That Inner Glow is not merely about our endless fascination with light and darkness, knowledge and wisdom, power and abundance. Because, like Joseph Campbell, I believe we are seeking not so much a meaning of life as an experience of it. We want to be as thrilled by our experience of life as our primal ancestors were when they finally saw the sun rise after a cold night in the cave, or learnt to tame fire, feeling its warmth on their bodies. Beyond the brilliance of our technologies, we yearn to be embraced by timeless mystery, just as the eternally unfolding cycles of the moon remind us that we are always filling up in some ways and emptying out in others, in inconceivably complex and unique ways.
So let’s chart what we can of the unplumbable depths of mythic symbol! This never-ending task reminds us that we are spiralling through life like stars through the night sky, part of some greater unfolding, both insignificantly tiny in the face of the universe and incredibly fortunate to be alive to this awareness. Feeling connected to the unmediated, sustaining force of life is our birthright, a natural part of being born human on planet earth. But we have become separated from this realisation by another great and powerful myth, which promotes a different kind of growth: the development of the physical world at the cost of those inner qualities of awareness, love and spiritual generosity. Modern history, from the agricultural revolution to the digital interface, has been marked by a concentration on ‘stuff’ rather than spirit, in a way that needs to be rebalanced.
However, there is a second and equally important aspect required if we are to succeed in this quest. Because we don’t only need an experience of that inner glow to liberate us from the very real and present concerns that afflict our world and our inner lives. We also need to learn to stay with it, so that the destabilising realities of our existence don’t throw us willy-nilly into chaos. We are not well trained in these skills in everyday modern life and as a result we are too easily flung off balance. Current mental health trajectories reveal a population increasingly disposed towards inconsolable anxiety or explosive anger, shallow breathing and horror at the state of the world, guilt, shame or grief at what has become of our lives and realities.
We have two traditions that can help us to navigate these perilous times with more agility, a more grounded sense of self … more power and a sense of abundance, regardless of our material circumstances. They are the Buddha’s insight of spiritual awakening, which responds hopefully to the realities of human suffering, and The Enlightenment of European philosophers, which focused more on a commitment to the scientific validity of knowledge and the value of critical thinking. The possibility of a twenty-first century form of enlightenment as an intertwined double helix of these qualities is an exciting prospect, which looks ahead to evolutionary potential while facing squarely the gnarly problems of today’s world.
We can experience a sense of being lit from within, by spiritual generosity and well-reasoned critique at the same time; and we can also practice living from this space as consistently as possible. When we are reminded of this constantly, when we feel our way into our lives with this possibility in mind, we can walk more confidently the ancient, sacred path that is always unfolding before us.
That Inner Glow is an experience for fellow travellers on the way towards remembering what we truly are and always were: at one with the universe, its unfolding and its power and mystery, all at once. And the light we can experience on this path wants to be shared – this retreat is evidence of that core truth, because this is what it has taught me.
‘That Inner Glow’ Retreat is now SOLD OUT. However, the book is forthcoming, so keep your eyes open for that later in the year!
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