Communication of higher awareness.

Has a new kind of uplifting perception or intuition ever come to you? Perhaps a sense of wholeness or timelessness, or an encounter with a side to reality that goes beyond the world as we usually know it. A short moment when you sensed that something new has been revealed – something usually hidden? Communication of such illumination can be problematic.

Trying to remember this sort of deep experience can be difficult because ordinary language seems unable to capture the essence of the thing. Perhaps you would love to convey something of the positive nature of what you have gone through to your partner or close friend. But how do you do this? How does one communicate something which seems to be different from common life?

communicationVerbal and non-verbal communication

You may talk about and show your feelings using tone of voice and facial expression. But this is only a communication about how you have reacted to the experience rather than saying anything about the experience itself. You may try to use the language of religion or mysticism to describe it but often the words used by these are off-putting, ambiguous or carry connotations that are not what you are trying to get at.

In communicating your experience one approach you might try is to write a poem. This isn’t quite as daft as it seems. A lot of the world’s mystical writing is couched in verse using poetic licence to convey impressions and ideas. You don’t even have to use poetry. Prose can also employ imagery to communicate something of a deeper side to existence.

In choosing imagery you might try using simile or metaphor as follows:

Using image of mountains for communication

For example perhaps your extraordinary consciousness showed you a higher and wider perspective on things, in which case you might refer to it as a ‘mountain-top’ experience e.g. glimpsing a higher aspiration in life for yourself which might become the summit of your achievement and worth all your effort to climb to the peak. We speak of ‘faith being able to move mountains’; and so if you believe in what you are doing, you can overcome any obstacle.

Using image of olive oil for communication

Alternatively, your moment of higher awareness may have been a sense of kindness and harmony. This perception might be conveyed in terms of olive oil. Don’t we speak of ‘pouring oil on troubled waters’. This image reflects a concern for resolving discord and conflict so that calm and agreement is restored. A small act of kindness can ‘oil the wheels’ of social interaction and make things run more smoothly.

Using image of lions for communication

Your special illumination may have been catching sight of that intangible thing we call courage – perhaps having a foretaste of the kind of confidence needed to turn round and face one’s personal difficulties. Using an image of the lion may express this positive feeling, for we speak of being ‘brave as a lion’ – a creature which has every reason to be a confident being, as it is, the top predator in its natural habitat. To ‘beard the lion’ would indeed be to confront danger using divine power within.

Using image of pearls for communication

Or perhaps you have had a deep experience of inner safety and stillness. The pearl comes to mind. The pearl is valued for its lustre. We speak of an important piece of advice as a pearl of wisdom. Protected by its oyster shell, it had laid quiet and still on the sea bed. You may come to value the perception about divine protection you gained in the quietness and stillness of your meditating mind.

Using image of the sun for communication

One of the most inspiring of all inner experiences is to feel in the presence of the source of all life – the love and light without which nothing that is good could exist. This is a consciousness of cosmic energy originating and sustaining not only our physical life but also our spiritual one. The light and warmth can go out of our life when we lose a loved one. We also feel in the dark and cold when we lose a sense of the spiritual light and heat which is the source of our soul. The sun with its heat and light is a wonderful emblem of this power house for all our creativity and growth.

Swedenborg on correspondence

The well known maxim ‘As above, so below‘ means that the elements of our higher consciousness correspond to the things of nature. In his exploration of this esoteric idea, the spiritual philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg shows in a lot of detail how our higher thoughts can be communicated in terms of the natural things of the world.

Furthermore he maintains that because natural things – such as in the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms – are created by God, they can reflect what is good that comes from God.

“The whole natural order is a theatre representative of the Lord’s kingdom.” (Emanuel Swedenborg)

Corruption

However, one needs to bear in mind what he also says about some parts of nature which can represent a corruption of what comes from the Divine Source – hence the existence of what is noxious, poisonous, or otherwise harmful as well as that which is nourishing, delightful, and protective.

Communication of images from animal kingdom

Alive and moving, animals in a good sense such as the lion he says can represent human desires including higher feelings.

Communication of images from vegetable kingdom

Swedenborg maintains that plants, which have growth but not movement, like the olive tree, can represent what needs inwardly nourishing and enlivening in human beings and thus potential stages of their spiritual growth.

Communication of images from mineral kingdom

There are non-living natural things such as mountains and the sun which neither move nor grow. He says these can represent spiritual resources for human nurturing and growth and thus both the ends and beginning of human endeavour.

In other words images of natural things can convey to others our higher awareness of spiritual reality.

Copyright 2015 Stephen Russell-Lacy

Author Heart, Head & Hands

Posted on9th November 2015CategoriesConsciousness, Latest post, Meaning of life,Mystical experience, SymbolismTags, , , ,

Disappointment: a blessing in disguise?

disappointment
Blessing in disguise?

The disappointing terrorist attack of 9/11 was clearly not a blessing in disguise. Evil got its way and many people were very badly physically and emotionally hurt. Nor in any conceivable way can many a disappointing setback be described as a piece of good fortune even if tiny morsels of something positive might be salvaged from such events. On the other hand sometimes a personal trouble can have a unexpected opportunity for a helpful outcome. For example occasionally a bout of illness can help a patient re-appraise an unhealthy lifestyle. The difficulty is in recognising what might possibly be a blessing when your expectations are so severely dashed against the painful rocks of reality. Here are 5 questions that will help you look for any blessing in disguise after you suffer a disappointment.

Was the disappointment due to your unrealistic expectations?

Sometimes when you think life is predictable, the universe has other plans. You may be taken by surprise, if for some reason you complacently suppose calamity will always affect somebody else and not yourself. Yet people do get injured on the roads in large numbers. Nobody can tell what is around the corner. Who can say one won’t get run over by a bus tomorrow?

You may assume you always get your just deserts. Don’t we reap what we deserve? But actually this is may not be the case. A drunken driver or a badly maintained aircraft can be the sole cause of mayhem to innocent passengers.

Was the disappointment something of your own making?

Not everyone learns from their own mistakes. The painful inflamed tendon in my arm was frustrating as it forced me to rest and ration my work of splitting logs instead of overdoing it everyday. It was my wife, who rightly pointed out, that I needed to learn to pace myself in re-using muscles and tendons which have grown tight and weak due to under-use. Apparently it is a common problem for gardeners to rush out in the spring and strain their backs after a winter of inactivity.

Did the disappointment show greater effort was needed?

I got excessively cross with my young grandson who was refusing to abide by the rules of the board game we were playing. Sometimes adults forget just how noisy, untidy and demanding they themselves were when children. My emotionality spoiled what should have been a leisurely family occasion. I have now resolved to try harder to be more patient with the boy whilst still remaining firm about the rules.

“What keeps me going is a constant sense of disappointment with what I’ve already done.” (Robert Wyatt, rock musician)

If we see a setback as a challenge then it can be a stimulant for bigger effort.

Did the disappointment broaden your horizons?

Say you were to suffer a major misfortune such as losing your job through redundancy, or your spouse through marital breakdown or death. Then you would be faced with a huge challenge. Perhaps having to find a livelihood doing a different kind of work. Or having to cope as a single person with no partner to intimately support you face life. In either case you will probably be obliged to get out of your comfort zone: deal with new kinds of situation: learn new skills: meet new people.

“Disenchantment, whether it is a minor disappointment or a major shock, is the signal that things are moving into transition in our lives.” (William Throsby Bridges, senior military officer)

If you happened to have a tendency towards self-pity here is an opportunity to stop adopting the victim role. This role seeks to focus on blaming something or someone else for one’s troubles. If you are such a person you will have a chance to learn instead the role of the survivor and adopt the courage that is required to tackle the unknown and experience the new confidence that comes from success.

Did the disappointment mean you need to put your hope in something beyond yourself?

When you feel like you don’t have the physical, mental, or emotional strength to pull through, you are challenged to possibly put trust in something more than yourself – whatever that may be.

” As someone who has faced as much disappointment as most people, I’ve come to trust not that events will always unfold exactly as I want, but that I will be fine either way.” (Marianne Williamson, spiritual teacher)

This reminds me of the biblical story of Jonah. His conscience told him to go to do a job of work but he didn’t want to do it and so he journeyed in the opposite direction only to end up in the sea and swallowed by a whale. In his distress he called to his God for help, vowing to make amends for his disobedience. The whale vomited him safely on to dry land.

Conclusion on disappointment

I would suggest there is no such thing as bad luck. Facing and dealing with setbacks is a part of life for all of us.

If you will, you can choose to find only the negative in your disappointment.

“When disappointment festers in our soul, it leads to discouragement.” (Joyce Meyer, Christian speaker)

Or you can look for possible blessings in disguise.

“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” (Henry David Thoreau, transcendentalist poet)

Emanuel Swedenborg, spiritual philosopher, claimed there is a loving Divine Providence, under whose rule, bad things are allowed to happen, if some lessons of life can result. According to this view, your time here on earth can teach you how to be more spiritually mature and thus experience a deeper long-lasting happiness.

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” (Martin Luther King, Jr., Christian activist)

Copyright 2015 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Posted on26th February 2015CategoriesConsciousness, Latest post, Meaning and inspiration, Meaning of life, SufferingTags, ,, , ,

Does the brain fully explain consciousness?

brain fully explain consciousness
The increase in green fluorescence represents the imaging of local translation at synapses during long-term synaptic plasticity

According to neuroscience, the brain fully explain consciousness. Sensory impressions of what we see and hear cause electrical activity in the brain. There is evidence that when a new memory is formed, new proteins are made locally at the synapse — the connection between nerve cells — increasing the strength of the synaptic connection and reinforcing the memory. The journal Science reveals that neuroscientists have captured an image for the first time of this mechanism.

You may wonder that if memories are chemically and electrically stored in this way, does this mean that your brain is the be-all and end-all of your memory and that without your brain you would remember nothing after death? Is it true that the brain fully explains consciousness?

It would seem so. After all, many brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s can cause memory loss, as can brain injury.

Brain a necessary but insufficient cause?

And so the human mind is often explained away as nothing more than the workings of the brain. Neuroscientist, Raymond Tallis, believes that the brain is clearly necessary for our having memories. But he also wonders if it is a sufficient explanation of the experience of remembering. He points out that the brain is a mechanism but the content of memory is not entirely contained in the mechanism of electrical impulses going along nerve fibres. He feels we need a bit more and suggests what that bit more is, no scientist knows.

The spiritual thinker might point out that the redness of something remembered or its beauty cannot just be due to what happens in the activity of matter of the brain but has something to do with a consciousness of mind that transcends matter. The brain fully explain consciousness?  Well perhaps not after all.

Brain as detector or activator of mind?

Wilder Penfield was a brain surgeon. His patients frequently reported hearing hazy voices coming from some strange and unknown place when he stimulated the right temporal lobes of their exposed brains with a mild electric current. Elaborate recollections and other conscious experiences did occur at such times. However he went on to say these were either automatic, as in epileptic seizures, or felt to be caused by the surgeon’s probes.  He thus concluded that direct electrical stimulation of the brain never activated the person’s mind.

A. R. Lauria, neuropsychologist, has pointed out that, for many centuries, philosophers and other scholars supposed that the brain was a detector (rather than an activator) of mind, which itself was seen as an inner, subjective state of consciousness. Like many spiritual ideas such a theory is these days seen as not amenable to scientific proof.

Personal choice

In a noisy room full of people having separate conversations, we may likely want to attend only, or mainly, to one specific conversation — not always the one we are participating in — without being too distracted by others. We can do this by focusing on the distinctive quality and volume of one particular person’s voice, and where the sound is coming from.

Divided attention is possible but the principle is the same – i.e. unattended input is said to receive only minimal brain processing. In other words, our noticing something and reflecting on it, is necessary to fix some experience or fact into the patterns of memory. Without interest we remember less.

And so it can be argued that personal choice is relevant to what we attend and thus remember. Yet for the scientist, everything must be determined by some measurable entity: like what is seen or heard, the chemical state of one’s brain or one’s genetic makeup. No room here for the notions of intention and free will. No need to ask the question ‘Does the brain fully explain consciousness?’ It’s a no brainer!

Spiritual memory

What Emanuel Swedenborg calls interior memory, is said to differ from natural memory in that it has to do not with naturally seen objects or symbols, but with abstract ideas like honesty, goodness, integrity. When you are reminded of such spiritual concepts your thought can be raised out of the world of sense perception.

An important part of his philosophy is that what merely enters into the understanding does not affect one’s character but only that which one makes a part of the love of one’s life. We need, however, a memory of spiritual knowledge to draw on if our personal growth is to be confirmed, sustained and built up.

In the end your destiny is all about what was true in the way you inwardly responded to life rather than by the false external memories you erect for yourself to rationalise such intentions. Swedenborg claims that how we each actually lived is a fixed internal memory found in our individual book of life. Writing in the 18th century he said:

“Man has an external or natural memory, and an internal or spiritual memory. Upon this internal memory is inscribed everything in general and in particular that he has thought, spoken and done in the world from his will, and that so completely and particularly that no detail is lacking. This memory is man’s book of life, which is opened after death and according to which he is judged.” (Swedenborg E, Divine Providence 227)

Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems