I am offering this post as a comfort for times of discontentment and difficulty. I am sharing my understandings for what I feel I know, to a large extent, reality to be. If you find yourself relating to these descriptions, then take comfort. You have been brushing with reality, or ultimate reality, and you may not have even known it.
This post presupposes an underlying layer of the universe which helps make up all of its parts, its possibilities, its every conception conceived of or yet to be conceived. You may call it truth, reality, God, or simply the universe even.
Does there exist an unchanging background to all we see and experience, can experience? Does it provide value to speculate on this, think about it, or come up with reasons for seeking such an understanding in the first place?
Let me share my understanding of what this reality may be, or is even. Then I may elaborate on the value of this, or let this come to you through your own considerations.
If we conceive of an ultimate reality, one which underlies all we experience, then for me I have not found a better explanation for this than in Hindu thought and philosophy, namely, in Advaita Vedanta, as put forth by Swami Vivekananda, in alignment with his teacher, Sri Ramakrishna.
What follows has been shaped largely by their understandings.
First, let us take up the consideration of this world, where we experience the phenomena of the senses, this world which we may consider to be our most easily understood version of reality.
Vedanta calls this a world of duality, a reality of duality, not ultimate reality, which I will refer to later.
We know everything in the context of at least one other thing. We see because one thing is next to another. If it were not, how could we see it to begin with, because then we would experience seeing only one thing?
We smell something in the absence of that smell in what came before, and another smell, or the lack of that first smell, occurs in what comes after.
Whether you speak of before or after in an experience of time, or in an experience of any of the five senses, there has to be a different experience before and after the experience occurring, or else there would be no experience at all to begin with.
Take the example of touching someone's arm: there is a moment of time before you are touching and experiencing this person's arm; there is the experience of touching this person's arm; and then there is the experience after you have touched this person's arm when you are no longer touching it. You need the experience of not touching it to begin with to experience the actual touching of it at all.
This illustrates how an experience of before and after sets up these two types of experiences, the experience of touching, and not touching, and how the experience of touching cannot exist without the experience of not touching before it.
All experiences depend on this duality, if you will, of time-related experiencing. We cannot have one experience without the experience of its absence as well, or without another and different experience being experienced right before or after the experience we are referring to.
We experience phenomena because there are different ones to experience, not just because there is no experience and then there is one. We know black because we know other colors besides black. We need just one other color to be experienced to be able to experience seeing the color black. If there were no other color to be experienced, ever, then we would not experience black, because there would be no understanding of color to begin with, and we would not be able to experience seeing anything different.
If you think about any one of the five senses and any possible experience of it, you will find that any single experience of that sense depends on the absence of that experience, or the experience of something different with that same sense right before that experience.
This then becomes the explanation of living in a world of duality, a reality in which nothing alone can said to be all-pervasive or eternal, in which nothing can be experienced which does not rely on another experience to begin with.
Where does it all come from though? Does this seem a valid question? What would an ultimate reality underneath all reality be like?
If an ultimate reality were to be speculated, it would seem to me to be not dependent on any other. No other experience should be required for it to be there.
In other words, ultimate reality is non-dual, without duality.
Qualities you may experience when reaching this understanding: your sense of self disappears, you are dissolving experience away from a separation of yourself and that which is experienced, one form of duality--you are beginning to lose a sense of separate identity as you approach this ultimate experience of reality underlying it all; your sense of time disappears, you are experiencing reality not dependent on another, where no sequencing of before or after is required since you are approaching the one experience all-pervasive, by definition one without a second, no time required for two or dual experiences; your sense of worldly concern vanishes, you experience that which allows all reality to be, where you are not present and time no longer matters, or exists--in your experiencing of this, ironically when your sense of self is not there, you are not separate from anything or anyone, you experience truth underlying and informing all existence, existence that ever was, will be, or is.
Meditation helps bring you to this understanding, and if you take notice of or recollect past meditations, you may find these qualities having been there or started to emerge.
Devotion to your own understanding of your higher power, or God, or even some general sense of the universe, which we may emotionally feel a connection to within ourselves, devotion can play a role in bringing us to these experiences of dissolving into something greater than ourselves, beyond us.
Reasoning, as briefly begun above, or even in the realms of science, quantum physics coming to mind, our minds are our pathways to these experiences of such an understanding as well.
I believe in these experiences. I have had these experiences.
I imagine that you at some point have come across these experiences in your own life too.
These are what set us on a different path of living life.
These are what give us glimpses of ourselves beyond the everyday world, of limited duality.
I think the value in all of this, you can come to explore.
I know the value in all of this informs the work I do.
May they ever be of comfort and of curiosity, such non-dual experiencing for you.
I consider this a follow-up to my previous post, where I spoke of darkness and light being a key to fuller understanding of oneself. They are the negative and positive aspects of and range of experiences of oneself, both within and without us, or outside of us.
When darkness occurs, when we experience what may be called a negative experience, we may be quick to shut off and shut down the memory and recollection of what happened. Much of this may be natural for psychological reasons, for containing a sense of self in the face of a perceived or real threat to what happened.
I spoke of embracing the mystery of life, allowing it to unfold naturally, or more naturally, as a way to work with the darkness of experiences, and by inference, the darkness of oneself.
When a negative experience occurs, part of us will always or naturally be led to wanting to understand more fully what happened, and to know why, what are the reasons it occurred.
We can come to understanding ourselves in relation to what occurred, but to understand beyond this, I might suggest the approach of embracing the mystery of life, of embracing the mystery of what occurred.
For me, and for I believe the experiential reality of others, life seems to expand and resonate more richly, be full of more light, and begin to be full of possibilities again, if we are able to allow the unknown of life, the unknown about why anything might have occurred, if we are able to get in the spirit, allow the spirit, of the vastness of the universe to be with us, as if looking at the night stars, away from city lights, into the seemingly infinite blackness of the starscape before us, where we feel small, but somehow comforted, knowing our place in the universe in this way, feeling content within ourselves, allowing a resonating and perhaps vibrating sense of energy within and with the universe, ourselves feeling peaceful and curious, perhaps spiritual and connected, not without alignment with what we see, feeling a part of this vastness, full of its space and perhaps uncommon beauty.
Darkness, in ourselves, in events that occur, contains a natural beauty, but only in the context of letting go into the unknown, into the unknown of why anything might have occurred, into the unknown where answers are not forthcoming, but we are able to tap into an understanding beyond the event, larger than the event itself, where we may get our self-referential answers of understanding, where we may feel embraced by a loving universe, the comfort and nurturing presence of it being felt as there, being felt as always there.
We are embraced in the vastness of the universe in these moments.
This we can know.
Some may align more, or try to, with the cold light of truth.
I feel it is time to speak of the love of the unknown of the darkness, however, of the love of the ongoing mystery of life, where we can feel out the answers, come to an understanding, where what we can know may never be enough for a rational and searching mind, but we can rest easy and at peace in knowing ourselves in the context of this larger scale of understanding.
We are embraced in the universe, in the night, peace, and darkness of it, in the unknown of it, where the answers of whether we are supported or not, of whether we have a place in it or not, become revealed as the mystery unfolds.
We do have a place in it, each and every one of us, but this does not come from knowing all the answers.
We must proceed unknowingly, trustingly, allowing the ever enveloping mystery of life, of the universe, to unfold. We will not know a love, on both this intimate and vastness of scale, if we do not.
Embracing the mystery of life, we allow the universe to unfold.
On a rainy day in May this year, I am writing about darkness and light.
What I hope from our experiences in life, whether we consider them positive or negative, enjoyable or terrible even in their extremes--I hope for an understanding that all of our experiences make up life, knowing that they will be, have been, and will continue to be a part of us, in whatever way, shape, or form they may appear.
We cannot include the light without the darkness, the supposedly "good" without the "bad", because we cannot know one without the other in a world which defines existence through opposing or opposite experiences, each giving meaning to the other as life unfolds.
I have created a site in addition to this one where I am open to sharing the darkness of a path walked in life, where the darkness appears and may be defined by more of the mystery of existence versus the cold light of truth.
I have found a velvety goodness in the darkness, if you will, in this way.
Without the mystery of life unfolding freely, without ourselves getting in the way of it, we are limiting our experiences, and most likely evolving a real darkness within us, where unexamined experiences have the chance to--and they will--come out and challenge us in ways we least expect them. It will be our unaddressed concerns or desires taking form in the waking light of the unconscious, from the darkness of un-acknowledgement, in ways we never would have conceived of or expected.
Embracing more of the mystery of life seems to be a keen way to address this, lest the darkness of life experiencing take on forms separate from our conscious experiencing, where they gain greater strength in their apparent separateness, all the while being a part of and within us, evolving in the darkness of unconsciousness.
It is healthy to embrace and acknowledge the seemingly darker parts and experiences of ourselves then. In actuality, in neglecting them, we are neglecting a greater integration into wholeness, of integrating the darker experiences of ourselves.
There is not necessarily a darkness and a light, you see, but just an experience of life, a unique one for each of us, in whatever combinations of experiences life may bring to each one of us.
Perhaps all of our experiences in life are to be lived through and enjoyed then, through an integration into wholeness, if in no other way.
I am here to help you do just that.
For more information on the darkness I am mentioning here, along with the mystery, and the spiritual aspects of life, please visit www.solarminds.com (my other site).
When I heard this piece of music again after some time of not having heard it, it struck me on a deeper level than perhaps it had before.
If you feel like the universe, your version of a high power, even yourself, has let you down, if you have felt like something has been missing, something has not been there for you, or your very self even, the best of you, has been absent, perhaps it is not so hard to hear the call to healing and help being offered to you from this place, through the lyrics and this song.
Sacred, beautiful, feminine.
Hearing the call....
Hello by Adele
(P) 2015 XL Recordings Ltd., under exclusive license to Columbia Records, a Division of Sony Music Entertainment
During the cooler months, when the light grows dimmer as suppertime approaches, we might naturally turn towards reflecting on our lives, on ourselves, thinking of maybe where we would like to be, a place different from where we are now, thinking of what may still be of concern in our lives to address, to look at, so we can get to this better place.
If you think of this like a mirror, then imagine the dark and silvery backing to a mirror, the darkness and bit of light that help allow the glass we look into to reflect ourselves back. When we turn the mirror over, we see this kind of backing, which allows us to see ourselves when the mirror faces us.
What if we removed this backing, chipped away at the silvery and dark material on the back of the mirror? We may not be able to see ourselves then, but we would have a clear view at that point, a clear piece of glass to look through, with nothing blocking our view.
I feel that at this time of year, in the cooler months, turning colder and darker as the year progresses, we are given the opportunity to reflect on ourselves and our lives, perhaps seeing what needs to be seen, perhaps looking at what needs to be looked at, within and by ourselves, or, if we are needing help then, with another supporting us on our journey to look at what we are seeing once again.
When we remove this material more and more, by looking at it, chipping it away, our view becomes clearer, the range of vision we have becomes wider in a sense--certainly, we can say we can see farther, further into ourselves with a clearer viewpoint.
Turning the mirror over, what might you see, what gives you cause for reflection?
During this time of year, the mirror turns naturally, so we can see what may be of importance to consider. We make room for more light as we continue to work at it. The darker months approach with the light fading away--but naturally, this light returns, and we may be in alignment with it, clearing our way.
The mirror turns.
What can you see?
Sitting where I usually sit to do a certain meditation every now and then, I spied two cardinals out the back window on a slanted beam of the deck. They seemed to be playfully with one another, one of them seemingly feeding or pecking into the mouth of the other.
Standing up to confirm whether it was a couple, as in mating or mated birds, I did indeed see the colored male cardinal, and the more neutral-colored female cardinal.
In this meditation, I always hope to, and usually do in some way, uncover that sense of connection to what I believe in about life, what I know of it, a spirit of life that nourishes, contains a true peace, feels full of possibility, and has an exchange of love with me in all of these areas.
I did begin to feel this just as the two cardinals alighted on the beam.
I thought this fitting, as I confirmed it was a playful couple, and was smiling as I intuited a sense about this: whenever we are just relaxed and enjoying our connection to life, feeling a love about it, this is not unlike a subtle but present feeling of a give-and-take, a subtle exchange between the universe and ourselves, between life and who we are.
Everything became or was all right in those moments.
That is what I hope from the meditation each time.
That is what I hope for you, for each of us.
We can find our moments of relaxed peace and love.
As summer starts heading into fall, maybe we can start to thoughtfully set some time aside to allow these moments to happen.
Right before the Fourth of July, I am writing this entry. I felt I needed to update posts past the last one, it having mentioned the end of spring.
This year for myself, towards the middle of the summer, it will be ten years of having dedicated my life to more consciously incorporating deeper ways of understanding, doing the practices and setting aside the time to nourish that part of my life.
Wherever you are in your path in life, whether this be for achieving basic or manageable wellness, or for doing that, along with moving deeper into your own precious and unique path of experiencing, for who you are as a person, I am hoping for you more freedom, more ease, more enjoyment, for the enjoyment of your life, and for moments of seeing past your habituated routines, to a truer sense of freedom, where you are not bound by limitations, whether inside or out, past or present, or even those you might be projecting into the future.
I believe in this path, and continue to dedicate myself to walking in it.
May I meet your reaching out, if you wish to walk this path, and what I am offering speaks to you.
I am truly so happy helping in such a way, seeing and watching this path unfold for others.
Everything is so green. That's what I remember thinking about a month ago now, how the winter that did not seem to let go gave way to what perhaps has been a brief spring--summer seemingly here now, although not officially yet.
If you think of experience and the personal perspective of reality to be based on a quality of awareness or consciousness, then seeing the transition from the quietness, perhaps even message of death, of winter, seeing that transition into life again, with almost a vibrancy of lush greenness in the world, from trees and plants of all kinds, this experiencing of reality can be seen to have different flavors, spring and summer being an opening, an inviting, to an understanding of expression, and giving, and a sense of the freedom of experiencing life.
Underneath what may be of concern, what may be psychologically apparent, or seemingly permanent, we all get glimpses of this consciousness, the flavors and different forms of beauty of it, whether that be the inward understandings more readily apparent in winter, or the more connective and expansive natural tendencies we might have as life returns in all its vibrant greenness to the earth during the months where the seasons are warming up.
Grateful for this time of year, may it unlock and allow us to see an expansive consciousness or awareness, opening us to the possibilities of spring, and the all but present experiencing of summer now.
I have been debating about adding a section on resources to the site, so I am doing it in the form of blog posts entitled with the first word "Resources" followed by the type of resources. They will be collected together in the Resources category on the side of the blog page, or at the bottom of the page if you are viewing the mobile device version of this page. [Update: I may just tag other posts with the Resources category that contain a resource, so they will show up when clicking on the Resources category. They may not contain the actual title "Resources" in the post title.]
Sacred Feminine Resources
Sacred Feminine Awakening: The Emergence of Compassion by Misa Hopkins
She has four books now beginning with the same first words for the title; however, this one in particular beautifully expresses perhaps what has been a lost understanding of the sacred feminine, in a way that attempts to speak to anyone, regardless of what faith or spiritual path one has.
The Virgin's Promise: Writing Stories of Feminine Creative, Spiritual, and Sexual Awakening by Kim Hudson
I am always charged with inspiration and motivation when I pick up this book. Although it has been written for screenwriters, the universal story the author has discovered about the fulfillment of life truly resonates on a fundamental level, as it no doubt should based on the author's research that went into discovering this story. The theories of Carl Jung, a therapist inspirational to me who informs my work, helped guide her in the process. He put forth the idea that we have within us universal archetypes, or patterns of potential or behavior which we can follow, which show up in stories from around the world as characters. Kim discovered these universal characters and their life paths in stories across such a diversity of cultures. What she writes about represents living a sacred feminine way of life.
As the ebbs and flows of my practice of being with others in therapy has continued over recent months and the year, I have added to my site, altered it, and now brought it back to a more simplified version.
In alignment more with my outlook which guides my life and informs my communications with others as I support them on their paths, bringing my website back to how it was earlier in the year embraces perhaps more of the being, and less of the doing, which prompted me to add to the site in the first place.
There are lessons of surrender here, trusting, and just discerning in the quiet and downtimes for what to do, or simply being with the emotions of the ebbs and flows of life.
I feel I most resonate with this version of my website right now; thus it has changed.
Resources are a new category I am adding to the side of the blog page under Categories, or at the bottom of the page if you are seeing the mobile device version of this page.
To highlight this, I will post my first separate entry in the blog about resources after this one.
Mark Newlon, feeling the embrace of the sacred feminine daily!
Sites of Interest