Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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The foundation of all learning

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

“We need mystery. Creator in her wisdom knew this.

Mystery fills us with awe and wonder. They are the foundations of humility, and humility is the foundation of all learning.

So we do not seek to unravel this. We honour it by letting it be that way forever.”

Quote of a grandmother explaining The Great Mystery of the universe to her grandson.

~ Richard Wagamese, Indian Horse

The unexpected and the incredible belong in this world.

Only then is life whole.

 ~ Carl Jung

 

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.

 ~ G. K. Chesterton 

The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.

 ~ William James


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Human being is a privilege

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Painting: “So Bright” by Judy Wright.

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

The fact of storytelling hints at a fundamental human unease, hints at human imperfection.

Where there is perfection there is no story to tell.

~ Ben Okri

We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles.

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Painting: “Voices of the Ancients” by Judy Wright.

Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air,

that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege, that we are miraculously, part of something, rather than nothing.

~ David Whyte


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Restoring breadth and depth

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Photo: David Campbell

I’m at that (re)writing and editing stage where everything is closing toward the end in a work I’ve lived with — that has lived with me — for lots of years. The simultaneous presence of joy and fear can be nearly overwhelming, some days.

This has reconnected me with the power of my relationship with my thoughts — the very narration of my days. And revisiting an insightful article by writer Steve Almond reminds me of what’s missing in much of writing these days: an effective narrator. It strikes me that I need one personally, just as much as my writing does.

In the cultural shifts of the last decades that turned many into viewers rather than readers, “we’ve lost our grip on the essential virtues embodied by a narrator: the capacity to make sense of the world, both around and inside us”, Almond writes. Narrators serve the role of portraying big things, conceptually: how individual fates collide with history. More than just awakening readers’ sympathies, they help enlarge their moral imagination as “they offer a sweeping depiction of the world that helps us clarify our role in it”, he says. The perspective that narration offers helps us make meaning of a story, and of our lives, and also find a sense of place for ourselves in the scheme of things.

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Photo: Kathy Gilman

In times whose only constant seems to be constant change, we need narrative more than ever, even as it’s fast disappearing. While publishing gets downright pedantic that writers “show, don’t tell”, a well-developed narrative and its vital contribution to a story, like nutrition in a diet, becomes endangered through ignorance and oversight.

Narrative is as essential in human life as purpose is. It’s the one thing that, when time is shrinking, spinning, rushing past us with ever-increasing speed, points faithfully to what is timeless. We don’t need it to spoon-feed us, naturally. But we do need its signposts.   

Almond notes that media has created increasingly passive audiences, able to absorb and react, but not to imagine. That’s a pretty low (survival-based) level of human experience. And, accordingly, the focus of a lot of current writing is on the instinctual aspects of human beings — survival or perpetuation of the species (chase scenes and preoccupation with the sexual, often voyeuristically so).

Author Nathan Rutstein predicted this more than 25 years ago. He had worked in television and other media and authored many books when he made the observation that human society was increasingly losing sight (literally, as if not seeing it) of the higher possibilities and qualities in human potential as it grew more fascinated with and gripped by materialism, both in media and in the rest of what was called culture.

Diedenbergen_signsAlmond’s article describes the approach of most media as that of “minimizing sustained attention”, which results in a flitting, easily distracted behavior that doesn’t ever engage with any depth – becomes incapable of doing so, perhaps. That’s almost the exact opposite of what a novel (or painting or play) was designed to require and invite. Or a spiritual, contemplated life. 

Reading, unlike scanning and surfing, requires involvement and commitment, both from writer and reader. The narrator, and a story’s narration, is what facilitates this, helps create a book’s world, then lends it meaning. Many books now feel as much like packaged entertainment as most commercial television, and as unsatisfying and lacking in nourishment for our inner life. Much in publishing seems to train attention on mechanics, a shock-value, attention-getting and contrived writing style and manipulative repetition of “tropes”. A  cookie-cutter approach to more of the same. So much more of the same. Preoccupation with the lower nature, particularly if a series might be wrested from it. In order to have more of the same. Where is the room for discovery, depth, mystery? Soul?

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Photo: David Campbell

Almond describes how although some current works reach for these, “still work heroically to make sense of the world”, they find themselves “on the margins of a popular culture dominated by glittering fantasies of violence and fame. On a grand scale, we’ve traded perspective for immediacy, depth for speed, emotion for sensation, the panoramic vision of a narrator for a series of bright beckoning keyholes,” he says.

We’ve bartered away the riches of our indwelling higher nature, what brings meaning and depth to life, for the indulgence and absorption of our instinctual one. In a way, that is the only aspect of human being that seems to get the attention and focus now, perhaps with a thin veneer of the intellectual applied over it, or emotion that’s dealt with mainly in sentimentality, hyper-dramatization or other superficiality.

Narrative, and the meaning it serves, can restore the breadth and depth of human experience and bring it back home whole. Ennobled. True expression, in any form, and always, in its highest one, is incomplete without it.

Find Steve Almond’s excellent article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/magazine/once-upon-a-time-there-was-a-person-who-said-once-upon-a-time.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0



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Questions asked the wrong way

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Photo: David Campbell / http://gbctours.com

Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.
~ Alan Watts

The feminine is the matrix of creation.

The choice is simple. Can we remember the wholeness that is within us, the wholeness that unites spirit and matter?

Or will we continue walking down this road that has abandoned the divine feminine, that has cut women off from their sacred power and knowledge?intuition

If we choose the former we can begin to reclaim the world, not with masculine plans, but with the wisdom of the feminine, the wisdom that belongs to life itself.

If we choose the latter we may attempt some surface solutions with new technology. We may combat global warming and pollution with scientific plans.

But there will be no real change. A world that is not connected to its soul cannot heal. Without the participation of the divine feminine nothing new can be born.

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Photo: Eric Olson

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

The feminine is the love of nature, and a belief in the body as a part of nature as we see it outside in the woods or rivers.

The feminine takes time for spontaneity and slow time, honors inner reality, and gives values to feelings without brutally repressing them as “sissy” or meaningless.

Rivulet

“Rivulet” by Judy Hughey Wright

Those living the feminine way choose to do something because it’s of genuine worth, and because they love it, and can therefore put their energy into something honestly.

Whether a man or a woman, they’re guided by the question: Is this of value to me personally? Is this worth putting my energy and effort into it? Is this who I really am?

This path is different from hammering through something, even though one’s heart isn’t in it. But living from the heart in this culture takes courage.

  ~ Marion Woodman

… the soul of this world is the subtle growth of spirituality, heavenly morals, divine favors and sacred powers.

~ ‘Abdul’-Baha


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The road to reunion always waits for us

Israel 139

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

Keep knocking and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who’s there.
 ~ Rumi

Israel 142When from our better selves we have too long
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,
Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign, is Solitude!
~ William Wordsworth

Man alone is very helpless. Man plus existence is enormous, huge, infinite. Prayer is a meeting of the tiny part with the whole. The tiny part dissolves into the whole and becomes the whole.
~ Osho

” … when we are present in life, free from demands and agendas, when we allow life to unfold according to its own inner principles, we open up a doorway again between the worlds. Within our consciousness the inner and the outer, the visible and the unseen worlds, can come together and speak to each other, and our split apart world can become whole again.”

 ~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee


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Optical delusions on perception’s changing path

 

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Photo: David Campbell / GBCTours.com

GLEANINGS FOUND HERE AND THERE:

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his 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 its beauty. 

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Photo: Saffron Moser

~ Albert Einstein 

What mindfulness slowly brings to our understanding is how much our experience is shaped by our minds.

To have that insight as a personal experience rather than something one reads in the growing body of scientific literature on the subject is transformational.

It loosens that reactivity which can trap us in a limiting loop, and allows for very different responses which can manifest in all kinds of ways – greater creativity, more empathy, more patience, less judgment.

~ Madeleine Bunting

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Photo: Nelson Ashberger

 

If the doors of perception were cleansed,

everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.

 ~ William Blake