with MICHAEL MEADE
This episode begins with a distinction between signs and symbols, specifically the sense that a sign points to something evident whereas a symbol can connect to the mysteries of life and death. In the aftermath of the most recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, and amidst the ongoing tragic conditions in Puerto Rico, Michael Meade talks about the necessity of having a meaningful practice for finding psychic grounding and places of stability. He also laments that the battle between life and death has become the story of modern culture and argues for the necessity of “living symbols” that connect us to the enduring presence of the other world and the deep imagination that is the genuine legacy of the human soul.
Michael Meade begins with a poem that suggests that the big dream of the world may be increasingly obscured by the nightmare of endless war and the growing number of conflicts throughout the world. In a heartfelt response to many who write in about being discouraged about life, he argues that freedom is found in the active, imaginative mind and in the hidden poetic union of the soul. Weaving ideas about the roots of human creativity and the articulation of beauty and meaning in the world, the path leads to ideas of the deep self as being the center of life and source of the ongoing dream of the world. In the midst of annihilating storms and threatening culture wars, the individual self and soul become the necessary place to turn to and the essential place to stand when the future of the world is at risk.
Michael Meade takes the occasion of Donald Trump’s address to the United Nations to look at both the abuses of power and the genuine roots of power. Meade tells an ancient myth from India in which the deity Indra becomes inflated and unbalanced after a victory that makes him the ruler of this world. In order to bring Indra down to earth, Vishnu, the God of Creation appears as a ragged beggar boy who instructs the ruler on the limits and delusions of power. This weaving together of contemporary events with mythic perspectives helps reveal how power and authority repeatedly need to be re-imagined and grounded in the human soul where the roots of nobility and humility reside.
This episode begins with the idea that we all suffer the mutual fate of living in a time of tragedy and trouble. And yet, the way through the troubles of the world must depend upon the individual thread of fate woven within each person. Although the thread of fate implies limitation in each person’s life, it also ties each person to a destiny waiting to awaken. In order to illustrate the dynamic of personal limitations and calling, Michael Meade tells the story of how he came to write the book called “Fate and Destiny”.
There may be no greater time than these troubled times for understanding how the exact limits of an individual life can lead to the specific destiny that was the aim of that life from the beginning. As Meade says, “destiny is purpose seen from the other end of life.”
This episode takes place in the open moment that is both the aftermath and devastation of Hurricane Harvey and the imminent arrival of another catastrophic storm. Amidst the nightmare of overwhelming storms come political actions that threaten the future of the Dreamers with nightmares of their own. In the face of worldwide adversity and uncertainty it takes a certain kind of blindness and cruelty to reject the young dreamers; for no one knows who carries the seeds of the dream trying to be born after the storms have passed.
Using poetry and ancient myths, Michael Meade points out that when the whole thing seems about to fall apart, revelations of the deep self and the deep dream of life might be closer than ever. The threat of collapse and utter loss can also provoke a deeper sense of the unity of life where nothing but our total involvement and soulful inclusion will work.
This episode takes place during the record-setting rainfall of Hurricane Harvey and the tremendous tragedy and displacement that follows the storm. Michael Meade uses the metaphors of the tough-minded and tender-hearted as ways of understanding the two sides of heroic efforts to save people and survive the disasters of life. Using James Joyce’s idea of living in the time of chaosmos, Meade looks into the eye of the storm of tragedy in search of the underlying nobility of the human soul and its capacity to survive by the surprising elements of altruism and cooperation.
Beginning with reflections on whiteness arising from Mosaic’s recent multicultural conference that came on the heels of the tragedy in Charlottesville, VA. Michael Meade seeks to analyze and deconstruct white supremacy by looking at the cosmological trick that led to using color as a primary aspect of identity. Pointing out how whiteness claims purity at the same time as it produces oppositional thinking, Meade reveals how the misuse of a symbol contributes to centuries of oppression. Breaking the spell of whiteness as an aspect of collective identity turns out to be a necessary step for stopping oppression and finding cultural healing.
Drawing from relevant and compelling archival audio and building on themes from last week's podcast, Michael Meade tells an old and timely story from Japan while arguing for a poetic response to conflict, uncertainty and fear. Meade suggests that genuine peace requires a poetic basis, a relearning of ways to weave the fragile fabric of culture with threads of imagination, meaning, and healing; not a quick fix or a simple protest, but a reclamation of radical roots and practices that affirm and nourish the genuine spirit of humanity. This is the real battle, the battle for beauty and meaning trying to break through the spells of the obvious and the fogs of war.
Michael Meade speaks about moments when myth and fact approach each other, momentous times that the Greeks called Apocairos. Addressing the moments of threat and uncertainty created by the bombastic statements made by Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, Meade opens up the mythic ground of “apocalypsis” that remind us that the world has been on the brink of annihilation many times before, and yet continues because of the slight edge that the energies of creation have over the energies of destruction.
This recording is full of surprising ideas about war and peace, the role of elders in times of threat and what each of us can do to be on the ground of creation, on the side of peace and in the fields of endless imagination.
Michael Meade tells a dramatic life and death story from his life that shows how we are each shaped by compelling threads of fate and destiny woven in our souls. Having been cornered and under threat by members of a rival gang, the youthful Meade suddenly finds himself telling a story that, in effect, saves his life. Having established the sense of an archetypal pattern present in each soul, the tale leads us back to ancient Greece and the myth of the Sisters of Fate.
Fate appears as whatever limits, restricts or even imprisons us; yet fate is the territory where we must go if we are to awaken to our inner destiny. Facing the elements of one’s fate and seeking the destiny hidden within it are part of the art of truly living and of living truly. Fate ties us to the world and keeps us in it, while destiny calls us to a divine errand set deeply within us.
Beginning with an old tale of an eagle that grew up believing it was a chicken; Michael Meade considers the necessity of a second birth that frees the spirit and the soul. Being born is a kind of miracle of life; especially in the sense that each soul that enters this world is unique and never to be repeated. Yet, in order to be fully alive a person must be born a second time. The second birth involves the cracking open of the shell of the little self and a conscious awakening to the inner nature of the individual soul.
It is never enough to simply fit in or just survive; for the soul aims at a destiny from the beginning. A culture that views success in simple terms of money or power will lack the imagination and vision necessary for shaping a meaningful and inclusive future. What really changes the world and what saves us from chaos and despair is the revelation of the spirit within us and the genuine expression of our own souls.
Michael Meade examines the differences between spirit and soul. After describing how spirit rises like air, like fire and soul descends like water, like earth, he turns to the struggle of spirit and soul in each human life. Without the lift and the light of spirit, soul can become too heavy, sodden with earthiness, too tragic or stuck in the mud to move anything forward. Without the shading of soul, what could become wise can become way too sure of itself, too certain of the way and too blinded by the light.
What is most often missing in the modern world is depth of soul and soulful connections. The deeper a person grows the roots of their soul, their instinctive embodied way of connecting to the earth, to the breath of creation, to the ground of being, the more that person can handle the heights and the flights of spirit. Wholeness requires descent as well as ascent. In the end, we can handle as much spirit as we grow our souls.
Soul doesn’t want a sudden solution to the problems of the world, or a sudden enlightenment that takes us out of this world. Soul wants us to live further and further into the depths of this world and into our own being, and thereby draw spirit down and bring heaven right down to Earth.
Secretly, spirit and soul are trying to come together, to unite, but it’s usually the depth of soul that’s missing. By growing more soul each person can become a unique example of the middle ground of creation where spirit can descend and soul can rise. Human beings become the place of ongoing creation where the tremendous energies of spirit and soul can come together in a conscious way.
This episode begins with the old Irish idea that we can experience the world in opposing states called “the glam and the gloom.” The world has glamour when it shines with beauty and wonder, but it also has shadows and gloomy depths which can be experienced as anxiety, grief, and sorrow. Michael Meade connects this old idea to the current condition of the world where the constant drumbeat of troubles ranging from climate disturbances to political devastations creates more gloom in the form of fears and sorrows and even despair.
Antidotes for this modern condition are found in an old myth from India. The story begins when the god Vishnu dreams up the world while sleeping on the cosmic ocean of night. When the first human sage falls out of the dream of life, he winds up lost in the ocean of despair. Surprisingly, the sage finds a dream in the depths of his own soul that gives him both buoyancy and a spiritual orientation. That leads the storyteller to describe the ancient paths of spiritual practice that may once again be the way to find the touch of the divine and the dream of life.
This episode begins with the increasing tension between North Korea and the United States. The war of words between the two nations takes place with the threat of nuclear attacks in the background as levels of collective anxiety rise throughout the world.
In addition to all the politics and history involved, there can be an unconscious stirring of the elemental polarity between the contrasting world views of the Orient and the Occident. Michael Meade shows how East and West, aligned with the rising and setting sun, can also represent a beginning and end-- revealing an even deeper opposition than the North/South divisions that afflict countries like Korea, Vietnam, Ireland, etc.
As this opposing tension mounts, Meade digs deeper, looking for the third thing that can hold beginning and end together and also provide the imaginative ground needed to find new ways to shift the world-wide tensions into creative directions.
Michael Meade takes us all the way back to the beginning of Western culture as depicted in Homer’s Odyssey. He leads us into the moment when the young prince is lamenting the collapse of the realm and the loss of nobility in culture. He encounters an old sailor who has survived many storms and disorienting experiences and therefore embodies a sense of deep knowledge and wisdom. This mythic moment involving the coming together of youth and elder becomes a seminal point from which to view our current cultural issues and conflicts. In the midst of the current arguments about national health and human care, Meade finds a way to lead us to an old and knowing place where the nobility and wisdom of the human soul appear and blessings might be imagined again.
Michael Meade takes the period of the Summer Solstice as a time to consider the hidden sun within the human soul. Using the ancient notion of a “dark sun” within the self, he considers both the overheating of the planet and the need for finding the abundance of golden qualities hidden inside people. “Unlike the outer sun, which can be so searing and burning in the contemporary world, the deep radiance of the inner sun of the self is both creative and healing.”
In the modern world, where so many things are dedicated to the surface of life, the notion of turning deep inside to find what is truly needed takes courage. Each person is golden in some way. Yet, if it were easy to move from the narrow ways of the ego self to the deep presence of the great self within us, more people would be doing it.
With poems from Hafiz and Machado as guides, Meade wanders in the territory of the heart seeking to touch the deeper realms of self and soul where the “treasure hard to find” and the inner radiance of the soul wait to be discovered and be delivered to an outer world which grows steadily darker.
This begins with a description of the youngest sisters and youngest brothers in fairy tales. They seem out of place and behind everyone else, yet they are the only ones able to break the collective spells of materialism, resentment and despair. They represent the genuine dreamer inside all of us and they are deeply connected to the dream of life and the wisdom of mythology. As agents of myth they have exactly what this troubled world most needs. However, it is the attitudes of the older brothers and sisters that prevail in the daily world. Only after all else has failed will people turn to the youngest sister or brother within who has been holding onto the true dream of life all along.
Michael Meade lays out the old idea of the Three Kinds of Thinking: the logical, the psychological and the mythological. Following the trail of the youngest aspects of the psyche, he shows how “when all else makes no sense, mythic imagination makes the most sense.” Myth is the deepest layer of life where grace and wisdom and even redemption can be found.
Michael Meade responds to President Trump’s abrupt backing out of the Paris Accord, leaving the US as one of a few countries out of accord with the increasing need for nations and communities to come together for the sake of the planet. This mythological response leads back to creation stories and an old idea suggesting that when the way forward is unclear, go back to the beginning, because origins retain possibilities and potentials waiting to be revealed. The mythic beginnings of human culture include a depth of imagination capable of generating long-term visions, the exact thing lacking in short-term, self-serving political acts.
A telling of the Mayan creation story describes how when the hard rain comes down upon this world, some people melt out of fear or lack of courage; while others become rigid, narrow-minded, and hard-hearted. Ancient myths help explain how human blindness causes great damage in the world, but also make it possible to see how the whole situation might be redeemable. If people become capable again of connecting to nature and the deep imagination of the human soul, a new narrative might begin and the pulse of creation might be renewed.
Michael Meade speaks about soul as the essential connective tissue of life and the missing ingredient in the current upheaval of culture and nature. He addresses how myth can be an antidote for fear and anxiety and delves into the surprising relationship between genius and wounds to the soul.
Each human soul is the bearer of genius gifts, but each soul also has core wounds that need to be acknowledged. There is a necessary balance between our learning our gifts and healing our inner wounds. Awakening the genuine self within us requires the courage to feel and face inner wounds and seek their healing. This can lead to discovering the genius hidden behind our wounds and understanding how to fully express our genius in the world. We live at a time when everyone’s gifts are needed, but also a time when both culture and nature need healing. The world needs us to awaken to our innate gifts and we need genuine “friends of the self” who can help us stay on the path of giving our gifts and healing our souls.
This episode begins with a dream in which Michael Meade is singing and teaching an African song that implores people to become elders for the sake of their troubled community. Michael sings that song and then takes up the notion that we are all in a collective initiation, part of the point of which is to awaken the inner sage and hidden wisdom in people of all ages.
He makes the point that wisdom has to be specific to the lives and conditions of people. General wisdom is not that useful as something that is wise is one situation is unwise in another. The lack of wisdom seems to be demonstrated by recent government proposals that reduce a safety net already struggling to hold children and old people as well as those dealing with disability and caught in the traps of poverty. When people already feel anxious and fearful, it is truly unwise to remove cultural supports.
Michael concludes with the story of a wise old rabbi who on his deathbed gives sage advice and crucial wisdom to his students, the kind of wisdom we all need to learn in a world that is so troubled by sorrow and loss, by trouble and tragedy.
Michael Meade draws upon one of the oldest manuscripts in the world, a 4,000 year-old papyrus scroll in which a world weary man argues with his “Ba soul.” The man feels deeply troubled by the increase of injustice, the spread of greed and loss of civility in life.
Amidst growing anxiety and despair at the fate of his culture, he considers ending his own life. His soul speaks back to him, encouraging him to honor the gift of life he has been given. Not only that, but to turn to the ground of his soul and learn the nature of the message he was sent to deliver to this world.
The ancient script sounds contemporary as we also live at a time of dissolution and cultural anxiety. The Ba soul is a reference to the uniqueness in each of us that would have us become our true self. Michael uses the old lament to show how these things have happened before and how the deep soul always calls us to live a bigger life despite and because of the troubles that we face in the world.
This episode, part two of "The Origins of the Soul", Michael Meade returns to old ideas about the genius or angel hidden in the soul of each person and needed by the world at this time. He picks up the notion of a guardian angel or inner spirit that tries throughout our lives to awaken us to a meaning we already carry within and an aim the soul has for us. The light of the soul often emerges when we find ourselves in the midst of trouble and confusion. If we can tolerate the tension that develops between the ego and the deeper soul, then the troubling times can become creative instead of discouraging. Then, our core imagination and deepest desires can become more conscious and a deep vitality more available. In considering the growing sense of urgency and emergency, Michael reminds that the word emergency also includes a sense of emergence as what is trying to emerge from each of us is the natural wisdom and genius of our souls.
This episode begins with Michael Meade’s description of his morning practice of study and writing and seeking meaning in both events of the outer world and the inner life. The consideration of the soul as the essential vehicle of meaning in the world leads to the impassioned telling of an ancient Jewish folk myth about the birth of the soul from the roots of the Tree of Life and the role of angels as messengers and intermediaries between the seen and the Unseen. Somehow, that story leads back the mundane world and an experience of being stuck in a traffic jam that involves a surprising appearance of an angel and that returns the listener to the practice of finding meaning in both external and internal events.
This episode begins with a contemplation that expands the notion of Earth Day, steps into ancient ideas about the qualities of earth energies, and touches on the element of earth as it exists in our own body, in our psyche and especially our heart. The episode ends with a dramatic story about the Old Grandmother Eagle willing to sacrifice herself in order to bring all the people who are fighting with each other back into the deep rhythm of this earth.
In the midst of the national health care debate, the latest episode of the Living Myth podcast addresses issues of a country divided into opposing villages. Michael Meade tells a Native American story about the Old Salt Woman and her grandchild who wander the world hungry and unwanted. The old tale sheds light on the dangers of a culture becoming so harshly divided that people blindly deny each other basic needs. The surprise in the story involves the necessity of finding the inner Salt of Wisdom that can produce lasting solutions for problems in the outer world. More people have to become worth their salt and that may have to begin with the ‘olders’ becoming elders.
On this episode, drawn from a recent talk, Michael Meade weaves poetry, humor and story to illustrate the need for poetic imagination and soul truth. The poet’s role is to act as a counterweight to feelings of isolation and fear by stating the truth of the human soul. We must trust now, more than ever, in that which is in us to begin with – the seed of genius that aims our life. He concludes with an evocative story that shows we are as deep as the earth goes and as high as the planets stretch.
This episode begins with the old idea of three intersecting layers of life. The first layer includes the basic courtesies and practices of daily life. The third layer involves the deeper sense of joy and love as well as a genuine sense of belonging and spiritual fulfillment. The problem is that the only way to go from the limited surface of life to the deeper ground of spirit and soul is to pass through the second layer. The second layer seethes with turmoil and disruption and it boils with fear, anger, resentment and other “negative emotions”. In this historic moment the turmoil of the second layer seems to be flooding into the surface level of life. The question is whether that places us closer to the healing of the third layer or just closer to oblivion.
This episode includes a mythological and cosmological tour of the many realms in which we live. This mythic survey includes the discovery of seven new planets in a nearby galaxy, it touches upon the chaos happening in the White House at the center of our American universe, then descends into the inner cosmos of the human soul, a place that remains surprisingly equal to everything that exists in the world outside.
Meade arrives at the idea that each person has a deeper name inscribed in their soul, a name that is connected to the script of the story they came to live, and there is no better time to live out the story inside the soul than this time that is a mixture of cosmic order and chaos, what James Joyce called the “chaosmos”.
Listen as Michael Meade finds remarkable parallels between an eastern European folk tale and the drama currently going on in the White House. This little known folk tale opens up the psychological implications of lying, cover-ups and intimidation in the halls of power. Meade shows the importance of understanding how a personal lack of soul and warm embrace in a ruler can lead to the banning and deportation of many people and an increase in the sense of isolation.
Michael Meade speaks about longing and the soul. In the condition of the world we are in now, because of fear and an excess of identity politics, our natural longing becomes reduced. Modern life has gotten more and more narrow and one of the disturbing ways is the collapse of vertical imagination which leaves people thinking you can solve all life’s problems through politics and economics, which is just one layer of human life. The longing comes from a speck of eternity set within the soul and because the longing is part of something divine, it is also something other than us. In light of the immigrant ban and the intensification of the fear of the “other”, he describes how the “other” always represents an otherness within ourselves that is trying to awaken. Because the human soul longs to grow a bigger life and become more diverse, the longing and the sense of otherness go together.
On this episode, Michael Meade tells an older version of the classic story "The Emperor's New Clothes" as a way of shining a psychological light on the current President. He explains the old meaning of the word king as a way of considering what qualities make a ruler truly legitimate. In laying out a psychological rather than political assessment, Meade argues that the deep personal insecurity and narcissism of the president make the entire country less secure.
On this episode, we draw from relevant and compelling archival audio where Michael Meade argues for the need to respond poetically to division and fear. His message then, set amidst political protests and a loss of meaning, resonates strongly today during this time of uncertainty, upheaval and unfolding protest. He speaks to the ongoing struggle for the imagination and soul of America, as well as our search for refuge, and ends by singing a powerful song to the earth from the Yoruba tribe in Africa.
Michael Meade reflects on two recent and significant events that unfolded within 24 hours of each other - the inauguration of Donald Trump and the worldwide women’s marches - and he speaks to how meaningful actions and lasting change ultimately requires transformation on the level of the individual soul.
Michael Meade addresses the upcoming inauguration, the deeper meaning of the word inaugurate and how, at this critical time, we are each called to follow the thread of our soul and be agents of ongoing creation.
Michael Meade introduces the role of myth in making sense of our complex and challenging world and he answers the question “Why Myth, Why Now?”
On this episode, drawn from an interview on Voices of Vashon Radio, Michael Meade shows how trouble and collapse can awaken the soul. There is something in each of us that we came here to give – our gift of genius – and there is no better time to find it than now. Because no single hero will save everybody, we need a collective awakening of the genius within to reweave the world and anchor community in the deep ground of the soul.
On this episode, Michael Meade takes the old notion of the Gordian Knot and handles it both mythologically and as a way of looking at the Syrian knot - the ongoing tragedy unfolding in Syria. He connects each to the idea of a wasteland, that once it starts, can spread in all directions and he concludes by offering antidotes that have to do with the authenticity of the soul of each person.
Michael Meade addresses diversity, the genius myth compared to the heroes myth and how we can respond to challenge at a soul level. Just as no two trees are the same, each person born is a unique soul with a specific way of viewing life and being in the world. The Genius Myth suggests that diversity is essential to humanity, just as it is the essence of a growing forest or ecological system. From the soul’s radical view, the turbulence of the world can stir the genius seed within us and help reveal the true reason we each came to life. Being true to one’s genius path in life becomes a potent antidote to all the lies and falsehoods in the world.
Following an ancient myth from India, Michael Meade uncovers old ideas about the troubles in the world and human creativity. One idea is that trouble and conflict are not in the world to diminish or harm us, as much as to push us to a greater sense of creativity. The story shows that offering a helping hand to those more endangered than ourselves, can alter our connection to nature and to the divine hidden in this world. Myths try to remind us that the divine is always nearby and trying to get our attention. The problem is that we must listen for the little voices and bend down to find the roots of survival and threads of imagination that otherwise might be lost.
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