Meaning is what calls from the depths of the soul. It is the song that sings us into life. Whether we have a meaningful life depends upon whether we can hear this song, this primal music of the sacred. The “sacred” is not something primarily religious or even spiritual. It is not a quality we need to learn or to develop. It belongs to the primary nature of all that is. When our ancestors knew that everything they could see was sacred, this was not something taught but instinctively known. It was as natural as sunlight, as necessary as breathing. It is a fundamental recognition of the wonder, beauty and divine nature of the world. And from this sense of the sacred, real meaning is born, the meaning that makes our hearts sing with the deepest purpose of being alive.
Sadly, today so much of life is covered in distractions, in the addictions of consumerism. The soul’s music is not easy to hear amidst life’s constant clamor, and wonder and mystery have become more and more inaccessible. As a culture we seem to have lost the thread that connects the worlds together: the inner world from which meaning is born, and the outer world where we spend our days. The stories of the soul are no longer told, instead our dreams have become the desires of materialism. Even spirituality is often sold in the marketplace, another drug that promises to placate us, to cover the growing anxiety that something essential is missing.
To find meaning we have to reclaim our sense of the sacred, something our culture appears to have overlooked or forgotten. The sacred is an essential quality of life. It connects us to our own soul and the divine that is the source of all that exists. The sacred can be found in any form: a small stone or a mountain, the first cry of a newborn child and the last gasp of a dying person. It can be present in a loaf of bread, on a table, waiting for a meal, and in the words that bless the meal. The remembrance of the sacred is like a central note within life. Without this remembrance something fundamental to our existence is missing. Our daily life lacks a basic nourishment, a depth of meaning.
When we feel this music, when we sense this song, we are living our natural connection with the Earth and all of life. Meaning is not something that belongs to us, rather our life becomes “meaningful” when we live this connection, when we feel it under our feet as we walk down the street, in the scent of a flower, in rain falling. I am very fortunate in that I live in nature. Early each morning as I walk beside the wetlands—maybe glimpsing an egret, white in the dawn light—I feel this simple connection: how the Earth breathes together with me, how it speaks the language of the soul and of life’s mystery. Here meaning is as simple as apple blossoms breaking open, as a young hawk, its feathers still downy, the fog lifting across the water.
We are all part of one living being we call the Earth, magical beyond our understanding. She gives us life and her wonder nourishes us. In her being the worlds come together. Her seeds give us both bread and stories. For centuries the stories of seeds were central to humanity, myths told again and again—stories of rebirth, life recreating itself in the darkness. Now we have almost forgotten these stories. Instead, stranded in our separate, isolated selves we do not even know how hungry we have become. We have to find a way to reconnect with what is essential—to learn once again how to walk in a sacred manner, how to cook with love and prayers, how to give attention to simple things. We need to learn to welcome life in all its colors and fragrances, to say “yes” again and again. Then life will give us back the connection to our own soul, and once more we will hear its song. Then meaning will return as a gift and a promise. And something within our own heart will open and know that we have come home.
~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Ph.D. is a Sufi mystic and lineage successor in the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Sufi Order. He is an extensive lecturer and author of several books about Sufism, mysticism, dreamwork and spirituality.
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