Blast Into Space


Cultural events, like William Shatner’s recent brief sojourn into space, are concealed soul phenomena. They can be respectfully approached as dream images and sometimes, of their own accord, may open to infinite depths of meaning, “speaking” far more than the overt surface content, within the mind of the receptive auditor—the mind as an open hand, ready to receive. This “soul speech” cannot be controlled or forced into unconcealment but, if welcomed by the receptive mind of the auditor, may release its life-giving waters (soul movement). This movement is often at variance to the familiar overt content and thus is often startling, disturbing. 

This is what I experienced when I saw a CNN News video of William Shatner’s brief excursion into space on the Blue Origin—the latest tourist destination for those who can afford it. Shatner blasted into space for a few minutes (one could say launched from the backs of the thousands of underpaid Amazon workers) and experienced a life-changing moment, a revelation! Upon his return into the welcoming arms of robot-like Jeff Bezos he began an overwhelming, uncontrollable sobbing:

I was sobbing and I couldn’t control it. I was overwhelmed. Things are falling apart… I wasn’t thinking consciously of bringing back a message. I was wondering why am I crying… what is overwhelming me with emotion to the point I could hardly speak… it was like hearing the death of someone you love…

He went on to describe his space experience:

When I saw the bright blue covering of Earth… there was the blackness of space… pure blackness… space is cold and ugly and ominous… threatens death. There’s death. And you look down and there’s this warm nurturing planet… that’s death up there and life down here…we are on the verge  we haven’t got time to wait 30 years… I wish I had more jokes tell, more entertainment but I was moved to tears by what I saw. I come back overwhelmed by sadness and empathy for this beautiful thing we call Earth.

As I listened to his account, the narrative became a living image, just as, sometimes, when you tell a dream, the images start to become alive and you find yourself “inside” the dream as its movement unfolds into unconcealment. This is what “spoke” to me:

A man goes into space and gazes back on the Earth. What does he say next? “Here is death, there is life”. Death surrounds him and life is far below, out of reach. He cannot touch this life so far below him. He is sealed off from life and senses the ominous imminence of death just outside the capsule. A moment of sheer dread! It’s not that Shatner (or modern consciousness) has travelled anywhere in order to have this odd experience. Rather he has been opened up to how things have been for him (and us) all along, i.e. a consciousness that is utterly split and alienated from the “warmth and nourishment” of life, existing instead as a cold inhuman style, looking down at, yet unable to touch anything to do with life. 

Then a startling soul movement starts up from this sudden self-awareness of this alienated consciousness. Cut off from life, surrounded and permeated by death, Shatner begins to sob uncontrollably. It comes from far below as we can hear: “I was overwhelmed. Things are falling apart… I wasn’t thinking consciously of bringing back the message. I was wondering why am I crying?”

Having faced his moment of dread (the isolation, the death character of modern consciousness), Shatner now feels Earth calling him from far below. Although he does not know why he is sobbing, the consciousness as which he exists has now finally been touched by the Earth’s beauty, its life-giving warmth, its nourishing waters as they bathe and soak the dryness of this alienated consciousness. 

Now comes a moment of great peril. It is typical of this dominant style of alienated consciousness, having tasted the waters of life, to appropriate its new discoveries for some project it may have in mind such as saving mankind from itself. It thus reasserts itself even stronger than before. The journey back to Earth is aborted! 

William Shatner is 90 years old and I suspect he may be ready to simply open to the in-rushing of soul life in the form of overwhelming grief that follows when our modern style of alienated consciousness discovers itself as such, i.e. dealing in death, utterly out of reach from the nourishing Earth, trapped in a tiny man-made capsule (our technological civilisation) high above life. This overpowering grief has the power to pull each of us down to Earth again. And it can only be released when we each face the dread of our privileged style of alienated consciousness, as it becomes self-aware.

And so, William Shatner’s dream journey, when seen as a soul phenomenon, lays down a path to our cure and perhaps the Earth’s cure. It is a path through the black gates of dread to the life-giving waters of grief. We don’t need to go into literal space through the good works of the likes of Jeff Bezos, whose self-aggrandisement knows no bounds. We only need to suffer the self-awareness of the alien character of our modern style of consciousness. We can each suffer the effects of this alienation, as Shatner did, by feeling our dread of death, that black empty space as which our modern style of consciousness exists, as well as sensing the out-of-reach warmth and nourishment of the living Earth. 

Shatner’s narrative inadvertently reveals a soul moment—the sudden, startling, unnerving, coming to self-awareness of modern consciousness. This self-realisation releases the life-giving waters of “uncontrollable grief”, and if we can restrain ourselves from appropriating these waters for our own use (programs, projects, messages, etc.), we can each simply follow them into the restorative depths of the living soul—the ground or earth of a new form of existence.

I wrote an essay on this soul movement: Jung and the Post-Human.