World Soul



At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the splashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go, and the procession of the seasons.  There is nothing...with which I am not linked.  C.G. Jung

And I have felt a presence that disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts, a sense sublime of something far more interfused, whose dwelling is the light of setting suns and the round ocean and the living air, and the blue sky and the mind of man...and rolls through all things.  W. Wordsworth

In recent years, brave scientists have begun to acknowledge that inanimate life has a consciousness and even trees communicate with one another.  Quantum physicists have identified a field in which we are all connected.  Though all this would be beyond obvious to many ancient and present cultures - most aboriginal cultures and spiritual traditions recognize an ‘anima mundi’ (world soul) with which we are all connected - it’s a crucial step for us in the west.

Most of us in this hemisphere have lost the ability to perceive soul in the world, but that seems to be changing.  We are re-establishing an I-Thou relationship (an honouring of the ‘thou-ness’ in the other) with Nature rather than a position of I-it (an objectifying of the other) in regards to Nature.  The latter allows us to continue to mindlessly exploit and denigrate our precious planet, while with the former, we view the Other as sacred.

In other words, what is called for goes beyond appreciating how much we need nature and therefore wishing to protect it.  Many deeply passionate and caring individuals are noting the dangers of climate change and loss of species, etc.  Their words are heart-felt.  But that the earth has a consciousness and a soul with which we are linked, and that has its own experiences and ‘voice’ is less often acknowledged.

Theodore Roszak, who happened to have coined the term ‘counter culture’ several decades ago, also founded a branch of psychology which he called Ecopsychology.  Roszak sees our severance with the earth as being at the root of many mental health issues and much general angst.  As the title of his book, The Voice of the Earth, implies, ‘Gaia’ has a voice to which we need to be attuned.  Unfortunately, even many of his followers who call themselves Ecopsychologists, and who accompany clients into the wilds and so on, so they (clients) can heal, miss the vital point that Nature has a soul.

But even if we recognize that the world is ensouled, how do we make the leap from intellectually acknowledging this to experiencing a relationship and communion with Nature?  Though I can’t say I have an answer or even that I have 'soul perception' any more than anyone else, I will venture to suggest that we need to develop empathy. We need to have the courage to ask ourselves what it feels like to be part of Nature (which of course we are).  Perhaps it is easiest to first recognize and attune to our own souls, and be centred in our own hearts, and listen.