By Janus Blume
© June 1, 2021
We stare into the depths, you and I, because we will not be bought off, will not sell our souls for surface things, like identity–that part which feels torn, shredded by self-imposed separation from the whole. Yet not entirely self-imposed. The notion of sin, separation, and the loss of the garden is handed down from parent to child and embedded in Western culture. But even so, something in your heart is singing, “Union, peace, and joy exist.” Let’s quiet our minds and listen.
Other words may bubble up, and that’s okay. If they do, let them slip through your mind like sand through a sieve. Feelings may also barge in. They will not be denied, and why should they? They were earned through life experiences, so we honor them, though not their well-practiced narratives. Let us have no more patience for silent internal works of fiction.
“Fiction?” You may hear your mind counter. “It’s complete non-fiction. It happened to me. It’s real.”
And it would be right. We all suffer from slings and arrows of the past. Yet if you look at the thought-loop you associate with any perceived emotional trauma, you will find a great deal of judgement and recrimination folded in with history. Researchers who study human memory tell us that our recollections change over time, that we remember our most recent memories, not the event itself. In other words, your recall distorts the past like a funhouse mirror.
The Limits of the Mind
People tend to think they can figure life out and protect themselves from harm. This approach seems to be part of human design, but the underlying principle is incorrect. Life simply has too many variables. No matter how hard we think or how carefully we plan, things still go wrong.
It’s very strange that an inappropriate response to life’s challenges appears to be hardwired into our behavior. We could speculate on how this came to be. Maybe it helps if we understand that evolution only requires a certain percentage of us to live long enough to produce offspring who also reach adulthood and procreate. Although it’s probably accurate, this conclusion is too pedantic for me to accept as the complete explanation.
We live in a culture rooted in the illusion of loss and separation as expressed through the story of Eden. It’s painful, yet the narrative of being driven from paradise rings true. It’s as if we’ve inherited an ancient grief. Perhaps at some point in human development we went through a separation from our place in the order of things. Our eldest human ancestors transitioned to Homo sapiens to become the dominant species here. Did they lose something, or trade it away—something we long to reclaim?
The beauty of life abounds on planet Earth. Monarch butterflies hang from eucalyptus trees like so many dead leaves until the sunlight dries the dew from their wings. Then they burst into flight, hundreds at a time. Lines of pelicans traverse the shoreline, flying low enough to easily make a meal of the fish in the shallows. Behind the birds we see the splendor of cherry pink, orange, and dark mauve in the sunset. You would think we would be able to let go of our worries and concerns long enough to vibe with it, to let it in and rejoice at our good fortune to be part of such exquisite artistry. Sometimes we can. Maybe there’s a way to bask in that light more often.
It has been reported that Jesus spoke of a ‘pearl of great price,’ a jewel of such value that a wise merchant would sell everything he owned to get his hands on it. What was he talking about? Since he spoke in parables and used metaphors for teaching, the pearl would represent a non-physical treasure. Let’s see if we can figure out what he might have meant.
We, the conquering animals at the top of the food chain, learned to plant, to harvest, to build homes and cities. We invented art, written language, poetry, and music. But there is more to us than that–another ‘something’ that can be named in various ways, but never completely captured in language. Maybe we gave it up when we uttered the first word, built the first shelter, or planted the first crop. Have we been inventing religions ever since then, to try to get it back?
Each of us defines it differently. Many people call themselves atheists, and remain certain that scientists will someday understand the very source of creation. Some put their faith in a superhuman being called God or Goddess. I’m a mystic. I know and cherish a relationship with a divine Oneness expressed through many images and stories, but belief seems overrated to me. That might put me in the category we label agnostic.
I value living in the question. Think about it. Our minds crave answers, but questions open doors, and answers close them. Definitions draw lines around things and restrict them. As long as I relate to the ultimate mystery without definition, anything is possible. I can touch eternity.
As Above, So Below; As Without, So Within
Scientists estimate the universe to be 13.7 billion years old. My predicted lifespan is less than 100 years. What business do I have even talking about eternity? I can only answer that question by telling you where I’ve found it. In present-moment consciousness. In the moment of now there is no need, sorrow, or death. I know about them through language, and they relate to the remembered past or the imagined future.
I relate to the universe as a living being, and the source of life as infinite possibility. I think it’s my birthright to experience the invisible mystery at the heart of existence, and the sacred stories of all cultures can help me do that. Life is truly fulfilling for me when I sit in silence, looking through the lens of nonmaterial reality.
Hush now. The voice in your head is drowning out the song of your heart. Quiet your mind and be fully present so you can hear it. You are part and parcel of the mysterious source of the universe. The iridescence of peace, joy, and union shine like subtle rainbow colors gleaming from the surface of a pearl. Shatter the illusion of separation, and know yourself truly. The shallows are fine for pelicans finding fish. Give me the depths of spirit where presence dwells. From there I can see forever, and it is well with my soul.