The Waters of Renewal

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All meaningful change requires a genuine surrender. Yet, to surrender does not simply mean to give up; more to give up one’s usual self and allow something other to enter and redeem the lesser sense of self. In surrendering, we fall to the bottom of our arguments and seek to touch the origin of our lives again. Only then can we see as we were meant to see, from the depth of the psyche where the genius resides, where the seeds of wisdom and purpose were planted before we were born. We fall in order to find what has secretly carried us all along and would now become consciously known.

In genuine surrender, we arrive at a silent place, a still point within the turmoil of life; the place of baptism and renewal. Baptism is one of the oldest rituals of humanity, one that involves an immersion in the waters of life in order to revive the vitality of one’s being. Baptism requires a symbolic return to the watery womb of the world, a return to primordial origins in order to briefly dissolve the fixations of the personality and renew one’s spirit for life. Such an immersion requires a surrender that can feel like death. In a sense, part of us does die as we let go of our current form of “halfness” in order to feel whole. Baptism repeats the archetypal pattern of birth, death, and rebirth as a “little death” is needed for a greater rejuvenation and resurgence to occur.

“Originally, baptism was not a one-time event connected to a religious doctrine or system of belief. Holy water might be used to bless the forehead of the newborn soul; but a full immersion in the watery womb of a river, lake, or salty sea was an instinctive ritual known throughout the world.”

Something within us knows the beauty and meaning of devotees entering the Ganges River to pray, or of native people immersing in the ocean to be renewed. The word baptize comes from roots that mean “to dip, to immerse.” The little word dip, which sounds like water dripping, comes from “deep,” so that even a little dip in the ocean can feel quite renewing.

Any meaningful descent can be felt by the soul as an attempt to renew oneself by touching the origins of life again. The ego fears that it will die or disappear in the waters of the deep unconscious. But the soul knows that any descent in life can become a potential baptism that will return us to the full potential at the origin of our lives—back there at the beginning; down there near the source, where the underlying unity of life waits to be found and be touched again.

Ancient people all over the world used to go down to the waters whenever life became too much of a burden, each time a great loss needed to be washed away, or when a conflict needed to be resolved by everyone entering the waters of reconciliation.

In some traditions, the whole village would enter the baptismal waters at least once a year.  The end of the year was symbolically connected to the end of the world, and the collective surrender and deep immersion helped start everything anew. In the deep stillness where our first breath once formed, life can return in an initiation by the invisible that buoys us back to life, imbued with the breath of wholeness and ready to start things over again.

Something ancient in us bends us toward the origins of the whole thing. We either drown in the splits and confusions of our lives, or we surrender to something greater than ourselves. The water of our deepest troubles is also the water of our own solution. In surrender, we descend down to the bottom of it and back to the beginning of it; down into what is divided in order to get back to the wholeness before the split. Healing, health, wealth, wholeness: all hail from the same roots. To heal is to make whole again; wholeness is what all healing seeks and what alone can truly unify our spirit.

— Michael Meade, The Genius Myth


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