“When we bring forth that which is inside of us, what we bring forth will save us. When we do not bring forth that which is inside of us, what we do not bring forth will destroy us.”
Gnostic Gospel of St. Thomas
I first came across these words while reading “Breaking Open the Head” by Daniel Pinchbeck. The book details the author’s journey from profound disillusionment and despair at the chaos and destruction wrought in the name of progress to the beginnings of spiritual recovery and a view of the world through the eyes of hope.
A community which does not hold as its guiding principle a strong consensus on the need for personal healing and a corresponding set of spiritual principles will be impoverished; it cannot hope to function as a beacon of light in a world which is crying out for a billion bright stars to illuminate the way.
In order to progress effectively to the point where any of us feels that we can heal the planet through involvement with political, environmental or spiritual movements, we each have to proceed with a commitment to a journey of profound self-healing and soul recovery.
If we are out of touch with our own pain and refuse to even acknowledge its existence, is it surprising that we are able to tear down vast tracts of rain forest until the last surviving orang-outang clings with incomprehension to the last surviving tree amidst a sea of slash and burn?
Is it surprising that we tolerate the destruction of the homes of those who already have so little as we witness an elderly Palestinian woman scrabbling amidst the ruins of her home for the medicines upon which her life depends? Should we even be surprised when the rich and powerful continue to shore up their defences against a world which has broken them also?
The soul cries “No, no I cannot look; the pain is too much for me to bear. I cannot act because I cannot bear to see.”
Nor can we bear to witness the pain at the core of our beings.
Isn’t it time we attempted to find out why?
We cannot look because we cannot confront our own grief; we lack the will to change the world because we lack the courage to change ourselves. When we refuse our own pain and loss of innocence, is it not easy to deny another person or creature their own experience of pain?
When we deny our own hurt, when we refuse to bring our own shadows into the light do we then not run the unwitting risk of inflicting a myriad of injustices?
We do not need to be actively involved in deeds of atrocity to be complicit if we turn yet another collective blind eye to what is happening in the world around us.
We must wake up and do whatever it takes to recover our damaged selves. Then and only then can we hope to repair the planet and all who coexist upon her. Only when we recognise in ourselves the trauma caused by a dysfunctional society, do we become incapable of inflicting any further damage on our environment and those with whom we share it. Only when we have committed to diving deep into the grief, the loss and a thousand outrages that our souls have suffered can we commit to restoring balance and harmony in the world around us.
The recovering of personal power and the ability to be forces for effective change are inextricably linked.
Positive transformation rooted in compassion, love and a willingness to share and conserve can only ever be achieved through changing ourselves first. No revolution has ever achieved lasting success when it’s genesis was motivated by anger, hatred and the need for revenge.
Let’s try another way.
A wise woman once told me: “There is no time left; the only time we have is now.” And if not now, then when? Time in a very real sense is indeed running out. Let us find the time and the courage to recover and heal. Let us retrieve a sense of our own magnificent power and personal sovereignty.
Let us do whatever it takes to realise wholeness and health because we are needed, now more than ever.
The time is now, not tomorrow, or one day in the distant future. There is no time left.
And as we celebrate our own return to the light let us create endless gardens of hope and dazzling beauty; let us design homes with wit and boundless imagination; let us create lives worth living and let us be an inspiration to all who are broken but dare still to dream…