Numinous Experience

Here at the edge of the world, where men reach into the the sea with heavy line and glittering tackle attempting to join the massive Oneness of the ocean by removing from it those that truly belong, I find a sure and sudden calm as if sedated yet awake and aware. Fully aware.

I have spent so little time in my life by the ocean though I have always heard its call. A gentle tugging. It is the lure, I am the fish, and it is trying as hard to be a part of me as those men standing on the edge of this expansive pier are trying to be part of it.

In 1917 Rudlof Otto wrote Das Heilge, which appeared in English in 1923 as The Idea of the Holy. He suggests that while the concept of “the Holy” is often used to convey moral perfection It also contains another distinct element, beyond the ethical sphere, for which he uses the term “Numinous” and defines it as “non-rational, non-sensory experience or the feeling whose primary and immediate object is outside the self.” (Thank you Wikipedia)

I won’t go into the whole Jungian psychology surrounding the archetypes and Numinous because I believe I can sum it up in this one example: An artist creates a sculpture to give form to something that has taken life inside him. What he feels is Numinous, the influence of something “other” than himself. Years later I see his sculpture and literally feel the spirit he has put into the stone looking back at me.

This is the Numinous Experience.

I look into the ocean, this beautiful and powerful creation of the Divine, and see it looking back at me. Calling me. Reaching into me and igniting a spirit within me which I release onto the page of this blog where it lives and, hopefully, reaches into you and ignites the “other” that lives within you.

Life is truly a spiritual experience if we allow it to be.

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Image by JMGreff at the end of the Gulf State Park Pier in Gulf Shores, AL

Free fallin’

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I’m pretty sure no one ever thought of Petty as philosophical or scientific but…

… I’m listening to him sing about a freeway running through his yard as I sip a cup of once hot coffee now going cold and think about that freeway.

It is Life and it is constantly moving at millions of miles per second through the cosmos with no particular destination. It just is.

The yard is my life. A tiny pasture that interacts with the much larger, empirical, Life. It would be easy to think that my tiny corner of Life could not have any impact whatsoever on that mass of energy. It can feel like being a single molecule of water in an ocean and, in a way, it is exactly like that but it is also more than that.

Here comes a quick geology lesson:

Epigenisis is an accumulation of a mineral mass without loess properties, perhaps with a high silt and lime content, which under weathering and soil formation acquires loess properties and is transformed into loess (seriously, I swiped that from some geology site).

Eolian: the winds ability to shape the surface of the earth.

Loess: silt-sized sediment that is formed by the accumulation of wind-blown dust.

Syngenesis: the accumulation of a mineral mass that is mainly of eolian origin and the acquisition of all loess properties occurs simultaneously, under the influence of soil formation (also swiped because I have no memory for such things).

So what the hell does any of this have to do with Tom Petty? Well, nothing. He just got me to thinking. Free falling, so to speak.

Here’s where I landed: Life’s affect is eolian. That is to say that we are often blasted by it. It throws us this way and that. It wears us down until we are like loess. Tiny silt-sized sediment. Infinitesimal in that ocean.

But we are in syngenesis with that energy. You and I and my dog and the chair I sit on and the trees outside my window and the coffee I drink and the keyboard I type on… all flow in that river of Life. All part of it. One with it. The ocean simply can not exist without all the separate molecules of water. You. Me. The attendant at the gas station. The grass. The air in our lungs and the dust on the street which accumulates and coalesces and one day becomes the stone and soil upon which we walk.

My little yard, that tiny pasture in the great green field that is the Universe, is also the Universe itself. It exists because we exist. We exist because it exists. It is us and we are it.

How cool is that?

Thanks, Tom 🙂

 

One with you

Zeitgeist1

A promise spoken to the wind
Flowing across the miles
Past open meadows
Concrete and steel
Forest and mountain
To rest on your lips
A thousand miles away

Two candles in the dark
Lighting the path to the other
Clearing the way
As they glide through the darkness
Effortlessly
Uniting in the night
Lighting the way for others

Two drops of rain
Meeting in an ocean of awareness
Separate in the fall
Unique amongst them all
Joining there
With all that ever was
And ever will be

One with you

 

Image: “Zeitgest 1” By Dana Lynn Anderson

I am like the river

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I wake, alone, always alone, and wonder; why does it have to be like this?

I move slow, zombie like, to the kitchen dragging a handful of clothes which will be my armor this day. Too thin to keep life’s pains from intruding. Just enough to hide them.

It is too late in the morning to stretch my body and mind. Too late even for coffee.

Half dressed, I look down to Brown Dog, my traveling partner for these last twelve years, though he is going on fifteen or sixteen or I-don’t-really-know-what-teen since I picked him up as a feral stray, and I smile. I admire him. He is always ready to love and be loved.

I celebrate his birth along with my own in November which looms ever closer. I will be 54. How the fuck did that happen?

I make the time to love him then let him out the back door and shuffle to the front while pulling a dirty shirt over my head (too late now to find a clean one) and let myself out.

As the day progresses, the loads of water going from my truck to the road we are building keeps time like a slow moving metronome, those morning thoughts continue to intrude.

Surely I’ve learned the lessons that earn me the right to love and be loved? Surely the person I am now, regardless of my past, is worthy? Surely I deserve that most basic of all rights? Why am I such a failure?

I get ahead of the work crew and park my truck by the river that supplies the water I get paid to make the roads muddy with and walk to an overlooking edge.

I sit and breathe. Deep and slow.

I allow those thoughts to flow like the water that passes in near silence in front of me. I listen to and acknowledge each of them; “You are not worthy”… yes, I understand that’s how you feel. “You do not deserve”… it’s ok to feel like that. “You will never be happy”… it’s ok.

Each thought repeated with the impact and clarity gained through years of practice. Each identified, acknowledged, validated then treated with the same care and compassion I would offer another and released.

They are just words. Labels. They mean nothing.

Slowly, with practiced patience, the thoughts are reduced to a whisper and are replaced by the sound of the wind, a trickle of water, the birds, the rotation of the earth through the cosmos.

I slowly open my eyes and watch the gentle flow of the river and, without thought, begin to understand; The path I am on is like this little river that cuts its way through miles of prairie. It’s sweeps and bends the altered courses of my life. Its flow from past, through present, and towards the future.

I see my reflection in the surface. Static. Unmoving. It is in this static image that those thoughts live but it is an illusion. Beneath the surface the water is constantly flowing as it slides past stones and cuts its ever changing course through the prairie.

If I were to submerge myself in those slow moving waters, become one with it, there would be no past, no future, no false reflections, only a sense of Now. Eternal. Dynamic. It has no beginning. No end. It flows to the sea. Evaporates. Returns as rain. Flows.

It is that sense of Now, that never ending cycle, that I strive for in my meditation. Yes, the thoughts remain. My mind, like everyone else’s, never ceases its rumination and contemplation and formulation. It mutters incessantly.

But today, right now, I am like the river.

 

 

 

 

Image by JMGreff

True Story

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My best memory of an actual conversation with a cashier at the local gas station…

 

 

Cashier [with a smile]:   How you doin?

Me:   I have concerns.

Cashier [with genuine curiosity]:    Concerns? Its a beautiful sunny day.

Me:    That’s why I’m concerned.

Cashier [looking confused]:    ???

Me:    You see,  the sun is this huge ball of burning plasma that generates enough radiation to vaporize a person in less than a fraction of a second and the only things protecting you and I from a violently painful death are just a few layers of atmosphere that we willingly punch holes in and a mile thick layer of atmosphere scrubbing bacteria that we should consider and treat as God since we can’t live without but are instead rapidly killing off… so I have concerns.

Cashier [with a blank stare]: …oh

 

[true story]

 

Image by Giorgia Napoletano