¿Por qué?

How does the experience of being aware arise? And what is the relationship between mind and body, or, to put it another way, between consciousness and matter?

Some examples: we can choose to train ourselves to adjust our breathing to affect our mood and ability to concentrate (meditation, did you know that a Buddhist monks and nuns have been studied during deep mediation, a shotgun can be fired behind them and there is no recognition in their brain activity whatsoever of this ‘shocking event’). And our sexual feelings can raise intense expressions of love for another person that may rise to an intense realisation of the interconnectedness of everything. An example from American poet Walt Whitman:

“I mind how once we lay, such a transparent summer morning;
How you settled your head athwart my hips, and gently turn’d over upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart,
And reach’d till you felt my beard, and reach’d till you held my feet.

Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth;
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own;
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers;
And that a kelson of the creation is love;
And limitless are leaves, stiff or drooping in the fields;
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them;
And mossy scabs of the worm fence, and heap’d stones, elder, mullen and poke-weed.” Excerpt from ‘Song of Myself’ (part 5) Walt Whitman (from Leaves of Grass, first published in the 1855 edition).

But the nature of scientific discovery during the time since the printing of this poem to this day has left many feeling bereft with the feeling that a direct connection to reality is a delusory ambition. Pessimistic relativism rules in our ‘day and age’, post-modernism breaks us into tiny fragments beyond any sense of narrative that contains meaning. I argue fervently against such belief. That the understanding of the oscillation of time, the relativity of time, the subjective nature of our reality leaves us empty and lost (shaking my head determinedly ‘no’). As the environment stretches a species what happens? Adaptation occurs in order for a species to survive, if they do not… they fade into extinction. Human adaptation is now possible because we have already adapted on a incredible scale some 40,000 years ago (or for the creationists reading this when God made man in the image of himself, except with free will) with the ‘big bang’ of our evolution that took a major risk but enabled us to have a creative mind that could remember, plan and imagine a future with the information available. We have the ability for spiritual development because with reason, creativity and instincts in balance we can make the finer distinctions necessary for getting in touch with more subtle aspects of reality. I defy anyone to tell me that the cutting edge of quantum physics doesn’t sound like at least sci-fi or intense spirituality.

“New organs of perception come into being as a result of necessity.  Therefore, O man, increase your necessity, so that you may increase your perception.” Sufi sage Julaluddin Rumi (1207-1273)

If you so wish there will be more… but, my beloved friends, this is it for today. Perhaps I should give these musings a new category… ‘errant talks’. Hmm, I like the sound of that.

Gifted

One of my maternal great uncles was a gifted healer; what in many cultures would be called a prophet or shaman, he had no specific religious affiliation and spoke of God in many forms. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I realized he was a man of great renown. Of course growing up with him in my life, although I knew he was unique and incredibly important to me, I did not see what those from the outside saw. He guided me and kept me safe. I was very unwell through my early years and he would always turn up with freshly caught fish in hand for my mother and he would heal me and teach me how to remain well.

In his later years (at 70) my uncle ended up spending many years in jail. He was accused of a crime that I know he did not commit, how do I know? Because he taught me some of the most important lessons of my life I know his spirit and it was just not possible for him to have committed this crime, it would have been against everything he stood for. His, our, family abandoned him. I was forbidden to see him or talk to him. I was a young teenager at the time. The man who had for all my years of life been caring for me and teaching me had been demonized. The insincerity that there were others within the family that had committed far worse crimes living freely, unpunished and kept close within the family meant that I withdrew myself from these people. Including my parents. The ban on contact/communication was so strong that when I asked my mother a few years later how he was because I couldn’t sense him anymore she looked at me oddly and said he was dead.

A few years after his death I had a chance encounter with his closest friend a man I had never met. A friend and I were on a trip and she asked if we could stop off to visit her spiritual mentor. He was a prophet or channel of sorts; my uncle had been his mentor. We arrived and I sat apart to let my friend have her time with the man. Suddenly he asked me why I was there. It was a rhetorical question with deeper meaning than “I am here because my friend and I are sharing a car ride”. He then asked me directly what Frank meant to me. I was surprised but explained that he had been my great uncle. He rose and went to get something. When he returned he told me that my uncle had served great purpose during his time in jail. The hardest, most violent and disturbed criminals were put in with Frank and his presence and way of being calmed them and changed them. He handed me a poem my uncle wrote when he was in jail and said that he believed it was for me. He then went on to tell me all that I had not known about my uncle and he reminded me that Frank had never forgotten me.

 Although I had never doubted my uncle I hated that he had been accused and found guilty of a crime. I hated that my family had ostracized him partially for what he was and then because of what he was accused of. It was like they had agreed that they had always thought that he was ‘evil’ or ‘strange’ and here was the justification. It planted a seed of fear within me that if we use our gifts the light we create draws the darkness to it. I had felt it in my own life over and over. The brighter I burned the more darkness found me. I could see that people were afraid of me, or what I represented for them. So I doused the light and donned a myriad of masks to hide behind. As I lift the veils that shroud me I feel so much pain my heart cannot bear it but I must allow myself to feel it so that the capacity for love that I have within me can shine. I cannot remain in hiding anymore. The thought that clearly came to me today, as I realized this and started to let my heart open to the deep hurt within me, was of my uncle and his poem:

Light in the Cell

And a light shined in my cell

And there was not any wall

And there was no dark at all

Only Thou, Immanuel.

Light of love shined in the cell

Turned to gold the iron bars

Opened windows to the stars

Peace stood there as sentinel.

Dearest Lord, how can it be

That thou art so kind to me?

Love is shining in my cell

Jesus, my Immanuel.