Sunday, March 28, 2010


I look out the window. I see the fresh green leaves of the willow penetrated by the sunlight, glowing with the exuberance of illumination. Not four strides away another tree extends its first leaves. Red now but soon to be green, each vein ending in a translucent dew drop. I can feel the spirit of nature. I can see it. But what of it? Am I a parasite feeding on it beauty, consuming its joy? How do I add my joy back to the spirit as it pulses through all things? I am not satisfied to simply consume, for then all is as well without my presence. How do I amplify the-spirit-that-runs-through-all-things with my own as it passes through me?

I'm done reading The Tracker. The later part of the book Tom struggles with what all his training is good for. Is it just a overblown hobby, or is there some other purpose. He finds his purpose while tracking a lost mentally challenged 5 year old living in a 30 year old body. I'm a little worried about where my quest will lead me. What will I find my purpose to be? Will my spirituality and day job be distinct? What about being a dad? How important is the pursuit of spirituality, what is it worth?

Blend Into Invisibility

An omen is nature favoring us with a remarkable event, the glow from which makes our life different for a while. The fact that a mechanical explanation can be found does not mean its the only one, nor does it cease to be the work of some larger and more encompassing form simply because the tools it uses can be understood.
To me this holds a bit of the answer to the tension between the spiritual world an science. I tend to favor the scientist, but am keenly aware that a scientist leans heavily on what they feel they already know. This can turn into persecution and ridicule when something accepted as fact is challenged. It also pulls weight for the spiritual side saying there is no reason the super natural can't use tools that are known (or mechanical). Also interesting is the temporary glow from an omen. I think this temporary-ness is why Christians are encouraged to not trust emotions, though more often I interpret it as not wanting us to think to much about it and not trust what our minds and bodies tell us is right, what feels right.

Passing unobserved is indistinguishable in practical terms from being invisible.
We practiced every technique, but it was not until we learned to blend in mentally with the woods that we became as good as invisible.
Only when we are mentally in tune with nature and the world around us do we blend in. This says a lot about the power of our mind. If we don't let our minds truly engage with what we are focusing on we aren't at full capacity. It kind of goes along with
What ever you find to do, do it with all your heart.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Preferred Indifference

So we learned an indifference to the cold so strong that we eventually came to prefer it.
An interesting perspective, embrace something uncomfortable long enough and you can come to cherish it. If we choose our discomfort carefully it can makes us stronger, distinguish us.

I read earlier in life a suggestion that when training or performing athletically to feel the pain, the discomfort. Embrace it and feel how it ebbs and flows, observe how it interacts with your body. I've on occasion managed to achieve this, and our bodies do it naturally. When I am out of shape it is hard to keep working out, the desire to stop is huge. After I've reached a certain threshold, I crave the burn of well worked muscles (though I'm not sure how I repeatedly loose that craving again).

Then I was suddenly aware that I had been lying there without thought or sensations other than just being.
He mentions that while he was "just being" he was also aware of every sound every movement that happened around him. My wife read a book called "Flow" which (by reading the cover) I believe also describes this heightened focus, a nearly out of body experience. I've felt this sensation on a few occasions, most recently while rock climbing (though recent is very relative).

So what do these insights bring? How does a heightened awareness and at-one-ness factor into our life, our spirituality and our connection with "all-things"?

After seeing the fish he intended to catch for supper, he began his ritual to show his respect and intent, not to kill or hunt, but for sustenance.

Things were as they should be. The woods moved in its complex rhythm, things mated and bread, ate and were eaten. The whole was sustained by the interlocking network of its parts.

We don't often see the interlocking network of parts in modern life. We almost never get to participate so obviously in the cycle of life. We spend our lives avoiding risk and danger. Our own death is one of our greatest fears and the death of another is met with mourning and sadness. Our food has its own lengthy and untraceable network beginning after the "natural" part of the ingredients growing ends. At what handicap does this removed-ness put us when seeking to see the "spirit-that-moves-through-all-things".

Glimpses of the "spirit-that-moves-through-all-things" are amazing. Are the heightened states mentioned above the result of directly connecting with that spirit? Should our life's pursuit be chasing that connection or is that a wonder that will be experienced from time to time along our path of some other pursuit.

For now I will lay this to rest and go in the pursuit of rest.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Swallowing Mysteries

As my first exploration into spirituality I'm re-visiting a book I read when I was much younger (though I can't remember when). A conversation with friend sparked memories of how profound an effect it had on me, though I couldn't quite recall why or what the effect was. It starts of beautifully with this passage:
The mystery leaves itself like a trail of bread crumbs, and by the time your mind has eaten its way to the maker of the tracks, the mystery is inside you, part of you forever.
Without pause he continues on:
The tracks of every mystery you have ever swallowed move inside your own tracks, shading them slightly or skewing them with nuances that show how much more you have become than what you were.
I find this to strike a chord in my soul that echoes loud and long. Every experience we consume skews us and shades with subtle texture. I'm resisting going on about these great lines for fear of sounding like that inevitable moral at the end of a self explanatory children's story.

Some other gems later (p24)
We learned whatever we made important.
This is so true in our own lives. We will learn what we make important. But what will we make important?

The mice were good medicine. They led beyond their mystery to the mystery of the way the lives of the animals were interdependent. They led us to an idea of how the whole fabric meshes together...
When you can see that pattern, you can see the spirit-that-moves-through-all-things instead of merely catching isolated flashes of its motion...

When we really pay attention, absorbing all that is around us, the many action-reactions we see the interconnectedness of it all. When we zero in and fixate on one aspect, one item, one point we miss the spirit-that-moves-through-all-things and just catch a flash of motion.

One more phrase that sounds good, but will take more to affirm or discredit for me:
Nature would never hurt us if we acted rightly toward her and did not panic.
Sound a bit like the God that will always protect us unless... Nature is full of life-cycles of its inhabitants. Even if those things "hurt" weren't acting rightly toward her, those "hurt" are necessary for the others to survive. Those not "hurt" are fully capable of hurting others, acting right or not. There certainly are opposing forces in Nature.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Journey Begins

It's been a while since I've addressed my spirituality. I've gone for some time turning a blind eye to it, but recently I've been confronted with it and realized the void.

How does one turn a blind eye to spirituality? Accept the practices and behaviors with out questioning and meaning. Recite them and rehearse them to avoid being "called out". This means going to church, saying the canned things you say in church and ignore the ridiculously irrelevant things the pastor feels fit to talk about for 30 min. It is not spending the energy to understand what is relevant. Avoiding a discussions about why I think the safe church topics are irrelevant.

What confronted me? Several things actually. My wife and I have began an effort to emphasize right brain thinking in our lives. For my wife its her new found love of photography. As a gift over the Holidays my wife bought me a drawing set after looking through my college sketch pad and the journaling I did along with it. I went back over my journal and remembered my flirts with the art of seeing.

Our family has started getting to know some acquaintances from college and discovered we get along quite well. These friends are very interested in spirituality, but not in the traditional Christian Church sense. He is an atheist but has moved from militant to agnostic. They are also very involved in a movement. Discussions have challenged me to articulate what resonates with me.

The lack of effort expended to define my own spirituality has left me with little more than feelings about what my stance is. Starting drawing again has re-awakened the need for the spiritual part of myself to be nourished. I have two kids that are going to church school and church and absorbing all those things I ignore at church.

So what will I do about it? I want to rediscover what resonates with me. I want to pull myself back from the technical left-brained details of my daily work and start looking at the wholeness of the environment, the people, the relationships, the meaning of the work. I want to read up on philosophies that resonate with me and that seem to articulate what bugs me about "the church".

Here is my plan:
  • Embrace drawing when I can (it takes a lot of un-interrupted time that is hard to come by with kids).
  • Read literature about spiritual things that interest me (and commit to finishing the books I start).
  • Write about my experience here.
  • Keep an eye on the right-brained aspects of work.

For my first reading assignment I'm re-reading a book that I realized had a strong influence on my when I was younger and addresses spirituality along the way: The Tracker by Tom Brown Jr.