The Search for a New Mythology — Summary
I’ve recently completed a series of articles on the theme of finding a new mythology, a common visionary story, to unite humanity in an attempt to solve the world’s problems. Another way of saying this is to call it a uniting worldview. (For a guide to that series, click here.) As it was quite long, and went into a lot of detail, I thought it would be a good idea to do a brief summary, in order to distil the essence of it.
As well as being collectively true, the new mythological worldview must appeal to each individual at a personal level, must be something that everyone can commit to heart and soul. I hope that the following ideas have that potential.
Humans are spiritual beings, souls (or other similar term if you prefer) incarnating into bodies. There is a well known saying “the body is a temple”, thus the body temporarily houses the preexisting soul. As the rockstar Sting sang: “We are spirits, in the material world”.
George Trevelyan, who was the inspiration for an earlier article, says that the soul “incarnates for the purpose of acquiring experience in the density of earth matter”. “What occurs in life is not a sequence of chance mishaps, accidents and misfortunes, but a pattern that is, in some mysterious way, planned… Our higher self has somehow chosen its own destiny”¹. During the process of incarnation, however, the soul forgets this plan for its life. It is therefore the task of everyone to gradually reawaken, to remember this plan, and implement it. As Joseph Campbell said: “We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us”², that is to say, let go of the plan of the unaware ego, and discover the destiny that was planned by the higher self. Elsewhere he said: “If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living”³.
There are helpful agencies to assist in this process of reawakening; Trevelyan says: “We may be certain that we have invisible guides and helpers who can lead us through to the light” (p23). Who or what exactly are these guides? Since they are invisible, it is hard to be precise, but words that have been used to describe them are higher self, spirit guides, guardian angels, daemons. This idea will perhaps seem weird to some, but I believe that many people have had experiences of such agencies. We have to be and act in tune with their will.
In practice this might prove to be difficult and surprising. Dreams, mysterious as they are, seem to be one expression of this higher will. Even though many people may doubt the existence of spirit guides etc., no one can deny the existence of dreams; they are available daily to everyone. I especially like this passage from God Has No Edges, Dreams Have No Boundaries, by Arthur Bernard⁴. In his introduction he calls the book “a wake-up call full of inner surprises”, and “another dimension to personal quests for God”. The book is for “people who are suffering from the spiritual hunger that traditional religion is not feeding”. He then says that dreams “take you into the heart of an inner universe that is pregnant with new potential and possibilities. A great living intelligence dreams inside you, knows who you are, and knows what you need”. This sounds remarkably like one of those higher agencies that Trevelyan refers to.
Barnard then continues with words even more relevant to my theme: “Dreams are trying to guide the human race into creating a more aware and informed world. You may not realize what a crucial role you play in this drama, but your dreams do”. He further says: “Organized religion claims to have total knowledge of what God wants the individual to do. Its spokesmen declare they know the mind of God and therefore have the right to regulate your sex life, path to heaven, dietary habits, thoughts, marriage responsibilities, etc. These preacher-teachers have imprisoned and impoverished souls rather than liberated and enriched them”. He says that dreams say think again to Christians, Muslims, Jews.
What might this mean in practice? Suppose, for example, that you are an environmental activist, and have decided to dedicate your life to that cause, and then a dream tells you to give all this up and pursue a career as an actor. Suppose at that point that you realise that this is what you have always secretly wanted to do, but for some reason didn’t have the courage, had doubts. You may still think that the environmental cause is more important; surely we need the planet to continue, in order to be able to be an actor on it. But then the dreams become more and more insistent…
Any forward-looking worldview must obviously be spiritual in nature and completely reject materialist science, sometimes called ‘Enlightenment’ science, ironically since it has left humanity in a state of total darkness. In the main series I have outlined what I think would be the appropriate science, the religion and spirituality, and the psychology. In future articles I’ll take a look at how these ideas have been expressed in ancient myths. Putting these four ingredients together, this understanding could be the foundation of the new societies and governments emerging. We must resist secularism, any attempt to confine spiritual beliefs to being merely a private matter, since this cannot resolve the difficult issues we are facing. A truly spiritual worldview is the solution to our problems, and has to be at the heart of civilisation. We are engaged in a battle against atheism, scientism, and humanism, what Sri Aurobindo called the “dark forces against efforts to manifest the divine on earth”⁵, which provide their own false mythologies. As Robert Reich, former Harvard Professor and political adviser, said: “The greatest conflict of the 21st century… will be between modern civilization and anti-modernists; between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe their allegiance and identity to a higher authority…”⁶. One could interpret this as meaning a conflict between Humanists and spiritually oriented people. I do not wish to be accused of taking the quote out of context, however, so I should say that it continues from a conventional Christian perspective. Here, therefore, I have adapted it so that it is closer to my own belief: “…between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that there are supernatural realms which have to be taken into account; between those who believe in science, reason, and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through spiritual teachings”⁷.
It is therefore time for a new mythology. George Trevelyan talks about a basic transformation of humanity. “For every individual, this must obviously begin with his or her own self. That self is the only piece of the cosmos over which we have direct control and responsibility” (p57). “We are truly working for the future of our own souls and that of the planet as a whole” (p89). He further says: “many of the young in our time are souls who have chosen to be involved with the greatest surge forwards in spiritual evolution that the human race has ever experienced” (p74). Unfortunately, it would seem, many people have been brainwashed by the lies of atheism, scientism, and Humanism. It is time to wake up.
Trevelyan continues with a long quote from Sri Aurobindo, from which I extract some especially significant lines:
- “Our ideal is a new birth of humanity into the spirit; our life must be a spiritually inspired effort to create a body of action for the great new birth and creation. Our ideal is not the spirituality that withdraws from life but the conquest of life by the power of the spirit…
- (The young) will need to consecrate their lives to an exceeding of their lower self, to the realization of God in themselves and in all human beings and to a whole-hearted and indefatigable labor for the nation and for humanity”.
We are therefore seeking to bring heaven down to earth, working to transform the material world, not to escape it, as in Buddhism and Hinduism. This is primarily a task for the young, a new generation; they will have the energy and enthusiasm to complete it. They will have to begin to understand that much of what they have been exposed to by society is false. Hopefully they will be prepared to take some words of advice from older people.
I’ve been trying to come up with a pithy phrase, a slogan to sum all this up. This is a little long, but it’s the best that I’ve come up with so far: seek to become your true self, in all its depths; be guided by your Higher Self and allow yourself to be surprised. Then act upon what you find with all your heart and soul.
I’m calling this whole series a new mythology, but it is not really new; all the various parts have been expressed before, so I’m not making any special claim for originality. I have tried, however, to bring together all the various elements into a single package. Many people already believe in and are living these ideas, so the real problem is how to get such a spiritual worldview into the education system of increasingly secular societies, how to make this worldview a way of life for everyone.
One notable predecessor who said something similar was Marilyn Ferguson in The Aquarian Conspiracy⁸. It is now almost 40 years since its first publication, and I’ll be revisiting it soon in a new series of articles. To conclude, here’s a brief taster of what she said (p35–36):
- “Once this journey has begun in earnest, there is nothing that can dissuade. No political movement, no organized religion commands a greater loyalty. This is an engagement with life itself, a second chance at meaning”.
- “If these discoveries of transformation are to become our common heritage for the first time in history, they must be widely communicated. They must become our new consensus, what ‘everybody knows’ ”.
- “The Aquarian Conspiracy is using its widespread outposts of influence to focus on the dangerous myths and mystiques of the old paradigm, to attack obsolete ideas and practices. The conspirators urge us to reclaim the power we long ago surrendered to custom and authority, to discover, under the clutter of all our conditioning, the core of integrity that transcends conventions and codes”.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. I have written in the past about other topics, including spirituality, metaphysics, psychology, science, Christianity, politics, and astrology. All these articles are on Medium, but the simplest way to see a guide to them is to visit my website (click here and here).
1. A Vision of the Aquarian Age: the Emerging Spiritual Worldview, 1977, later edition Gateway Books, 1994, p8, p12–13
3. The Power of Myth, Doubleday, 1988, p91
4. Wheatmark, 2009. The following quotes are on Pxi-xii.
6. “Bush’s God”, The American Prospect Online, July 17th 2004, 40
7. The original quote was: “…between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is mere preparation for an existence beyond life; between those who believe in science, reason, and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture and religious dogma”.
8. Granada, 1982