Monday, 19 November 2012

The oneness of things

A friend recently send me a fascinating email which I have reproduced at the foot of this page. It gave me lots of food for thought. When I was a child, I used to feel that I shared my atoms with everything and a neighbour's old wooden gate drooping on its hinges and swaying in the wind made me sad, because I felt one with that gate. Later, I used to hate throwing away old slippers and worn out socks because, to me, they were still 'alive', still corporeal, still made up of atoms, and how would I like someone to pick me up and throw me in the bin?

By the age of 14 or so, I had grown out of my over-empathy for all things and had developed a barrier between the group of atoms which shaped me, and everything else. But one part of being as short-sighted as I am is that when I take off my specs, even the most solid objects look as if they are composed of millions of  tiny dots, so I feel as if I could part the atoms of a wall and jump through, like the cat in the Dreamies ad on telly. I still feel that, on some basis, everything is linked and energy is shared. When I read Peter Mathiesson's wonderful book, The Snow Leopard, years ago, I recognised a kindred spirit, someone who was journeying through Tibet on two levels simultaneously, the terrestrial and the transcendent. For anyone interested, here are a couple of reviews of this book,which I have bought and given away so many times to people I felt would appreciate it:

"A magical book: a kind of lunar paradigm and map of the sacred. There is a sense that the book has trascended the usual limits of language." Jim Harrison, The Nation

Simply as a step-by-step account of villages entered, peaks crossed, the enormously elating business of survival, The Snow Leopard is stunning....It is also Matthiessen's attempt to stand beyond modern time, and the extreme beauty of this radiant book lies in the fact that he fails....He has expressed with uncommon candor and no prospect of relief, a longing which keeps the soul striving and alert in us all. That is the profound humanity of The Snow Leopard, a book fiercely felt and magnificently written." Terrence Des Pres, Washington Post Book World

And here, at last, is the quote that sparked off this post...

On a purely higher spirit level, the level of Ain Sof, we might well be all one - one with the earth and universe too, one with the worms and the viruses, one with the mountains and the clouds, with the tigers and the ants, with Hitler and the Dalai Lama. But on the incarnate earth level, we are not all one. We are different in some respects and similar in others. We exist in both planes - and many others in between! - and pretending that only one of them exists and 'we are all one' is a misunderstanding of spiritual work and of how the spirit and material realms function. It's also a means by which people repress their pulsions (drives; psychoanalytic psychotherapy) and shadow selves, every bit as effective as Victorian morality used to be. Because they repress, these come out in all sorts of angry, judgmental ways - including "I hate negative people" or "I can't be friends with someone who eats meat" or whatever else.

A few years ago an interesting book came out called 'The Dark Side of the Light-Chasers', in which the author, Debbie Ford, examined that problem. Forcing joy, love and light all the time is unnatural - and results either in resentment and anger or in depression. It's quite different from someone who has gone through fire and faced his shadow and come out the other side, joyful, loving and full of light, naturally.

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