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

 

Building Dreams

I recently read a book that lead me to watch a documentary on the building of Sagrada Familia, the famous cathedral being built in Barcelona, Spain. As I looked at the structure, the columns, the soaring spaces within and the pinnacles without I couldn’t help but wonder what might the thoughts of its creator architect, Antoni Gaudi, have been as he was dreaming it up. Did he imagine when he was first putting his pencil to paper that the building would take well over a century to complete? That he would never live to see it done? That the plans would be destroyed along the way and others would have to interpret how he intended it to look? That money would have to be raised not from within the church but from private funding in order to build it? If he had focused on that, the first shovel full of dirt wouldn’t have ever been removed. Is the end result of the cathedral, which is scheduled to be finished in 2026 going to be exactly like Gaudi envisioned? No. Along the course of construction materials had to be changed, technologies changed and innumerable things had to be reinterpreted. That doesn’t make the results any less spectacular. Even in its unfinished state, it attracts millions of visitors every year who marvel at the results of Gaudi’s vision.

It’s so easy to be negative, a pessimist, or a party-pooper. I can always look around and find things that are wrong or aren’t going well. I’m not sure why. When someone is positive and bright about the possibilities of the future there always seems to be someone who will say they ‘aren’t being realistic’. Why do we consider that the negative result of something we’re working toward is more real than the positive? Why is failure more ‘real’ than success? Why do so many people think that it’s unrealistic to have an attitude that things are going to work out?

I think it has to do with expectations. In life there are many variables and few guarantees. The pessimist loves to focus on those, the things that ‘might go wrong’, the people who will ‘let us down’, and all of the possible things that might fall short of the ‘perfect’ result. I’m coming to learn that it’s the ‘process’ that is the important part of anything we do, not the results that matter. Another way of looking at the saying: “It’s the journey not the destination that matters.” Life consists in meeting the challenges and solving the problems that we face, not lamenting that the path is uneven and rocky.

We need dreams in order to move forward. We need to focus on our visions of what can be and work toward those things. We live and work in the present to make those dreams a reality. The pessimist and the party-pooper often don’t even begin a project because the results might not be exactly as they expected they should be. Push ahead. Today’s dreams will only ever become tomorrow reality if I work toward them.