Friday, February 19, 2016

Understanding The Whole Helps Understand The Parts

There seems, to me, to be only several over-arching principles in virtually every spiritual tradition I have come to know: The Oneness of all humanity; The interconnectedness of all Life; The significance of stilling my mind or observing myself and recognizing that the universe I perceive exists only between my ears (or, put another way, discovering the power of my thoughts and my responsibility to manage them); and the growing perception of the one true spiritual Reality – the power of Love.
These facets of my spiritual development have little to do with traditional cerebral dogma – but everything to do with experiential faith. These are elements of Spirit that I know to be true for me simply because I have experienced their reality even though, on most occasions, I cannot express that reality in words. The difficulty in Finding The Right Words to use to express my spiritual reality was, in fact, the title of one of the chapters in my book, How the Bible became the Bible (Chapter 9).
I’ve written before in these messages about sensing the mystery of life as I cleaned muck out of my wet-weather creek or as I watched a wary meeting between an ant and a spider. You have listened to me describe my growing connectivity to my Tennessee environment – the hot, the dry, the frigid, and the icy – as I notice myself responding to the weather as the animals, birds, and plant life do. It has become the easiest way I experience the NOW. It has been therapeutic for me. It has connected me to my environment.
It helps me understand the small “pieces” of reality I’m witnessing by having, first, understood the “big picture.” Perhaps that’s just the way I learned to think. Perhaps it’s an important lesson in itself. I don’t know. It’s just the way I have always processed information. Example – there is a great quote from a small book I’ve read entitled Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing, by Robert Wolff [Inner Traditions Publishing, 2001]. In the book (p., 192) he quotes Ursula K. LeGuin: “No truth can make another truth untrue. All knowledge is part of the whole knowledge. Once you have seen the larger pattern, you cannot go back to seeing the [single] part as the whole.” [from her publication: Four Ways to Forgiveness].
How true that statement is for me!
I might add to LeGuin’s observation: Once I have understood me in terms of the larger whole, no longer can I go back and see me and my perceptions as all there is.
The author of Original Wisdom, also wrote the following, when discussing our “Western” ways of treating our natural resources [from page 68]: “We may think that our resources are the rewards of our efforts, our productivity, but in the earth’s closed ecosystem when we use resources (trees, oil, ores) much faster than they can be replenished, we destroy.
“ If we destroy life to save life, our civilization is doomed to extinction, as the plant and animal species are doomed when … the harmony of the whole [is disturbed].
“Aboriginal people of the world will be as extinct as tigers will someday be. Tiger tissue may be frozen in the hope that future generations can re-create these animals. A few tigers may be kept alive in zoos. But only a Westerner could think that a tiger could exist apart from his own unique environment and still be a tiger. The belief that we can save tigers by freezing some cells is the very belief that is destroying the tigers’ habitat: the belief we are separate. A habitat is more than an environment, something to be exploited. In fact, the tiger and the jungle are one; each cannot exist without the other.     
All I can add is that I have experienced the power of understanding I am but a part of my environment not a user of it. That simple recognition has profoundly impacted my life and my perception of it. If I’m outside in colder weather and get chilled, I don’t run inside my heated house. I simply get up and go put on a sweater. If it’s hot and humid outside I don’t escape to my air-conditioned house, I put on a more appropriate shirt. If I sweat, I relish the sun and the breeze fanning me knowing that’s how my body keeps me cool. I have come to realize how much electrical and gas energy I have used to keep me impervious to what’s happening outside – allowing me to ignore or overcome my environment. What a waste.
People will approach me, while in line at a grocery store, and say, “Brrrr! Man it’s really cold today.” I’ll reply, “It really is. You’d almost think it was February in the mountains. Oops. It is February, isn’t it?” They always smile.
Take what you want from this message and leave the rest. Oh, and embrace the weather today. It will enrich you.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
I will be out of town next week, There will be no message.

#3 Feb 2016
Copyright 2016

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