“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.”
We think, in part, by using many labels, a necessary and useful process when done with care. These labels are rather like bags or boxes into which we neatly put our experiences, our reactions, our environment, and our fellow humans. But often our labeled-boxes mislead us because the specific people in time and space (what they actually do, value, and represent) may not correspond well to the label. So the generalizations arrayed in our minds, under associated labels, can mislead. Ironically, our mental boxes can box-us-in psychologically. When our quick firm categories lack thoughtfulness, they act as blinders. Then, it’s as if the boxes are not just in our minds but around our heads!
We make much of the bodily aspect and it may even seem to us that the spirit is less real than the physical, so a “real” encounter comes to equal a physical one. Yet, only the spiritual component of each encounter is real. Without spiritual consciousness, a physical encounter is unconvincing and with spiritual consciousness the physical encounter may not be required. The external is, at best, an attractive adornment to a real meeting. Our ability to tie an encounter to a certain incarnate body is incidental. It is the energy component of any meeting that is essential.
And what of the bodies of the books and talks? Everywhere the mediators of great thoughts show both grandeur and flaws—the best are like magnificent stained glass windows, but with occasional cracks, splotches of dust, or missing pieces. One must find enough greatness of spirit to love the grandeur while not remaining blind to the flaws.
I do not see total validity or total authenticity in any book or person. I see that spirit pertains to the essence of things, to the rainbow of spirituality that is the foundation of the universe. But all verbal formulas provide a picture that is “through a glass darkly.” The texts we have, like our personalities, are never entirely satisfactory.
There are limits to be considered in every verbal formulation as well as in those of us who draw on the formulas. The value of a good teachings is it’s merit as general guideline and stimulus to thought and reflection. In the details and specifics, and their application to any time and space, there is often much ambiguity and vagueness. So, in a sense, we are still on our own—otherwise put—the intent of a great teaching is not to turn people into “wind up toys.” Teachings are not the truth, but a catalyst to aid us in our approach to the truth.
People notice thoughts and emotions within themselves. Is this simple division an adequate description of what transpires in consciousness? Often not, but this binary tends to guide and define the inner life and common discourse about it. We may speak of thoughts or feelings for which we do not yet have appropriate words, but are “feelings” and “thoughts” adequate terms for the full kaleidoscope of inner experience? And who was it that first defined or limited consciousness to the somewhat trivial sounding binary of thought and emotion?
Clear water flashes silver in the sun. So lifted are all feelings in the soul’s light.
One late afternoon many years ago, I was in a cab in some small city in Japan, returning to the ship. I do not recall what was in my mind at the moment as it was not especially memorable. But suddenly, I found myself up high in a very serene place. From this “height” I looked down on my thoughts as if they were a landscape viewed from high altitude aircraft. I found, that from this place of quiet, I had absolutely perfect control over every thought.
“Far below me I saw Earth as a little cold room that had opened its doors and let me free.”
– Winged Pharaoh, Joan Grant
In its unifying systems, the body is a mirror of evolutionary cosmic principles. The heart, through the blood, is pervasive and the brain also unifies through a pervasive system of nerves. The heart center unifies, but the brain is also the apex of the nervous system, a unitary matrix through which our consciousness functions on the physical level. And like the heart, it is an apt symbol of the underlying matrix of everything.
The heart and breath are mysterious, but the brain even more so. People relate to the “heart” as the central essence or soul of a thing, and to breathe means literally to “inspire.” But spiritual terms correspondent with the brain have not yet found a widely understood anchor in our consciousness. Eastern thought identifies a “thousand pelted lotus” in the head, but the phrase is more esoteric and the corresponding energy harder to fathom. The apex of unity in the head is more difficult to comprehend. This may reflect the fact that most of us function more fully and easily as emotional entitles than we do as mental ones. So it’s easier for us to begin to grasp the spiritual correspondence to “heart,” and more of a stretch to take in the spiritual correspondence to “head.” Awakening of the heart brings spiritual vision, and awakening of the head also brings vision and revelation. The symbolic importance of the head is clear in that it incorporates organs of both sight and hearing.
Life takes on new meaning and dimension by the virtues of both heart and head. Our rational mind looks down or out into the world of sights and sounds. But the mind can also look up or in, so vibrating to the colors and music of the underlying matrix of things. The rational mind interfaces with the world, but the “minds eye,” facing toward spirit, mirrors transcendent reality. Our outward looking mind is useful, but what we can see with the minds eye is essential and commanding. We may picture the upward looking mind as a lens through which passes higher light and music. So this would be revelation not only of the landscape of unity, but of worlds of light and sound.
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.
Let’s ask in what sense it is benevolent and productive to “act as if ” we are spiritually empowered. Consider what it would be like to be at the next rung of the ladder, that is, what would our increased responsibilities be to others and to ourselves. Then with perspective, let’s play at being a little better than we currently are. Put a better foot forward, not to be seen, but because it is a wonderful life-affirming thing to do. In fact, we are always projecting ourselves forward, aspiring to be and act somewhat better than we are. In the right way, this is healthy. We are, in effect, calling ourselves out, engaging in an affirmation intended to move us toward the future. So what would it be like to begin to engage in the next level of work, the next wider sphere of responsibility, the next greater circle of love? What would it be to practice, to engage in life with the next greater step of purity and clarity? Why wait? Act as if.
According to temperament, thoughts manifest in images or in words or sounds. We become aware of thoughts as they manifest, but there is a subtle moment just prior to manifestation, just prior to words and images—in this moment thought is without a body. Visualize the expression of thought-images and thought-sounds as from a circle of light with a brighter point of light at the center. In the process of embodiment, thought-light radiates downward or outward from the center to the periphery. If we draw close enough to this center we arrive at a quiet space where we can apprehend thought before it is incarnate, before it has a body.