I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my husband for his love and support through more than fifty years of marriage. Apart from my close family and my daughter and grandson, deep soul connections have developed with a few people whose trust, encouragement and precious friendship have helped me to bring this book to completion — in particular: Jules Cashford, Scilla Elworthy, Veronica Goodchild, Belinda Hunt, Betty Kovács, Kimberley Saavedra, Paul Hague, Douglas Hamilton, Andrew Harvey, David Lorimer and Richard Tarnas. I would like to offer my particular thanks to Joy Parker without whose editing skills and encouragement this book could not have been finished. I could not have completed this book and all my other work without the inestimable help of Kit Constable-Maxwell who created my website and taught me how to manage it. Last but not least, I would like to thank my publisher, Ian Thorp, who has always believed that this book would see the light of day.
THE DREAM OF THE COSMOS: A QUEST FOR THE SOUL
To reclaim the sacred nature of the cosmos – and of planet
Earth in particular – is one of the outstanding spiritual challenges
of our time.
Diarmuid O’Murchu, Quantum Theology
Although I had begun writing this book on the soul over
twenty years ago, the call to focus on it again came in a dream I had
in the summer of 1998.
I am at my grandmother’s home in the South of France, walking
with two friends, a woman and her husband, near the bottom of a valley.
Suddenly, on our right, we see a serpent. It is about five feet long,
a beautiful glowing ruby red on its bottom half and gold on its top half.
It has small wings but no claws or feet. Its head is not flat like a cobra’s
but is slightly bigger than its body. There is a black marking like a
V on the top of its head. It is definitely a serpent or a winged salamander
rather than a dragon. Its red and gold scales gleam luminously, like enamel.
We look nervously at it and I say, “I hope it won’t bite us.”
We walk on through olive groves and come to the furthest edge of the property.
Suddenly the serpent is there, on our right. It has flown from its former
place. It moves towards me and bites me on my right hand, at the base
of the thumb. Its bite leaves a circle of tiny red dots on my thumb.
It took me some days to make the connection between “right”
and “write,” but when I did, I knew that I had to return to
the work I had begun many years earlier. As I reflected on what form the
book could take, and the difficulty of conveying ideas that are so alien
to the spirit of our time, I remembered the words that the psychologist
C.G. Jung had written in his last book, Man and His Symbols,
“As any change must begin somewhere, it is the single individual
who will experience it and carry it through. The change must indeed begin
with an individual; it might be any one of us. Nobody can afford to look
round and to wait for somebody else to do what he is loathe to do himself.
But since nobody seems to know what to do, it might be worth while for
each of us to ask himself whether by any chance his or her unconscious
may know something that will help us.” (1)
The Dream of the Cosmos is the story of a multi-layered
quest to understand the causes of human suffering and to re-connect with
a deeper reality than the one we inhabit in this physical dimension of
experience. It answers the question “Who are we and why are we here,
on this planet?” It is written for those who are looking for something
beyond the superficial values of our culture, who may be disillusioned
with religious and secular belief systems as currently presented and who
question the political values which are deeply mired in the pursuit of
power. It is written with two voices: one the voice of a personal quest
and the other which explores the historical and psychological causes that
have brought our present view of reality into being.
In it I seek
to recover a very ancient image of the soul, one that has long been lost.
The soul was once imagined as an all-embracing Web of Life—not so
much something that belongs to us as something to which we belong, in
whose life we participate. The world is crying out for the primary values
that have always been associated with soul understood in this wider sense:
wisdom, compassion, justice, relationship—values which I will define
further as the book proceeds.
course of many centuries, we have developed a formidable intellect, a
formidable science, a formidable technology. But what of the soul—source
of our deepest instincts and feelings? What of our visions, dreams and
hopes as well as our unhealed wounds and the suffering generated by our
cruelty and lack of compassion towards each other? What of our need for
relationship with this unrecognized dimension of reality? The pressing
need for the soul’s recognition has brought us to this time of choice.
It is as if mortal danger is forcing us to take a great leap in our evolution
that we might never have made were we not driven by the extremity of circumstance.
In one of
the medieval Grail Legends, Parsifal asks the question of the wounded
Grail Guardian, “What ails thee, Father?” It seems appropriate
to ask this question of our culture. Our current worldview rests on the
premise of our separation from and mastery of nature, where nature is
treated as object with ourselves as controlling subject. This belief has
its roots in a far distant past—in the Myth of the Fall in the
Book of Genesis and its profound influence on the development of Western
civilization. There we find the story of our expulsion from a divine world
and our Fall into this world, a Fall that was brought into being by a
woman, Eve, who disobeyed the command of God and brought death, sin and
suffering into being. From this myth there developed the belief that the
whole human race was tainted by original sin, a subject that will be explored
in later chapters. Yet this was never more than a belief, although it
was presented as divinely revealed truth.
a second problematic legacy from the past: the image of God shared by
the three Abrahamic religions which has defined ‘God’ as a
transcendent creator, separate and distinct from the created order. Western civilization, despite its phenomenal achievements,
developed on the foundation of a fundamental split between spirit and
nature, creator and creation. Only now are we brought face to face with
the effects of this split in the devastation we have wrought upon the
the influence of this transcendent concept of God as well as the influence
of the Myth of the Fall, we have come to look upon nature as something
separate from ourselves, something we could master, control and manipulate
to obtain specific benefits for our species alone because ours, we believed,
has been given dominion over the Earth. It has come as a bit of a shock
to realize that our lives are intimately bound up with the fragile organism
of planetary life and the inter-dependence of all species. If we destroy
our habitat, whether inadvertently or deliberately by continuing on our
present path, we risk destroying ourselves.
of climate change and the urgent need to free ourselves from dependency
on fossil fuels appear to be the catalyst which is bringing about a profound
shift in our values. Instead of treating our planetary home as the endless
supplier of all our needs, without consideration for its needs,
we are having to rethink beliefs and attitudes which have influenced our
behaviour for millennia—beliefs and attitudes which are deeply rooted
in our religious traditions as well as in the secular beliefs of modern
as in the early centuries of the Christian era, it seems as if new bottles
are needed to hold the wine of a new understanding of reality, a new worldview.
What is the emerging vision of our time which could offer a template for
a conscious humanity? I believe it is a vision which takes us beyond an
outworn paradigm where we are held in bondage to beliefs and attitudes
specific to race, nation, religion or gender, which have led us to exclude
and devalue those who are different from ourselves and neglect our relationship
with the Earth, our planetary home. It is a vision which takes us beyond
an outworn image of deity and current secular beliefs and offers us a new concept of spirit as a unifying
energy field – a limitless sea of being – as well as the creative
consciousness or organizing intelligence active within that sea or field,
and a new concept of ourselves as belonging to and participating in that
incandescent cosmic consciousness.
It is a vision which recognizes
the sacredness and indissoluble unity of the great cosmic web of life
and imposes on us the responsibility of becoming far more sensitive to
the effects of our decisions and our actions. It invites our recognition
of the needs of the planet and the life it sustains as primary, with ourselves
as the conscious servants of those needs. It invites us, as Einstein invited us, to widen the circle of our compassion, to look upon every child as our child, every woman as our daughter, our sister or our mother, every man as our father, our brother or our son, the wellbeing of every creature as our responsibility. Above all, it is a vision which
asks that we relinquish our addiction to weapons and war and the pursuit
of power; that we become more aware of the dark shadow cast by this addiction
which threatens us with ever more barbarism, bloodshed and suffering.
perspective, the crisis of our times is not only an ecological and political
crisis but a spiritual crisis. The answers we seek cannot come from the
limited consciousness which now rules the world but could grow from a
deeper understanding born of the union of mind and soul, helping us to
see that all life is one, that each one of us participates in the life
of a cosmic entity of immeasurable dimensions. The urgent need for this
psychic balance, this deeper intelligence and insight, this wholeness,
could help us to recover a perspective on life that has been increasingly
lost until we have come to live without it—and without even noticing
it has gone—recognizing the existence of no dimension of reality
beyond the parameters set by the human mind. It is a dangerous time because
it involves transforming entrenched belief systems and archaic survival
habits of behaviour that are rooted in fear, as well as the greed and
desire for power that are born of habits inculcated by fear. But it is
also an immense opportunity for evolutionary advance, if only we can understand
what is offered in this moment of choice.
After so many billion
years of cosmic evolution, it is simply unacceptable that the beauty and marvel
of the Earth should be ravaged by us through the destructive power of
our weapons, our insatiable greed and the misapplication of our science
and technology. It is inconceivable that our extraordinary species, which
has taken so many billion years to come to conscious awareness, should
destroy itself and lay waste to the Earth through ignorance of the divinity
in which we dwell and which dwells in us. For a small but rapidly
increasing number of us, there is the possibility of choosing whether
to continue in the patterns of the past or creating new patterns, living
and acting from a different relationship with life, committing ourselves
to the immense effort we need to make to understand and serve its mystery.
1. Jung, C.G. (1964) Man and His Symbols, Aldus Books, London,