RINGING THE BELL

When we come to a realization of a new reality, it is amazing how much that opens up and changes our lives. Think of when you got your driver’s license and got behind the wheel of your parent’s car for the first time alone! What freedom, what exhilaration, what a new world just opened up to you! You just made a huge levelling up on the independence scale! And after a few moments of this new found view of your world, you couldn’t imagine how you survived without that piece of paper in your wallet. It must be what a butterfly thinks as it’s remembering its life as a caterpillar: a complete metamorphosis. And this brave new world also comes with a caveat: once you’ve rung the bell, you can’t unring it. Once you know something that will change your point of view, your point of view is forever changed.

I’ve had such a world view changing experience this past week. I have been delving into the nature of consciousness and the human condition. Max Planck, a physicist and the father of quantum physics talks about consciousness as the matrix upon which matter finds its existence: a Universal Consciousness over all matter. From the simple single atom to a rock, to a one-cell amoeba, to a tiger and to a human being, all find their source in consciousness. Certainly we, as humans, have a self aware consciousness that is far above that of the amoeba, but how far below us might the whale or the great ape find itself, if below at all? And who is to say that we are at the apex of this Universal Consciousness. Upon further investigation, the deeper we peer into outer space, we will undoubtedly discover that there are beings or entities in the cosmos that are as far above us in consciousness and awareness as we are above a rock.

There is only one reality: Consciousness. Everything, absolutely everything, begins and ends here!

I suppose you could call Universal Consciousness ‘God’, but for me, that word carries far too much baggage. Say the word ‘God’ to ten different people from ten different areas in the world and you’ll get at least 20 different definitions of what it means, many of them contradictory, even when coming from the same person. I think of the word ‘God’ and I am immediately on my knees at church looking up at some Zeus-like being ready to judge me for my sins. I think it’s best for me at least to refer to it as Universal Consciousness or, as one writer called it, the Big ‘C’.

I am connected to all who have lived, on Earth, and on all planets!

Let’s carry this a little further into the theory of quantum physics. If all matter, which is built upon the framework of Consciousness, is twisted together in an intricate web of connection then it cannot be separated: quantum entanglement, then that means that all matter, whether here on earth or thousands of lightyears away, is One. And all Consciousness is also One: Universal. The space that is between you and me doesn’t separate us. It unites us into one, both in body (matter) and spirit consciousness. As well, the consciousness that each of us possess can be seen as part of the single Universal Consciousness. For me, this is a far more compelling concept of my relationship to the divine than an old man on a throne throwing thunderbolts: a concept that I could never go back to now that bell of Universal Consciousness has been rung.

Alice Walker

But one day when I was sitting quiet and feeling like a motherless child, which I was, it come to me: that feeling of being part of everything, not separate at all. I knew that if I cut a tree, my arm would bleed. And I laughed and cried and I run all around the house. I knew just what it was. In fact, when it happen, you can’t miss it. Alice Walker, The Color Purple

I sense that unity with all things, both seen and unseen. I feel like I have stepped out of the Platonic Cave and out of the shadows that I thought were reality and into a new light of being. I am part of the whole complexity of Universal Consciousness. And when we as human beings start to see how alike we are, the insignificant differences will fade away and we will work toward a better understanding of being a part of everything. Body and Soul. And when we have finally seen that, then perhaps we will begin to understand that which unites us with the rock, the animal, the planet, and the Universe. Matter and Consciousness are One.

I am intricately entangled with all life, all matter, everywhere!

This is one bell that can’t be unrung. And it is going to take some more time to fully unpack what it means.

Please share your ideas about this with me in the comments on this or any other article in Recovery River. Thank you.

IS PRAYER STILL A THING?

Someone asked me a while back if I still pray since I don’t believe in God. One would think that I don’t pray. After all, it’s a religious thing isn’t it? But the fact is, that I do pray. I still pray a lot. It’s just that my notion of what God is has changed so much since my youth, that I don’t want to equate it with the God of the Bible or of the Roman Catholic Church in which I was raised.

I don’t see God is a magician who makes things appear and disappear. I don’t treat him as my last hope, turning to prayer when it seems that there’s no way out of an impossible situation. Nor do I see God as some sort of a Santa Claus who has lists upon lists of who is naughty and nice. God doesn’t measure my ‘faith’, nor are my petitions granted only if I attain a certain level of devotion. God is not Facebook and doesn’t respond to the number of likes he gets.

My understanding of a “Higher Power” has changed over the years and I believe that trying to define God, puts limits on whatever “It” happens to be. Sufficient to say that as long as my “God” doesn’t stare back at me when I look in the mirror each morning, I’m good. So if I don’t pray to God, then why would I pray?

The function of Prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” Søren Kierkegaard.

Recovery literature says that if you have anger toward someone, to pray for them every night for two weeks. This same literature says that whenever we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, we need to look at ourselves for the cause of our disturbance. Finally it says that we cannot control people, places or things; our response to something is the only thing that we can control. In a nut shell: I am the one who needs to change and I pray in order to make that change. When I take the focus off of the other person, the offense or a need, I open myself up to change. I would have a small god indeed if he needed my help to influence his actions.

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com

I pray because prayer changes me. Whether it’s rote prayer, meditation, or contemplation, when I pray I move away from my Ego-centrism. Slowly I begin to focus, even just for a second, on the present moment and my connection to something other than myself. It doesn’t matter if I call it my spiritual nature, or my connection with others; prayer takes me away from, well, me. When I do that, when I step away from myself I start to see things for another perspective and that opens me up, little by little, to make a change, a change in me. So, yes, I do pray. I pray for understanding and I pray to accept things as they are.

Prayer allows me to step away from the world around me and quiet my mind for a moment from the challenges I face each day. In these moments I can unite my mind and my heart in a moment of peace. I can do this at a church or temple, by a stream or ocean, in a chair or on a cushion. The how is not important. Being present in the moment and being one with one’s self is prayer however you do it.

I don’t need a Biblical God in order to accomplish this. I only need to acknowledge that I am not the “be all and end all of everything.” In prayer, I connect to the “Spirit of the Universe” or “Higher Power” which more closely aligns with my current understanding of God. This also connects me and keeps me conscious of other people as well. And that, for me, is prayer.

FINDING PURPOSE

I remember saying, when I was in my teens trying to figure out what to do with my life, that I wanted to be ‘there’ and not have to go through all the crap to get ‘there.’ Some of my classmates had their lives already planned out, knew what they were going to do, how they were going to do it and were on track to making that life vision a reality. I, on the other hand, really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I entered a Catholic seminary because I thought I would ‘fit in’. Later, I went to teacher’s college because I knew I needed a ‘saleable skill’. And, while I know I’m an excellent teacher, it has never been my life’s purpose. I was always a bit jealous of those who ‘knew’ what they wanted and went for it.

Wikipedia.com

I have been looking into passion and purpose for several years now. There are a lot of ideas and theories about how we develop and maintain them. There´s no lack of success literature and YouTube videos on how to achieve it. But despite the quantities of material I’ve consumed online and on paper, I still haven’t found the ‘thing’ for me. My career over the past forty plus years is more like the ‘one piece at a time’ car that Johnny Cash sang about years ago: a cobbled form of many and varied things.

I know that I wouldn’t have fit into neither the corporate, nor the blue collar world. I’m not an artist nor an entrepreneur. And I know I’ve been fortunate, but I’ve often dreamed a regular 9 to 5 job with a regular pay cheque and a retirement package: work, go home, forget about work. And then I give my head a shake because I know that a regular day in, day out routine was never for me. Factory work one summer cured me of that. I know I like variety and challenge. I like trying new things and implementing new ideas. I have developed a lot of skills over the years and I have always had to hustle to keep it all together.

What I have done with my work life has allowed me to try a myriad of things that have kept me off the streets and rather comfortable. I have time to read, think, write, chat and generally enjoy my life. What more do I need? I’ve been thinking about what happens for the next 30 years of my life. What should I do so that I’m not wasting my mind and body sitting in front of the ‘boob tube’ and life passes by?

There’s no ‘right’ answer. There is no ‘thing’, no ‘there’, no ‘arrived’.

Photo by Elina Fairytale on Pexels.com

I’ve come to the conclusion that my purpose is to enjoy life. Simple. Welcome each day, each event, every challenge and every triumph as it come along. Stand up after you fall and move forward. Enjoy that too, it’s part of life. Falling short isn’t a loss if I learn from it. I don’t think it really matters what one ‘does’ in life, as long as you enjoy it. One size never fits all. It’s important to make things work for you and not what works for others. Trying different things in life has a cost, but it is one that I would gladly pay again and will continue to pay in order to keep exploring this incredible life and to enjoy what happens to me along the way. Yes, I plan for the future and I know that I need to be flexible enough to modify, change or toss those plans when new information comes along. What matters is enjoying today. Whether you’re the CEO of the company or the producer on the line, life can be enjoyed.

I guess I never, ever got ‘there’ in my life. I know that I never need to get ‘there’. The important thing, I believe, is to enjoy being ‘here’.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com