I also relate this transpersonal story through a personal one: A Raid on the Inarticulate
Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure. Because one has only learnt to get the better of words for the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which one is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate.
-from ‘East Coker’ by T S Eliot
I have been thinking about what is happening in the world as a collective ‘raid on the articulate’. There is a creative tension in the air – the type that every artist knows when confronted with the blank canvas. The kind of tension that can get one washing windows or cleaning out the knife and fork drawer – anything but sitting and giving birth to the unknown but half-remembered story.
Something is trying to speak through our collective psyche – call it the planet becoming conscious or the soul of Gaia if you like but something is afoot (– or a tongue or an eye). And this doesn’t just seem to be my private hallucination. More and more of the people I meet who have done somewhat of their individual ‘soulwork’ are experiencing a deep magnetic draw to come together with others as if they were part of some as-yet-unknown organ of consciousness.
These individuals don’t necessarily have that much in common —except for the fact that they seem to be responding to a similar call. And once they figure out that they are all awakening together, they begin the creative process of inquiry into who or what may have called them and for what purpose. And so begins their part of the collective “raid on the inarticulate”.
The natural system, cell or organ analogy seems to have a little more mileage in it, so I’ll drive it a little further. For example, imagine the blood cells in our body going about their blood cell business in their blood cell Consciousness: pick up blood, carry blood, drop off blood, fight alien cells…..when all of a sudden (due to forces beyond their comprehension) their awareness fuses for a moment with the being whom they are a part of, who may be doing dishes, studying calculus, or meditating in a blissed-out state.
The immediate effect upon the blood cells is disorientation, confusion, and a general lack of capacity to focus on performing good blood cell tasks, for a while at least. But if some measure of integration occurs between the two levels of consciousness – then capable blood cell operation resumes, in cooperation with this deeper awareness. At this point a new possibility may arise. Cells who share this same capability while performing vastly different functions can become connected like an etheric body of intelligence that facilitates a greater integration between the indwelling entity and the physical body.
This analogy is useful for me in trying to understand what is happening globally. Humans, here and there and in greater numbers than ever before seem to be becoming sensitive to another order of consciousness that is trying to express through humanity itself. That expression will be clumsy and uncoordinated at first, like a baby first learning about its fingers, but slowly it will become more coherent. Perhaps we experience this?
I also relate this transpersonal story through a personal one:
Ten years ago I had a really good day. I knew something new had happened, and something old died away. My family was worried; a medical friend suggested that I was probably psychotic. But I knew deep inside me that I had taken a significant step towards sanity – the kind of sanity that would allow me as a soul to live in integrity on the surface of this bumpy old third rock from the sun.
For years I had been under pressure – a psychological pressure generated from the dislocation between my inner and outer life. That pressure had built to a crucial point of a tension – a tension that, one way or another meant deep change was necessary. Either my inner life was going to burst profoundly through the careful container of my outer life, or I was going to have to let go of my inner world altogether, at least for awhile.
It was death that triggered it – and the death of someone I had never met. That morning started badly, when the driver on my organic recycling truck called in sick, and I went out to spend the day toting bags of grass clippings, rose prunings, and rotten citrus fruit. The fourth bag ripped open as it swung over the side of the truck and dropped its entire contents on my head. With a decayed lettuce leaf on one cheek, and the heap of compost all about me, I sat on the kerb to take stock. It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that it felt like ‘a low point’’. Busy with my self-pity, I was definitely not in the mood for compassion, so when a silver-haired woman in a limegreen gown called out to me over her front fence, I handed her my ‘fuck off’ glower.
Fortunately for both of us, she was too far gone into sanity to notice. Her life had narrowed its focus into a cry for help, and once it had broken from her lips there was nothing to do but keep sounding it over and over. Her face was pale and strangely twisted. Her hands shook on the faded white pickets. I moved towards her, and the tears sprang like small fountains onto her high wide cheeks.
I took her inside, sat her down, made tea. She told me that her husband had died ten days ago and that after the funeral she had just gone into a kind of daze – sitting round staring blankly at the walls, unable to concentrate, not wanting to eat or change her clothes or feed the cat. Just sit.
That morning some small part of her, barely conscious, had begun to worry, feeling that she was giving up, and that if she did not break the spell and reach out to someone, then she too would begin slipping into death. When she saw me, she got up, walked to the fence, and that strange croaking was the sound of her reaching out. We chatted for an hour and I promised to call back and see her next week, but I knew she was going to be ok. Her healing and journey back began with her calling out.
The meeting stayed with me all day as it resonated with my own journey – I was at a similar stage and I need to decide whether ‘to croak or not to croak’.
That evening I spent with my extended family at my mother’s birthday party. Listening to everyone lick their collective tongue round and round the old core family wound, the tension in me continued to build. I finally asked for a space to talk, and everyone fell dutifully silent, I stood and began to shake.
My terror was that I had no idea what I was going to say – all I knew was that there was an unbearable pressure in the centre of my chest and that the only thing worse than letting it out was the thought that it might go away for good. So I opened my mouth and croaked. It was all a bit incoherent as I rambled on about all the unspoken things in our family. I think I managed to weave the state of the environment and starving children in there somewhere, too.
When I finished, people were very kindly quiet, and then politely went back to their coversations. A few people told me afterwards they thought I must have some deep secret, and wondered if I was about to ‘come out’ of the closet. In a way I was. Looking back on it now, I doubt that anything I said made sense, and the state I was in must have looked pretty weird. Despite all that, I knew I had been through a point of tension and won a great victory in my struggle towards integration.
What I was trying to say was simple: I love. That’s it really. I was no longer willing to hide the shame of being in love with my family, with the planet, with humanity. And part of that loving was sometimes aching real bad with pain or joy and not having the words to speak about it. In hindsight, I realise that that ‘me’ that loved was my soul, and that in allowing it to speak I began the process of making a legitmate space for it in my world.
Over the years since I have become more articulate in expressing my soul life and purpose in my work and relationships. Gradually the dual life has become integrated and the extraordinary has become more present in the ordinary, and yet always there is the growing point – that zone where the raid on the inarticulate is being carried out.
And so I imagine that Earth is going to have a ‘good day’ soon.
Like those blood cells who are shocked into a realization that they are a part of something greater, us individual human cells may also realize that, and beyond — that we are part of a circulatory system, and that that being we are a part of also has its consciousness, which isn’t dependent on ours. Sometimes I think I can almost hear the sound of the being who lives through this planet, clearing its throat, making space for the expression of something that is yet unsaid.
Whatever emerges, a feeble croak or a glorious song, no doubt it is some version of love, and the more it is sounded the more life on this planet will take on the shape and soil of it until the stones themselves begin to sing.
How long will it take – a decade or ten thousand years – perhaps as Eliot concludes, it is not our business. But we can sharpen our ears and come together to listen more deeply for the source of the song.
A new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate with shabby equipment
always deteriorating in the general mess of imprecision of feeling, undisciplined squads of emotion.
And what there is to conquer by strength and submission, has already been discovered
once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope to emulate – but there is no competition –
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost and found and lost again and again;
and now, under conditions that seem unpropitious.
But perhaps neither gain nor loss. For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.