death got us exactly where we are: what if we accepted it instead as life’s necessary partner?)

These human genetic sports, avatars, and prophets were often recognized as such, and disturbed their times and societies, divisively generating both revolutionary enthusiasm in those consciences with which they resonated (usually the have-nots) and fear in those who sensed a challenge to their power and control. We’ve often rejected or destroyed these teachers in their own time and later built boxes and institutions around their teachings, freezing them in perpetuity, adapting them to our egoic comfort, and persistently rejecting the real challenges these human gifts among us represented and offered.

I welcome the balance spring calls me to establish and honor in my life. I welcome the new life, both the familiar and the unknown. I fear the deaths necessary to allow this new life to emerge and grow, but I welcome them anyway, because I’m in the good company of 7 billion–and counting–other precious souls. I’m grateful for the chance to serve as midwife to new life with everyone else on the planet. Together, we can harness the energies of love and create the palingenesia our sweet world needs to renew herself.

I truly believe in what St. Therese called the “Little Way;” every day we each have so many opportunities to change the patterns of interaction we’ve accepted and followed without reflection. Here’s a video that demonstrates how such patterns can change. I especially like that this example involves young women, because of my hope that humans may soon honor and balance the way our feminine natures (and we all have them) can complement our male gifts. We can be strong in our compassion and powerful in our ability to unite.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSQf9ZbSDHE&sns=fb

And here’s a link to a video I love. I think we can never take ourselves too lightly, and it also serves to remind me that the only person I can change is myself. (A mental “Stop it!” works…and makes me laugh.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYLMTvxOaeE

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