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, to certain of the way and too blinded by the light.”
What is lost 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.
“The sense of spiritual gold being hidden in the heart or the self permeates all the great religions and most spiritual practices. And yet in order for us to feel this inner warmth and benefit from the inner radiance, the ego, which keeps thinking it is in charge, must loosen and open and become a servant of the deeper self and sun within.”
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 episode 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.
On this episode, 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 of Living Myth 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.
In this episode, 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.
In 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. It 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.
On this episode of the Living Myth Podcast, 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.
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.
Nature only produces originals. 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. That’s part of the message of the Genius Myth, which also suggests that the Hero Myth may no longer serve as the best way of seeing the role of the individual soul 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. The struggles around diversity at this time are essential for social justice; but also shape a context for awakening to the radical nature of the human soul.
Radical means the ‘deepest root of a plant or tree’ and genius is the radical root of the soul. 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. In times of comfort the genius may sleep; in times of trouble genius awakens. 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.
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.
"Take your well-disciplined strengths, stretch them between the two great opposing poles, because inside human beings is where God learns." - Rilke
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 current condition of the world, because of fear and an excess of identity politics, our natural longing becomes reduced. Our 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”, Meade 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.
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.