THE DANGER OF NEON VISION
There is an unprecedented spiritual hunger in our times. More and more people are awakening to the inner world. A thirst and hunger for the eternal is coming alive in their souls; this is a new form of consciousness. Yet one of the damaging aspects of this spiritual hunger is the way it sees everything in such a severe and insistent light. The light of modern consciousness is not gentle or reverent; it lacks graciousness in the presence of mystery; it wants to unriddle and control the unknown. Modern consciousness is similar to the harsh and brilliant white light of a hospital operating theatre. This neon light is too direct and clear to befriend the shadowed world of the soul. It is not hospitable to what is reserved and hidden. The Celtic mind had a wonderful respect for the mystery and depth of the individual soul.
The Celts recognized that the shape of each soul is different; the spiritual clothing one person wears can never fit the soul of another. It is interesting that the word revelation comes from re-valere, literally, to veil again. The world of the soul is glimpsed through the opening in a veil which closes again. There is no direct, permanent or public access to the divine. Each destiny has a unique curvature which must find its own spiritual belonging and direction. Individuality is the only gateway to spiritual potential and blessing.
When the spiritual search is too intense and hungry, the soul stays hidden. The soul was never meant to be seen completely. It is more at home in a light that is hospitable to shadow. Before electricity, people used candlelight at night. This is ideal light to befriend the darkness, it gently opens up caverns in the darkness and prompts the imagination into activity. The candle allows the darkness to keep its secrets. There is shadow and colour within every candle flame. Candlelight perception is the most respectful and appropriate form of light with which to approach the inner world. It does not force our tormented transparency upon the mystery. The glimpse is sufficient. Candlelight perception has the finesse and reverence appropriate to the mystery and autonomy of soul. Such perception is at home at the threshold. It neither needs nor desires to invade the temenos where the divine live.
In our times, the language of psychology is used to approach the soul. Psychology is a wonderful science. In many ways it has been the explorer who in heroic adventure discovered the unchartered inner world. In our culture of sensate immediacy, much psychology has abandoned the fecundity and reverence of myth and stands under the strain of neon consciousness, powerless to retrieve or open the depth and density of the world of soul. Celtic mysticism recognizes that rather than trying to expose the soul or offer it our fragile care, we should let the soul find us and care for us. Celtic mysticism is tender to the senses and devoid of spiritual aggression. The stories, poetry and prayer of the Celts finds expression in a language which is obviously pre-discursive. It is a language of lyrical and reverential observation. Often it is reminiscent of the purity of the Japanese haiku. It bypasses the knottedness of narcissistic, self-reflexive language to create a lucid shape of words through which the numinous depths of nature and divinity can glisten. Celtic spirituality recognizes wisdom and the slow light which can guard and deepen your life. When your soul awakens, your destiny becomes urgent with creativity.
Though destiny reveals itself slowly and partially, we sense its intention in the human countenance. I have always been fascinated by human presence in a landscape. When you walk in the mountains and meet another person, you become acutely aware of the human face as an icon cast against the wilderness of nature. The face is a threshold where a world looks out and a world looks in on itself. The face brings these two worlds together. Behind each human face, there is a hidden world which no-one can see. The beauty of the spiritual is its depth of inner friendship which can totally change everything you touch, see and feel. In a sense, the face is where the individual soul becomes obliquely visible. Yet the soul remains fugitive because the face cannot express directly everything we intuit and feel. Nevertheless, with age and memory the face gradually mirrors the journey of the soul. The older the face, the richer its mirroring.