Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Lobster Pot



We are both crossing over the small canal bridge that divides our residential district from the nature park where we walk our dog. There down in the water something catches our eye, murky yellow and plastic at the bottom of the canal. We take a closer look. It is a lobster pot. Someone had stood on the bridge and lowered it into the water, hoping for a catch - and that someone, whoever it was, was not going to be disappointed. Inside the pot, testing the bars of its plastic prison with its antennae, is a small brown river lobster.

Slowly the small lobster circles around, checking every crevice of the pot for a way out. But for we who were staring down at it, the way out is plain to see: the large open hole in the top of the yellow plastic weave was the way it went in, and that circular hole also is the way to freedom. So simple, and so impossible. For such pots are of course designed specifically with the intelligence level of the average lobster in mind. And lobsters cannot figure the way out, however obvious that route seems to us. We watch the lobster's efforts. At times it is as close to freedom as the length of its own short tail. But it stays trapped. We leave the animal to it's fate. It is beyond our reach anyway, and this simple but effective prison, with no keys and an open door, holds it as secure as a maximum security wing.

At times we all find ourselves in that lobster pot. Like the lobster, we might circle around, but being right in the situation, we miss the opening that would lead to freedom. The way out of our situation that might be so painfully obvious to those who care for our welfare is passed over by us in our despair, and we remain a prisoner of circumstances. Perhaps that prison takes the form of a physically abusive partner, or, in some ways perhaps equally insidiously, a partner who encourages us in a thousand subtle ways to imagine that we have all the freedom in the world. But freedom can be illusory. In reality that partner, slowly, and step by silent step, ensures our dependence upon them. 

There is a further kind of lobster pot in which we might find ourselves. That is the one in which we actually can see the opening - in which we can see the way out as plain as anything. But for any number of reasons, we choose to stay right where we are. What stops us seeking freedom might be fear - fear of the partner, fear of the unknown world outside the pot, fear of losing the security which the pot appears to offer, however confined its space. And it is that very factor of security whose influence on our thinking can be as effective as any bunch of warder's keys. We might decide that a partner who provides for a comfortable living is a reasonable trade-off against that partner's infidelity - or against a love whose well has gone dry. And so we stay in the pot, even when the opening is in plain sight.

So is foregoing the simple freedom to live our lives as we feel we should, or as we feel that we are meant to, the price which we pay for living inside our particular lobster pot, whatever form that pot might take? As often as not, it probably is. We settle down to a life of captivity and become someone else's version of us. Freedom, if it comes at all, might come too late for us to know what to do with it when finally we hold that freedom in our hands. We have become conditioned to captivity.

But the outcome is not always either a convenient or a happy one. The situation known to us personally, and which has been on our mind while we have been writing this post, ended tragically, in a death. A prison is still a prison, however comfortable we are made to feel inside it. Sometimes the loss of our freedom comes with other compensations which make it more-or-less agreeable. But sometimes it comes at a very high price indeed.
 



Painting by Edward Robert Hughes

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Earth

Photograph: Edward S. Curtis


Earth

These days, when I look
At the others of my people,
At the others in the village,
I see that everyone
Is younger than me,
Even the council elders.

Sometimes they ask me,
‘Mother, how old are you?
You must be as old as the Earth!’
And then I smile
Because it is not true.
I am older than that -
Much older.




Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spiral


The spiral weaves the winding path
the dance begins with sacred tread
from field and meadow, home and hearth
the feet are led.

They gather on the cold hillside
in winter silence, winter sun
they dance along the winding form
they dance alone, they dance as one.

All seasons flow into the earth
all seasons flow into the land
they dance through lives
they dance through time
and each beginning is an end.

But endless is the winding path
and timeless are the feet that tread
and silent is the loving earth
on the lone hillside.






Artwork by Valerianna - RavenWood Forest - Massachusetts


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Annunciation ~ Words of the Angel


You are not nearer God than we;
he's far from everyone.
And yet your hands most wonderfully
reveal his benison.
From woman's sleeves none ever grew
so ripe, so shimmmeringly:
I am the day, I am the dew,
you, Lady, are the Tree.

Pardon now my long journey's done,
I had forgot to say
what he who sat as in the sun,
grand in his gold array,
told me to tell you, pensive one
(space has bewildered me).
I am the start of what's begun,
you, Lady, are the Tree.

I spread my wings out wide and rose,
the space around grew less;
your little house quite overflows
with my abundant dress.
But still you keep your solitude
and hardly notice me:
I'm but a breeze within the wood,
you, Lady, are the Tree.

The angels tremble in their choir,
grow pale, and seperate:
never were longing and desire
so vague and yet so great.
Something perhaps is going to be
that you perceived in dream.
Hail to you! for my soul can see
that you are ripe and teem.

You lofty gate, that any day
may open for our good:
you ear my longing songs assay,
my word - I know now -  lost its way
in you as in a wood.

And thus your last dream was designed
to be fulfilled by me.
God looked at me: he made me blind....

You, Lady, are the Tree


- Rainer Maria Rilke



Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Golden Cell


The Golden Cell

Here there is gold:
not the far sparks of stars in the darkness
but the coursing golden rivers of my veins
so wide that were you to stand on one bank
you would not see to the farther shore.

For here in the alchemy of my cell
distance is unexpected:
reaching outwards
then curving back inwards upon itself
only to extend outwards once more
to far night-blue horizons:
an ebb and flow of infinite space.

I wait in the stillness of my being
I wait in silence for her approach
I know that she will find me.
For in spite of everything
nothing to her is ever lost.

I wait, silent and unmoving.
I wait with eyes closed
against the golden dark
knowing that I must not see her.
For in spite of everything
I know that she is shy.

I wait with lips closed in silence
I wait to hear the soft rustle
of approaching wings
in the golden darkness
journeying from beyond
the night-blue horizons
of my closed eyes

I wait to feel
the merest breath of wings unfolded
upon my face.

Then I will know that she is close:
close enough quietly to whisper
that all is well
and all shall be well
on the night-blue horizons
of my golden cell.






Painting: The Golden Cell by Odilon Redon

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Redemption


Each of us carries within ourselves both darkness and light. As we know so well, accepting both is not always easy, but understanding the nature of these contrasts can help. Sophia – Wisdom – as a dynamic creative force, is the first emanation from the Unknowable. In the beginning of all things, the cosmos needed that ‘x-factor’ to make things happen. Sophia, bursting with creative dynamism, provided that extra something which was needed. Out of Sophia’s dynamic energy darkness and chaos were born – but these were not negative values. Rather, they were the fertile grounds from which all else could flow – including light and order.

Great truths go on being true. We are mirrors of the cosmos, and so Sophia’s energy continues to exist inside us. It offers us the opportunity to recognize our own darkness for the dynamic force which it truly is. But more than this: it offers us the chance for redemption. This is not the redemption which requires supreme sacrifice. This is not the redemption which demands a crucifixion to make it happen. This is the deep redemption which comes with an awareness of the true value of our darkness, as a quality which, when recognized for what it truly is and given it true place, will set our inner light free.

For without first embracing our darkness, we cannot reach that ‘turning point’ in our own inner labyrinth (see my previous post The Winding Path). Without the experience of the turning point, we will be reaching for the light, but we will remain in shadow – and that shadow is our own.

This is what my picture here portrays. Kahlil Gibran’s painting shows a man in a pose which we readily identify with crucifixion. But the woman in front of him in turn raises her own arms, placing her hands on his outstretched arms in a gesture which makes it clear that she wishes him to lower his arms. Gibran portrays the deepest truth. As long as the man's arms are raised in the position of crucifixion it remains impossible for him to embrace the woman: impossible for him to embrace that feminine part of himself which is the dynamic wisdom of Sophia. For with this embrace comes an awareness and a development of the dynamic forces at work within us, and the self-knowledge which comes with this acceptance. And this is the true redemption. 






Painting by Kahlil Gibran


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Light and Dark

Labradorite
 "The Natural Law is a spiritual law. Its powers are both light and dark." 
~ Oren R. Lyons, Spokesman Traditional Circle of Elders 

Darkness as the true source of light is in ancient mysticism a given, but in most spiritual and New Age circles considered to be the wrong approach, for only 'light' is what matters, and talking about darkness is considered to be only an attempt by the ego to keep you away from the light.

Within the Christian church the emphasis is usually placed on the striving to ascend towards the light. 
But as the myth of Icarus shows, it is the inevitable fate of those who reach for the spiritual light, that in the end they fall back to earth again. In other words: the more we go into the direction of the light, the longer the shadows become that we cast behind us. The road to the source seems therefore not up towards the light, but down into the darkness. One might even say that the darkness, when approached with caution, becomes the most powerful spiritual instrument. Which, of course, is a metaphysical point of view. 

The physical reality however, shows that the total light in the material universe is a mere 0.6%, the rest being darkness in some form, and this might seem to us as indicating that the universe is out of balance as regards the distribution of light and darkness. But it is equally possible that the balance is perfectly kept in another way, if we consider that, what Mother Meera called the Paramatma light, is beyond what we normally perceive and this normally non-visible light permeates the cosmos and provides all the balance necessary with the physical darkness that we see when we look out into space.

This might indicate that things only seem out of balance, because we have been concentrating on the purely material; and darkness, in so many mindsets in our own time, is seen as something negative and not as a quality of creative potential.

Spritual seekers from many ancient traditions - Celtic, Eastern, Indian, Tibetan and African - have treated the darkness as a dynamic instrument for spiritual enlightenment.
The literal definition of the word Shaman is 'he or she who sees in the dark'. The shaman would say that there is no such thing as darkness, only an incapacity to truly see. This is also how it is described in A Course of Miracles: the darkness itself is healing and the experience that one gets when entering, offers us the (new) possibility to renew and experience ourselves, although our lives' work in the light will from then on never be easy any more.
Western mystics also recognized the importance and the power of darkness, as John of the Cross spoke of "the dark light". Well known is his poem "Dark night of the soul".





"There are some characteristics that are evident in the system which the Creator made. He made balance, harmony, and polarity. In other words, every (+) plus has a (-) minus. Every positive has a negative; every up has a down; every problem has a solution. 
The Spiritual Law is the same - it has light and dark. Both are good, so both need to be honored. Lessons can be learned on both sides. 
Great Spirit, teach me the powers of the Natural Laws." 

Oren R. Lyons, Spokesman Traditional Circle of Elders









Thursday, November 1, 2012

Soulmates


"I go towards my likeness
And my likeness goes towards me. 
He embraces me and holds me close
As if I had come out of prison."

Manichean prayer

When we use the term soulmates what do we really mean? Because what the term means is experienced differently by different people. And yet there do seem to be common threads of experience that help us to define the term. When we meet someone with whom we feel an instant and unmistakable affinity we might feel love but sometimes it can feel to us as if it comes from an even deeper level. This level is beyond even the level of the heart and feels to us as if it breaches into our soul. Even though we might only have known that person for a few moments we feel both that the time has been for far longer and outside of time, that time has no real relevance. We feel then that the person belongs not only in our heart but also in our soul.

But this begs a further question: where does this feeling come from? If it comes from beyond the heart, beyond time, do we perhaps wonder if we feel such an immediate familiarity with that person, could it be because they already are familiar to us? Have we indeed met that person before? Have we indeed known them through time and over other lifetimes? Whether this is so or not, it can certainly be the feeling which such encounters give us. 

A true contact with a person whom we feel to be our soulmate is not a common thing. If we are lucky, very lucky,  it might happen once or twice in a whole lifetime. And when such an encounter happens, it can be so emotionally overwhelming that we also feel that to ignore such a powerful signal is somehow against the laws of nature, and that if we ignore it, we do so with a consequence which can only damage ourselves.

We can wonder what purpose is served by these rare encounters. Perhaps they are intended to provide us with experiences we further need, but in such situations again we feel that our soul knows more than we do anyway, and so we willingly allow ourselves to be guided by the knowledge which our own soul seems to have about the situation, and so we surrender.

It could well be that it is because such contacts are on a deep soul level that explains why they can be beyond the physical. A physical relationship might be a consequence when that soul level is also felt with the heart, but the soul not being part of the physical body does not necessarily need this aspect of a relationship for two people to feel complete and fulfilled with each other.

The very word itself - 'soulmate' - is the clearest indication that such a relationship has already passed beyond the physical world, and such encounters bring a sense of joy and wonder because none of the extra baggage which comes with the physical realm is necessary. Our true selves as beings of the spirit is confirmed.







Painting (detail): Dante and Beatrice by Ary Scheffer (1795-1858, Netherlands)