Has the epoch of soul already begun? Has the so-called Age of Aquarius commenced? Are we living in an era sort of like the idea of messianic secrecy where, what Scott Preston calls The Planetary Era, has already come into existence, but the fact is still hidden from the consciousness of the masses? Since the beginning of The Great War in 1914, events pointing to the birth of a new age have accelerated quickly. Since that time, we have seen the dreams of Modern Era (Age of Enlightenment) thinkers annihilated. No longer do we assert that extreme rationality and scientific progress can solve all of our problems. This view involved a linear idea of progress, where “advances in technology, science, and social organization can produce an improvement in the human condition” (The Idea of Progress, Wikipedia). We now know this to be false. It was a case of anthropocentric naivete, or just downright narcissism. The fact that we are now aware of our erroneous thinking leads us to conclude that, first, we are presumably more aware of the human condition, and second, due to this expanded awareness, a different era of collective consciousness has been inaugurated.
In the past, I have written that we are “on the cusp” of the epoch of soul, but I am now convinced it has begun. There will be overlap for quite awhile to come. Our world is in deep crisis. We are spinning in a maelstrom that will either lead to what some are calling a new Dark Age for humanity, or an era of what Gebser calls “integrality.” Gebser writes,
The crisis we are experiencing today is not just a European crisis, nor a crisis of morals, economics, ideologies, politics or religion. It is not only prevalent in Europe and America but in Russia and the Far East as well. It is a crisis of the world and mankind such as has occurred previously only during pivotal junctures — junctures of decisive finality for life on earth and for the humanity subjected to them. The crisis of our times and our world is in a process — at the moment autonomously — of complete transformation, and appears headed toward an event which, in our view, can only be described as a “global catastrophe.” This event, understood in any but anthropocentric terms, will necessarily come about as a new constellation of planetary extent (Gebser, xvii – xviii).
Notice Gebser’s phrase, “pivotal junctures.” Throughout history, there have been these turning points, which, by the way, is the meaning of the word, “crisis.” Mankind has faced profound crises during, and prior to, times of momentous transformation. They are “junctures of decisive finality for life on earth and for the humanity subjected to them.“ Gebser sounds like an apocalyptic prophet warning us of our impending doom. And rightly so, for there have always appeared prophetic voices throughout history to sound a clarion call to prepare for critical events to follow. Be attentive! Wake up! Gebser basically says we have a choice between “global catastrophe” and “integrality:” “Either we will be disintegrated and dispersed, or we must resolve and effect integrality” (ibid.).
Another premonitory voice who made a similar pronouncement was Indian philosopher, Sri Aurobindo:
At present mankind is undergoing an evolutionary crisis in which is concealed a choice of its destiny; for a stage has been reached in which the human mind has achieved in certain directions an enormous development while in others it stands arrested and bewildered and can no longer find its way. A structure of the external life has been raised up by man’s ever-active mind and life-will, a structure of an unmanageable hugeness and complexity, for the service of his mental, vital, physical claims and urges, a complex political, social, administrative, economic, cultural machinery, an organised collective means for his intellectual, sensational, aesthetic and material satisfaction. Man has created a system of civilisation which has become too big for his limited mental capacity and understanding and his still more limited spiritual and moral capacity to utilise and manage, a too dangerous servant of his blundering ego and its appetites (Aurobindo, 1090-1092)…
Aurobindo offers us another a fork-in-the-road scenario. If we desire to save our planet and humanity, “a greater whole-being, whole-knowledge, whole-power is needed to weld all into a greater unity of whole-life.” If we choose this way, it will result in “a life of unity, mutuality and harmony born of a deeper and wider truth of our being…” This “is the only truth of life that can successfully replace the imperfect mental constructions of the past” (ibid.). These “imperfect mental constructions of the past” are synonymous with the previous structures of consciousness spoken of by Gebser. His idea of an integral structure corresponds to Aurobindo’s hope for a “greater unity of whole-life.”
How will this transpire? What strategy can we adopt to help us avert a disastrous future? It will be a difficult time for us, but we know that pathologization is the nature of soul, so we know that travailing times are birth-pangs. The evil and ugliness we see in our world are psychopathologizations of the Anima Mundi, symptoms that provide clues as to Her psychic state.
We have seen the end result of a positivistic, myth-denying, sacrilegious mindset that allows bankers to run roughshod over those less fortunate; that encourages corporations to advertise to the point of brainwashing people into endless buying of nonsensical products; that influences people to bring assault rifles to public places in the hope of massacring as many as possible. Our society has become psychotic.
Since the advent of modern depth psychology, individuals have been focusing mostly on their own journey of the soul, which is perfectly fine, as long as one remembers there is a greater good, i.e. the psychic health of the World Soul. Of course, caring for one’s individual soul contributes to the health of the World Soul. We simply must be cognizant of this fact and not fall under the illusion that our own well-being is primary. Traditionally, individual patients were treated with forms of inter-subjective therapies, and even group-related therapies, but the world remained external to these. Many patients have made tremendous progress. Millions are in better shape today than possibly anytime in history. Certainly, there are many troubled people out there, and many who purposely choose to follow a dark path of malevolence. For the most part, however, humans have achieved astounding and wonderful things in the past few hundred years. It is now time to shift our focus to healing our world. In this, we heal ourselves.
Gebser, Jean. The Ever-Present Origin. Trans. by Noel Barstad and Algis Mickunas. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1985.