I wonder if one reason some people want to run away to Mars is to escape the mess we have made of things here on earth. But that’s the problem. If we don’t do the inner work here, do you think we will do it on Mars? Surely we will be dragging the unresolved human project to another planet. Is that fair to the other planet?
Another reason for escaping to Mars and outer space may be that the inner space has been so shrunken by both secular society and an impoverished religion. Any culture that has lost the cosmos/psyche dynamic where the soul is bigger than the body and in fact is bigger than the cosmos (for how else could we be interested in examining the cosmos? That is our soul work after all) is in deep trouble.
The West began losing the cosmos when religion lost awe and wonder and “supreme gratitude” (Aquinas) as its basis and substituted redemption for it. In other words, when anthropocentrism took over. (Black plague, 14th century) And when religion and science split in the 17th century and science went on to explore the cosmos and religion settled for psychology while ignoring its mystical tradition and the Cosmic Christ among other things.
And people were told their souls are in their bodies (which reduces the soul to being about 6’ by 6’), instead of the body being in the soul—which renders our souls as vast as the cosmos.
Fifteenth century Indian mystic Kabir sings about our vast souls thus:
Inside this clay jug, there are canyons and pine mountains and the maker of canyons and pine mountains!
All seven oceans are inside, and hundreds of millions of stars.
The acid that tests gold is there, and the one who judges jewels.
And the music from the strings no one touches, and the source of all water.
If you want the truth, I will tell you the truth:
Friend, listen: the God whom I love is inside.*
Our insides are vast—and they spill over into the outside so that the inside becomes the outside and the outside the inside. Meister Eckart tells us that the human soul is “ineffable” like God is.
Yes, you read that correctly. The human soul is beyond all words, the soul is not in the body but the body is in the soul. It is our souls, after all, our passion, consciousness, curiosity, that have driven us to explore outer space and find it fascinating and awesome.
Our inner work is meant to inform our outer work. As Eckhart puts it:
The outward work can never be small if the inward one is great, and the outward work can never be great or good if the inward is small or of little worth. The inward work always includes in itself all size, all breadth and all length.
Our consciousness should include conscience too. This is why Eckhart says the best name for “soul” is compassion.
*Robert Bly, The Kabir Book (Boston: Beacon Press, 1977), p. 6.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work, pp. 82f.
Banner Image: “OM: AUM is a reflection of our existence, including that which we can never be aware of and will forever remain mysterious.” Image by Rainbow Gryphon on Flickr
How vast is your soul? Eckhart says, “God is delighted to watch your soul enlarge.” Do you sense your soul enlarging? How does that come about? Are you delighting divinity therefore?
Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”
Join Matthew Fox for a thought-provoking 7-week course: Answer the Call for an Uncommon Life Through the Mystical Teachings of St. Hildegard, Tuesdays, 6/15 to 7/27. While the course has begun, registration remains open, with recordings of past classes available. Learn more HERE.
Join us for a Virtual Teach-in with Isa Gucciardi and Matthew Fox, hosted by Rev. Cameron Trimble.
August 13-14, 2021 (Fri-Sat)
Shamanism in Buddhism and Christianity
Session 1: Friday, August 13 at 4pm-6pm PT
Session 2: Saturday, August 14 at 9am-12pm PT
Session 3: Saturday, August 14 at 12:30pm-2:30pm PT