The New Mysteries
In thinking about the shape of ‘what has been' from my perspective as an anthropologist, as well as the various possibilities of ‘what's to come' from my perspective as a modern shamanic practitioner and teacher, several givens come up for consideration.
For example: Given the prominence of some form of religion in peoples' lives virtually everywhere, it is obvious that there exists a great psychological need among humans to believe in something greater than ourselves.
Second: The next given is that we are living in a time of great change and things coming apart. This is also a time in which increasing numbers of spiritual seekers are leaving our mainstream religions in droves and turning toward non-Western spiritual practices.
And third: Given the number of websites and workshops devoted to exploring aspects of the old mystery schools of the past, not to mention the unending avalanche of books that have been written on these and related subjects during the past two decades, an interesting question now arises.
As we come to the end of this cycle of ages and the beginning of the next, are we willing to draw on the wisdom of the old mystery schools, reworking and transforming it into something entirely new, refining this wisdom and enhancing it in a way that reflects who we are now as well as who we are becoming?
The Mystical Path
In the world of the shaman, the path on which I walk, it was always understood that each new generation across time had the responsibility to perpetuate and refresh a continuously recreated tradition, even adding to and changing the accumulating horde of spiritual treasure. For it was always in this way that this ancient mystical path remained vital as well as meaningful to those who were walking it.
With the ending of this cycle of ages and the beginning of the next, we now have the same sacred responsibility that was carried by our ancestors. To act on this will require courage as well as the willingness to bless and let go of anything—religious or otherwise—that is outdated and that is no longer serving us.
And at the same time, this is not just about the deconstruction of what was... it is also about the building of what is coming into being. It's about the creation of a new spiritual foundation for the next cycle that in turn is about the creation of a new world. This is not a small thing and it deserves our full attention.
In support, here is an interesting account from the life of the esteemed psychologist Carl Jung.
Max Zeller's Dream
Toward the end of the 1940s, Jung had an interesting conversation with a friend named Max Zeller who told him about a recurrent dream that he had been having.
In the dream, he saw uncountable numbers of people, and of every race and culture, working on what appeared to be the foundation of an immense temple. As far as he could see, all the way to the horizon, swarms of people appeared to be raising an endless number of great stone pillars, and in fact Zeller himself was one of those engaged in this huge task within his dream.
When he asked Jung if he knew the meaning of the dream, Jung responded that the great temple was the new religion that is coming into being and that uncountable numbers of people were already actively involved in its construction.
Zeller then asked Jung how he knew this to be so, to which the psychologist responded that many of his clients had reported that they were having the same dream. When Zeller then asked Jung how long he thought it would take to create this new religion, Jung told him "300 years..." with a twinkle.
I read this account many years ago in a publication from the Jung Institute... and I have thought often about the implications of this dream as well as Jung's insights about it.
A New Spiritual Complex
300 years... it was approximately this span of time that was required to formalize and codify the ‘new religion' of early Christianity that began within a Judean splinter group called the Zaddikim during the Roman Period (at the end of the third stage of the 26,000 year cycle) and then expanded dramatically in response to the emperor Constantine's conversion in 325 CE. Backed by the military might of the Roman Empire, Christianity came to dominate our current age for 1700 years.
--For those interested, the cycle of ages is discussed in some detail in my chapter about the transformational community in Awakening to the Spirit World, co-authored with Sandra Ingerman (pp. 263-267)--
We are now at the end of our current stage—the fourth and the last of the cycle, and in response, the plethora of books on mysticism, shamanism, Buddhism, Taoism, Kabbala, Sufism, Gnosticism, not to mention all those books on self-awareness and personal development, reveals that more and more of us are growing beyond our old belief systems and are embracing a more expanded version of our own self-nature as well as who and what we are becoming.
Increasing numbers of us are searching for reconnection with the archetypes that the mystics have always sought out across time—with the authentic transpersonal forces who are poised and willing to help us and who want the best for us.
This seems to be part of a progression forward (and upward) toward the new spiritual complex that is taking form as the ‘New Mysteries...' And just what are these New Mysteries? They are none other than the ‘new religion' described by Jung.
This is a question worthy of our consideration—one we are going to address in upcoming essays in the months to come. And so a quick overview of the foundation of the new mysteries might be appropriate here.
First and foremost: The mysteries in every age have always begun with the adventure of self-discovery... with the quest to find out who and what we really are, where we came from, as well as what our purpose for being here is—and it has always been through this quest that we have acquired an enhanced awareness of what our life lessons are—the ones on which we are currently working.
As we progress in our quest, it has been my experience that the process is much like peeling an onion, one in which we remove those outer layers that we took on unconsciously from our families and friends and from society at large—those social values and beliefs and morals about who we think we are (or should be) as well as who we are afraid we are (or not).
As we peel them away, we find within our essential self—our true soul nature that usually has nothing whatsoever to do with the script that most of us were handed at birth, nor in most cases with who and what our parents are (or were.)
These revelations inevitably guide us toward a greater understanding of who we really are, and discovering this, we must then practice discernment as to how much of our new awareness can interface with that of our families and friends, as well as with society at large. For it is not in alignment with the mystic path to create disharmony or discord, although this does sometimes happen.
The Path that Only We Walk On
Yet when we step onto our path—the path that only we walk on—the mysteries begin to beckon, inviting us into the deeper levels of wisdom where we may learn much about the true nature of reality and how this interfaces with the true nature of ourselves.
In my experience, this wisdom cannot be acquired from belief systems, nor can it be gleaned from faith alone. It must be derived from direct connection with the transpersonal, invisible worlds that are all around us and within us, and all the time, for this experience alone conveys the mantle of authentic initiation upon us.
As we receive this mantle, everything changes. Among these changes, we discover that everything everywhere is actually connected to everything else... and that consciousness is the field through which these connections are established and maintained.
This discovery in turn brings the seeker into the direct experience of the field of magnified power that underlies and infuses everything everywhere with life force... a field of which your own soul is a part... that same field that many call God.
In my own investigations of this field of power, I have found that God is not a thing or a noun; I have found God to be a verb, a process that flows within everything everywhere, a force that is both transcendent as well as immanent, both remote as well as omnipresent, both there as well as here, both up and down, in and out, coming and going, simultaneously then and now and forever...
It has been my direct experience (recorded in my book Visionseeker) that what most Westerners think of as the father (or mother) God is actually a beginningless and endless field of light that some know as the Source or the Tao, a vast sea of timeless energy that is charged with potential. And this luminous Source is everywhere because everything is a manifestation of it.
It is what the mystics of the old Mystery School called ‘the light beyond the form' and ‘the formless beyond the light.'
Through direct experience, we become aware that this limitless field is not some divinity who listens to our prayers, works in mysterious ways, and sends occasional messengers to Earth. That's our own God-Self, our personal Higher Self, our Oversoul who imbues us with a spark of its divine light when we take our first breath.
Conversely, the great field of light, the Great Central Sun that is the Source is utterly impersonal, utterly remote, and yet it has also been my experience that when conditions are favorable, this omnipresent field can and does respond. Insights such as these can completely and utterly change the one who receives them... and as we are transformed, so is the world.
This quest begins with the search for the Self and then draws us into the irreversible vortex of what many call enlightenment or awakening. This is currently being explored by tens of millions of people in the Western world... maybe hundreds of millions. And their investigations are happening mainly outside the carefully patrolled borders of our organized religions.
Within those possibly hundreds of million spiritual seekers, the new religious complex that Max Zeller and Carl Jung talked about more than 60 years ago is quietly taking form, one that will likely replace or at the least considerably change our current religious traditions. And given our high technology and world-wide systems of communication, this may take place in considerably less than 300 years...
The New Mysteries that are coming into manifestation in our time now ask us an all-important question:
‘How is each of us to define our own personal standard of humanity... and what would that standard be?'
Good question... because it is through this path alone that we may become who and what we are designed to become... and what is that precisely?