with MICHAEL MEADE
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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