by Samuel Bendeck Sotillos
For many of our contemporaries, there is no more pressing issue than the acute ecological challenges facing the planet. Environmental degradation has reached a tipping point, but how have we fallen into such a predicament? At a deeper level, this critical situation can be seen as a mirror that reflects the spiritual crisis gripping the soul of humanity today.
This commenced with the secularizing impetus of the Enlightenment project, which has led to a diminished understanding of the human psyche and the cosmos itself. The anomaly of modern Western psychology is that it stems from the same desacralized and reductionistic outlook.
By contrast, a deep-seated connection between sentient beings, the environment, and the Spirit has been recognized in all other times and places, throughout humanity’s traditional civilizations.
By a resurrection of a “science of the soul” via a rehabilitated sacred cosmology, the spiritual roots of the ecological crisis can be restored and seen in a proper light. This essay examines the metaphysical dimension of the environmental crisis. The framework employed for this study is the “transpersonal” perspective of the perennial psychology—an application of the insights found in the world’s great wisdom traditions. The objective of the study is to propose a more holistic approach to understanding the essential relationship between our humanity and the natural environment—in all of its boundless and complex variety—seen as a manifestation of divine reality. Read more here
The Transfiguration of the Human Being
Since the most remote times there has been a practice of continuously living with the awareness of death in one’s consciousness. The words of the adage Memento mori, Latin for ‘Remember that you are mortal’, encapsulate this practice. All the saints and sages speak in unanimity of identification with the empirical ego or separate self as the source of all human suffering. As ́Sri Ramakrishna (1836–1886), the Paramahamsa of Dakshineshwar, a spiritual luminary, powerfully expressed the need to die to our lower nature: ‘When “I” is dead, all troubles cease.’
An essential element in the world’s religions is the injunction that finds expression, for instance, in the well-known words of the Prophet of Islam: ‘Die before ye die’ (mutu qabla an tamutu). Correspondingly within the Hindu tradition there is the concept of being ‘twice-born’ (dvija): our initial birth into terrestrial existence is one type of birth, the second birth that the religions refer to is an initiation into the spiritual path. This alchemical and transformative psycho-spiritual process of dying before dying reoccurs in a myriad diverse forms and descriptions throughout the spiritual traditions, yet we can observe the myriad points of convergence.
Just how universal this transformative process is has been underscored by the philosopher Frithjof Schuon (1907–1998): ‘every complete tradition postulates in the final analysis the “extinction” of the ego for the sake of the divine “I.”’
The French metaphysician René Guénon (1886–1951) also confirms the universal nature of the doctrine of mystical death and resurrection: ‘[T]he idea of a “second birth”, understood in a purely spiritual sense, is indeed common to all spiritual doctrines.’ At the heart of every integral psychology or ‘science of the soul’ is the recognition of psycho-spiritual transformation or metanoia, which is inseparable from metaphysics and integral spirituality. This perennial psychology that is an application of the perennial philosophy discerns between the horizontal dimension consisting of the empirical ego, and the vertical dimension that that pertains to the transpersonal Self. The horizontal and vertical dimensions are interdependent, and are both required for the human realm and the realm of the Spirit.
However, it is essential to bear in mind that the vertical dimension precedes the horizontal and that the horizontal is reliant on the vertical dimension and not the other way around. As we recall, ‘To deny the spiritual is to deny the human.’ In what follows, we will
explore psycho-spiritual integration and the symbolic meaning behind mystical death and resurrection, as found in the universal and timeless wisdom found around the world. Read more here…