When I asked the audience recently at a Resurgence Festival of Wellbeing how many of them believed we have a soul, about 95% replied affirmatively, while the others seemed undecided – hands went up, and then down again, and then up…

I wanted to ask this question because for me the soul is becoming central to the future of humanity. Such a big statement needs explanation, but bear with me if what follows is a personal exploration rather than any kind of theological argument.

It all does start with the personal. We all know how easy it is to get stuck in ‘me, me, me’: what I want, what I need, what I must have, what I like, or what I don’t like. This is the tyranny of the ego. It is like being in a bubble of self-centricity.

To move out of that bubble is to move from ‘me’ to ‘we’ – to awareness of what another might want or need or be feeling. That’s empathy. It’s also the beginning of freedom – freedom from anxiety, from anger, jealousy, fear: all the compelling emotions that invade our minds and dull our consciousness. But how can we make that move? When you can take one step back from strong emotions and observe what your mind is doing, you are already – for at least a few seconds – free of ego domination.

I believe that it is the soul that can offer us this kind of passport out of self-centricity – a reliable route out of the self-obsession that dominates our Western culture. The work of the soul takes place in quietness, in Nature, in contemplation, in clearing a calm space where fresh insights can simply drop into the stillness of the heart. This is the place where we can become aware of our own antics, and hopefully smile at them. Simultaneously, without even intending it, we expand our awareness from ‘me’ to ‘we’, because we have opened up enough psychological and emotional space for it to dawn on us what another may be feeling.

I can only describe that dawning as sweet work. It brings comfort and an unexpected sense of relief. It brings relaxation and a softening, as the muscles of the ego become less tense. There is also ease, a juiciness, a tingling as at the beginning of a love affair.

And there is more. When we’re ready, this sweet work of the soul leads us to the next step – to an awareness of ‘our’: our society, our people, our planet. This enlarges us as human beings by orders of magnitude. It expands the capacity of what it is to be human and to take responsibility. It is not just a leap in consciousness: it is THE leap in consciousness that will, in Einstein’s view, decide the future of humanity.

The Beloved

I would like to ask another question: how many of us were told as children that we’d get big-headed if we accepted praise? That it was dangerous to like ourselves too much?

This propelled many of us on a path of self-deprecation, of assuming that the self-critical voice – which many of us internalise in childhood – is correct. Throughout life we are silently and ritually telling ourselves that we are not successful enough, not thin enough, not young enough, in general “not good enough”. You’d be amazed how many top executives and senior government officials suffer from the ‘impostor syndrome’, which tells them at critical moments: “Sooner or later they’ll find out that you’re not what you’re cracked up to be.”

For people like this, like most of us, it is very hard to discover the Beloved of the Soul. Most of us haven’t a clue what that phrase even means. I didn’t have a clue. But I gradually discovered that the clue lies in what I said earlier about the beginning of a love affair. As we expand our consciousness beyond self-centricity and give space to the work of the soul, it becomes evident that we are part of the universe, and that we are actually loved by the universe.

The Beloved of the Soul wants to tell you how much you are actually loved by the universe. How can you hear this? Please close your eyes now, and remember the look on the face of someone when they adored you, or the feeling in yourself when you saw an exquisite sunset, or spent time with a pet that you love. That’s a clue. That can give you a physical or perceptual presence of the Beloved. So then take a deep breath and allow yourself to bathe in the sensation of the Beloved. Give the Beloved time, place yourself in the field of the Beloved, and let that field take you.

As you practise, you become enmeshed, hot-wired to the Divine, a luminous energy or field of connections. Some people experience this as pure light, as in a Turner painting perhaps, others perceive it as angels, and others feel the strong presence of someone they love who has died.

Everyday Life with the Beloved

You can make certain days ‘kairotic’ – by giving yourself large chunks of time when you agree to do work guided by your genius, or kairos. These are days spent in the power of the sacred, in surrender to an interdependent energy – one where your earthly or bodily energy is lifted into another realm.

Don’t rush. Feel free to move in and out of your daily tasks, combining local and non-local reality. What you’re doing is remapping and repatterning your emotional and soul landscape. The Beloved is powerful: it can override old systems, allowing the foetus of the Higher Self to develop.

Engage the architecture of the imagination. Call upon your light or your angels – they are energy assistance in a limitless support system. When your consciousness asks, a higher energy can be engaged. As you practise these powers, you energise them. If there is a particular quality you need, ask for it, and its essence will unfold for you to receive. For example, if you feel lost, meditate on the quality of Belonging. When I feel stupid or thick-headed, I meditate on the quality of Wisdom.

Meditation is always the key, so slip into it most of the time: sleep with the Divine; live and eat with the Divine. Grace is the realisation of an incredible, unbelievable fact – a fact that all the great teachers say is true – and it is this: “I am Divine body incarnate in this spectacular galaxy.”

I felt this when I undertook a trek in the Himalaya, involving seven passes well over 16,000 feet. Approaching the second-to-last pass after 22 days’ walking, I could see the stupa decked with prayer flags carrying messages of love on the mountain winds. When I got to the stupa, I fell on my knees, eyes closed. In that moment I realised that I am a being of light. When I opened my eyes, what I saw took my breath away. Below me, stretched out for hundreds of miles, was the entire exquisite panorama of the snow-clad Himalaya.

What this experience gave me was a new perspective on life. I saw everything through an entirely different lens: one belonging not to my brain, but to my awakened heart. I wished for everyone on Earth to have that experience of spaciousness and peace. I drank in a whole new understanding of the boundless beauty of this planet, seen from the highest place on it that I had ever visited. Everything I saw I fell in love with.

If you watch the news it’s hard to see any coherence. But if you can see it through the Beloved’s eyes, the pattern of breakdown can open to breakthrough, perhaps revealing the metapattern waiting to be born. Where you build the house of spirit, spirit will always enter. The Beloved allows you to become a prism for the emerging patterns of the time, towards a finer more comprehensive society inspired by Quantum Intelligence.

If you remember nothing else from reading this, remember this: go as far as longing can reach; longing is like a galloping horse (usually kept in a stable) and it can enable you to do anything. Remember this: the Beloved longs for you, much more than you, right now, long for the Beloved.

But I’m not the expert on this. I learned much of the above from Jean Houston. If you find such ideas compelling please do read her books, or the words of Eckhart Tolle, or Pema Chödrön, or the Dalai Lama or Jesus Christ for that matter.

Scilla Elworthy founded the Oxford Research Group in 1982 to develop dialogue with nuclear weapons decision makers, and set up Peace Direct in 2002. Her latest book is Pioneering the Possible: Awakened Leadership for a World That Works (North Atlantic Books, 2014).