7.14.2009

At Home in the World


First train home, I've got to get on it
First train home, I've got to get on it
First train home, I've got to get on it
First Train home
(soundtrack for this post)

So what? What matters to you?
What are your strongest feelings? What is your central wish? What stirs your inmost being?

Are you home yet?
Lying awake, enchanted by the natural world, caressed by the powers that envelope you, genuinely relating to the beings and things in your life, aligned with a divine presence that permeates everything? everything? It's there... is it here? Can you see it? Can you touch and taste and smell and hear that divine immanence resonating in the world around you? through you? connecting you... to you... to me... to a tree... to much, much more than we can see? Can you feel it? Is it here?

A lover is trying to seduce us into her wonder and mystery, into the heart of her beauty, home. Day by day, moment by moment, the waters of life are pouring forth into our soul, fed by the little encounters of being that happen without effort... simply because we are alive. We are alive! Can you feel it?

This week three men and the lineages, teachings, and life experiences they embody are helping me travel home. Their messages and essence swirl in my being, chemical reactions activating holy sparks and snapping authentic living into the cells of my waking body.

ahhhhhh
{{{ insert your favorite sound for the divine here }}}
{{{along with one deep breath }}}

You can read my full notes from an evening hearing Brian Swimme, the next night listening to Bill Plotkin, and all the while reading Martin Buber's book, The Way of Man. And below (as well as above) are some of the pieces that are cooking me... igniting me... wanting to be shared!

Brian Swimme's central point was that we humans have forgotten the sacred dimension of nature. We need to renew our capacities to recognize the presence of the divine throughout the natural world. He believes that people have a deep hunger to:
  • Know how we fit in
  • Make sense of the world
  • Live in alignment with the powers that envelope us, with the divine presence that permeates everything

Buber says that here is a fulfillment of existence that a quiet devoted relationship to nearby life can give us. Developing genuine relationships with the beings and things in whose lives we get to be in, a mutual gift, creates true, fulfilled existence.

By hallowing our relationship with the things and beings that we meet on our way and that attract our hearts, we get in touch "with what manifests itself in them as beauty, pleasure, enjoyment. Hasidism teaches that rejoicing in the world, if we hallow it with our whole being, leads to rejoicing in God." (Buber)

Bill Plotkin defines soul as "our place in the world." He sees a true adult as someone who knows how they belong to more than the human world. They understand their place in nature, not just their place in culture.

He talks about how we humans long for our own unique and vibrant participation (membership) in a world that works for all beings. At a soul level we want to be contributing, being of service, and we want to feel at home in the world. We can both contribute and thus feel at home in the world by embodying our deepest passion. Plotkin believes that each individual has gifts, ways of being of service, they were born to embody. Finding our service is both deeply fulfilling and incredibly challenging. Embodying those gifts that are unique to each of us is the biggest contribution to social change that we can make.
And Buber supports this belief,
Every person born into this world represents something new, something that never existed before, something original and unique. ‘It is the duty of every person... to know and consider that he is unique in the world in his particular character and that there has never been anyone like him in the world, for if there had been someone like him, there would have been no need for him to be in the world...

Every man’s foremost task is the actualization of his unique, unprecedented and never-recurring potentialities...‘Everyone has in him something precious that is in no one else.’ But this precious something in a man is revealed to him only if he truly perceives his strongest feeling, his central wish, that in him which stirs his inmost being...

He must find his own self, not the trivial ego of the egotistic individual, but the deeper self of the person living in a relationship to the world.... A man [must see] himself … as a genuine person, whose transformation helps towards the transformation of the world... The task of man, of every man, according to Hasidic teaching, is to affirm for God’s sake the world and himself and by this very means to transform both.
And in order to "belong to the world in the ways nature birthed us," Plotklin acknowledges the challenge for many of feeling at home in the world. Most people have never learned to feel themselves as a natural element in the world and so cannot feel a part of it and at home in it. Not feeling at home in the world creates a core restlessness and anxiety. Humans have the ability to experience the enchantment of the natural world, they can learn how to be at home in the world and wonder about the world. Feeling at home in the world leads to treating the world as our home. And as these men point out, in order to do so, we must recognize the presence of the divine throughout the natural world.

Swimme uses the story of the cosmos to paint visions of and personify some of the wonderment and divine essence of the universe. For instance, he explains that the atoms of our skin and the air that we breathe are from an exploding star.

Carbon and oxygen exist in the core of a star. When a star explodes it releases these and many other elements into the universe. Our own solar system and planet with its minerals and life forms were created out of these supernova explosions. Every single atom of carbon and oxygen (of which humans are made of) is foraged in stars. The atoms of our skin are from an exploding star. In order for these atoms to exist, stars had to blow up. "I am a cosmological event!" (source)

And when I breathe, I breathe the creations of stars. All the life I will live is possible because of the gifts of those stars. These facts/stories help to illustrate for me the immensity of each moment and they invite me into a direct experience of the divine presence that exists in the natural world.

And then Swimme teaches about the sun. Every second our sun is transforming 4 million tons of itself into light. The sun doesn't get back that energy. Once it transforms itself into light, the light disperses in all directions. The sun gives it away. Everything that's happened in the life of this planet is directly dependent upon that light. We're moving here and talking and thinking only because coursing through our bodies is the energy from the sun. All of human activity is powered by the generosity of the sun. Our existence directly depends upon the giveaway of the sun; this is a real sacrificial, ongoing event. (source)
All of these men are extending deep invitations to directly experience the divine presence permeating the world. The Baal-Shem (founder of Hasidism) teaches that no encounter with a being or a thing in the course of our life lacks a hidden significance. ‘God dwells wherever man lets him in.’

To go, to go, to go
Get, get, get, get
Out, out, out, out
Now, now, now, now
soundtrack by Imogen Heap!

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posted by ashley

2.18.2008

Feeling Belonging and Warmth

"Just outside of Nairobi there is an elephant orphanage where elephant calves found in the wild without a mother are brought to and raised till they are old and big enough to survive in the wild and then they are released back into the wild. NOTE the blankets tied around them. This is done with the smaller calves to give them a " Feeling of Belonging and warmth". When they are older this is removed. They have about a dozen calves in different age brackets. these are some of the smallest as you can see by the man feeding them." ~ Picture Taker 2

Those of you that know me in person know that I love hugs. I love to feel my body embraced with another human being, to feel the warmth and aliveness of life connecting with life, and to be an expression of appreciation and often love wrapped into form. As a preschool teacher my life was a daily waterfall of hugs. When I left that job I went through some real withdrawals as I realized/remembered that in my 'normal' life I don't get the easily 40 hugs a day to which I had become accustomed. I transitioned from that job in 2002. I've acclimated to that change and yet I still have days where I can physically feel the effects of not having had enough human contact, physical touch. My cells long for it. Closeness. Belonging. Warmth. Touch.

Am I looking for proof that I'm alive? Am I looking for assurance that I'm lovable? Am I looking for belonging and warmth to hold me? Am I looking for a safe place to rest? Do I need to open more fully, receive more wholly?

Who is it inside of me that needs the hugs and contact? How old is that part of me? Six perhaps? A bundle of joy, running around, sharing love and wanting to be loved? Wanting to know that I'm good enough in this form of being that I'm inhabiting and wanting to see and, more importantly, feel confirmation and reflection in embodied forms.

Mark Jones invites us all into a HSL (hizzle) experiment where in every interaction, one Hears, Sees and Loves everyone – including yourself.

Some questions I'm holding (and I'd love to hear from anyone interested in sharing): How do you hizzle with your body? How do you reach out and touch someone? How do you reach out and embrace yourself? How free do you feel to allow touch and contact to move fluidly as a form of expression? Are you inhibited by cultural norms, gender roles or personal insecurities?

And the next layer of my personal inquiry, In what ways do you feel belonging and warmth that transcends touch? How do you recognize existential belonging and spritual warmth?


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posted by ashley

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