Sunday, 23 January 2011

We walk in beauty

Post by Ian
`The world doesn't belong to us, we belong to it. Always have, always will. We belong to the world. We belong to the community of life on this planet - it doesn't belong to us. We got confused about that, now it's time to set the record straight.`~ Daniel Quinn, Providence
`Remember that your tracks are one strand of the web woven endlessly in the hand of god. They're tied to those of the mouse in the field, the eagle on the mountain, the crab in its hold, the lizard beneath its rock. The leaf that falls to the ground a thousand miles away touches your life. The impress of your foot in the soil is felt through a thousand generations.` ~ Daniel Quinn, The Tales of Adam

The poem,
Leisure, starts: `What is this world if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare`. In the modern world, we have very little time to stand and stare - time to appreciate and reflect on what we have. All too often, the refrain of our lives is now ... we do not have the time. How did this happen? We have numerous time-saving devices that are meant to free us to enjoy more time, not less. Yet, we now spend more time in doing than ever before. We spend so much time on social interaction by proxy that we can suffer withdrawal effects should someone take our Blackberry, or iPhone, or other communication device away from us. We do not now have the time to stand and stare.

So, what do we miss? Anything? Well, we miss the stillness and silences that can offer insight and revelation. We lose our centre and, lost in the day-to-day chaos of our lives,
the centre can not hold. Unless we make time to appreciate the stillness and reflect, we are unable to regain control and capture some of that stillness for ourselves. We substitute social interaction by device for real social interaction, because it is easier and quicker to do so. We willingly isolate ourselves by placing ourselves in a silo, locked away in our own world so that we do not need to interact with the worlds of others' ken.

In the doctrinal Christianty of my background, people wait for the second coming of the Christ. They wait for a future time of judgement and trial, after which there will be a new world. This world is a mere waiting place where you can prove your faith before being accepted in to heaven. Buddhism casts the Earth as a place of suffering, a situation to escape from using the techniques laid out in the Eightfold Path, with the promise of Nirvana - the escape from the cycle of suffering. Other religions share this view of the world. We don't belong here. The world is just a place that humans live in temporarily. Humans are the only beings gifted with souls. We continue.

I don't believe this. I believe that we humans are but one species on this world possessing the divine spark. All life shares this divine spark. We happen to have the gift of reasoned thought, and have a responsibility with this gift not to misuse it. The spirit we know as God is everywhere, in everything. We are all children of God. We can choose to follow the example of Jesus, the son of Joseph who was chosen by God to bring a message to his people. I believe that, by following this example, we can bring about the Kingdom of God. It's up to us. As Stephen Lingwood put up on his blog a while ago:
What if God is waiting for us? Waiting for us to pay attention to that divine spark within, and take the responsibility on ourselves for living well. Maybe we need some action to go with that faith (James 2:14-20).

Native Americans used to say that one should tread lightly on this earth, for your actions should be considered to the
seventh generation. We are lucky if our actions are considered at all, let alone with this degree of forethought. Now is the time to regain the centre and the stillness. Time to reflect on our actions and how they may impact on our children, to the seventh generation. We must give up dominion, and become equal partners with those we share our world with. Maybe then, we will have a future.

Luke 17:20-21: Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.’

Oh, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the wind, Whose breath gives life to all the world.
Hear me; I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.

~ from The Great Spirit Prayer translated by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887


  1. These are magnificent sentiments Ian, from which we can all learn.I agree with you that faith also needs actions.Others must judge us of course but hopefully if we profess to have a faith it will be revealed also through what we do, say,imply.

  2. I too appreciate the fine sentiments, Ian, but I feel that we are snookered in this age in which we live from standing and staring and appreciating. The irony is that I could be out for a lovely countryside walk now instead of sitting over the computer, working through my emails and commenting on blogs. Modern technology has taken over our lives and I hate it! Graham

  3. That was a great blog. I'm sure few Unitarians would quibble with any of it. I certainly wouldn't. It does take my thought forward though, on two fronts. One is on the nature of our awareness and the other is on the nature of our time here on the physical plane.

    Awareness of beauty, I think, is dependant on many things. Yes you have to take the time, but you also have to make the right connections. We are all in the presence of beauty in most of our daily circumstances most of the time. Being outside, in the midst of spectacular nature is very desirable, to allow ourselves the capacity to appreciate it is a gift. However, even the most open of us miss much. I have talked to mathematicians who wax lyrical about the beauty of mathematical equations and proofs. To microbiologist that are totally absorbed in the micro world. In fact many scientist see unimagined beauty in their specialised fields that others have no cognisance of. The same could be said for the world of music, Especially for those who take it to levels beyond the realms of the average person. the lists is long. I could mention artists, writers, designers, carers craftsmen/women. All could say you are blind; you do not see the beauty I see. Revelation can come in the heat of intense activity as well as silence; and maybe in the journey from one to the other.

    Sometimes it is tempting to to associate beauty with a sense, or a spiritual experience or intellectual inspiration: when usually it is a combination of all. A moment of wholeness.

    We should not beat ourselves up for not being apart of someone else's connections or experiences. We should not measure ourselves against the perceived knowing and awareness of others.

    It may be a better option to connect more fully with the beauty that surrounds us; in our surroundings, our relationships, in our activities; rather than miss what we have, for what we think lies somewhere else. Then when the time is right, allow that connection or wholeness to lead us to appreciate wider experiences. For the Native Americans that means embracing the Great Spirit and everything in the natural world as part of their culture and every day life, with no separation. We may learn from it, but it not necessarily right for us.(even if it seams enviable)

    This leads to the idea of where do we look to to find the true reality of life. I do not believe you have to make a choice between the physical world or an afterlife. As a spiritualist as well as a Unitarian I place value on both. For me they are a continuum(just life). We belong here while we are here and should squeeze every bit of joy, every experience, every lesson out of the time we have. It is not something to escape from it is a privilege. The kingdom of God is here not a destination. I do not believe we leave it when our bodies fail. Though it may seance to be a kingdom in term of human perception, just as God is not 'humanly' confined. For me life simplies continues. But belief aside, our actions as much as anything else creates us; and if there is any possibility that what we create we take with us we should think carefully with an open heart and with all the wisdom we can find, before we act. Do we less create ourselves if God did not encompass reality? Either way we best make the most of life, and if we love our children leave them the greatest opportunity to do the same.

  4. We still have a certain amount of free choice Ian and Anonymous Graham. You do not have to slave over the new technology to the extent that you hate it !!
    There is plenty of time to 'stand & stare' - try going out on crisp frosty night (well wrapped up) to gaze at the stars and get to know their names.See the planets and get familiar with their movements through the heavens. They are our friends if you take time to appreciate them. Keep a sense of 'Wonder'
    and feel connected like Daniel Quinn. Get a life !!

  5. Thanks, Free Spirit, I shall try and do as you say. All I know is that sitting at a computer takes much of the time I used to spend reading and listeninig to classical music.I do think, though,that as long as I have time for other people, looking after those less fortunate than myself, that my life is not entirely being wasted.

  6. Well said Graham !! Always nice to know that free advice has been accepted. Have a nice day !!