A tribute to Walt Whitman and to the Graniet Flats TV series that made fine use of his words.
Video samples are from the TV series “Granite Flats,” 2013-2015, season 3, episode 1, “Our Rendezvous Is Fitly Appointed”
Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Granite_Flats
Netflix link: http://www.netflix.com/WiMovie/80044560?trkid=13641790
“Planes of evolution are made of the degrees of .”
–Lover’s and Others, H. C. Morse
I think evolution is not simply adaptation and reproduction of forms but the development of relationship between spirit and form. Physical survival is a tool of evolution, but evolution in the larger sense uses and transcends death, advancing not just by acquisition of better forms but by adaptation of forms to spirit.
The scope of evolution is not simply biological survival. There is evolution of physical and spiritual fires that range from atom to man to galaxy, all expressing in a multi-dimensional universe, a spirit-matter continuum. There is evolution of consciousness, of love and wisdom. There is evolution of powers and undreamed possibilities. There is evolution of beauty and mind. There is evolution not simply of blood but of spiritual radiance. I picture how the laws of nature express the will of the God, or if we like, of ascending gods and angels. And always, what we see and can reason about is but the smallest part.
“Gliding o’er all, through all,
Through Nature, Time, and Space,
As a ship on the waters advancing,
The voyage of the soul—not life alone,
Death, many deaths I’ll sing.”
— Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
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.”
Metaphysical thinkers often become preoccupied, not with true spiritual life, but with a kind of pseudo-spirituality bound up with external things, with things intellectual, emotional, and physical. People become preoccupied with the pseudo-spirituality quite easily and that to the great detriment of both normal healthy material life and true spiritual life. These masquerades of spirit are defined by the lack of true motive.
Transition from a personal vision to a transpersonal vision is largely dependent on meditative apprehension of the heart and its fusion with wisdom. When the fire of the heart becomes the goal and the vision, the focus becomes transcendental. Spiritual motivation has few true exponents because people try to approach a higher path in the same way as worldly one.
Everything transcendental is above the limits of external language. In direct realization we no longer need translation by linking words to meanings via external personal experiences. Yet fidelity of “reception” and “transmission” are still issues. We may catch a meaning directly, but there will still be limitations surrounding its embodiment on the personality level, that is in the form it takes in the mind, emotion, or physical world. Yet, in the depths of consciousness we can still sense the truth directly. And if the realization is revisited directly, it becomes apparent that the body we give it is inadequate. Words and images never fully embody the realities of spiritual life.
Suppose we were given a sacred formula, a powerful mantra for awakening consciousness. Say that this open sesame came from one who had the most profound understanding of the creative and evocative power of sound. Were we to use this inspired prescription, would it be effective?
Perhaps the answer is in the analogy of art. We may have the finest instrument, but unless we are able to access our creative powers, the instrument is of limited usefulness. In a meditative sense, we are the instruments and our ability to focus consciousness in a certain way is crucial. Therefore, soulless repetition—even of a great formulation–will have little meaning or power. Likewise, a great song sung without enthusiasm is stripped of most of its value. A great artist puts themselves into their work in a profound way, and they sing or speak from a higher space where true consciousness is behind voice. So also with sound and the art of meditation.
The physical body is fiery–its atoms are bits of fiery energy, so our body can develop in special ways along a fiery path. Desire is also fiery; we burn with it, and the mind is often represented as fiery energy. All these are personal fires, and in way all are, as mythology has it, “fires stolen from heaven.”
Ideally, our life would be directed by spiritual fire, by subtle fires transcendent to personality. Then the beautiful fire of heaven and the external fires of body, emotion, and mind might meet and blend in magical harmony. This would be meditation or mediation.
We might say that true meditation is the union of spiritual fires with more external ones. But what if we engage in a process in which we experiment, as a personality, with the fires of our external nature, and while doing so we call it “meditation” or some other methodological name? Then, mistaking personal fires for spiritual ones, we might become an inflamed personality.
How then to define a path leading to union with spiritual fire as distinct from an inflamed personality? I’m thinking that it comes down to the question of whether we emphasize form or spirit. Form has its place as a vehicle for the spiritual, but often the form dominates, eclipsing the spiritual. Let us count some ways this occurs:
- Emphasizing rituals and set forms of all kinds instead placing our life in order.
- Emphasizing physical postures instead of spiritual orientation.
- Focusing on a center within the physical or etheric body instead of the radiant spiritual energies behind and through our psychology (Love, spiritual will, harmony, beauty, etc.).
- Emphasis on breathing exercises instead of the spiritual “breathing in” and giving forth that is, or should be, a healthy daily life.
- Emphasizing finding a physical guru instead of attunement to our inner teacher.
- Desire for psychic powers instead of desire to use our existing powers for the benefit of others.
- Emphasis on physical methods using sound, color, technology, or body manipulation.
- Emphasizing symbol instead of meaning.
We might picture magic as opposed to science where science is natural and magic is supernatural. But here we have one of those deceptively simple binaries that are worth questioning. Besides, in recent years, the axioms of quantum physicists start to sound like mystics, and many begin to use language that marries science and magic. For example, today a Google search yields 597 hits for the unusual phrase “quantum magic,” and 102 for “quantum sorcery.” But long before the latest science, the public mind was seeking a blend of worlds, at this writing, Google-net shows us 48,600 references to “spiritual science.” Of course many of these links have little to do with science and quiet a number bear little or no relation to anything truly spiritual. But the links do reflect how the mass mind responds to psycho-spiritual atmospheric pressure–an integrative pressure seeking manifestation in human culture.
We might think of “supernatural” as the unexplored natural, then a true magician would be a scientist in disguise. Or we might think that there is only the natural and that a true magician is a developing scientist. Or we could discard the word “magic” altogether in favor of a less burdened term. But this is contrary to the powerful wave that is solidifying the idea of magic in the public mind. This wave finds expression in numerous new mythologies, in books, and motion pictures. Much of this material is of a superficial kind, yet everything has a higher or deeper correspondence, and a writer or artist will sometimes bring through something of magical significance. There is this beautiful passage by Thomas Wolfe, from his book “Time and the River:”
“At that instant he saw, in one blaze of light, an image of unutterable conviction, the reason why the artist works and lives and has his being–the reward he seeks–the only reward he really cares about, without which there is nothing. It is to snare the spirits of mankind in nets of magic, to make his life prevail through his creation, to wreak the vision of his life, the rude and painful substance of his own experience, into the congruence of blazing and enchanted images that are themselves the core of life, the essential pattern whence all other things proceed, the kernel of eternity.”
In this, we find a subtler sense of the meaning of “charms” and “spells” associated with magical lore. The passage is about invocation, and it does address the supernatural, but it’s not so much phenomenological as psychological and spiritual, or if it is phenomenal, it places us in the realm of right motivation. There is in it the definition of magic as manifest spirit, the union of heaven and earth.
So then, the magician is thinker and creator, and good thought is like magic out of the air, like a clear day when the atmosphere sings with subtle possibilities. Magic is soul force, a secret wind that electrifies the body and collapses the space between points. It stimulates the spirit of service and makes the eyes supernaturally bright.
Art by David Urbanke
Down the ages teachings come to us of unity and the way to it, even though we humans have not taken to it very well. Books of religions advocate brotherhood even while the would-be faithful violate it. Everywhere, the form of things dominates and eclipses spirit. The form attracts us and the mysteries behind remain largely beyond comprehension and application. So, the eclipse of spirit by matter is the rule, and the ways of light are lost in the shadowy labyrinths of human imagination. Yet behind the veils of human activities is the impelling force, the luminous quest for unity.
Are the many quests for unity branches of one tree? On the contradictory surface it would be impossible to affirm this, yet in principle the idea works–but only if we dig deep, ignoring the many overlays, the crazy human constructions seething with chaos. In the deep cosmic sense, we find signs of the original tree of knowledge, signs pointing the way toward harmony and unity.
“Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?”
— Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
To be without love is to be without spirit. Heartlessness and selfishness conspire with a materialism that measures human life by time and limitation. But love is resonant with the sense of the timeless spiritual—it is the extrasensory eye that views the hidden life and special being of life beyond time.
Naturally, the realization of timeless love has profound effects on how we experience and relate to others. The famous researcher in extra-sensory perception, Dr. J. B. Rhine, wrote:
“Our treatment of people obviously depends on what we think they are. The more we think of our fellowmen as deterministic physical systems, robots, machines, brains–the more heartlessly and selfishly we can allow ourselves to deal with them… On the other hand, the more we appreciate their mental life as unique… more original and creative than mere space-time mass relations of matter, the more we are interested in them as individuals and the more we tend to respect them and consider their viewpoints and feelings.”
Some measure of evil, or not Life, is born with incarnation, with the taking of form, with leaving the “father’s home,” with separation from divinity. Illusion, the virtual synonym, comes into being with this separation. And so it is said that everything external is maya, being other than the pure light of source. This formulation has a certain value, but by it alone we cannot find our place between the candle and the star because all manifestations are relative.
A flower is not as remote from divinity as the cruelty of fanatics. Yet both are manifestations other than or apart from absolute Life or divinity. We may say the flower and the cruel man are illusions, and so they are, but they are not equal. So we find that the most abstract concept of good and evil, yielding as it does a simple binary, corresponds poorly to daily life and required decisions. We must, standing somewhere between the candle and the star, bring righteous to decisions.
In love and wisdom there is movement toward life and light. This orientation is the antithesis of evil and the basis of right choice.
The Egyptian sun worshipers have moved on, and modern science now speaks of a ball of hot gasses. Yet the center of our solar system remains spiritually commanding. We might picture seven dimensions of the sun, or forty-nine And to make these wonders present for us now, to make them come out of the air to us and to all, that would be most practical.
“…every genuine child feels the sun shine right into his chest in quite another way than grownups do…”
Second Light, Vilhelm Ekelund
Looking out upon the world, it may sometimes seem that a beautiful change is not possible. The weight of the world and its chaos seems overwhelming. And it is the same when, at certain stage, we confront the burden of our own chaos. Some find the weight so great they become seriously ill or even end their own life in a vain attempt at escape. So also in the large world where it sometimes seems whole nations are obsessed with a path of chaos and death. The pain and chaos of group and the personal worlds mirror each other.
But there is a moment of realization, the moment when we wake to inner power and divinity. In this revelatory light, all things look different, and all things look possible. There is then no barrier too high and no way too difficult. We come to know then, with certainty, that the ultimate triumph of the good is inevitable. No matter the history or the long chain of dark days. It becomes clear that no circumstance and no limits can ultimately withstand the transformative energy of spirit. No cycle of chaos will remain unbroken. The power of divinity spirals up irresistibly and may not be denied. No human construction can long withstand it. There will be a new world in the future, and it will be good beyond dreaming.
“Love, from its awful throne of patient power
In the wise heart, from the last giddy hour
Of dread endurance, from the slippery, steep,
And narrow verge of crag-like agony, springs,
And folds over the world its healing wings.”
— Percy Bysshe Shelley
Space, like spirit, includes all things, and in modern times has become the symbol of transcendent adventure and the playground of unfettered imagination. Space, inner and outer, is the ultimate frontier, the great matrix of evolution.
Things are the externalization of a hyper-dimensional reality that is behind and through them. And there is another spirit behind that leads deeper yet. We see numerous interpenetrating levels, all present now, and each hiding deeper spaces. Symbols, that is to say things, when rightly apprehended become hyper-dimensional portals.
And formal thought is a thing.
The secret places of thought are like the grandeur of the night sky. Though the eye seems just a small mysterious mirror of remote points of light, yet the spirit touches all points and fathoms the deep mysteries of our participation in cosmos. The depth of space and the depth of thought come to resemble each other, and sparkle with the same extraordinary resources. And just as a rough geode hides unexpected beauty, so in the most diverse levels of the external world may be found the sparkle of the reality.