Brian Wilcox. Sunny Day - Coastal Maine
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When one feels the Divine and feels others in the Divine, then the real harmony comes.
*Sri Aurobindo. Integral Yoga.
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One of the challenges we face in society and community is a wide array of conflicts arise, for our dominant mode of relating is person-to-person, not essence-with-essence - what I call sometimes heart-with-heart. With this personal mode, other persons are objects, objects to please us or do as we wish. This leads to a competition for goods - be it material, emotional, intellectual, or communal -, rather than the joy of participation, this meaning a communion of spirits. This discord will continue until we realize we are a spirit, or soul, with a body, rather than a body with a spirit, or soul, inside. With this realization, a new aspect of love arises, so community, a love that could not appear with the person, so personal, identity. Love, so community, cannot transcend the consciousness of those who are in it. Yet, it takes only one person to invite a more profound realization of the Divine in the collective and, thereby, transform it at least in a small way. Through one self in loving-union with Spirit, Being can descend more into the matter and mind of the collective to spiritualize it, so transmute it to a more compassionately inclusive consciousness.
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Do you ever meet someone you have never met, and immediately you feel something unseen in her you cannot name, but you feel it vividly, mysteriously. Your mind is confused. It may feel like you two are intertwined in some subtle way, but you just met her. This sense is not romantic, not emotional, and not a physical attraction.
The question lingers, then and following, "I've never met her, so how do I seem to know her so well; yet, I don't know her?" You know you have met something more profound than her as another appearance: a face, a body, a manner of conducting herself and interacting with you. You may even feel a powerful, though subtle, love for her, but not emotional or romantic.
You leave, and this sense lingers, as though that something sensed in her goes with you. You have been reminded of something important. What is it? You cannot forget her, even if you never meet again, but more so, the sense of the unseen something lingers with vivid recall.
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When in my mid-thirties and a college professor, I had my first experience of spontaneous union with another person. A man, whom I had never met, stood before the faculty giving a speech. I sat confused with a sense that I knew him, but I had no recall of ever meeting him. The best way I could word how I interpreted this at the time was feeling his soul, or essence. Too often, I think persons jump to the belief to sense this with another person means the two knew each other in a previous life. A more likely explanation is a spontaneous mutual-attraction in Spirit, so spirit-with-spirit -, and one does not need to assume past lives to appreciate the power and grace of this connection in the present.
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One of the remarkable insights on the Way is when you come to know, not just believe, that you are not, so no one is, an appearance. You are appearing, but you are not an appearance; there is nothing tangible about you. The greatest gift one gives you in life is to love the intangible you are not and is somehow appearing as the appearance others think you are. Likewise, this is the most precious gift you can give another, even if she still thinks herself to be the appearance she can look at in a mirror.
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The following is from Kahlil Gibran, "Mary Magdalene: On Meeting Jesus for the First Time," in Jesus the Son of Man. The narrative is fictional, and it follows the Western church tradition that Mary - here Miriam - had seven devils come from her and was a prostitute, both finding some support in the Christian scriptures. Regardless of the historicity of who Mary was and what, the following narrative provides a moving message. Mary has arrived to speak with Jesus, who had been sitting under a tree outside her dwelling. Continuing the conversation, she speaks -
And I said, "Will you not have wine and bread with me?"
And He said, "Yes, Miriam, but not now."
"Not now, not now," He said. And the voice of the sea was in those two words, and the voice of the wind and the trees. And when He said them unto me, life spoke to death.
For mind you, my friend, I was dead. I was a woman who had divorced her soul. I was living apart from this self which you now see. I belonged to all men, and to none. They called me harlot, and a woman possessed of seven devils. I was cursed, and I was envied.
But when His dawn-eyes looked into my eyes all the stars of my night faded away, and I became Miriam, only Miriam, a woman lost to the earth she had known, and finding herself in new places.
And now again I said to Him, "Come into my house and share bread and wine with me."
And He said, "Why do you bid me to be your guest?"
And I said, "I beg you to come into my house." And it was all that was sod in me, and all that was sky in me calling unto Him.
Then He looked at me, and the noontide of His eyes was upon me, and He said, "You have many lovers, and yet I alone love you. Other men love themselves in your nearness. I love you in yourself. Other men see a beauty in you that shall fade away sooner than their own years. But I see in you a beauty that shall not fade away, and in the autumn of your days that beauty shall not be afraid to gaze at itself in the mirror, and it shall not be offended.
"I alone love the unseen in you."
Then He said in a low voice, "Go away now. If this cypress tree is yours and you would not have me sit in its shadow, I will walk my way."
And I cried to Him and I said, "Master, come to my house. I have incense to burn for you, and a silver basin for your feet. You are a stranger and yet not a stranger. I entreat you, come to my house."
Then He stood up and looked at me even as the seasons might look down upon the field, and He smiled. And He said again: "All men love you for themselves. I love you for yourself."
And then he walked away.
But no other man ever walked the way He walked. Was it a breath born in my garden that moved to the east? Or was it a storm that would shake all things to their foundations?
I knew not, but on that day the sunset of His eyes slew the dragon in me, and I became a woman, I became Miriam, Miriam of Mijdel.
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In reading this story, I was struck by these words - "I love you in yourself," and, "I alone love the unseen in you." This Jesus loves is the same he speaks of as unfading beauty, a beauty not of the body, but a beauty Mary is. Mary is this beauty, for this beauty is spirit, and is birthless and deathless. This refers to the soul - the essence, spirit, the Self, Truth Self -, in contrast to the person or personality. This is the "unseen" in Mary, in you, in everyone. Yet, this unseen in Mary is Mary, even as it is you and me - there is only one Unseen becoming seen.
Also, we can note how she refers to herself being found, coming to life. She uses her name to indicate this conversion from being seen within by Jesus. Others look at her, he sees her. She knows who she is, for she has been seen for what she is. We, too, can have a life-change by being seen, not just looked at, and seen to be what we are - deeper than appearance. Again, we can be a means of this seeing, so affirming to another what she truly is. This seeing is Love and far more important than the affectionate love that many see as the only shape Love takes.
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These spiritual connections can be aborted or misdirected easily. In meeting spirit-with-spirit, three errant responses can be.
First, that in the other person, due to her permeability, connects with the same in us. This is the "unseen" in Gibran's narrative. Hence, someone else can be the means to awaken us to the Self. The error is for us to claim it is all in the other and miss, thereby, that she mirrors to us that being projected toward her without our knowing; that is, the mirroring requires the same to be in us, not only her. We may, also, in misinterpreting, "pull down" this spiritual connection into a person-to-person interaction, for we are not discerning it is spirit-with-spirit.
Second, that in the other person is the spontaneous invitation to share soul-with-soul, for there is only one soul. Aurobindo observes this is recognizing the Divine in the other, even as one recognizes oneself in the Divine. An error here is to mistake this soul-aspect for an attribute of the person. As long as one lives as an ego, she will see and relate to others as egos. The moment she realizes she is supra-ego, or transpersonal, she will begin seeing others in the Divine, rather than as a body or merely an individual soul inhabiting a body.
Third, this connection is the activation of transpersonal love. Hence, this is not about appearance, such as attraction physically or psychologically. And a subtle temptation is to turn this into a sexual agenda. This does not mean one cannot be romantic or sexual with someone whom they initially connected with in-essence. Yet, to assume a bodily union is what the connection means or to rush to translate the sense into an emotional or bodily union is to abort the power and truth of the first taste of heart communion. In doing this, both act in bad faith to the Spirit that made the connection possible to serve the Spirit in the world, rather than sexualize the connection.
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Only through living in intimacy with the Unseen does one learn how to respond to this loving of the unseen in the other. Over time, this experience heart-with-heart happens more, as one becomes more permeable to receive and irradiate Grace, which means more receptivity to connect with persons likewise porous.
Hence, as one grows spiritually, one may experience less felt-need to share a sexual or emotional connection. Also, one may sense increased capacity to connect spontaneously with others at the level of the Unseen, whether the other is aware of this heart-with-heart connection or not. One may, furthermore, be felt to be more aloof emotionally, for she is not living as an emotional being anymore - emotions move more easily through her than for persons living located in less subtle realms of consciousness.
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The felt-sense of spiritual connection is that it is a gift, something given intimate to the self but not of the self.
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One is best not to expect a strong connection spiritually to be able to be sustained. One may return to it again and again with the other or not. Still, that the strong connection has occurred likely indicates the potential to share a deep, though less intense, ongoing communion spirit-with-spirit with the other.
A spirit-with-spirit connection is a holy relationship. If sustained over time, it is a gift given for the two to utilize as a means of worship and to assist each other to evolve spiritually. All else in the relationship is secondary to this spiritual motive.
For the spiritual Center to be honored, persons sharing spiritual intimacy have to remain centered in the Center, not in each other. Here I mean more than Spirit-in each other, but the Cosmic Spirit. This Cosmic aspect is manifesting in the heart-with-heart communion, yet it is outside it, also, as its descent is to manifest and actualize its Universality in the particularity of relationships. The Cosmic must be honored, hence persons must sustain an intimacy as a self-spirit apart from the heart-connection, the spirit-with-spirit. When persons do this, two or more, then that nurtures and intensifies the experience of the union in Spirit.
Some Kiss We Want
There is some kiss we want with
our whole lives, the touch of
spirit on the body. Seawater
begs the pearl to break its shell.
And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild darling! At
night, I open the window and ask
the moon to come and press its
face against mine. Breathe into
me. Close the language-door and
open the love-window. The moon
won't use the door, only the window.
*Coleman Barks. Soul of Rumi.
See page two for a few questions and answers on the subject of spirit-with-spirit communion among or between persons.
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(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2020
*The story of Mary is from Kahlil Gibran. The Complete Works of Kahlil Gibran.