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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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Words, Inner Worlds and Longings

It is said that every gift or strength that we have is accompanied with a shadow side. Light casts shadows; attributes that serve us can also inhibit us in other ways.

I like playing with words. I enjoy shaping them together in efforts to express meaning. My goal is for another to easily receive and experience the meaning for him or herself. Words are amazing in this way. They allow us the ability to offer a concrete expression of our internal experience. And then another person’s mind can potentially receive the meaning contained in the expression, understand it, and even verify its accuracy. Of course there are other forms of expression besides words… but for now I’m talking about words!

I just finished a phenomenal fantasy book called The Ordinary by Jim Grimsley (thank you Sheri for the superb recommendation). In the quote below he’s writing about words and their relationship with magic (I’ve changed it to the present tense):

“Words bring events into being. They focus consciousness.”

“Any word by its nature allows two disconnected minds to share thoughts with one another… A word is energy and object at the same time, already capable of moving information from one person to another, and… therefore it should not be surprising that a word is capable of much more.”

With a certain degree of certainty (and a lot of room for mystery) words let your mind know what my mind is experiencing… and thus let us have a shared experience. That’s amazing!

More self-disclosure. I have a deep longing for shared experiences. (I know, this is shocking to some of you!) Thomas Hurley writes about our “essential yearning for communion.” I relate to that. I come alive, radiate aliveness, when I am experiencing my inner world, you are experiencing some aspect of my inner world, you are experiencing your inner world, I am experiencing some aspect of your inner world, and we’re here experiencing the outer world and our shared inner world together. Ooohhh, I just love that stuff! I yearn for more and more of it. Mutual relationships like that can be hard to come by in our society. Often, instead of sharing our worlds with each other, we wander around lost in our own world… or even ignoring our own world and getting lost in other worlds.

Perhaps more on that topic later. For now, I’ll return to words.

One thing I’ve been noticing is that I can lean too much on words, especially when I am stressed or in a fear state. I rely too heavily on the fact that words have the capacity (and I trust their capacity) to translate to another my inner experience of being alive or to help me understand another’s experience of being alive. In that state, I can become addicted to the certainty that I think words express. I want so desperately for another to understand my inner world and I want so desperately to understand their inner world. Living from my shadow at this point, I lose trust in my other senses, my other modalities of expressing and listening. I shut down to hearing them… I shut down to expressing with them… I shut down to receiving… and I grasp at and overly-rely upon words.

Shadow and light dancing together… funny how that works.

There’s more I want to write on these topics… holy longings, longing for subtle communication, ways of expressing and communicating non-verbally, a developmental stuck point we might be in socially/relationally, more shadow elements with words, talking about things too much, using words more than I need to, more about The Ordinary… Some topics you might see in the coming time… or not!

I’ll leave you with a practice that they use in the land where the story The Ordinary takes place. It’s one I’d like to adopt.. I wonder what sign we’ll use… I wonder who we is?!

“This is a sign that means we leave you to yourself, to your own peace. We make this to one another to signal that we are willing to talk but feel it would be an intrusion to speak first.”

Photo by Jim Rider/AP found at She Muses

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A Thread in the Communion Tapestry

“To paint is easy, to write poetry is easy, but to create a communion with the energy of another, a dancing communion, is the greatest and most difficult art to learn.”
~unknown author, Kara shared it with me.

Below are thoughts and reflections all relating to this topic of communion. I’ve woven them together along one pathway though I sense there is a greater whole that they speak to which has yet to reveal itself to me. If anything is sparked in you, please do share, I’d love to hear.

Life is happening all around
in every moment
here and now

Energy of Other
swirling about

Sparks of holiness
Available for connection

Lights of grace
dancing in relation

What is communion?

Meredith writes:

When we move in close, and not shy from intimacy, if we were to approach an elderly woman lying on the ground wailing at the gate in the airport, will we know what to do? We are always uncertain, facing the unknown with another. Sometimes it can feel too vivid, too real and not predictable or within our control or comfort zone. And yet, the sensitive amongst us will feel another’s pain, and weep inside with them. We want to connect, to overcome boundaries that may have us protect ourselves form pain and risk, our own or that of another. In our exchanges we can feel our own aliveness, our energy almost tangibly. This is communion.

Actively feeling our own aliveness… experiencing the aliveness of others… interacting with the aliveness of existence… tangibly relating with visible and invisible energy that inspires expanding spheres of life awake.

What is this powerfully flowing current of life? How does it function?

Teresa shares Tenneson’s words, a thread in this inquiry:

Quantum particles (hearts, people…) once in contact (love, embrace, learning…) retain a connection (energetic link, stream of light…) even when separated, so that the actions of one will always influence the other.

In dancing communion we recognize that we are always in connection. The visible threads of relation may vary, even disappear, but the sparks of holiness continue to thrive within one another, always influencing the other. What might unfold in ourselves, our communities, our world as we (who are we? are you an active part of this we?) continue to deepen our practice of conscious communion? What happens if we surrender to its truth and its mystery?

Christy ponders how this energy plays out in groups:

I wonder if, as the “magic of the middle” lives through groups bonded by love and intention, that the group as a whole somehow maintains a steady incubating attention even as individual members lose focus now and then?

And Chris reflects (I recommend reading his whole post, it inspires me greatly) on what he is experiencing and learning right now in Belgium about gathering in circle, often a form through which communion emerges, and how it can serve passion into action:

The gift of the circle is that it somehow invites a much bigger sense of ourselves which, if worked with skillfully, can result in an event later that has a deep and powerful harmonic, a bass note of possibility that is indeed the group’s highest and unspoken aspiration for it’s own work, that transcends what is even known to be possible.

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