Interview with Michael Meade: Connecting with the Inner Truth of the Soul in Troubling Times

Interview with Michael Meade: Connecting with the Inner Truth of the Soul in Troubling Times

It was a complete joy to interview Michael Meade for the Jung Society of Utah blog, where this post originally appeared.

If you’re in touch with your soul, you’re worth as much as the world—that was the old idea. The individual soul is in touch with the soul of the world. So, no change at the individual level of the soul, no change at the level of the world.”Michael Meade

Join the Jung Society of Utah for a special weekend with renowned storyteller Michael Meade, October 12th & 13th!

“We are in a soulful crisis about the meaning of individual life,” Michael Meade said, speaking of the current turmoil playing out on the world stage. This crisis is actually threefold, comprised of radical climate change, massive social injustice, and “a crisis of meaning and what’s now being called truth. If the third one isn’t resolved the other two cannot be handled,” Meade said. “You can’t have people genuinely dealing with social injustice if they’re not telling the truth.”

Truth and the Soul

Of his latest book, Awakening the Soul, Meade said he’s “trying to redefine truth, not in its abstract legal sense, but in the idea that we live our truth. The new book is about awakening that deeper soul and I wind up in the book writing about what I call living in truth.”

According to Meade, we are in an initiatory time, which makes it imperative for individuals to awaken to the deep soul within and live in their truth. “There’s a desperate need for the awakening of the individual soul because that will bring innovation, genius, imagination into the picture. Then if there are enough awakenings occurring individually, it can generate a collective or cultural initiation where people begin to value life more. We begin to understand the necessity of the soul more, and begin to value imagination, perhaps even greater than logic,” Meade said.

The individual who is in touch with the genius of their soul can offer innovative solutions to the world’s problems.

This awakening of the deep inner soul not only allows an individual know their own gifts, it also allows these gifts to play a part in addressing our current challenges. “If more people were aware of their genius and aware of their soul, more people could be dealing with more problems in both culture and in nature. The soul has answers through the equality of individual people,” Meade said. “Everyone’s inner soul is innovative by essence, because each person is unique. That’s the old idea—nature only makes originals, and right now nature as well as culture is calling on the originality in everyone and that means consciousness of that uniqueness.”

Ending and Beginning Again

“The old Greek idea for what we’re going through is apocalysis,” Meade said, speaking of the current disturbances we’re facing. “It means collapse-renewal. It means ending-beginning. We have to face what’s collapsing—we’re required to do that just by being awake—but we’re in the moment where some things are collapsing.” However, Meade noted that, “less evidently, some things are beginning and renewing. So, I think that’s the first thing to realize: that as bad as it is, according to mythology, the world doesn’t come to an end, it begins again—just the way a person begins their life again through initiation.”

In the video clip below, Meade shared a Native American story that illustrates the moment of ending-beginning we are facing:

“So, we’re in this dramatic moment,” Meade said. “What does a person do? I think there’s a requirement to be able to sit down in one’s soul, or from a Jungian point of view, be able to tap into the deep Self. Because things are wacky. There’s a tremendous pressure on everybody, increasingly so. People are anxious now without knowing why. The antidote to anxiety, in a certain sense, is being in touch with the deep Self. People need practices that keep us in touch with the greater part of ourselves.”

These practices include creative arts and contemplative practices. “The ancient shrines used to involve both of those things,” Meade said. “So, what people love in terms of beauty, art, music; whatever it is that a person loves—gardening, being close to the earth, walking in nature—that falls into the arts and practices we need more as an antidote to what’s happening in the collective psyche.”

Connection Amidst Chaos

Each of us connecting with our own soul, living our inner truth, and finding practices to keep in touch with what we love may help us to create a “change to where people live with dignity and a sense of inner nobility,” Meade said. Such changes “can begin to build respect back in terms of cultural healing. If people realized that what we do with our life affects the world, we can begin to have an initiation that starts in the individual soul and moves into the collective; that empowers the collective to deal with social injustice as well as climate change to a greater degree, because then it would all be fueled by imagination and the soulful sense of being connected to everything in the world.”

Meade spoke in the video clip below of the effect one awakened soul can have on others, through the power of imagination:

“Those who have a sense of soul, or deep Self, are one step ahead of everybody else because there’s at least the intuition that the way we deal with the lack of coherence in the world by finding more coherence in ourselves,” Meade said. “Then if we tap into the deep self, you’re going to have the giftedness that’s in everybody.”

Meade said that his Friday evening program will include songs, stories, and poems about the awakening of the soul. “There will be some kind of story about how it works on a mythological level, and commentary that will consider the state of the world, the state of the collective psyche, and the opportunity it presents to the individual psyche.” The Saturday workshop “will be much more about the idea of initiatory practice,” Meade said. It will address the question of “how do I, as one small person in this big, screaming drama, find things that are stabilizing and sustaining to me, and at the same time, develop paths that are creative and meaningful?” in order to address the third crisis of truth and meaning. “I’ll go into that more deeply, with more stories and more consideration of how the individual soul awakens and moves on the path of its life.”

Don’t miss this soulful weekend Michael Meade!

Lecture: Friday, October 12th
Time: 7:00-8:30pm (doors open at 6:15 with mingling, music before and after)
Location: Library Downtown, 210 E 400 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
Cost: free (please become a member)
Includes 1 free CE

Workshop: Saturday, October 13th
Time: 9:00am-4:00pm
Location: University Guest House, 110 Fort Douglas Blvd, Salt Lake City, UT 84113
Cost: $120; before Sept 27th $110 (lunch on your own, 6 CEs). Members additional 10% discount

Get your tickets here: https://michaelmeade.brownpapertickets.com/

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Diane Hamilton on the Creative Play of Opposites

Diane Hamilton on the Creative Play of Opposites

It was lovely to interview Diane Hamilton for the Jung Society of Utah blog, where this post originally appeared.

Diane Musho Hamilton is a gifted mediator, facilitator, and teacher of Zen and Integral Spirituality. In her late 20s and early 30s, she trained to become a professional mediator. “My professional life was really structured around working with people in conflict. Whenever you are working conflicts, you’re encounter sets of polarities. Resolving conflict has to do with seeing how a polarity or set of opposites, actually contains commonalities and common interests. The mediator’s job is to help find them so that people are no longer in that opposition to each other.”

Join the Jung Society of Utah on Friday, September 14th for a special evening with Diane Hamilton on “The Creative Play of Opposites.”

Through regularly experiencing the opposites in people in conflict, she began to look at the oppositions within herself. For example, “I could see a side of myself that was more receptive and a side of myself that was more active and catalytic. Of course, I preferred one side to the other, as we often do. But over time, I began to recognize that opposites have both up and down sides, and I tried to see both.” According to Diane, practicing with polarities creates a flexibility in the mind.

With that kind of flexibility, we can start to being open to the kind of feedback that we get from the world around us. We aren’t so attached to our ideas of good and bad, particularly in ourselves. This leads to much more relaxation in our self-image, and we can, maybe for the first time, hear what works for people and what doesn’t. Diane recalled one of her meditation teachers saying, “Be yourself, the world will give you feedback.” She believes that we are in an enormous feedback loop with reality, and if we want to open our hearts to include more of what is true rather than less of what is true, polarity work can be a practice in compassion.

Acknowledging and working with our shadow aspects can create more compassion for ourselves and others.

This compassion begins with ourselves, in making room for the parts of ourselves that we might prefer not to identify with. “There is the Jungian idea that everything that is ‘out there’ is also ‘in here’, Diane said. “To the extent that we really know what is ‘in here,’ we can better work with what’s ‘out there.’” This includes working with our shadow, or “the parts of our identity that we don’t want to bring into the light, as Jung would put it.” These shadow aspects “that we don’t want to see as “I” are very rich and important parts of identity to bring forward,” Diane said. “This way, “We don’t get stuck seeing only ourselves idealized or good or always seeing the upside of ourselves.”

Jung himself engaged in a deep process of inner work. “He got very interested in the operations of the unconscious, and the Red Book was really Jung’s brave investigation into the unsavory parts of his mind.” Diane said. “Once Jung saw the creative capacity of his dark side, he realized it was basically endless, and the mind itself would always be spinning these possibilities.” Jung found that “the mind in its very structure creates opposites–you and me, this and that, here and there—that’s the way our mind works.” At that point, he was introduced to a Taoist book called, The Secret of the Golden Flower, where he relinquished the content of mind into the pure light of his own awareness.

Shadow work involves owning parts of ourselves we’d rather not identify with, and meditation introduces us to the part of ourselves that is beyond identity altogether. Diane said. “So, it’s both a matter of looking into our identity and including more, which creates compassion and creates more flexibility in the mind, and also seeing that all identity, at one level, is just completely fabricated. Identity is something we can always look at, play with, and drop as much as possible.”

To illustrate this point, she shared the following poem by Hafiz:

I
Have
Learned
So much from God
That I can no longer
Call
Myself

A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,
a Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of Itself
With me

That I can no longer call myself
A man, a woman, an angel,
Or even a pure
Soul.

Love has
Befriended Hafiz so completely
It has turned to ash
And freed
Me

Of every concept and image
my mind has ever known.

“Identity itself has a zero point,” Diane said. “However, we tend to be enculturated into our egocentric identity, our ethnocentric identity, our world-centric identity, but those identities are actually creative and shifting all the time. They are not solid, but we tend to relate to them that way. The zero point, beyond opposites and identity, can be reached through spiritual practices such as sitting meditation.  As long as there are opposites in the mind, there is tension in the body. Without those opposites, there’s peace,” Diane said. “Stillness and silence open up a domain in which the mind is empty, and as the Tibetans like to say, luminous and blissful. It’s simply about discovering the peacefulness beyond opposites, which sitting meditation supports. That’s why Zen has been so important to me.”

Spiritual practices, such as meditation, can help us find an inner stillness beyond polarities.

As part of her program, Diane plans to include a group exercise in exploring opposites. “I’m hoping both to share some information, to provide an experience of the opposites, and help people touch into that zero point, so they can have an embodied experience of what I’m talking about. So, a little bit of theory, a little bit of experience, a little bit of reflection.”

Experiencing that zero point of stillness and peace allows for a more heart-centered life. “Part of Zen practice and Jung’s work is about creating a heart and a mind that can include the opposites of this existence,” Diane said. “What’s is so important about spiritual practice and psychological work is that they create an opening to include more of our experience. But we begin to see that the mind doesn’t seem to handle those opposites very well, but the heart does. The heart’s job is to be able to include the things in life that we don’t want to include. That is what we mean by being whole-hearted.”

Don’t miss this illuminating evening with Diane Hamilton!

Date: Friday, September 14th
Time: 7:00-8:30pm (mingle time before and after, doors open at 6:15)
Location: Saltair Room, University of Utah
Cost: free (please become a member)
Includes 1 free CE