“We love to see ourselves idealized in the minds of others. That is one of the beautiful joys of love. We become fresh, innocent, brave, strong in the mind of the beloved… After a while the lover begins to substitute what he really is in his own mind, with what he is in the mind of the other… that others assume us to be good is a great incentive to goodness. That is why too, one of the basic principles of life ought to be to assume goodness in others; thus we make them good.”
Culture and all arts and sciences can be pictured as expressing in streams of descending energy. Evolution forms under a rainbow of hierarchical influences. So the best of human culture glows with light borrowed from above, and the sunlight of spiritual impression, in concert with our own efforts, creates history.
Yet spiritual energy is like sunlight in the garden that can feed both weeds and flowers. We are often inept at grounding radiant energies in a beneficial and beautiful way and consequently we make a mess of things. The energizing and organizing impulses, through our unready vehicles, are misapplied. So many grand and glorious impulses from above, on contact with human psychology, become unfortunate travesties.
“A little soul holding on like a bulldog to the tail end of a great principle, and whip-cracking about among his fellows as he follows that principle around in its huge curves, is a deadly menace.”
We always feel, do we not, that if some true note occasionally slips into our sayings, that it is the gift of some muse or a fortunate catch from the waves around us all.
“There is one mind common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same and to all of the same. He that is once admitted to the right of reason is made a freeman of the whole estate. What Plato has thought, he may think; what a saint has felt, he may feel; what at any time has befallen any man, he can understand. Who hath access to this universal mind is a party to all that is or can be done, for this is the only and sovereign agent.” R. W. Emerson
We can view progress as giving up or displacement, or in terms of acquisition. The first is negation and the second affirmation or inclusion.
We relinquish one thing, but obtain something else, in other words, the displacement of the lower by the higher or the supplanting of a lesser thing by a greater. Energy shifts from one thing to another, and lesser things fall away as we become more absorbed in finer ones.
Esoteric “inclusion” is the obverse of denial. We can move forward by denial or inclusion. And though the approaches may differ, inclusions and denial are, in a sense, aspects of one thing. We can express this difficult concept with an example.
Here is flower. Shall we renounce it? My answer is yes and no. We might respond to the flower as a personality in a superficial emotional or sentimental way. But there are other levels of response. The soul is artist and beauty is the essence of spirituality. The flower is symbol and gateway. We may well renounce the flower if our eyes are glancing off it superficially. But the flower is a manifestation of spirit, and hence an instrument of transformation–it can be a portal into which we are ushered into the meaning of life.
Do the senses distort reality? It is more than that. In a way, we live in double maya, and we could say our senses distort unreality rather than reality. On the surface of it, our senses put us in touch with maya—the external world. On to this maya, we project additional interpretative illusion. So, for instance, it might be said that we do not see things as they are—even physical things—but we project another layer of unreality upon them from our habit self. So we have unreality compounded by the dullness of our own perceptual habits-limitations.
There is book on the philosophy of drawing and painting titled, How to Draw what you See. The gist of this book is that people generally do not draw or paint well because they do not see what is in front of their eyes. Instead, they see a kind of stick-figure creation in their own minds and draw that. From this point of view, the ability to actually see more clearly what is right before our eyes would be a step toward the real—a kind of yoga of maya. I think though, that in truth, this yoga of maya moves toward real art, that is, it would shade over into subtler yogas because spirit and matter are an essential unity.
Someone says, ”Ancient wisdom states in different ways that we live in a world of maya, that our senses distort reality.” Yet we know spirit and matter are a unity, so we could also say the opposite that: “Ancient wisdom states in different ways that we live in a world of reality, and that our hyper-dimensional senses progressively reveal this reality.” This is a way of saying that the senses have multidimensional levels. It is only seeing or hearing or sensing in the most superficial way that is maya mirroring maya. To really see is to move inward or upward in graded steps, in other words, to be initiated into new revelations of what is present in consciousness and in the universe. We learn to see what has always been before our eyes, and also through that to deeper realms beyond.
“What was any art but a mold in which to imprison for a moment the shining, elusive element which is life itself.”
— Willa Cather
In the atmosphere there are fire flowers of luminous things. Billions of these flowers hover in the to-be-done regions, waiting for a body. The trick is taking on the ones that truly belong to us, and refraining from appropriating those that do not. There are many wonderful things hovering in the air that are not our work and for which we may not be suited. Many of these are of stunning beauty and have a Siren quality, hence the excitement and the danger, for contact with them tends to inspire action. We must find each days work within a universe of infinite possibilities.
Runes, cards, I Ching, sticks, books, leaves, hands, stars, numbers, words, symbols, forms–all the same face, giving nothing or everything. Every pattern, every symbol system, the waves on the sand, the child’s face, every language, the same; the whole universe divined by I-evoking magic. Does it matter where we turn for the answers? I divine there is little virtue in the pattern, in the form itself; most virtue being in the reader or in the reader’s magic relation with “out there.” The sky and the earth are as full of Runes as is any man women or child.
The mysterious life force circulates within, but is not marked as miraculous; once born to Maya, we forget. So we go to nature, as if to better commune with creative forces. Natural beauty provokes deep memory, for down the ages we saw the same moon and the same clouds, and the wind in the trees whispered the same secrets as now. We come to nature as to a sacred meeting place, finding there an old friend. We look then upon nature, as into the eyes of a long lost love, and remember.
I’ve never been a great lover of forms, that is most made by man’s mind. Not religions, philosophies, and psychologies, nor even much that passes as arts and sciences. There is a hidden meaning in all of them, and this I love. Yet the ways these take through human agencies and arts often fails to resonate. There are, thankfully, beautiful exceptions yet excellent things remain rare.
The forms of nature are different–these I love. A crystal, a rainbow, faces, skies and clouds, or scintillating dance of light on water–these argue well in speaking direct to the soul.
That said, if I am with a religionist I may find something there to love. If with a philosopher, I may find some light behind. Often though I find in voice or eye some gleam or note that reads better than philosophy or religion. Perhaps it is that we are in essence better than our playthings.
Sky and earth are full of light, and the light is alive and its sources are alive. The terrestrial is luminous and the celestial still more luminous, and between them are worlds and worlds of wonder. We are in the celestial, born from it, and gradations of creative light work their magic through us. Yes, we are in the terrestrial also, born to it, but well equipped for seeing. No matter the chain of dreary foggy days, no matter the mind numbing circles; all temporary and temporal. Happy the perception of gradations of light; few thoughts worthy of the name are devoid of some sparkle and on occasion the mind will mirror the most extraordinary and unexpected patterns.
(click on picture to go to the artists webpage)