Something Special in the Air

By Ruth K. Harrison
The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside. -- Dag Hammarskjold

We approach another springtime, and something special is in the air . . . a tune like one falling out of the throat of a mockingbird on the wing; a sense of tension like the pulsing energy in the pale tendrils about to thrust their shoots through the March thaws. Certainly, every new springtime brings with it her own sense of innocence, but this one is different . . . more urgent, potent, than those of bygone years. Perhaps, as we have often heard, the earth is wise and senses the coming denouement of the weary but wiser twentieth century, so must intensify and conclude the chapters of the '80s and '90s. Heightened awareness of the changes taking place, both in the earth and its inhabitants, is testimonial to a significant moment in the continuum of life. Like it or not, we are called to be accountable for what is happening around us and within us so we may become consciously participant in our own destinies.

The surge and will of nature at all levels bring forth the forces necessary to further unfold potentialities from within. As in all natural forms, we in our human form are impulsed from within to move forward to ever more complexing and inclusive conditions; to move from atom to molecule to mineral, vegetable, and animal forms, and further toward the more resplendent: from chaos to order, from unconscious to fully conscious. The season is upon us and a look over our shoulder at the last few decades is enough to remind us of the materialistic world view widely held these many years. Personal goals and standards of living, scientific and philosophical mind-sets, all have been fashioned to fit an accelerated technological emphasis and the results are a society which has become divested of its imagination and enthusiasm, its myths, dreams, and fantasies, in exchange for products, diversions, tranquilizers and television commercials.

But we repeat: there is something special in the air which seems to challenge us to examine more deeply our own beliefs, to draw forth our courage to examine our inner worlds and to listen to the human condition as those inner worlds would reveal it to us. It is useful and necessary that we loosen our mind-sets, shake off the lethargy imposed by habit, sever the cords which attach us to unseemly bias, and step renewed into the garden of our potentiality, naked of the sins of neglect and negativism. Now has always been the time to do anything worthwhile, yet Now has always carried a kind of fear as its companion shadow, for it imposes a demand that we be fully conscious if we are to recognize the Now as different from the past and the future. Now is the very essence of anything; it is Life itself. We shrink from stepping across the line from old thought to new, from the tried to the untried, from certainty to uncertainty, from knowledge to innocence. And even stranger than being afraid of Now is being afraid of change, yet there is nothing which does not operate on this one eternal principle. Everything in nature moves in cycles and seasons, in ebb and flow, coming and going but to return and continue. We are part of the great drama, the unconquerable hero and heroine playing out our roles in the company of a cast of billions and trillions of other beings, on the stage of micro and macro worlds.

Our evolution from instinctual beast-consciousness to intuitional spiritual beings will not be denied, for the power which moves planets around their suns has designed into nature the necessity of becoming more rather than less. The child, as it moves from a kind of limited awareness into the full maturity of consciousness expressed in wisdom, can be stunted in its growth by denying it experiences and the richness of diversity and change. Similarly, we can distract ourselves from our natural evolution by closing our eyes to new experience, knowledge, or claims of truth, by choosing the safety of the familiar rather than being forever challenged to observe the shifting designs of new thought patterns as we continue our journey through eternal time and space.

We need not look far to see the shift of all sorts of paradigms, for science, which has given us pronouncements upon which we built our certitudes, is itself sensing that the rotation of the thought world, like that of the planet, moves forward on a course uncharted: never turning upon the same path. Its theories and certitudes are crumbling under the weighty evidence of worlds unseen and unexplored which do not fit past strictures. Just as Euclidean geometry, no longer sufficient for the needs of an expanding world view, was supplemented by integral calculus and Einsteinian equations, so too will 19th and 20th century science bring forth a new physics which is in its infancy today, demanding that we let go of old ways of perceiving our world for new information and new understanding. And why not? Why should we stand pat and allow the innovators, inventors, and discoverers who explore the depths of our great and mysterious universe to be the only ones "in the know"? Why shouldn't we also explore, question, probe into the secrets of life and living, for we are surely as equipped to search and discover as anyone is.

Historically, the last quarter of a century is one of intense energies, both constructive and destructive, energies signaling impulses for change in scientific, economic, religious, and cultural disciplines. Harbingers of growth, of a change in season, of a cultural rebirth, these energies tend to shake us from our biases. They make us attend to the cutting edge of the emerging world view as it slices into the stiffening mind-sets which make us captive to habit rather than free to unfold the greater within us as individuals and as nations.

Though often obscured in political rhetoric and social cliche, the mainstream of an emerging new paradigm will not be stemmed from its particular path. In time, like a river, it will find its direction and carve banks which will be the boundaries of our future, until new thoughts and expanded awareness burst the banks to seek new directions.

As the old banks begin to crumble, the river of emerging realities gains the momentum needed to strengthen its purpose. The purpose of a river seems to be to seek its own level or natural home. The purpose of mankind is to seek its loftiest level, or natural environment in a world of thought and action. Those experiences which uplift and ennoble the thoughts of mankind will help stimulate all of us to review and revamp our habitual modes of thought, to bring to bear a refreshed inquiry into some of the most important issues facing mankind today, the same questions which will be asked again in our eternal future: Why are we here? . . . What is Man? . . . Where do we begin and where end?

These special times require the kind of courage that moves whole nations and worlds forward on the path to a greater fulfillment of potentialities. We must look to the dreamers, the grand designers of the possible, to the thought-leaders of this era who will lead us into the next century. There are voices in the land speaking of ideas which we've never heard and can only dimly hear now. They are speaking of the birth of a new culture, of discoveries in physics, psychology, and parapsychology -- new cosmologies and broader philosophical and religious contexts are emerging. We find our biases against the "absurdities" of ancient mythologies and folklore challenged and replaced by the re-discovery of their perennial wisdom, finding correlations in the very science which once snubbed the noetic and poetic heritage from our historic past.

We dream that there are opportunities in this world for noble plans and lofty action . . . when the hearts of men and women yearn for understanding and meaning, yet doubt there are any answers. The optimist in us will have its voice, however, and the word is clear that there is always hope and vitality in change, that fear is struck in our minds only when we deny ourselves the obligation to change and grow beyond the limitations of our yesterdays.

  • (From Sunrise magazine, February/March 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Theosophical University Press)

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