Today in my class Meditation, Imagination, and Contemplation, we discussed the concept of Anima Mundi, the latin phrase meaning 'soul of the world'. It's a concept that extends the notion of psyche/soul beyond the individual, connecting with the larger psyche, or soul of the world. Psyche is not necessarily something that exists alone, internally within a floating head. The Earth has soul. The mountains, rivers, and trees, like us, are expressions of Anima Mundi. When we experience beauty in the world, it refreshes the soul, for it naturally yearns for beauty. The awe we may experience from witnessing a magical sunset, is a recognition of soul; a deep need within each individual. These moments of 'awe' infuse our life with meaning, they humble us as humans, and reconnect us with the Infinite.
In our yoga practice, as we explore deeper into ourselves, we can begin to extend our vision of Self beyond this body, this thought, this breath. The word asana, literally means seat. And we can recognize that whether we sit or stand in each asana, we are connecting to the Earth. Each step we take on this journey, no matter what direction, the Earth is lightly kissing the 'soul' of our feet. The air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink, deeply connect us all to this beautiful blue planet, our only home. There is no separation between you and me and the air we breathe. Humans are not separate from nature, our psyche has just been disconnected. Humans are... naturally natural by nature. The only separation exists within the mind, the ego, the one which creates Me, Myself, and I. But where do I end and you begin?... It's like asking where does the Earth end and the sky begin?
In yogic terms, Anima Mundi can be seen as Purusha, or Spirit. Or in Vedantic terms, related to the great Brahmin, the underlying Ultimate Reality within all things. It is ultimately, the path of the yogi, to penetrate through all false illusion, wipe away the dust from the mirror, to reveal Thy true Self. It is Sat-Chit-Ananda, Experience-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute. The soul longs to experience itself, to remember it's own Divine bliss. To re-awken the unity within the multiplicity and rest in peace with God.
Until then... let us return to our breath. This powerful life-force, literally breathing us alive each moment of every day. Let us remember that each breath we take in, the trees are exhaling fresh oxygen, and with each breath we exhale, the trees are inhaling, taking in that which no longer serves us. It is this reciprocal dance of the Earth which enables life to exist. Deeply interdependent, connected with all. As long as we breathe the air of this Earth, we have a responsibility to serve and protect it. It simply starts with a shift in awareness. Extending our limited idea of self, to expand towards its potential it so yearns to experience, to know our Supreme Self, to recognize the awe of Anima Mundi, and to rest in the bliss of it all.
I'll leave you with some words from Deep Ecologist John Seed:
"...'I am protecting the rain forest' develops to 'I am part of the rain
forest protecting myself. I am that part of the rain forest recently
emerged into thinking.
What a relief then! The thousands of years of imagined separation are over and we begin to recall our true nature. That is the change is a spiritual one, thinking like a mountain, sometimes referred to as 'deep ecology.'
As your memory improves, as the implications of evolution and ecology are internalized and replace the outmoded anthropocentric structures in your mind, there is an identification with all life. Then follows the realization that the distinction between 'life' and 'lifeless' is a human construct. Every atom in this body existed before organic life emerged 4,000 million years ago. Remember our childhood as minerals, as lava, as rocks?
Rocks contain the potentiality to weave themselves into such stuff as this. We are the rocks dancing. Why do we look down on them with such a condescending air? It is they that are the immortal part of us."
- Blessings to you all, as we continue dancing like rocks, the story continues...