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Painting by Slava Fokk

“The more I believe my nature comes from my parents, the less open I am to the ruling influences around me. The less the surrounding world is felt to be intimately important to my story. So the coming ecological disaster we worry about has already occurred, and goes on occurring. It takes place in the accounts of ourselves that separate us from the world by attaching us to parentalism,.. The parental fallacy is deadly to individual self-awareness, and it is killing the world.”

“Psychotherapy compounds this fault. Its theory of developmental damage owing to the family actually turns the patient away from everything else that might give comfort and instruction. To what does the soul turn that has no therapists to visit? It takes its trouble to the trees, to the riverbank, to an animal companion, on an aimless walk through the city streets, a long watch of the night sky… We breathe, expand, and let go… The daimon in the heart seems quietly pleased, preferring melancholy to desperation…”

— James Hillman

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“All around us the Earth breathes in so many diverse ways… But human beings have the unique capacity to breathe light and love directly into the world, a light that is crucial if our world is going to regenerate and transform…it is the work of humanity to live this light, and so keep this energy flowing into the web of life, where it can heal and transform in hidden ways. Sadly our spiritual focus on individual transformation has forgotten, or censored, this dimension of spiritual practice. We are not taught how our spiritual body is part of the spiritual body of the Earth or how they work together, how our soul and the world soul are connected…

— Llewelyn Vaughan-Lee

We take the world for granted. We hardly see that it has birthed and sustained us in a million ways. We imagine ourselves separate from it and fighting against it to survive. The “cruel world” we imagine exists first in our inner world. From there we project it externally, so that our culture is more cruel than it has to be. The saying “the world doesn’t owe you anything“ obscures what the world is constantly giving you.

Believing we are separate, we become separated from the learning and consolation life is extending to us daily. It’s a vicious cycle we don’t notice because we’re looking in the wrong direction. We also try to avoid what we regard as negative experiences, which are the main ways we learn.

Help doesn’t necessarily come in a pleasant form. It can be shocking and painful sometimes. Living “happily ever after” doesn’t mean you’ll never have another lesson to learn. We are unfinished beings. Except for our technology, our civilization is primitive. We nurture a very small vision of who we are and our place in the family of beings. We have made ourselves into orphans.

That’s the water we try to swim in. It takes a long time to notice how we put obstacles in our own way, making our path more difficult than it has to be. Those values absorbed from the world around us become our tripwires.

Even hearing a mystic talking about the unity of all things is healing. Even if you can’t quite see it, just imagining it is a relief from the low grade torture of separation and isolation we endure on a daily basis. It’s akin to the religious belief that God sees you and cares what happens to you. Projecting a protective parental image is childish perhaps, but we can’t live very happily as castaways.

Our culture needs to deepen its vision of the spiritual dimensions of existence. Tinkering around the edges by reforming our politics, business and education, as important as that is, is only a tentative first step if we still have a small vision.

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