Contemplation, for me means, withdrawing attention from outward, objective, particular, and temporal concerns, and refocusing on inward, subjective, general and even eternal realities. The desire for self entertainment falls away as I turn my attention inwardly toward the heart. I see that desire is fuelled by outward, objective, particular, and temporal concerns; a yearning for distraction from a a truth of life that includes both joyful and uncomfortable experiences. A possible truth might be that through these concerns we separate what is inseparable. We are conditioned to pursue hedonistic impulses and to avoid suffering. The irony is that one is not separate from the other. Turning toward the heart we find a joy for life not dependent on the search for pleasure. From this place we are better able to understand and deal with the temporal and particular. We find joy in love as we bring it to relations. But it includes a tolerance for suffering that our conditioning causes us to be averse to. I find that it is in coming to be ba able to be with my suffering that I rediscover compassion and a more direct experience of relating to the suffering of others.
Ilio Delio writes that “Science and technology mastered nature’s secrets, but the price of these discoveries was steep: the Soul of the world. We bartered our souls for the comforts of materialism, wealth, and luxury, turning a blind eye to everything that did not fit into our manufactured, privatized worlds.”
When I walk around in the external world as a self-sufficient achiever I am in fact stumbling in the dark, blind to the remedy of our collective illness.
Scientific advances have revealed with clarity the story of an evolving universe. But there are deeper implications to consider as John F. Haught illustrates in his book “The New Cosmic Story”. Many others who have written books on life and the universe—including Stephen Hawking, Stephen Jay Gould, and Richard Dawkins—have overlooked a crucial aspect of cosmic history. That is the drama of life’s awakening to interiority and religious awareness. “Science may illuminate the outside story of the universe, but a full telling of the cosmic story cannot ignore the inside development that interiority reveals”
More then ever I am becoming oriented in “interiority” . My life long stumbling has been a consequence of perceptions and assumptions arising out of cultural programming rooted in a scientific, technologic materialism. In attending to and cultivating what is discovered in the interior experience, at my centre, I am guided through the maize of life in what seems to be more holistic, real way.
There can be no movement in the outer universe toward unity and peace without change in the inner universe toward unity and peace.Teilhard de Chardin believed that ” there can be no movement in the outer universe toward unity and peace without change in the inner universe toward unity and peace.
I now realize that this illusive power and control that we strive for is rather unimportant and in fact it is often pretend and show that propels us into an entanglement that keeps us from realizing something more authentic of ourselves. Something newly awakened in me sees how I become entangled, participating in other people’s abandonment, betrayal, rejection, or marginalization and how I am lost in that.
That something inspires me to step back and to find the grounded space where I can let go of needy parts that create, strive and grasp onto attachment to unnecessary things. In that seeing I return to living in presence and what is real. It’s not an intellectual choice but more attending to what is authentic ineffable of me,that at some point in the past I have been conditioned to ignore.
A difficult part is that in this revelation I am presented with a suffering and sensitivity that I must learn to be with and to live with. The pain and loss that life brings is inevitable and I can not find compassion and contentment in diversion, distraction and avoidance of that experience.
I’m quite angry with the world right now. I feel as if I have so little control of how things turn out, however, I suspect that this is the truth of life, somehow forgotten. At least I can now recognize the delusion in what, over the years, I have been taught. That is the teaching of our children that “they” have the power to become something that is more important than what “they” are, as they are, and that “they” as individuals can achieve and change their sense of worth and how others perceive them. And that will bring them power, wealth and a sense of importance and possibly invulnerability to life’s less pleasant afflictions.
People that I love are becoming sick and any effort to fix or distract from that inevitable reality seems to be so superficial and unreal. I’m so aware of the dysfunctional aspects of attachment to surreal ideas and that includes the nonsense of pursuing an individual sense of power that promotes Both disconnection and entanglement in relationships and that takes me so much away from presence and the love I find in that.
I now realize that this illusive power and control that we strive for is rather unimportant and in fact it is often pretend and show that keeps us from something more authentic of ourselves. It is only in presence that I can see what is real of myself and life and death. It is the only place that I can find authentic ground from where I can respond with heart to others, watching the anger and suffering and hoping to be conscious of my habitual reaction that only serves to complicate and confuse things.
To be able to see the totality of things as a familiar occurrence, involves an ability to free myself of all representations.We take language to be words, and words to be agreed-upon naming, following the grammatical laws of a particular culture, used primarily to communicate. That is, words themselves are assumed to be “empty,” though they convey meaning and those words make up our representations. Coming to an understanding that my perceptions have been influenced by these representations, many of which have been handed down from family and culture has played a part in promoting a new realization, That is that most of these words and representations have been accepted in blind faith and have gone unexamined in that acceptance and that our dependence on them may in fact take us away from more comprehensive revelations that have their influence in a non representational living experience,
But what is a child, first emerging from an existence and entirely free of every and any image to do if he is to get by in life. Nominal representations, that take the link to gesture out of words and in turn the direct experience out of representations and life become a requirement that we all become dependent on in our social conditioning which enables one in communicating, interaction and relating. We become trapped in this conditioning in that it creates a filter that limits perception and a more authentic process and experience of life.
According to Plato, Socrates, the human being, through recollection, finds truths buried within himself, that existed prior to the representations that have formed. In the traces and seeds of an otherwise forgotten state the original freedom eventually appears not as lost, but as something to be rediscovered: it is ahead of us as the goal of a liberation; of a becoming which consists of detachment from images. Whatever my knowledge may be and whatever my works may be, if in this present instant I dedicate myself to them without making them mine, if I remain as open and as free from entanglements as I was in the beginning, then I am truly detached and disposed to a totality. Detachment arises and is verified in such a “now” which is always new.
In our modern world of reliance on abstraction and representation, a majority of humans subscribe to a materialist philosophy, undoubtedly influenced by fragmented and limited representations. We’re they honest, they would admit that in their scheme of things that “non representational life”, influenced by artistic and poetic forms, can be dispensed with altogether. There is in fact a school of thought whose explicit purpose is to affirm the ‘meaningless’ nature of life and in fact that it has no place in the lives of the majority of the modern populace, who differ, in this respect, from their illiterate ancestors, in whose memories songs and ballads pointing to a more total truth had their place.
“We live within this scripted notion of existence that successfully conceals heartfulness. We perceive existence as we are scripted to do. A walk on the moon is, not different from a walk on the earth on the condition that we walk as lunatics or that we dwell poetically wherever we happen to be.”
It is possible that there is something more of our existence than what we are able to conventionally perceive and that we are missing something in our clinging to learned beliefs, opinions, conditioned hopes and needs. If we choose to investigate and explore aspects of our existence in an open, aware, experiential and creative way we might discover something of ourselves that has been lost, ignored or filtered from our realization as a consequence of our clinging way.
James Hillman writes of the benefit of returning to our innocence.” Here, innocence is not mere or sheer inexperience but rather that condition where one is not identified with experience”: it is a release (nirvana) “from the nigredo of personal identity into the mirrors of impersonal reflections.”
We see the world as we are conditioned to see the world. The challenge for me is how I might come to see my conditioning more clearly and in so doing, open to a place of heart, to embrace the world as it is, or at least to see other possibilities or ways of perceiving that promote a more comprehensive awareness.
Robert Sardello writes “Heart awareness, heartfulness, locates being fully human within the soul and spiritual center of the body, the heart. Practices of heartfulness contemplatively engage the actual organ of the heart, inwardly revealing what it is like to be incarnated in body and world. In developing the capacity to creatively radiate from the center outward, the holy, whole, nature of the human body reveals itself as intimately united with imagination, creative presence, Earthunity, and the unfolding of the livingness of all things. It feels like our natural state, forgotten long ago.”
There has been a shift “to lose oneself” in the sense that familiar bonds have been loosened and a slow slipping away has occurred. Others have come to know me in terms of externally imposed constraints and conditioning that I have come to realize has caused me to be something of a “stranger”.
Such a shift has not been a movement towards a literal end but the dethronement of something of a superficial control centre that has interfered more than it has seemed to help, in the living of life; at least as I realize life to be in my more recent awareness. Escape from this way is not a decline and it is not an end, but simply an inclination to make ready a descent by which the stranger goes under and what is left is the “departed”. Along with that there is a sense of “settling in”and an expansion of awareness in what is left.
The one “who is apart,”can be perceived to be somewhat of a madman because he has taken his way in another not so conventional direction; although it being no more insane than the erratic orientation of the stranger. The madness, however, is of a more gentle quality than what the “stranger” knew for his mind has come to pursue a greater stillness and a home is now being discovered in a “groundless ground” and in that there is a wandering of another more organic essence than what has been known.