When you remove yourself from the self-held position of “meaning-giver,” you let things be what they are and, allowed to be what they are, their meaning is naturally revealed. C:22.15
My friend Lee said the other day, after I’d sent him a bit of writing, that he was “taking it in,” and that got me musing on the “entering into” that we do as readers, as people, not just with the written word but with the spoken word, or with music, or within a relationship.
I feel like one of the hallmarks of receptivity—the kind that produced A Course of Love, or the kind that occurs when we write or read from our deepest places, is that we “take in.” Pondering this, I began to wonder if it is that we have “taken in,” or that we have “been” taken in. Then I imagined both occurring at the same time. The giving and receiving happening as one.
Next, I wondered, what happens then? What happens when this “taking in” occurs, when ACOL, for instance, enters without filters? And what I answered was that then, “It is what it is.” It is there as unclassified meaning. It is not “what we think it is” but “what it is.” It is not the meaning we give it, but the meaning that is there.
In our former way of making meaning, we gave “all meaning to everything.” It became a world in which “Nothing is what it is, but only what it is to you.” (C:22.15)
There is an amorphousness, a purposeful amorphousness in this way of A Course of Love, a way that bypasses thinking so that what is there is “just there.” It is a huge reason, in my view, for the end of learning. The “meaning” of a beautiful passage in such a work, is not the same as the beautiful passage. We “make” meaning. We receive beauty and knowing.
The psychologist James Hillman says, “None of the isms,” can save the world from “the catastrophe inherent in our very idea of the world.”
“To pursue this re-vision of psychic reality implies that we shall have to let our present sustaining paradigm break down, a catastrophe of the mind rather than of the world, allowing to emerge a renaissance of soul in the midst of the world.”
The move to the heart can’t be accomplished “without moving … the seat of the soul from brain to heart and the method … from cognitive understanding to aesthetic sensitivity. With the heart we move at once into imagination.”
The collapse of egoic thinking, is a “catastrophe of the mind.”
I was told as ACOL began that it would create a new renaissance. Self-love could do that for us as we come into our power and let go of “the way things are,” for a new way. How amazing. How miraculous that our way begins with ceasing to use the mind as we “take in” Jesus’ words, continues with the union of mind and heart in wholeheartedness, takes us to the end of learning, and calls us to dialogue, Self-expression and creation of the new. What a groundbreaking, world-shattering, revolutionary course we have been set upon.
As we “let our present sustaining paradigm break down,” our former way of knowing, our “catastrophe of the mind,” occurs, and a new way is here. The new way doesn’t arrive in a flash, but “quietly infiltrates in unguarded moments.” (D.12.12) We do not “think” our way through life, but “draw knowing forth from the well of spirit.” (D:11.13)
You realize now that life itself is a channel and that you are constantly receiving. . . . If giving and receiving are one, then giver and receiver are also one. It is only you who can do anything with the wisdom, guidance, or information that you receive in union as a channel of the divine life force that exists in everything and everyone. D:Day21.6
“My refuge, my revelation,” comes to me as words strung together about which I don’t know the meaning. Suddenly a phrase is there, playing in my mind.
I go to look up “refuge” and read: to provide with additional fuel.
Woops. That was “refuel.”
I move my eyes down to the word I was looking for. Refuge: to escape, to flee, more at fugitive. Hmmm. Not what I expected. Next: shelter or protection from danger or distress. Something to which one has recourse in difficulty.
That last one’s a little more like it.
The meaning of words has fascinated me since I read Thomas Moore’s Care of the Soul twenty-five years ago. He was the first writer I knew to look to the origins of words for their meaning. For a while, I followed in his way. Then I stopped. Now, I return to the dictionary occasionally. I still keep a real Webster’s—two in fact. One in the house and one in the cabin.
Regardless of its meaning, I love the sound of my attendant phrase. I love the feeling that comes with the tone and idea of “taking” refuge. I take refuge, and when I do, I find revelation. It’s true. It’s as if revelation follows me into the alternate zone that places of refuge offer.
This latest phrase came to me on my evening walk. It was a hot day and I hadn’t really been planning to walk until I realized the garbage cans were still at the curb after the day’s pick-up. When I went to roll them up the driveway I saw that it was no longer too hot, and the breeze was fine and the moon was nearly full. And so I went in for my key and my camera. As I started out I heard, “my refuge is my revelation.”
I’ve written a couple of posts for this blog lately that I didn’t get around to posting. By the time I’d spent the urgency of the writing, they were done, and then…oh well. But there’s another reason, probably, that I didn’t post them. I’d started writing for someone “out there,” not for me. Not that I’m not acknowledging “you” as I’m writing this, but it was different. You know—more like writing an article. Writing in that voice that’s different than the one found in places of refuge. Different than the private voice. The personal voice. The “just musing” voice that you have in those interior places, the hidden ones, the ones “under cover.” The ones where you’re not taking a stand. When you don’t have something to say or to defend or to promote. Just . . . a voice.
That’s my place of refuge, that place of having nothing to say. That’s my revelation. A phrase pops in unannounced like someone sharing with me. I share with you.
That’s what this whole thing is like. This new way that needs no promotion yet needs voices, words, sharing. Words that share in that place of refuge where nothing anyone is asking of you gets in. Where nothing is asked. Nothing is told. Where you are accompanied. Where what comes, comes as revelation.
What hampers new beginnings of all kinds within the human experience are ideas that things cannot be different than they once were. T3:15.2
My early morning time in my cabin, and early evening walk through the neighborhood, are very different, and yet much the same. I look out the window of the cabin at morning plays of light. It’s my writing time, full of reverie. In the evening, I take my camera and see with childlike eyes. I walk past giant pines and remember how I’d wonder, as a child, what lurked beneath them—and how I would often go investigate. I pass the rise and fall of a sprinkler and remember what it felt like to answer the question of what it would feel like to walk beneath it. I recall summer rains when my mom would let my sister and I go out in the alley, with umbrellas over our heads and bathing suits on our young torsos. We’d go down the hill to the end of the alley where the rain collected, and splash, barefoot, in the growing puddles.
I sometimes pass other walkers on my suburban street, and can see, in a glance of the body language of their walk, whether it is a troubled walk, or a walk taken for exercise. Me? I meander, camera slung over my shoulder.
Everything seems a play between the hidden and the obvious, the obscure and its revelation.
I’ve noticed revelation coming in ordinary ways lately. These revelations are about me. Suddenly, I know something about myself that I didn’t know before. What was hidden has come to consciousness. These revelations, while ordinary, are not insignificant. What comes to consciousness changes me. . . instantly. My view of myself is different, as different as morning and evening, as one day’s walk through the neighborhood from the next.
I invite you to notice ordinary revelations about yourself.
You must now birth the idea that human beings do indeed change. While you have known instinctively that there is a core, a center to each that is unchangeable, you must now give up the idea that this core or center has been represented by the past. You must forget the idea that the future cannot be different than the past. T3:15.7
Creation balanced with rest is the pattern that has been taken to extremes within your world. You think of birth as creation and death as rest. You do not realize that your nature, and the nature of your life, like that of all around you, is governed by seasons natural to the state of love, seasons of regeneration. T4:4.2
There is such a rhythm to nature. If I kept track of such things in a manner more sufficient than my memory, I’d remember that the lavender bushes bud first, and then the fruit trees. Next, the cottonwoods shed their fluff, and then the peonies and daisies begin to bloom, and the dragonflies appear, and then…full summer has arrived. This is the moment in which I found myself walking through the neighborhood last night … aware of the full arrival.
I walk with my camera always. “I never know what I’m going to see,” is the reason. Something about this seems to sum up my attitude toward life.
Even though there will be plenty to photograph all summer, I have this feeling about summer. Now it is here, and my “feeling” is that despite all the growth of the various flowers and the tomato plants and the buds that will become fruit, it will simply be “summer” until fall arrives. And then fall, the whole of it, like the whole of spring, (my two favorite seasons) will feel again like constant change on a different scale. It makes no sense to feel this way, yet I do, and I allow this peculiarity. It is a “usualness” I feel about summer—everything is “the usual” green, everything is blossoming (like usual), everything is enlarging (and so on)! The light feels more steady and less magical as well, and soon I begin to long for change.
We people have our seasons too! Often I find mine reflected in the books I’m reading.
Recently I felt a yen to return to my old friend, Merton. The first book that I saw when I went looking for one of his on my shelves, was a compilation of his journals from the years titled, “Turning Toward the World.” I did not choose it for the title and yet I soon wondered if it had some significance—if it was one of those instances of the book finding me.
Just as I know I’ve stood at this moment of summer before, I know I’ve felt this sense of “turning toward the world” before. The difference now—thankfully, is that I can see, that this, too, can be a “season” and so not hold the scariness it did when I wondered if once I turned toward the world, I would not be able to return to solitude.
Merton’s journals, in their titles, tell of his various seasons:
Book 1: Run to the Mountain: The Story of a Vocation (1939-41)
Book 2: Entering the Silence: Becoming a Monk and a Writer (1941-52)
Book 3: A Search for Solitude (1952-60)
Book 4: Turning Toward the World: The Pivotal Years (1960-63)
Book 5: Dancing in the Water of Life (1963-65)
Book 6: Learning to Love: Exploring Solitude and Freedom (1966-67)
Book 7: The Other Side of the Mountain: The End of the Journey (1967-68)
What would you and I name our seasons? Wouldn’t it be a wonderful exercise?
In 1960, just realizing that he has reached a point where he has acquired the power to be heard, Merton asks himself, “Who am I?”
He answers: “A priest and a writer, and one who has the gift of speaking intelligently I hope. Hence I must also think clearly, and pray and meditate and when circumstances require it, speak. And speak to as many as will listen to me. About things concerning their happiness and their destiny—along with my own. In a word, about salvation.”
How many of us don’t ask ourselves, “Who am I?” Who am I to have something to say, something to give, something to contribute?
And yet, in ACOL we are assured repeatedly how much we each matter. In another quote from “A Treatise on the New” we hear:
To sustain Christ-consciousness in form is creation of the new. My one example life could not sustain Christ-consciousness for those who came after me but could only be an example. What you are called to do is to, through your multitude, sustain Christ-consciousness, and thus create the union of the human and the divine as a new state of being. (T4:4.18)
How wonderful it is to accept our true Selves (the elevation that allows the in-forming of our divinity), to accept our seasons, to accept a new state of being.
Solitude and vocation and writing would surely be among my seasons, but I feel my current and hopefully coming season will emphasize dialogue. I am so excited to be experiencing dialogues more widely and to feel in movement with it.
Dialogue is a way for each of us to answer the Who am I question boldly (and safely), with each other, in unity and relationship. We enter dialogue in a form so loosely held, that in its loosely held moments, and with our heart-felt yearning to be and to share who we are . . . we do.
What seasons are passing for you? And which are coming?
No matter where you are, no matter what concerns you still hold within your heart, no matter what questions are emanating from your mind, they will be met with a response. T4:12.5
There’s been something churning in me the last week or so. Do you know what I mean? Have you experienced being in this zone? When something—neither a thought nor an idea—is in you like a niggling, a low murmur akin to the sound of distant thunder, or a rumbling, as of a truck two blocks away.
I can trace the coming on of this “not quite there” feeling, back to when my friend Christie came to visit, and when it felt like a day to sit in the cabin. In the last few years, since the house is often empty, my friends and I more usually share our visits there. In this way, the cabin has begun, once again, to feel more like a hermitage. A place of solitude.
As Christie and I walked out, I said, as I almost always feel compelled to say, “Excuse the mess.” And she said, “What mess? I love it.” As we passed the disintegrating fence and the rusting lantern hung from a tree, she told me, “They look like pictures from Maine.” And then yesterday, likely with that prompt, I took my camera out with me, and found my favorite photo to be of a dried and twisted grapevine. I know the beauty in this disarray. It reflects something that is passing in and out. As if mimicking my surroundings, what most often occurs is not a cognitive turning of the wheels of thinking that create structure, but a churning down-under that causes structure to fall away.
The harmony in the wild, the decomposing, the not yet formed and the in-formed that is losing its form—feel like existence in a blended state. That’s what my modest terrain reminds me of, very subtly, like a whisper come to replace (or compliment) the rumble.
Because there is, at times, a charge that exists between beauty and disarray—in the world and in myself. The recognition of the difference between the tangled webs I can weave with my thoughts, and the undoing that makes a spiral from a twisted knot, or a space that reveals the heart of the matter.
Then I understand about the movement from the entangled to the woven-together, that it is the next step, the movement from viewing what’s on the surface to seeing the depth beneath, and the blending of the two.
It’s taken me a long while to accept it all and not to call some of my thoughts by names that I consider slurs, like “ruminating,” and others of them by names I elevate, like “contemplation.” I am still discovering the subtlety of judgment. But I am making these discoveries.
If “I” can enjoy the coming of a discovery such as this, and not malign the tightly wound places as the untangling occurs, I know each of us can cease to evaluate our discoveries with judgment. We can hold it all together gently, compassionately, and allow ourselves to keep going deeper with whatever process takes hold of us.
When the deep is reached, the way of getting there has already fallen away.
Take delight in these surprises. Laugh and be joyous. You no longer have a need to figure things out. Surprises cannot be figured out! They are meant to be joyous gifts being constantly revealed. Gifts that need only be received and responded to. T4:12.6