Discovering inner health and transformation
Lucy seeks and shows affection in the way she nuzzles up to me. She meows gently and quietly — not stridently and persistently like the un-neutered tom who visits our garden making a thorough nuisance of himself.
I often have on hand a glass of orange or lemon squash to sip from. But if she thinks she will get away with it, my furry friend will not hesitate to jump up on to the coffee table to have a quick drink — just too lazy to walk into the kitchen where her bowl of water is always available.
Another thing — the soft chairs in our hall are full of torn fabric where she sharpens her claws even though I have placed a log of wood conveniently outside the kitchen door for her sole use. Yes she has her faults and definitely needs to change her attitude!
But is she capable of change? I haven’t seen any signs of what I would call a social conscience in her makeup. No contrition at all when I tick her off. She looks at me as if I were just exercising my lungs. Animals of course learn how to gain rewards and avoid punishment. But no public prosecutor would take an animal to court on a criminal charge. Cats are known to be self-willed. But we don’t blame them for doing their own thing – for following their natural inclinations.
It’s otherwise with human beings. We also have a will but is ours not one based on rational understanding? For unlike animals have we not a higher degree of mind that can see beyond the things of the senses? — into a human realm of aesthetics, moral values, and spiritual principles. Not everybody seems to recognise this spiritual dimension to life. However, many writers such as H.T. Hamblin and Emanuel Swedenborg have pointed to an ineffable realm apart from place, time and even person. An ‘eternal now’ where they found something deeply moving yet not easy to convey in natural language.
And does this higher perception not allow us to reflect on our own actions? A self-examination of which my cat is incapable. On the one hand we are free to make mistakes, rebel against what we know to be good and proper. But on the other hand we have a tremendous opportunity to face in a new direction, to turn our lives round, and even be transformed.
But why would we want to make any personal changes? One reason can be to do with wanting deeper happiness. If you have had a glimpse of something wonderful and beautiful you long to have it back.
Walking through the woods near my home, the other day, I saw a dead branch of a tree without any new growth that you would expect at this time of year – and I smiled ruefully to myself, for I felt a bit like that dead bit of wood. A bit lifeless inside. It was only when the fragrance from the wild flowers were pointed out to me that I took any notice. I saw the bluebells shooting up all over the place and heard the birds singing but they didn’t have the usual uplifting effect on me.
I have noticed this kind of negative state seems to come along when I have become pre-occupied with the wrong things. I have come to learn that personal change for me means less attachment to the things of self; less concern with what others think of me and of getting my own way in things; less priority given to bodily comfort and pleasure.
It is only when we change radio stations and switch into the things of spirit can we hope to feel enlivened and illuminated by the divine source to life. It is not surprising, that I lacked the zest for life I had previously enjoyed, for I had been turning my back on the divine within; orientating myself away from the mystery that is the changeless force within our being. Without that Christ force we cannot change. But with it anything is possible.
First published in New Vision Magazine
Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy