Quiet…quiet…slow…no deadlines. I almost feel as though I might slip under the crowd of humanity and arrive at my destination without anyone noticing I passed by. If I move too quickly, he will arise almost without my noticing and be miles away down roads of sanctioned futility before I awaken: my rabbity ego…he waits eagerly the slightest breaking of the silence. A look to the right or to the left is all that it takes.
Yet, the world moves along so fast and constantly beckons to me to get a move on. It has been this way for as long as I can remember. And so I try. I muster my energy and strive along with the rest of them and I am swept away in the current…lost in thoughts, aspirations, racing along toward the precipice with the rest of the sheep, my eyes hazed over with visions of a horizon that promises all that is “out there” and alluring, everything but the ever sure step that is before me.
And yet that is all there is. Another step. And the world insists I have gone mad to not be rushing along with the rest of them. They insist that rush they must and so must I. Oh that I could die to my self once and for all and give up the death race! But still, even now as I write this, there is only the next sure step there before me. Quiet down…slow…do not arouse him now from his slumber. If we are still as we pass, we will make our way along and be home before he wakes.
A poem by John Burroughs:
Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea;
I rave no more 'gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.
I stay my haste, I make delays,
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways,
And what is mine shall know my face.
Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me;
No wind can drive my bark astray,
Nor change the tide of destiny.
What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it hath sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.
The waters know their own and draw
The brook that springs in yonder height;
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.
The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,
Can keep my own away from me.
Sorry for the long delay since my last post. I have been caught up in the Holidays and in making a living.
Today, we are going to examine more closely the topic that we began on the last blog post: i.e. our core nature. We established last time a universally acknowledged idea that we rarely consider - that is the fact that the body is not us but rather it is a possession or something that we view as belonging to us. (If you have not yet read the last blog post, please do so now.)
Today, we will go one level deeper. In the western world we consider the idea of the spirit. I don't mean the Spirit with a capital S as in the Holy Spirit. Instead, I am referring to something that we again consider as belonging to ourselves. My spirit. Another word that is commonly used is "soul" - "the soul of man". Depending on the eastern tradition, it seems that these two (the soul of man and the Holy Spirit as we would call it in the western world) are not so clearly differentiated. I must speak softly here as I am not an authority on those traditions. I can only say that I have heard opposing views on this when it comes to the idea of the soul. It seems that we in the west also grapple with the same questions. What we will try to do today is to untangle a few things through observation. This by no means gives us "The Answer". But it might flesh the subject out a bit.
When two people fall in love, they might say something like "we are soul mates". This statement seems to infer that the two partners were intended for one another. Why? Because the couple feels as though there was a bond that existed before or preceding the earthly bond. It is as though something about the other person is beckoning to them from a deeper level. Before, or preceding may not be the right way to put it. If God is really timeless, then all of our talk of befores and afters will always fall short of a true description. But by using the words "soul mate", we reveal an underlying truth which we all acknowledge. We feel that it was a match made in the heaven - or before earth was even conceived of - perhaps written in the stars when we were no more than a gleam in the Creator's eye. Of course, falling in love may not be the best analogy since as my father used to say "you can fall in love with anyone". But it does give us a glimmer into the framework with which we view our own existence. The idea of the soul takes us a step closer to our core nature.
We also say other things that we don't really consider, like when a baby is born and we say that they were sent from heaven or when a person dies, we say that they have gone to heaven. Even in many of the eastern traditions, there is an idea of an underworld where spirits go when they die and where they stay when they are awaiting the time of re-birth into another incarnation. We often say to children that their loved one has moved on or we tell them, as they are looking down at the corpse at the funeral, "they're not there anymore". And we might add "they've gone to be with Jesus" or "they've gone to be with so and so" who has died. Many if not most of the children in such situations don't seem to need the explanation. They know very well that the corpse lying in the coffin is not their mother or grandmother or grandfather etc...
I realize that these facts are self evident, but I share them in preparation for another thought that you may not have considered. Since most of us do not know much about the afterlife, I am going to draw upon a few who have experienced it. Of those who have died and lived to tell of it, many of them say that they saw loved ones there and that their loved ones appeared as they did in life but often times they appeared younger. This may not seem important, but it has some significant implications. First of all, if the person appears the way that they want to appear, we know that that the reality of the soul is different than the reality of the body. They seem to have a choice in the matter. And yet they do seem to exist as an individual, albeit in a more fluid way than in this life. Another thing that it implies is that the Spirit is not stagnant - it may not stay the same. If their spirits did exist before this life as many traditions assert, then the appearance of their spirits seem to have changed to match their earthly bodies. That is a fascinating idea. I like the idea of choosing the version of this earthly body that I take with me. :-)
The third thing that this seems to imply is something that we discovered with our mortal bodies and that is that our souls are personal to us. If I die and see my Grandfather Thomas, I would say that I saw his spirit. And now we have gone full circle! If the spirit that I saw was his, then again, HE must possess his own spirit - HE possesses his own soul! This may be a bit of a stretch for you but lets look at our former example to see what we reveal through our own language. We constantly refer to a person's spirit or soul as theirs. When Aunt Ethel is lying in the casket, we might say to little Johnny, "well Johnny, her body is there but her soul has gone home to God." In this phrase again, we reveal the underlying truth that we all acknowledge through our own speech - that truth being that it is her soul. We also say that a girl who seems to be kind and gentle and spiritually minded has a sweet spirit - in other words, the sweet spirit is her sweet spirit. Another example of this is in the bible when it speaks of "the soul of man", again it denotes some sort of possession.
I do realize that this one is a bit of a stretch and it gets a bit fuzzy because we also say things like "he is a brave soul". I only put it out there as something to consider as we are trying to arrive at the core. Realize that it is just a beginning and not the final word - just try it on and see if you can't go a bit deeper toward your true nature. I believe that future blog posts may help to flesh this out. As yet, I have not even explained why this is important. Hopefully that will become evident as time goes on.
I am going to share one more thought before I finish that may help you to see that although the realization of the soul as a possession brings us closer to our core identity, we still have to go a bit further in order to get there. I have found some eastern observations very helpful in this regard. They say that if I can perceive myself, then the I and the "myself" must be two different things. For example, if "I" can perceive the body, then the "I" that perceives is one layer deeper than the body. Also, I could say that I can observe my thoughts and therefore, the observer must be more core (and more centrally me) than the thoughts. So, if a person dies and is able to perceive their own existence as a spirit or soul entity, would not the perceiver be one level deeper than the perceived. (We see from multiple life after life experiences that this is the case.) I won't go so far to say that they are separate, because even a screw driver that I use every day, or a toothbrush in a sense become a part of me. I even have a certain jacket that I love and has become a part of me. But they are not me at the core and neither is my body and it would appear that neither is our soul, for if we can perceive it, then there is at least one layer deeper than what is perceived.
Wow! I need a rest after that. My brain feels a bit fried. I hope that it gives you something to think about. If it doesn't fit, throw it out as one of the strange things that has floated around in my brain. :-) Some time soon, I will get to the core. For myself, I can only see one more layer beneath the body and the soul or spirit and it has some very important implications when it comes to the nuts and bolts of how we actually change in this life and it can be a great help to us on The Trackless Path. God Bless You All. :-)!