Volume 6 / Issue 1 SPRING 2020

S p i r i t ua l i t y S t u d i e s 6 - 1 S p r i n g 2 0 2 0 1 3 Larry Culliford and well-referenced, attempting to encapsulate spirituality in a specific context, read together they announce some - thing wonderful, a significant measure of agreement in every sphere of human endeavour covered. Let me read a couple of quotations (Zsolnai and Flanagan 2019, 3). Numerous studies document that the more people prioritize materialistic goals, the lower their well-being and the more likely they are to engage in manipulative, competi - tive, and ecologically degrading behaviours. Professions which want to surpass the ecological, social, and ethical ‘mess’ that modernity [author’s note: has] created are beginning to articulate within their own ranks the need to embrace spirituality and develop practices based on a less materialistic, more holistic worldview. And about the need for deeply personal engagement (Zsolnai and Flanagan 2019, 49). We came to acknowledge that the essential feature of transformative research is the scholar’s encounter with the Sacred, a journey of transformation that involves the researchers’ understanding of the topic and themselves as human beings. The range of the fifty-one subjects covered is vast: from ag - riculture to architecture, ecology to economics, from movies to martial arts, through peace, policing and politics, etcetera. The book contains many additional nuggets of wisdom. You do not have to be involved in education, for example, to see that the following statement implicitly contains sound advice for every professional, politician, parent, indeed for any person engaged in human relations at work, in their community or at home: “ Having a deep authentic presence in the classroom, whereby a teacher stands centred, confident, and present to self, is critical to a teacher creating and generating an ambi - ence of safety, setting boundaries, and being mindfully present to the task in hand. ” (Zsolnai and Flanagan 2019, 435). For both their vision and hard work, the publishers, editors and authors are to be thanked and congratulated. The common psyche , theworld-mind of today, may be best thought of as adolescent, still ripening towards maturity. Wonderful books like all these, and a library like the one we are launching this evening with due joy and reverence, can only help promote much-needed spiritual progress. 9 Does the Human Soul Survive? I have almost finished, but there remains one important fur - ther question to address, Where does the pilgrimage take us when life is over? Is there an afterlife, Heaven and Hell? To put it briefly, Does the human soul survive? The most welcome short answer I put to you is, Yes . But what is it that happens? Here is a potentially provocative idea suggested by US Pro - fessor of Philosophy and LSD pioneer, Chris Bache (2020, 1696–1701). The story of the Soul is in essence a story of individual consciousness – ultimately sourced in the Creative Intelligence of the cosmos – moving back and forth between the physical universe and a surrounding meta-universe on a long journey of self-development. The pulse of the Soul is the pulse of reincarnation, our awareness narrowing at birth and expanding at death. Reincarnation is a dance in which our earthly lives emerge from and return to our Soul, the larger consciousness that preserves every thought, every tear, every joy we experience on Earth and in between our earthly lives, folding all our experiences into its expanding radiance. Reincarnation gives individual consciousness an open-ended amount of time in which to learn from its mis - takes and develop innate capacities... Properly understood, reincarnation is a work of genius, as is everything else we see in our universe, from supernovas to DNA... I do not say that I concur with these ideas. I prefer the image of each single raindrop being received and welcomed back into a glorious, sacred, infinite and timeless spiritual and heavenly ocean, but they contain much worth pondering; and it seems fitting now to remind you briefly of Thomas Mer - ton’s poetic description inConjectures of a Guilty Bystanderof what we are tonight calling the soul . It rings true for me, as I hope it does also for you. Merton calls it (1966, 141–2): A point of nothingness... A point of pure truth... The pure glory of God in us... It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it, we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely.