In part two of the ancient story of Indra and the Two Worlds, we learn that Indra, having become disillusioned with what most people call the real world, becomes a renunciate, spending his time in meditation and contemplation. Meanwhile, the daily world falls apart as conflicts intensify and chaos spreads, leading Queen Shachi to realize that enlightened leadership must be brought back to the world. Michael Meade's interpretation of the story includes how we each relate to issues of empowerment and abdication, disillusionment with the world as well as the significance of the Bodhisattva concept.
The wisdom of myth says that all of this has happened before; leaders have misused power, justice has been turned upside down and people have been left in despair. In the first episode of a two-part podcast, Michael Meade draws upon an ancient and compelling myth from India that considers the dangers and distortions of misguided leadership. Lord Indra is possessed by the idea of winning at all costs and being ruler of the entire world. In order to avert a worldwide catastrophe, he must be shocked into a greater state of awareness.
“In the depths of the soul we are each an ‘old soul’ able to survive the troubles of the world, and also able to contribute to its healing and renewal.” So says, Michael Meade on this episode, drawn from a recent radio interview. Starting with the intrigues of both spirit and soul, the conversation turns to ways to navigate the maze of life when the world seems to go upside down and truth becomes hard to find. Using many insights from mythic imagination, Meade offers medicines and antidotes to the current conditions of the world. He also warns, “Either we are following spirit and growing more soul or we can find ourselves shrinking from life.”
Michael Meade responds to three questions people continually ask him: Are people unwittingly playing with worldwide disaster by pulling out of nuclear agreements, climate accords and trade alliances? Why are people so readily polarized and ready to demonize whoever doesn’t agree with them? And why are so many people falling into conspiracy theories and delusional fantasies? Surprisingly, all three questions are answered with the same ancient notion that sometimes everything must go upside down before things can turn around again. Sometimes we have to face the chaos in order to find paths to renewal.
The Greek word for truth is alethia, which translates as “not to forget”. In that sense, the loss of truth and the rise of falsity in modern life represents a great cloud of forgetting. In this episode, Michael Meade goes searching for truth and meaning in the old myths of the underworld where a person could find themselves caught between Lethe, the River of Forgetfulness or Oblivion, and Mnemosyne, the River of Great Memory and imagination. In a world turned upside down, the underworld stream of forgetfulness and lies floods the daily world. Finding the truth will mean remembering the deep values of humanity and the living stream of imagination that can renew all of life.