by Maurice Turmel
Parables and mythical stories have been with us throughout time. From the earliest of cave drawings to modern writing and film parables, as guides to human experience, have been a source of inspiration throughout history. They are the teachers that guide us through challenges confronting us at different stages in our lives. Parables provide us with images and symbols that crystallize human experience into digestible pieces. As we are symbol seeking creatures, parables serve to illustrate each lesson we are about to embark on. They inform, they guide and they teach.
Periodically, in our collective human journey, we have major awakenings. Our history books inform us of this; all of our major disciplines are affected. A breakthrough in science often leads to a breakthrough in human awareness. For example, “the sun does not revolve around the earth,” but, “the earth revolves around the sun” struck down a core belief that could not be sustained by the facts. Earth-centeredness equaled self-centeredness during this period of our history and both were dealt a fatal blow. As a result, we humans became part of something larger than ourselves, a part of the Universe if you will, rather than being its center. When we take a long view of our recorded history we see that such awakenings have occurred regularly and continue to this day.
With the information explosion of modern times we are likely on the threshold of another major awakening. The world becomes smaller as each of us gains access to new information sources via the Internet; and as the benefits from that expanding knowledge base continue to grow. One could argue that our collective consciousness is uniting as we abandon isolationism and move toward the growing awareness that we are indeed One.
Within each period of history a symbol would emerge in the consciousness of man that described this process of evolution at the personal level. The symbol for today is the arising of the Self, well described by Carl Jung and the human potential movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s. From Self-actualization to Self-empowerment, the symbol of the Self announces a growing understanding that at the center of us lays a core, and this core is our Self out of which emerges creative expression of our truest nature.
The Self is not our Ego which has been our symbol of outward expression until this time. The ego has been an integral part of our human journey but is no longer its mainstay. As many Eastern philosophers point out, the ego is a stepping stone to this new threshold, the arising of the Self. This Self is our core which, as we shall see, connects us to the Divine. Remember, the ego wants to be a God unto itself, totally self-sufficient and isolated, lying at the root of all our addictions which take us away from our true Self.
This Self contains and expresses that which we are in our feelings and emotions. This feeling nature has been called Heart and refers to our strongest desires and passions. “Follow your bliss” Joseph Campbell would suggest in answer to such questions as “who am I?” and “what is my purpose here on this earth?” The “recovery movement” has linked this Self with “the lost inner child.” Again, another description that places the Self as our feeling nature. I believe that this Self is the “true” center of our human personality and when “free” and “actualized” connects us to our Soul, its spiritual counterpart.
Our Soul is our connection to the Spiritual and the very source of our being. Our Soul takes on human form for its Earthly experience and gives rise to the Self which is the spiritual in human form. Self and Soul are the flip sides of the same coin. On the one side we see our spiritual nature; on the other we see our essential human nature. Expressing the Divine through our human form brings God down to Earth and renders this physical experience “Holy.” Our parables, myths and stories recount this journey where the hero or heroin always emerges vitally alive, unencumbered and free.
The Self then, is brought forward and nurtured on the human plane of experience. Expressing this Self strengthens us in our human drama and leads us back to Soul. Self and Soul work dynamically together to maintain the bond between the human and the Divine. We see that we are Spiritual beings first and foremost. And our humanness is but one expression of the Divine that seeks to enlarge Itself through the human journey, to once again assert why we are here – which is simply To Grow!