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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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Blessing Others: A Practice for Opening the Heart

by Janice Lynne Lundy

“Blessings” is the sign-off I use in my e-mail correspondence. It was a conscious choice to do so. I was at a stage in my life when “Sincerely” was just too cold; “Love” a bit too warm for a general farewell, especially to business associates. I had to find the one that fit me the best. “Blessings” felt just right.

E-mail is but one of the many opportunities we have to bless others. Throughout the day, we have many opportunities to offer them well wishes, both verbally and non-verbally.

It’s easy to bless the people we love, harder to confer a blessing of peace and happiness upon a prickly other. More challenging yet, if someone has hurt or betrayed us. I’ve often viewed the presence of difficult others in my life as an opportunity for me to love more; to move from hardheartedness to openheartedness, from expectation-holding to letting go, from grudge-holding to forgiveness. Blessing, in fact, may be one of the most powerful practices we can use to keep our hearts open to one another.

Go Undercover

Without them even being aware of it, we can bestow our goodwill on another. Consider the people we encounter in the course of our day, people who may appear to be “invisible.” The woman who scans our groceries at the checkout counter, the groundskeeper at our condo, the janitor at our children’s school, countless others, too many to name. What if we sent a silent, “Bless You,” as we passed them by? “Bless you for your hard work.” “Bless you for doing your job so I can live more comfortably.” “Bless you for caring for my children.” And so on.

Send a “Body Blessing”

With folks to whom we are more intimately connected, we might employ another form of blessing—a “Body Blessing.” Some of us are reluctant huggers. We give quick hugs, embracing someone out of formality or expectation with no real warmth to be found in it. What if we took this body-to-body opportunity to hug a blessing into them? As we press our cheek or shoulder to theirs, we can silently offer them a blessing of health, inner peace, or joy.

Just Say It

Sometimes the direct path of blessing is best. We need to speak our blessing aloud, face-to-face. This is difficult if we have been raised in stoic families who frown upon such outward expressions. Or, perhaps we are shy about speaking our blessings to another for fear of their response. In any case, a verbal expression of well-being or gratitude may be precisely what is needed to deepen our relationship. A whisper in the ear works wonders; an eye-to-eye confession is even better. Engaging in this way brings boundless rewards, to both the giver and the receiver.

The practice of blessing is good for what ails us. It invites us to express gratitude for the presence of others in our lives. It reminds us to see and affirm their basic goodness. Blessing is so very simple. Two little words, sincerely spoken, can change how we perceive our world. “Bless you” is all it takes …

©Janice Lynne Lundy, 2009

Janice Lynne Lundy is participating in the WOW! Women on Writing Blog Tour, promoting her book, Your Truest Self.

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The Eternal Human Yearning To Be…

I was reading a fabulous article by Parker Palmer this morning and enjoyed this definition of Spirituality:

“Spirituality” is an elusive word with a variety of definitions—some compelling, some wifty, some downright dangerous. The definition I have found most helpful is simply this: spirituality is the eternal human yearning to be connected with something larger than our own egos.

…[this definition] performs a key function of any good definition by giving us a place from which to launch an exploration.

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