New Book by
The Genius Myth proposes that each person born participates in the genius of life and the world at this time is in great need of an awakening of the genius qualities hidden in each of us. In a rapidly changing world faced with seemingly impossible problems, it becomes important to understand that each person has something to contribute to the solutions.
Both timely and timeless, this book is essential for anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or social status, who seeks to awaken their own genius and learn how they can help heal nature and renew culture.
The culmination of decades of work with at-risk youth and at-risk people, this book combines dramatic real life experiences with compelling mythic tales and a profound exploration of the wisdom of genius.
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Amidst the speed of changes occurring in both nature and culture it takes very little to tear the skin of civilization and reveal massive and festering emotional wounds full of fear, rage, resentment and vengeance. We are not just in the midst of an unusual election or a surprising political period. We are not simply in the middle of the hottest summer on record. We are in an extended period of the radical churning of the world in which all the toxicities and poisons that are usually held back appear on the stage of life at the same time.
There is growing “collective trauma” as news of tragic shootings, terrorist atrocities and cultural unrest come from all sides and in a rapid succession that allows little time to process, much less integrate the effects of trauma. Amidst all the radical changes and deepening tragedies, anxiety becomes a free-floating collective state.
The conventions of both major political parties have taken place, not only amidst overheated political rhetoric; but also in the midst of what promises to be the hottest summer in recorded history. For the first time on record, every inch of all 50 states is forecast to see above-average temperatures for the entire period leading up to the election. In the Middle East, where extremism and endless wars can seem like “hell on earth,” temperatures have reached as high as 129 degrees.
“We’re in record breaking territory no matter how you look at it,” said Jennifer Francis, an Arctic specialist at Rutgers University, “the ice is really low, the temperatures are really high, the fire seasons have started earlier… it’s uncharted territory we’re finding ourselves in.” Truth be told, we are in uncharted territory in terms of human culture as well. As surface temperatures reach new highs month after month, people all over the earth become over-exposed to the burning rays of a once friendly sun.
At the same time, once protective layers of social institutions wear thin and polarized political parties struggle to contain the raw forces of human emotion. Between the rise of global warming and the spread of global terror it becomes difficult to avoid intense feelings and extreme thoughts as inner fears compete with outer threats.
Both political parties suffer intense internal divisions at the same time as the hostility towards the opposing party slips into spasms of revulsion. Mutual hatred may prove to be the biggest motivating force during this exceptionally overheated political season. At a deeper level these are symptoms of an even greater tearing of the fabric of the world. To be alive at this time means to become a witness, willing or unwilling, to the loosening of the web of nature as well as the unraveling of the fabric of culture.
To be alive at this time means to be a witness to the cosmos melting into chaos; leaving us in a tumultuous state that James Joyce termed the “chaosmos.” Cosmos means order, as in the grand scheme of things; the whole thing seen as a whole with each piece in its natural place. The opposite of the cosmic arrangement is chaos [Gk khaos] meaning “chasm” or “gaping void.” Chaos is the primal emptiness, the abysmal abyss, the black hole from which all things appear and into which they can easily disappear.
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The old Greek word tyrant could be applied to despotic kings, but was also used to describe popular usurpers who arrogate to themselves authority they have no right to use. In modern usage, a tyrant can be any imperious or domineering person who insists on complete obedience from others. And there lies the rub, for tyranny is not something simply imposed upon people without their agreement; the rise of tyranny requires consent from those about to be victimized. History abounds with examples of tyrants exploiting groups of people who believed they were about to be saved from the uncertainties of life.
The rule of divide and conquer has been a favorite tool of tyrants whether they are petty dictators or great pretenders. But, a tyrant ascends to power upon the proliferation of confusion, fear and chaos. Tyrants know no restraint and break all the rules, while those who enable the rise of tyranny restrain themselves from interceding because common rules and agreements seem to require self-restraint and moderation. Thus, the rise of tyranny depends upon a lack of courage and conviction on the part
of those who recognize the threat to common decency and order, but refuse to take a clear stand against it. While the meaning of the word democracy remains a subject of much controversy, as does the practice of it; there is little doubt that democracy stands in opposition to all forms of tyranny. Fear not only causes people to abandon core principles; but it is said to be the parent of cruelty. Long before tyranny comes to rule, there is an escalation of both fear and cruelty. All cruelty comes from weakness and when people become overly fearful they not only support a would be “strong man,” but also become willing to overlook systematic cruelty.
Hubris is the term in ancient Greek for the condition of unrestrained pride and self-importance that leads to arrogance and insolence, but can also lead to violence and outrage. Hubris was seen as a human failure to remember the gods; but “titanism” is a form of hubris that happens when humans deny common decency and basic mortality and strive to be seen as gods. The Titans were primitive giants often called “the strainers;” for being full of hubris and presumption they strained to be like the gods. Titans know no laws, observe no limits and follow no natural order. They are mythic figures that parallel tyrants and usurpers on the human level, reckless giants who appear in times of chaos and in periods of cultural disruption and disorder.
The condition of titanism leads to excesses of arrogance and desires for power that produce blind ignorance, the destructive rejection of all empathy and increasing brutality. Titanic tendencies include extreme projections of guilt as all failures or weaknesses of those affected must be blamed on everyone and everything except themselves.
Michael Meade and Terry Patten talk about how, whether rich or poor, we are all being pushed to the margins to face our brokenness during this time of “apocalypsis” — in which both collapse and renewal are unveiling all that has been hidden.
The first adventure of life requires that we survive basic challenges and strive to establish ourselves in the common world. However, the Second Adventure leads in a different direction as it involves a descent to find the original project of the soul and the unique style that each person brings to life. This deeper adventure may require that we risk all that we have in order to learn the destination our soul is aimed at. The Second Adventure leads to the bridge that connects the mind and the heart as well as the individual soul and the Soul of the World. Crossing the bridge requires that we recognize our deepest longings and find some healing for our essential wounds.
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"No single idea or social movement can solve the daunting problems facing the modern world. Imagination is the deepest power of the human soul and what the world needs now is more people awakening to the power of imagination in their own soul."
- "Michael Meade
Mosaic is a network of artists, activists, community builders, healers, and spiritual teachers working in innovative ways to develop cross-cultural alliances, mentoring relationships, and forms of community healing.
Amid the rattling of cultural institutions and radical changes in nature, it may be time turn again to valuable traditional methods of cultural healing and individual mentoring. Shaping new forms from separate, estranged, or even broken pieces is a dynamic remedy for the personal isolation and spiritual dislocation that increasingly characterize modern life. The creative act of finding and fitting together the divergent yet necessary elements of a diverse culture can produce “moments of wholeness” in times of great uncertainty.
Michael Meade is a renowned storyteller, author, and scholar of mythology, anthropology, and psychology. He combines hypnotic storytelling, street-savvy perceptiveness, and spellbinding interpretations of ancient myths with a deep knowledge of cross-cultural rituals. He has an unusual ability to distill and synthesize these disciplines, tapping into ancestral sources of wisdom and connecting them to the stories we are living today. Michael is the founder of Mosaic Multicultural Foundation.
He is the author of Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of The Soul, Why the World Doesn't End, and The Water of Life: Initiation and the Tempering of the Soul.
© 2016 Mosaic Multicultural Foundation