The New Dispensation: a Parable
Carl Jung favoured a particular fable. It went like this:
Living Water was discovered, bubbling up freely through the ground. Tasting it, and delighting in its rejuvenating properties, the people created a well, to contain it; then a fence, to protect it; then a lock and key, to control access to it; and finally, a ticket-seller, to charge admission, to compensate the overseers.
The Living Water, dismayed by this treatment, withdrew again deep into the earth, to find release somewhere else. It took a while for people to notice it had gone, that the water of the well had turned brown and brackish.
When some did notice, they went off to find it anew. After an arduous journey, they found the Living Water, bubbling up freely from the ground, as it had before. First, they built a well to contain it.
In his book, Tracking the Gods, Jungian writer James Hollis talks about the "dry husks" of modern-day religious institutions. Having lost their life-giving Spirit, all they have to offer are the outer forms of their religion--their antiquated beliefs and hollow rituals.
As modern adherents of those religions leave in droves, in search of the departed Spirit, religious institutions tighten their grip, reinforcing their stale truths and railing against the world that is luring its members away. As if the world was the problem. It's the religions themselves that are the problem, in their willful intransigence, drained of the Spirit, reduced to dry husks.
In the following weeks I will be exploring signs of what might be called the "New Dispensation," those discoveries of Spirit that seekers have been making wherever the Living Water has surfaced anew, wherever wells and fences have not yet contained it, where it still runs wild and free, offering its healing properties to a hurting world.
Those signs include: "truths," not "Truth;" God in the world; both soul and spirit; both heart and mind; wonder, not belief; a movement, not an institution; a fulsome notion of God, beyond anthropomorphisms. There will be more. And I'll be asking you to contribute your own. What are the signs of the Spirit in your life?
This sets the direction of my video podcast series that will be launched in the fall, Into the Mystic. How have we been sustained by the beliefs and practices of the past? What are their present-day limitations? Where do we find new life, and new evidence of the movement of God's Spirit? These are not the End Times. This is only the beginning.