“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.”
There is a special power that comes from learning new words and from learning new meanings for familiar words. The eminent psychologist, Dr. Roberto Assagioli, wrote, “Words possess the power of stimulating and arousing activity associated with them. They evoke and make operative the meanings and idea-forces that they signify.” But I would add, they only do so when we tap into one of the deeper levels of meaning behind them.
Everything has a multitude of levels or dimensions, and our vocabulary is no exception; it evolves as we do. So we find new words for new experiences that come to us, and we find new dimensions that give deeper meaning to the words we now use. Words like “self” and “love” have many meanings, and the meanings we give them depend on our developing experience.
We can take any word our intuition underscores as important, and use it meditatively. It’s good exercise to proceed as if we don’t really know the meanings of important words we use. On some level this is always true. For instance, we might take the new word “spirit” into our vocabulary and see it in a completely new way, as if for the first time. Likewise, the new word “love” will have for us a spectrum of meanings not yet divined. We can always seek behind our words, going one dimension deeper into meaning. And when we have done that, then stay open for the next layer of meaning, and the next….
“But customs make one customary. Therefore, I urge you to look at the sky as if for the first time.”
Leaves of M’s Garden II, 191
“I was lifted high,
In sun-bright healing winds—desiring now
A greater beauty…”
— Marion Wentworth
Usually, people think of beauty as something perceived, something we subjectively attribute to an object or a person. But I find the spiritual meaning of beauty is different. Spiritual beauty is not a passive perception but an active and transformative power. It is the energy of the intuitional world. We commune with such beauty, we enter into it and it enters into us. It is unity and Fire. It is “the world of pure meaning.” This beauty is not our personal response to an object in the world. Rather, beauty is itself a multidimensional world of rainbow archetypes.
In the archetypal world the divine mosaic shines in beauty. We encounter considerable fidelity problems in translating this world of pure meaning into its best correspondences in thought and words. It is a valiant effort, yet the lesser cannot fully include the greater. Still we try to mirror it. Fortunately, the mental mirror is itself in long-term evolutionary motion.
“…beyond the Beauty that is predicated of various forms and relationships, there is a pure Transcendent Beauty, and this is a mode of the very Being of the SELF. This Beauty is not something that is beautiful. It is Self-existent and casts its luster upon all things… Ecstasy is pure Beauty, as well as pure Joy and Knowledge.”
— Pathways Through to Space, Franklin Merrell-Wolff
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