When [my daughter] Faith was four or five, she
started asking me, "Where do people come from?" and "Yes,
but where did the first people come from?" I had to tell her a clumsy
story about evolution, really not an easy idea to get across to a childmind,
I thought, and half-wished I had a better myth, at least one easier to explain.
She listened patiently to my story several times, letting time elapse to
allow me room to get my story together. Finally, after mulling it over rather
a while, she summed up her understanding with wonder and pleasure: "You
mean, that Berna [her best friend] and I are related, because if you go
back far enough we have the same great-grandmothers!" She then extended
this idea to the thought that she is related to everyone on earth, for the
A year or so later, she took her thinking another step further, that she is related to everything alive on earth, for the same reason: "if you go back far enough, we have the same great-grandmothers." Living out on the border of the forest as we do, her feeling of cousinship with the plants, trees, and animals around her is naturally very strong.
I was raised in a city. I went to Sunday school and church, but my spiritual experiences as a child were in my bond to nature: trips to the ocean, to the giant redwoods. As a confirmed agnostic adult, I met god for the first time (I had no other word than god for the overwhelming experience which came to me) in the fir trees, and speaking with the voice of the grasses in the wind. S/he lives there for me still, beyond doubt. I will agree that there is that of god in every human being, more or less as an ideal that I strive for, to be able to see the Divine in all these faces; but when it comes to a field of grass in the spring, or an old-growth tree, I don't have to strive, I just have to be quiet to know that I am in the Presence.
Every cell in my body has been continuously alive since at least the beginnings of life on this planet--dividing, changing, passing on the spark and design of cellular life. I don't feel that there was any one moment in this process (when our ancestors stood up? when they spoke? when they started to kill one another in an organized way?) when god came to dwell within. God has been there all along, and continues to be there, not just in us, but in all our kindred.
* * *
I would speak at another time about god in the mountains and rocks, and god in the oceans and waters. Tonight I will just say that I live facing a little part of the California coastal mountains, and that I do (as the psalmist of old did) "lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help."
Fun, arbitrary thoughts:
1. Science confirms inspiration.
2. Religion can give structure to our seeking or may feed complacency, homeostasis.
3. Experience happens when we are ready to internalize, integrate and express soul's perceptions.
4. As our understanding of interdependence (with other people, with "all that is") continues to develop, our concept of hierarchy will be transformed.
How do we develop soul's perceptions?
An individual soul's inward journey -- into silence-- has been one way acknowledged by many spiritual disciplines. As Friends, we also reference our corporate experience. I think our particular approach is more "just do it" for meditation experiences. We do not have a tradition of teaching tools which are communicated by of those who have experienced ongoing, mystical, knowledge in our midst. It seems we must gain our experience on the strength of our individual meditation, by our seeking and prayer, by what we can sense in group meetings for worship, or by finding other sources that teach ways they have found useful.
Many of us use anecdotal accounts about ways Light have been experienced by individuals. George Fox's accounts and sayings are one source. Some of his accounts, however, are not well-received or even known because it seems they are unacceptable to most of our communities' perceptions/beliefs in how experience is expressed.
Perhaps as we allow for possibility and open inquiry, we begin to have a belief about something we don't know about. This seems like nonsense, unless a person begins to have the experience that all this is in one's life is a reflection/a mirror for our soul. Wayne Dyer eloquently speaks of how "I see it when I believe it."
An example of this idea comes to mind in Deepak Chopra's book Return of the Rishi where people were televised doing yogic feats of levitation (still at the beginning stages of hopping, easily in lotus position during meditation..sometimes to 4 ft high). The TV interviewer took a critical tact and also invited a critic who watched the proceeding on screen to comment. The critic expressed admiration for what he believed to be a purely physical skill, an athletic feat to be dismissed as a spiritual skill. The communication and demonstration that the skill was possible only through meditation was not acceptable or believed. There were experiments were gymnastics were invited to do the same feat without meditation; they were unable to do the same.
A danger exists also that too much insight or experience outside of our own or other's beliefs/perceptions will inspire reactive destruction. Perhaps the source of this destruction is based on a belief that we need to dominate in order to control. How do we know when we have truly surrendered to our Beloved God?
The Findhorn experience has had a lot of testimonies as well as tangible examples of results. Dorothy MacLean, one of Findhorn's three founders, said she was part of a meditation group whose leader was Sheena, a woman who led mystical experiences. Sheena was a Quaker. When the group began to express their experiences in the community where they lived, they were bitterly attacked, shunned and "run out of town." Sheena found herself alone and felt abandoned, not realizing that some of her friends (Dorothy) stayed away from her in order to protect her from attacks. Meanwhile the three adults kept together in order to continue their meditation experiences, which developed into the Findhorn experience.
About 15 years ago, someone handed me a book Kinship with All Life by J. Allen Boone. He describes how with Strongheart, (a german shepard movie star before Rin Tin Tin), J gradually became taught to communicate on par with his companion dog. After receiving his Strongheart lessons, J then proceeded to experience communicating with other creatures as well.
Since at the time I read the book, I lived with a german shepherd and three cats in Bolinas, I decided to explore the possibility of such communication. The dog and the cats all demonstrated their ability to receive and respond to my unspoken thought-directed requests. But I seemed unable to open to receive their thought requests to me. Then one afternoon I was astonished to have a very intelligent request, full of subtlety, come to me from Strider, the dog.
I didn't experience thought from the cats, but did come to understand how sensitive they are to human energy. They are more than willing to be energy healers, supporting weak energy imbalances and helping to rebalance an person's energy system. Although I have long experienced clairsentience (receiving information from feeling sources other than my own), this skill has continued to be developed over the years by training in aikido and as a Kalos Health Facilitator (which uses Chinese knowledge of energy points and meridians). So my observations of what cats can do energetically are based on personal skill developed with training over years.
My sources of guidance come from many directions. It does seem that as I am ready or beginning to allow the possibility to be ready, teachers do appear...in various forms: people, critters, books, dreams, environment.... In my late twenties every time I attended Meeting for Worship (which was every Sunday), the spoken messages were related to my life that week. Now since I have begun to learn also a yogic way of meditating, I have experienced a knowing that is difficult to put into words. The meditation feeds joy, bliss and love. The days that I miss meditating in the morning are not as easy for me (or those around me). I hold to my intention to always meditate, to develop the state where I am always experiencing and aware of that of God.
I am in wonder, awe and joy at the possibilities for experience with God in All; I feel I have become open to a beginning awareness. Training and discipline helps. Seeking helps. Life's gifts help. Death's gifts help. Teachers help. Years ago, elder Maude Powell said she thought one thing we Quakers had in common was the belief in continuing Revelation - not limited to a particular time, set of knowledge or experiences.
Grace and love pervades everything. I know God this way, although I seem to forget this sometimes in particular situations. It is also a faith and a core teaching. Would I have set myself on the path to know God when I was 8 years old if I hadn't been heard some wonderful teachings? "God is love" or "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind" and "Love your neighbor as yourself." Would I have heard the teaching if my soul wasn't already open to the possibility? What inspires openings to possibilities?
I agree that words are not experience. They can only be representative expressions. Sometimes, though, words do inspire experience or rather, they are one part of the hologram called experience.
Thank you for a chance to share (and summarize for myself) some thoughts stimulated by our group conversation.
Marcia Anderson <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 22 Dec 1999
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