Saturday, 9 November 2013

A constant act of creation

Altar.

In her most recent post, my friend Tracie asked,'Is survival an act of gratitude to the universe?' and it tipped me right back into the internal philosophising that I am (always) doing. As I work towards if not defining, then streamlining my own practise and beliefs I constantly refer to other schools of faith and thought as metaphysical landmarks of a kind.

What I'm always trying to do is chip away the man made parts of the story of the truth and discover the core. The essence. I can't say I've got there or that I would know if I had, but I feel closer. It's a strange thing, a possible paradox. How will I know if what my mind arrives at is pure truth or just my version of the truth and does that make it any less than the truth? Is there one single truth?

What can I tell you? This is my idea of good time. Ha.

My current view (far from unique or new but I'm one of those people who needs to learn her own way) is that all belief systems, religions, philosophies are purely interpretive tools for us to use and enjoy in our physical form. Some are more popular than others. Some are nicer than others. Many are abused. You get to choose or ignore. They are stories. Sacred, beloved, treasured, important stories but stories. What they interpret is the simple truth and for the purposes of this post I'll call that truth Life. Your language may vary.

If we live our lives to serve the highest good of all and everything, we are living to perpetuate Life. Life - at least this time around - arguably started with the big bang. The ultimate creative act. And just as we are all made of stars, we are all made of that creative force. It is what drives us. It is us. From social behaviour, to art, to sex, to scientific exploration, to gardening, what we are doing is enabling the continuation of the source/force that began it all.

It's that simple and that profound. It's love, creativity, innovation, nurturing, compassion, prayer, protection, any single thing that is good. All smoothing the way. Life...it goes on, they say. And yet it doesn't. Time is our invention and there's nothing linear about Life. The nearest I can get to conceptualising it with my teeny human brain is to see Life as infinite and constant. It is just IS. And has a desire to always BE. We, being 'of Life', share that desire.

Once you've seen (that version of) the truth then all the stories I mentioned earlier seem like quite good fun as long as you're not twisting them. It's all a bit potato/potahto and I for one am not about to go to war for a vowel sound.

Also, it kinda takes the pressure off if, like me, you feel as if you should be finding The Right Faith or indeed deciding on an absence of same. What if the Sikhs were right while I was busy with my Hail Marys/Druidry/Sun worship/sneering?!

Now I think there is no 'right'. That *whispers* it doesn't really matter. If the story that works best for me, speaks to me, sings to me, fills me with power and light, is shamanism then that's the one for me. Doesn't make it right or better, just the one for me. The one that supports me in supporting Life.

So survival, I believe, is the ultimate act of gratitude. The ultimate prayer. The ultimate offering. The ultimate confluence of individual consciousness with the source.

But one thing is clear to me: Life is a constant act of creation. Repeating the big bang with teeny tiny bangs, over and over and over.

What am I creating with my strands of Life force? What are you creating with yours? Is it smoothing the way for Life? That is what matters.


10 comments:

  1. Argh. I wrote and long and reasonably coherent comment to this post but Blogger ate it.

    So I shall start again and hope for the best, :)

    I read your post earlier today and it has been bubbling away in the back of my mind for the rest of the day. I think it's something about the fact that you, and Tracie, use the word 'survival' in this context. To me, 'survival' is redolent of hardships and endless battles, clinging on with your finger nails - or whatever it is that bees have! - with a constant feeling of stress.

    It made me think of a book I have had since I was in college which I think I picked up second hand somewhere. It's called 'Daughters of Copper Woman' and it's a retelling of the stories of the Nootka women of Vancouver Island in Canada. Copper Woman left the land of her birth with twelve of her sisters and set sail in a corracle for lands unknown because it was a Time of Change. Her elder sisters passed her their share of water and food as they were tossed about on stormy seas because she was the youngest and she was Known to have magic. When the corracle at last found a shore, all her sisters had passed on and she was alone and lonely. She completed the rites for their cremation, and she found herself food and water and made herself a shelter. She Endured, the book says; for many years, as she grew from a child to a woman, she Endured, lonely and alone with no one to love because, as the book says, "Sometimes, this is all that is required of one; that we Endure." This is what survival sounds like to me: not living but enduring.

    The other book on my shelves that sprang to mind was Alice Walker's 'The Color Purple' which has long been a favourite. I'm guessing that you have read it somewhere along the line, but if you haven't, I would be honoured to send it to you. She writes, in the midst of other strands of story-telling, of the refining of our beliefs in the Universal Spirit - call it what you will - from the small child's idea of a hugely bearded white man in the sky, to an image of a loved one, to the idea of It - not male or female, but all around us and loving us whole-heartedly. In one of the passages that has since become almost a cliché, she writes that the trees and flowers do just about everything except get up and walk about just so that we will notice them. She says that she feels It must get pissed off when we walk past the colour purple in a field and don't recognise the wonder of it, the improbable glory of its existence, vibrant and lush.

    To me, this is the gratitude we give to the Universe, to God, to It, to the Source of All That Is, to Life - we notice it, we love it and we pay attention to it. We marvel in its glories, and revel in its beauty. We accept that it is there for our pleasure. Not to be taken and possessed, but to admire the source/force, as you mention, of Life's longing to Be. There is no struggle in this, although there may be struggle within ourselves which is another thing completely. This gratitude is easy as inhaling the scent of rosemary on our doorstep, or admiring the gleam on the coats of our furry friends. It is the pausing, momentarily, to say thank you for the glistening glittering loveliness of what we have been given freely for our enjoyment.

    Sorry for blathering. My two cents became nine or ten. I love your writing, and I love the soul that you are gracious enough to share with the world. Part of my gratitude today is to say 'Thank you, World, for Jo. And Dooley and Zoey too, obviously!' x

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    1. Okay firstly...how is it that I did not know you have a blog? I read your comment here (thanks so much for your patience in typing it out twice) and have been thinking about it since 5 this morning and only JUST clicked through. Even then I was none the wiser until I saw 'Evie' in the post category list. So, with our dogs and our Evie daughters we also have 'Daughters of Copper Woman' because hell if I didn't cart that book around with me through most the 80s, the 90s and into the next century before giving it away. You really dug up a memory for me there - perhaps I need to reinvest in a copy.

      So...I love your view of this. The sacred witness. What a beautiful thing. Perhaps that's your role - what a gift. I smiled so much at all of it but my eye just caught the line about rosemary at the door. There is a potted rosemary at the staff door of my office (no idea why) and each morning I'm there I run my fingers over it and inhale before stepping into the world of my day job. It keeps me connected. I absolutely agree with everything you say but from a purely subjective viewpoint, I don't see survival as a hard thing. Sure enough life can be hard - my problems are relatively tiny but we all know of the suffering around us, near and far. And for many non-human people, facing challenges is every day stuff. Survival merits a HUGE celebration. Endurance is a wonder! I think of Tracie's bees and a survival dance and I hear a party! A celebration of maintaining our light in the Being of it all.

      I embrace the ease and the struggle because - corny sentiment alert - without one, you can't appreciate the other. Struggle gives us much of our strength. That said, my personal struggles have been minimal and I may well be talking out of my behind. I have form in that respect.

      Sorry this isn't very eloquent. I'm writing it in Blogger and the window I have shows two lines at a time and I can't find the flow but yes, yes of course the witnessing and the celebrating are also a huge act of gratitude and the greatest expression of love. To be seen and loved in our true colours is what we all dream of, and all that we are is the Source so why should it be any different. Thank you for reminding me.

      By the way, you're a great writer.

      x

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    2. I use the word survival in the context of Darwin's evolutionary theory. In the sense that a colony of bees is a living organism with individuals that give up their lives for the benefit of the whole makes them and their form of altruism different from or at less more direct and recognizable than ours. Who's to say a bee doesn't experience beauty or joy? Who's to say they don't struggle with the idea of self sacrifice? I can't be absolutely sure of what a bee knows or feels. I suspect to impose such things on a honeybee and her colony is a sort of anthropomorphization though, so I was exploring, over on my blog and in my head, the notion that gratitude takes on a different form in such an organism or community of creatures. The will of the species to survive and perpetuate itself encourages a behavior labeled by man as altruistic and so within this same language thread, I began to consider this as a form of gratitude. I also see how, in the state of our planet and the hardship being placed on the honeybee (and many, many other creatures including ourselves) right now, survival in the sense you described it, is a very appropriate word. I believe there is beauty in battling hardship and surviving. I believe gratitude thrives in that sort of environment and may even be the ultimate beauty in the universe. The death and resurrection dance is fraught with tragedy and beauty, don't you think? And who is to say that the color purple or the scent of rosemary isn't simply an evolutionary survival mechanism developed by the plants to help them survive? Plants have evolved complicated strategies to ensure their survival. They make themselves beautiful or tasty or even poisonous -- to help themselves. Many creatures from honeybees to man are "obliging suitors", to quote Michael Pollan. So, to wrap this up, I will say that this pondering of the notion that the passing around of evolutionary energy is a sort of beautiful dance within a colony of bees, and in this conversation, in the greater planet between all of the species. In my poetic human brain, this conjures up something that I interpret as gratitude--probably because I feel something that feels like gratitude and because I am unsure where to direct these feelings without anthropomorphizing the universe. I am trying to make sense of these concepts of altruism and gratitude in a broad evolutionary sense.

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    3. Yes, Tracie. Yes : ) 'I believe there is beauty in battling hardship and surviving. I believe gratitude thrives in that sort of environment and may even be the ultimate beauty in the universe.' As usual, you said it more eloquently than I did : )

      I too am uncomfortable with anthropomorphising and yet recently I find that I no longer feel guilty about having that human filter. This is what I am, this is how I sense things, which is not to say I can't widen this human's experience and knowledge by attempting to tune into other non-human experiences or even just appreciate them, but ultimately I'm a big old human and I'm trying to find the beauty in that too without imposing it on others having another experience. We have poetic brains! Hurrah!

      I was thinking this morning about my path as a healing one, and how that always starts with healing oneself and how, for me, I struggle with what - in its shadow - can be self-obsession. The ultimate act of separation. But given that I believe we are part of the whole, healing this little chunk of it and then rippling that out is actually healing of the whole too. Pretty obvious stuff but I need to be reminded now and then. Sometimes (wait...always? even if not intentionally?) an act of personal healing can be altruistic. And I absolutely see 'healing' as - to return to the hurried terms I used in this post - an act of survival. Of smoothing the way for the continuation of the creative force. Gratitude is an essential part of healing. Essential.

      On a tangent, I am currently learning about dancing with spirit guides. About dancing as a powerful healing tool - for oneself and also while facilitating the reunion of a person with their lost spirit animal. As a dancer from the day I learned to stand this is powerful 'magic' for me. I love the idea of bees having a lexicon of dances and as you write, who is to say they don't?

      It feels to me as if there is this huge, beautiful and infinite pool between you, me and Vicky and we are sitting here showing each other what we see in it. And for that I'm grateful too! xx

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    4. I love this thread. I love the image of the pool and the the sharing and the gratitude and I really love the idea of a "lexicon of dances". That is just so beautiful! The part that really grabbed me though was when you wrote, "an act of personal healing can be altruistic". That one smacked me upside the head. Oh yes! But of course it can! The image of the healing rippling out is a beautiful one, isn't it? And a powerful one. Yes, indeed. Thank you--and Vicky for this lovely and thoughtful conversation.

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  2. OK firstly, as you were kind enough to enquire, you didn't know I had a blog because it's not part of my pubilc online face. My Instagram account is linked to my Facebook account and that's the public me, but most of those people wouldn't want or need to see what I write about on my blog! La Que Sabe has existed in several forms since about 2005. I don't blog consistently any more, but I keep it because my impulses are cyclical and while I'm in a watching phase currently, I know the time will come again when I will very much want to write. In time that will pass and all I will want is to read, and then watch and so on. The blog is there to be my really honest space that I don't have to share with anyone that I see on a daily basis. :)
    I am so happy, Jo, that my inkling that Copper Woman might be right up your street proved to be so true! Funnily enough, I haven't read it in a long time and I had to go and physically dig it out of a bookcase to check on some of the points. I would say that she definitely deserves revisiting. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the word 'witness'. It has opened a door for me that has been creaking in the breeze for a long time now but would neither open nor shut completely. I can't, right now, explain how magical this is for me but I will let it brew for a little while and I will try and write a post about it sometime soon. You know the way you read something that feels as if it quite literally hit you square between the eyes? Yes? Well, it's that, with the same sense of utter rightness. Thank you for carrying that message to me.
    The previous office to my current one had a huge rosemary bush outside it as well. On bad days, I would bring a small sprig of it into the office with me to keep my head clear and to help me stay free. I try to always have rosemary in the house or garden. Its smell is very powerful for me. Tracie, you're right of course in saying that plants and animals have developed stategies for survival. It cannot be coincidence, surely, that their strategies can by times ensure our survival also? That our gratitude for their tricks and talents keeps us hanging on on days when we think that we cannot take one. more. thing?

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  3. So, I should add my two cents to the 'survival' word. I have loved reading what you have both written about it. It has made a loaded word in my mind into something so broad and grand as to be almost impossible for me to take in! I am not sure why the word survival has such bleak undertones for me. I find that I get very caught up in my dislike of sensationalism - particularly in the world of 'celebrity' and the general media - and it seems as if there is always someone chiming in about being a survivor of something or other in order to sell something or promote something whereas, to my mind at least, I believe that we are all survivors of some sort or another. I suspect that due to this perspective, I wasn't seeing survival of the fittest, or survival of the most adaptable, or survival as a group entity like a bee-hive or an ecological system; I was thinking purely of humans and not of the rest of the inhabitants of the planet. It makes far more sense to think of survival with a holistic view of the world. And in this way, yes, an act of personal healing is absolutely altruistic. I believe that the healing WILL ripple out and may have consequences that you could simply never imagine.
    I have asked the question, over and over again in periods of uncertainty and confusion, 'Why am I here?' and it's always the same answer that comes back to me. You are here to love.' The more I love, the more I am thankful for the love I feel, and the person, place or thing that inspired it so I believe in 'You are here to love'. Healing is a form of love - or love creates healing? that's a whole other discussion in itself, I think - and so, yes, whatever you mend or adjust within yourself becomes a mending of the world because, as you said, we are part of the All. In healing oneself, there is always the chance that one can also inspire or (maybe indirectly) teach another. Survival then becomes an ever-widening spiral of goodness, both for humans and for non-humans. It's perfect, isn't it?
    I suspect I have neither your depth nor your wisdom, Tracie and Jo, but I am honoured to be at this pool with you. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks to both of you for this conversation. I just RTd something that Linda sent me and it seems relevant. From a piece by Hermann Hesse:

      A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

      A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

      When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

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  4. Absolutely in love with the post and the comment thread. Encouraging.

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