Opening up

A human being is a part of the whole called the “universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in all its beauty. We may or may not be able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security. ~Albert Einstein

Throughout his whole life Einstein never lost his wonder at life and the greatness of the universe. His sense of ‘awe’ stretched  from the vastness of time and space to the tiniest particles of matter and non-matter. In all of creation he saw that there was something beyond what the senses could sense. He believed that science and religion would ultimately end up at the same point with respect to the universe and this rather persistent illusion we call reality.

Spirituality, I believe, is that which connects us. The self, my ego, is that which tells me that I am separate. Science may be disintegrating the old images of God as creator but at the same time it is opening our minds to a newer reality of something far greater than ourselves at the centre of all. Exactly what that is? I have no idea. I too have a sense of awe and wonder when I contemplate the the seen and unseen universe of time and space.

I can take a cup of water from the ocean. It has all of the chemical properties of the ocean but it is not the ocean; where are the tides and currents and immense power in this cup of salty water? However, when I pour it back into the ocean it again becomes the ocean. It reintegrates so fully that I can never remove the same cup of water from it no matter how hard I try.

I see Consciousness in the same way. I am a drop of water splashed up from the River of Life. I possess many of the same properties as the river, but I am not the river. I can look around at all the other droplets splashed up at the same time and I can notice differences: different sizes, colours, position. But once my drop falls back down into the water, I become part of the River once more and those differences no longer exist.

I think that is what Einstein is getting at in the above quote. We are more alike than we are different. We imprison ourselves by our beliefs in our separateness rather than free ourselves in the knowledge that we are all the same. Man, woman, child and all of nature are all the creation of Universal Consciousness. It’s a tough concept to grasp, given our world as it is and how we have been taught all of our lives. But just knowing and opening ourselves up to other possibilities, is a step in a new direction. Just working toward a changed perspective is enough to free us from the bondage of self. And that’s a reason to be grateful.

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The Invisible World

“I once had a conversation with a neurosurgeon who was disputing the presence of this invisible world by saying he’d cut into thousands of bodies and had never seen a soul. I remember his awkward look when I asked him if he’s ever seen a thought while he was poking around inside a brain”  Wayne Dyer

I’ve been working with another recovery member and we have been discussing what ‘spirituality’ is and what it means for us. Some say that spirituality, religion, faith are all pretty much the same and, as Marx stated, “…the opiate of the masses.” We can not point to some thing and say there, that is spirituality. It cannot be measured or qualified by the senses and of course, it is said, there is no scientific basis for it. Or is there?

Science can’t explain why two people with the same fatal diagnosis of cancer has one person continuing to live and the other long dead. Nor can science explain why the placebo effect works: a pill with no active ingredients has the same effect as one with the ‘necessary’ ingredient. How about psychic phenomenon. I just read about early 20th century American Edgar Cayce and how when asleep could diagnose people and suggest a cure for their ailments with complete accuracy when he had no training. When you get into quantum physics, well,  scientific laws and principle seem to go right out the window. There is something else going on here; something that can’t be explained by the empirical method of science or the five senses.

So what is it? What is ‘spirituality’?

At this time, what is working for me as my definition, is that spirituality is the ‘thing’ that connects me to everything else.  It is the exact opposite of what my ego does. My ego tells me I am alone and different. Ego says I am separate. My ego keeps me away  from all other things. And it tells me that I have to do it all because no one else can (or at least they can’t do it as well).  When I was in my disease of addiction I was deep into ego and literally killing myself because of my terminal uniqueness.

Today I look at my connections to the people around me, to the pets that I keep, to the world in which I live. I look for the similarities and not the differences. I am connected to things I can see and things I can’t see: my father died well over twenty years ago, but I still feel a connection to him as well. I see that, although I can’t explain the ins and out of what spirituality is, it doesn’t make it any less real or valid. I can’t explain electricity either, but I can certainly explain about how I need it when it’s cut off.

I doubt that I will ever be able to give a completely accurate definition of spirituality, other than the dictionary definition of ‘the quality of being spiritual’. But I think that it will always have that notion of connection. There are things we see, and things that are invisible. Doesn’t make one more real than the other.

Who has seen the wind?

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A World of Miracles

The more I investigate, the more I realize that what we know is only a scratch on the surface of truth, of what Einstein called the “persistent illusion” of reality. When I open myself up to even just the ‘possibility’ of there being something out there greater than myself, I also open myself up to perceiving the wonders that surround us always but that we don’t always notice as we make our busy way through life.
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A friend at a meeting this morning talked about going for a hike with his brother to a water fall. The trek was much more arduous than they had expected. When they finally arrived, it because a mystical experience for one of them. As they drew closer they heard the sound becoming more and more intense until the cascade slowly revealed itself through the undergrowth of the trees.  My buddy saw how the sun was beaming light down through the trees and the mist rising from the water as it hit the rocks on the way down to a blue pool below. He felt the spray, watched the butterflies and took the whole thing in as a Higher Power moment. For his brother, it was a nice waterfall, but it held nothing of the spiritual aspect. Two people, two points of view of the same experience.

Our experience of anything depends upon our perspective and past experiences. Perhaps it’s my bias, but I believe that those of us who have been through difficult times and are making our way through recovery have to, perhaps, work harder than others to see the beauty of things and the wonders of the people and the world around us. Perhaps it’s because we were so wrapped up in ourselves, our ego and our disease that we couldn’t see it before. Perhaps we’re no different than anyone else. But it is important to take the time to look outside of ourselves to stand in awe and appreciate what is happening around us at any particular time. And even if you don’t wish to attribute what you see or what happened to you to your Higher Power, you can still appreciate the ‘miracle’ of it all.

During this time of year, we tend to see more positive things happening around us because our perspective has changed around the holidays and we expect to see the miracle of Christmas. I believe that these things are always happening around us. Every day there are wonders and sights to behold that will cause us to pause if we look for them. If you want to take the magic of Christmas with you through the whole year, then take this attitude with you. Miracles don’t only happen one day a year, or on 42nd Street in NYC or in Bedford Falls with Jimmy Stewart realizing that he’s the ‘richest man in town’. They around around us all the time. But we have to look for them.

From a sunny and hot Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica, (don’t be too jealous), I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! ¡Feliz Navidad!

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

– Shakespeare, Hamlet