Bernie Sheehan interviews Mick Collins about his new book, The Visionary Spirit.
How does The Visionary Spirit take up the manifesto of human transformation outlined in your first book, The Unselfish Spirit?
The Unselfish Spirit provides a theoretical background that explores how the global crisis is also a spiritual crisis. It makes a case for how we can integrate transpersonal consciousness into our daily lives and actions. These ideas provided the foundation for The Visionary Spirit, which aligns our visionary energies to a transformative imperative that is active within us. I write about how we can tap into those vital energies that ‘bring us alive’, as Howard Thurman said, where we can envisage different possibilities for living.
The book’s subtitle refers to the Transformocene Age – what does this mean?
We’re living in a time when we’re standing at the threshold of the Anthropocene – an era where humans have had an impact on the Earth’s eco-systems. In this way, the Anthropocene reflects the Spirit of the Times (zeitgeist), which highlights the degrading ways we’ve been treating the planet. In contrast, the idea for the Transformocene Age came to me after reading Carl Jung’s Red Book, which chronicles his meetings with the Spirit of the Depths. Therefore, the emergence of the Transformocene is cultivated via a deeper connection to the wisdom from the collective unconscious and through our encounters with the sacred.
Why is it so important for us to tap into the imaginal realm – of myths, dreams and synchronicity – in the world right now?
The imaginal realm is a subtle level of reality, which can awaken and renew our relationship to wholeness. It is the realm of the numinous, the angelic and the divine, where dreams, synchronicities, hunches and intuitions awaken us to life’s interconnectedness as a living sacrament. A meaningful connection to the imaginal realm is a powerful way of helping us tune into and care about what happens in the world, to other people, other species and nature as a whole.
Your book contains some powerful accounts of transformation when people connect to the imaginal realm. What are the advantages for us as individuals, and for the planet as a whole, when we fulfil our spiritual potential?
The transpersonal literature reveals that when people connect with a wider field of consciousness, they become less fixated on individualism and start to open up to life as an interconnected whole, which also brings forth a greater ecological outlook. People stop seeing themselves as separate from the world (and cosmos). In this way, a meaningful connection to the imaginal realm is a potent way of participating in life from a transpersonal perspective. The vignettes I share in the book reveal how people’s transformative experiences are unique to them, particularly in relation to crafting meaning, purpose and feeling alive. Personal awakenings are a vital part of our shared transformation.
In the book, you reject the dogma of ‘scientism’ that challenges the wisdom found in myths and mysticism. What would you say to people who might be resistant to ideas of synchronicity, daimons etc as gateways to deeper living or spiritual connection?
At the outset, I would like to say that I’m pro-science, particularly holistic science, which is willing to explore spiritual phenomena that may be culturally challenging, or otherwise difficult to explain. This is different from scientism, which attempts to debunk phenomena such as synchronicity as false or superstitious. Scientism can’t disprove these so-called ‘superstitions’; in fact research shows how people’s lived experiences of the transpersonal is often described as a mystery, alive within us. I cite various examples of powerful synchronicities in The Visionary Spirit. In fact, many scientists have been awakened by dreams or encounters with the sacred, which has led to scientific and technological breakthroughs. For example, Srinivasa Ramunjan, one of India’s greatest mathematicians, received complex mathematical equations revealed to him by a Hindu goddess in his dreams and visions.
The Visionary Spirit, like your previous book, contains themed practical exercises at the end of each chapter. What feedback have you received about these from readers?
I’ve included exercises in both books so that people can connect with the information via their own direct experiences. I’ve heard from various sources that people have done the exercises either individually or in a group setting, which suggests that the exercises seem to add value to some people’s experience of reading the book. The exercises provide practical opportunities for readers to explore their deepest responses to the ideas I’ve put forward – which hopefully inspires them to go out and actually live it.
The Visionary Spirit focuses on doing/taking action in the world. What single thing could we do as individuals to start a collective shift towards more creative and harmonious living?
Our social institutions – education, health, work, etc – do a lot of good work in the world and benefit us in many ways. However, they do not always have our full human potential on their radar. In my estimation, the collective neglect of awakening to our transpersonal potential in society is detrimental to the world at large. We will stand a better chance of finding solutions to the global crisis if we invest in our interconnectedness and wholeness with all life. The book invites us to open up to our full potential and activate our imaginations, so that we are alive to dreams and possibilities for living that match our aspirations. Each individual who takes responsibility for actualising their full human potential enables and emboldens other people to ‘dare to dream’. These individuals are like ‘numinous attractors’. By doing the work on ourselves in this way, we can bring about a powerful grassroots shift in collective consciousness.
In the world of work, many of us have annual appraisals, which are tied to institutional structures. This is an opportunity for us to share our care for the wider world, and help a culture of transformation to emerge in our places of work. I’m seeing the beginnings of this transformation in what are referred to as TEAL organisations. TEALs are interested in helping people to bring their wholeness to work, along with ideas, innovations and creativity that may have hitherto been hidden, ignored, marginalised etc. In this way, a deeper social and spiritual transformation is already underway in some leading edge organisations.
What message would you like people to take away from the book?
The world is crying out for each of us to access and actualise our visionary energies to bring about an improved and sustainable future. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations, as well as other species and nature as a whole, to come alive and co-create a legacy that will benefit all life.
What are you doing next?
It’s great to be sharing the ideas in The Visionary Spirit via interviews, open forums, public talks and writing articles. The Transformocene is a new proposition for how we can live in connection with the Spirit of the Depths to transform the Spirit of the Times. I’ve also been in discussions with a filmmaker who is interested in making a documentary about The Visionary Spirit. We’re looking for funding for the film at the moment. It’s my hope that a documentary will be another channel to help spread the word about the Transformocene, and also help us feed more hungry children – all the author’s royalties (from both books), are being donated to Mary’s Meals www.marysmeals.org.uk – a charity that provides meals in schools so that children continue with their education and break the cycle of poverty.
For futher information on The Visionary Spirit and to buy it, visit: https://shop.permaculture.co.uk/the-visionary-spirit.html