The Life Within Me

“Inner Light” by Ron Davis (December 6th, 2002) Image credit: PBase.com

In the twilight world
Between darkness and light,
I feel more at home
Than ever.

As darkness falls,
My mind awakens;
As darkness increases,
My heart swells
With the memory
Of your touch.

How I loved the moment of closeness
As we embraced!
The revelation of your inner world,
In the fleeting moments
When our eyes met were
More powerful than
The quantum events
That rule the universe.

My capacity for emotion and
Deep feeling extend far beyond
My worldly place,
And beckon me still
In reveries of silence,
In the open spaces
Between thoughts.

You shine a light in my darkness.
You are the life within me.

Preparing to Meet with Darkness


Last glimpse of the setting sun by gracious (http://www.trekearth.com) Copyright: Ho Tony (gracious)

Preparing to meet with darkness, as the light of day slowly recedes into the gentle evening, I am almost imperceptibly sliding into melancholy, mixed with a mild sense of relief to be without obligation of any sort for the moment. Regardless of being destined to return to the obligations waiting in the wings, there is a subtle hint of delight descending upon me in this moment, as I sit under the ever-deepening purple panorama of the night sky. Having spent the past few hours reviewing my working files and research papers in a folder labeled, “Contemplating Consciousness,” upon reflection, I am frequently struck by the power of my own words to myself.

Reclining slightly in the long deck chair, almost floating with my entire body off the deck surface, I allow my thoughts to simmer, and do not struggle against them as they slip in and out as they will. The air is cool, although quite mild for March, and as I languish in the last few moments of light on this day, the music player on the table plays a classical selection from Vaughn Williams. As Sara Chang divinely glides her bow across her instrument, in contrast to the otherwise ambient silence and relative solitude of this moment, my mind fills with a cacophonous mix of emotional and intellectual turmoil. As the time in my “momentary paradise” dwindles slowly, and inexorably leads to the return of the status quo, I find myself more powerfully driven to explore the emotional upheaval that accompanies such moments.


Native American Cross Stitch Patterns c/o Hadley House & © Lee Bogle

Recently, the awareness of the existence of several important “kindred souls,” and the encounter with the disparate effects each can have within me, has prompted me to explore the nature of our connections to others. The undeniable correlations between the various circumstances and the spiritual nature of the experiences that brought them into my awareness, challenge the notion of our existence being purely material in nature. The connections in each case were immediate; there was a sense of welcoming and invitation at the outset, and it was clear that given sufficient opportunity, combined with a mutual recognition and acceptance of the other, that a profound and deeply satisfying interaction would be possible.

Our sense of having a “self,” our awareness of our existence as sentient beings, and our abilities to contemplate what could be, or might be; to venture within ourselves and find that we have company; to travel to distant locations in our hearts and minds; to imagine, create, and mentally project ourselves outward in both time and space; all of our experiences both real and imagined, all cry out for explanation, in ways that our human science has not been able to satisfactorily provide. Our brain provides the raw material for memory, emotion, and a foundation for perception and awareness, in a way that facilitates the opening of “potential.” It is this opening, which exists always in the realm of infinite possibility, that allows for the unfolding of subsequent space-time events.

Sometimes there are powerful instinctive drives pushing us toward one outcome, and formidable human longings or daunting weaknesses directing us toward another, and the ultimate outcome is not reliably predictable with humans. It is with considerable trepidation that through these drives and longings, we may anticipate the possibilities of a deeply personal experience of connection, as well as the loss or deprivation of those experiences. My heart and mind seem to fly swiftly toward such souls in the isolated landscape of the human spirit, and although I cannot say with absolute certainty exactly how such connections are even possible, my own spirit floats effortlessly into the night, toward such souls whose very existence stirs my heart to flight. Though distant in time and space, we breathe the same air and feel the same sun on our faces. The sigh of exhilaration which fills my lungs with air, and my spirit with joy, can also come with a price. The disruption in the fabric of the soul can carry with it an almost reflective pain upon separation, and it is this disruption which can confirm even more powerfully the existence of such connections.

The power of our awareness of our inner world can enhance our everyday experience of existence and drive it beyond anything that could be hoped for without such awareness, and it makes the study of consciousness all the more compelling.

Coffee and Conventional Wisdom

Rising early this morning, feeling a twinge of sadness for some reason, I decided to attempt to penetrate the haze in my mind and attend to something productive anyway. I shuffled off to the kitchen, barely able to see, and started the morning routine of filling the coffee pot. It struck me as I did so that I had done this so often now, it had become nearly automatic. Yet, it still requires my immediate attention and concentration, even though it is at a reasonably minimal level. Once the chamber had been filled with water, and the coffee in the filter had been placed in its holder, I pressed the button on the front and set the carafe on the hot plate below the dripping stream of coffee. Occasionally, the coffee would drip too slowly at first and be siphoned off its normal path causing havoc, but this morning it went well and I decided to consider it a good sign.

Next on the list of essential matters was the consumption of six hundred milligrams of ibuprofen, which I washed down with my breakfast drink, hoping to mitigate the aching in my body, although even as I consumed the analgesic I knew that the ache in my heart and soul was far more formidable, and far less likely to be susceptible to the effects of the ibuprofen, but there was no pill I could take for that.

Instead, I decided to continue the review of my journals from the past few years, in order to assist me in formalizing my current thoughts to include a degree of perspective that current wisdom seems to fall short on. As is sometimes the case, every so often I come across an entry that stimulates my heart and mind in a way that surprises me. One such passage spoke first to how I felt strongly that my reading was guiding me toward some revelation in my investigations, and a second which included my report of an intuition that dreams were more than synaptic firing in the brain, but rather:

“An interaction of the physical structure of the brain with a non-experiential reality only accessible through what we describe as the subconscious…physically manifested symptoms of a transcendent energy flow.”

I go on to suggest that while dreaming, an individual may be “transitioning” to “non-experiential states,” and the energy within the transitional field may be required to flow through “the buffer of the subconscious,” since our daily waking consciousness cannot assimilate it directly. Jung spoke often of assimilating unconscious contents:

“In the process of individuation, the heroic task is to assimilate unconscious contents as opposed to being overwhelmed by them. The potential result is the release of energy that has been tied up with unconscious complexes.”–excerpt from JUNG LEXICON: A Primer of Terms & Concepts by Daryl Sharp

It’s clear to me now, as I read through these entries that I have been exploring these ideas as a means to arrive at some understanding and greater appreciation of my own experiential reality, which has always felt more like a manifestation of a much more complex symbiosis.

A recent exchange with several prominent thinkers in the world at large brought at least an acknowledgement of my existence, but the larger issue of a meaningful exchange between people of widely different viewpoints remains a difficult proposition. Scientists in particular have to consider what might happen to their reputation and status amongst their peers if they suddenly appeared sympathetic to individuals pondering explanations rooted in any sort of “mystical” or “metaphysical” realm. While many such thinkers who actually ARE willing to consider ideas of this sort, who are sincere and disciplined in their areas of study, and who propose ideas rooted in scholarly pursuits, any suggestion that consciousness might have essential components or aspects beyond the reach of science, or which even suggest a source or possible causal link to anything beyond the temporal boundaries of mind and brain, are generally met with either stoic silence or superficially polite acknowledgement.

There is one exceptional scientist in our 21st century who has repeatedly taken bold steps to counter this persistent resistance. His name is Rupert Sheldrake, and I have had the good fortune to encounter several of his most important contributions to the broadening of our scientific worldview over the years, but my recent encounter with his latest book, “The Science Delusion,” has given me even greater respect for his incomparable talent for arguing in favor of loosening the constrictions of modern day scientific dogma. In this brief excerpt from an article he wrote describing his book on the Cygnus Books website, he captures the essential theme of his book:

“In The Science Delusion, I argue that science is being held back by centuries-old assumptions that have hardened into dogmas. The biggest delusion of all is that science already knows the answers. The details still need working out, but the fundamental questions are settled, in principle.

Contemporary science is based on the philosophy of materialism, which claims that all reality is material or physical. There is no reality but material reality. Consciousness is a by-product of the physical activity of the brain. Matter is unconscious. Evolution is purposeless. God exists only as an idea in human minds, and hence in human heads.

These beliefs are powerful not because most scientists think about them critically, but because they don’t. The facts of science are real enough, and so are the techniques that scientists use, and so are the technologies based on them. But the belief system that governs conventional scientific thinking is an act of faith, grounded in a nineteenth century ideology.” – © 2011 Rupert Sheldrake

Many of the empirically-minded thinkers will emphasize the limited usefulness of ideas that are not testable by experiment, validated by proofs, or verified through examination of brain activity using the latest scanning technologies of neuroscience. What has always struck me about this approach is how little consideration is given to actually “thinking” about what all the experiments, proofs, and examinations which do take place are ultimately revealing. The implications of nearly every scientific undertaking infer that there are layers to our existence in the temporal world. (Existence is stratified!)

(Image credit: CERN / Lucas Taylor, via simulation.)

There are a great many phenomena contributing to our experience of the world, and many of them are not observable except through extremely sophisticated methodology which often only infers the results of the experiments which produce them. We must descend through nearly invisible layers of matter to determine the molecular structure of the elements. Our most cutting-edge technologies in physics have revealed the theoretical existence of particles or wave structures so far below the perceptual limits of our senses, that it defies the limits of credulity for most observers to suggest that we could do more than infer their existence.

Since the beginning of my process of documenting my journey of discovery and enrichment of my inner world, my journals have gradually included many more empirical sources, and I have been giving serious consideration to the viewpoints of those who do not necessarily share my enthusiasm for inclusion of elements that are currently outside of empirical scrutiny. Many of the entries are directly related to my ongoing research to come to terms with the ineffable nature of human consciousness, but occasionally portions of my personal life and side trips through interesting books and articles appear, illuminating the complex process of assimilation of the many layers that contribute to our understanding of all things.

Secrets of the Heart

Secret Love © Katie Slaby katie-slaby.artistwebsites.com/
This is a 9×12 acrylic done on acrylic specialty paper

Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese poet, artist, and writer, (1883 -1931) captured in his writing, as so few have done so eloquently, many of the universal truths of our nature as both human and spiritual beings. His grasp of the the inner workings of the human spirit give the reader a sense of lightness and joy when the topic is joyful, and his poetic sensibilities inform every subject that appears in his writing, making him one of the truly timeless spokespersons for the wisdom of any age.

A collection of some of his more popular meditations is entitled, “Secrets of the Heart,” which I often turn to in moments when I feel lost or disoriented by life in the temporal world, and sometimes his words still take me by surprise, even though I have read them many times. Speaking of the beauty in life and in Nature he wrote:

“Beauty is that which attracts the soul…When you meet Beauty, you feel that the hands deep within your inner self are stretched forth to bring it into the domain of your heart…It is the unseen which you see, the vague which you understand, and the mute which you hear…It is the Holy of Holies that begins in yourself, and ends vastly beyond any earthly imagining.”

With these words, Gibran helps us to understand the relationship between the mind of our thoughts and our inner self that transcends the visible world, and that our perception of beauty is a natural result of our longings for something that exists, “vastly beyond any earthly imagining.” In our everyday lives, we often do not perceive the beauty that is right in front of us, and find ourselves either dwelling in the past, thinking perhaps to recapture the happiness or love we experienced years ago, or dreaming of an as-yet- unrealized future in which all of our struggles or sadness eventually fade and our unfulfilled longings will somehow be realized. Gibran puts all of this in perspective by urging us to connect more fully to our inner selves–our human spirit or soul–call it what you will, in order to see the true nature of time:

“Before my Soul spoke to me, I imagined the past as an epoch that never returned, and the future as one that could never be reached. Now I realize that the present moment contains all time and within it is all that can be hoped for, done and realized.”

We tend to be more focused on the temporal aspects of time in our conscious waking state, and imagine that our love can only be truly experienced in the physical world, but Gibran tells us that not only are our most important thoughts and feelings only truly able to be discovered beyond our “earthly imaginings,” but that relating to life in the physical world is but a shadow of what is possible if we extend our hearts and minds and spirits beyond the limited range of what we can see and touch. Since responding to his own spiritual nature and listening to his “soul,” Gibran learned to:

“…touch that which has not become incarnate; my soul revealed to me that whatever we touch is part of our desire. But now my fingers have turned into a mist penetrating that which is seen in the universe and mingling with the unseen.”

When we choose to focus our perceptional talents only on what our physical senses can reveal to us, there is still a vast expanse of beauty and wonder available to us in the natural world of the tangible and predictable, but it is far more limited than the totality of what the universe contains when we open our hearts and minds and spirits to the world within us.

You are Truly Here…

The Astronomer by Johannes Vermeer (c. 1668)

Astronomy has always fascinated me. Ever since I was a young boy, I was intrigued by the planets and the stars, and wanted to know everything there was to know about what I could only barely see when I looked up at the night sky. Constellations were magical in my young mind. I truly believed that the ancient people who gave each of the mysterious shapes a name, and to which they attached a meaningful story about the various mythological characters and the mystical creatures of those mythologies, knew something about the universe that I could only imagine. I could not fully grasp the ideals contained in the mythological stories, nor could I truly decipher what they were suggesting about life right here on Earth. I couldn’t even truly understand why I felt such a powerful urge to gaze up at the panorama all around me in the night sky. Somehow, opening my heart and mind and spirit to the stars, made me feel alive and real.

As my life progressed, I never lost my fascination with the experience of the firmament of night, and even into my adult years with the additional opportunities to view the starry vault from different locations in the world, my heart would always long to fly up into the darkness for a closer look. Something about outer space drew me inexorably up amidst the innumerable elements within the celestial sphere, until one day it finally dawned on me. The universe all around me was my reference point to know that I am truly here.

We can get lost in a crowd and still feel completely alone. We can disappear into the night, but still see where we are going. We can be absorbed in a book or a movie, and still realize who we are and where we came from before becoming absorbed. We can live our whole lives without ever experiencing a truly transcendent moment, and still feel that we somehow have a connection to something bigger than ourselves. But once we discover and truly experience a deep and abiding love for another human being, once we are awakened to the existence of the unmistakeably potent thrill that accompanies our acknowledgement of that connection to another, and then inexplicably suffer the gut wrenching experience of loss of such a connection, it throws away every doubt we might have about truly being here.

“Love – Loss” by Philip Straub. Medium: Oil on board. About this Image: One of a series of paintings created to explore human relationships.

Recognizing that our lives, and the lives of all those who inhabit the planet, are an essential component of the universe in which they come to pass doesn’t come easy always. With so many human beings populating the Earth in the 21st century, and with so few of us finding each other, caring for each other, or even getting to know each other well, it’s hardly surprising that we sometimes fail to see our essential connection to the lives of the billions of inhabitants who share this life with us, including every other living creature who walks, flies, or crawls along the surface of the planet with us. In order to reach such a recognition, we must carefully examine our relationship with each of those we do encounter, and as far as possible, engage them fully and learn to accept the diversity of strengths and weaknesses that each soul possesses, without relinquishing what is most essential to the connection in ourselves.

My good friend and fellow blogger patricemj recently posted an insightful look at one particularly illuminating example of how this awareness and love for others can bring us to see that we are truly here, and I recommend you stop by to have a look:

http://patricemj.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/notes-on-becoming-a-therapist/

Of the many illuminating experiences which can be instructive with regard to knowing that we are truly here, particularly after what might have been the accumulation of many years of almost forgetting that we are here for some good purpose, is the arrival in our lives of a brand new person on this Earth. Here is a brief excerpt from my personal journal about one particularly illuminating moment:

“Writing this morning next to a portable crib with my two month new granddaughter, sleeping peacefully after I shared a sleepy half hour or so of her morning feeding, I can’t help but contemplate the extraordinary quality of our communications since her arrival in my world. Pure delight overcomes me as my eyes land upon her face, and she bursts into a wide smile, her own eyes opening widely as well, and her arms and feet gyrate with excitement in anticipation of being picked up and cuddled. As a man with a reasonably functional adult brain, my responses enjoy a much richer and fuller range, but my granddaughter’s more limited repertoire of responses are nonetheless sufficient for her to receive the desired, although instinctive immediate response from me to satisfy her immediate needs.”

Watching a child awaken to conscious awareness is a nearly miraculous process, and if you are not fully conscious yourself when such an opportunity arises, you will soon find yourself in the thick of it before long. As time progresses, each time I have the opportunity to share time with this bundle of excitement and joy, I am reminded again that I am truly here:

Now three years along in life, this young lady hasn’t lost a single bit of her power to remind me that I am truly here, and while there are many ways to increase our understanding and appreciation for the power of love in our lives, including every possible variation and quality of love between two human beings, there are no limits to what we can accomplish by opening ourselves to our powerfully urgent longings to connect to others.

…..more to come….

Allow Yourself to Feel

Image courtesy bike through Creative Commons License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0

Just yesterday morning, as I floated between wakefulness and sleep, drifting blissfully in between, I found myself writing in my sleep. It was a particularly vivid dream as I watched myself slowly transcribing my thoughts on the paper, felt a gentle, warm breeze flowing across the air around me, apparently not needing my reading glasses which I normally cannot write without at all, and in a glowing, white shirt which appeared to sparkle with whiteness. The image is actually magical. I know I’m asleep. I know that I’m kind of awake. And I just gently switch back and forth. I tell myself, when I DO wake up, I will write all this down. Well, here is what I wrote in my dream:

“Allow yourself to feel.”

“Acknowledge what you feel.”

“Unlock what you feel.”

“What is inside?”

“Examine the structure.”

“Peel back the layers.”

“How did we get there?”

I slowly allowed my mind to let go of sleep. I did not immediately rise from my bed. The sun was trying very hard to burst through the blinds in my room. Beams of sunlight pierced the stillness, and the beauty of the silence which surrounded me, made me hesitate. I was alone. There was no place I had to be. There were no children at the foot of the bed, peeking at me. There was only silence.

The message for me seemed to be that I should acknowledge, examine, and analyze the feelings which occupy me these days.

The delight I experienced in the dream, and the same warm feelings of affection and connection to the spirit, also inspired the poem I shared in the previous message. The spirit of poetry is apparently alive and well here at WordPress. It’s busting out all over!

Hopefully, there is much more to come……John H.

The Brightest Star in My Nights

The Brightest Star in My Nights

 

Whenever I fly to you,

Across the infinite realms

Of imagination, I release

My fears and doubts,

And with them my attachment

To the tangible world.

 

As my soul drifts away

From the endless darkness

That enfolds me

In your absence,

I travel to another world

Where the sky drifts with me,

As I seek your spirit.

 

I see you finally and descend

Toward you, basking in the warm glow

Of the starlight which surrounds you.

You are the brightest star in my nights,

And I embrace the moment with joy

That is untouched by doubt.

 

© March 2012 by JJHIII