Being Human

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Cave of the Hands: artwork created up to thirteen thousand years ago. Image: Mariano CCAS3.0

Shadows dance in the firelight. A hand, warm upon cold stone, where many other hands have rested. The breath of the shaman, blowing ochre, staining the wall at this moment of passage. Rite of recognition within the tribe. Kinship and continuity indelibly inscribed upon the body of earth

***

The restaurant is quiet now, many of the tables are empty.  Sunset gilds the weathered stone of the window frames and casts ghosts of a beautiful day across the table, igniting the ruby heart of the half empty glasses. The woman tapping away at the little keyboard glances at her companion. There is an expression of deep concentration, emotions flitting across the unguarded face… She smiles. He is lost in the story, seeing it played out on the screen of imagination, reading from the heart, feeling the joy and grief of the characters. The book in his hands is a dream made concrete, the ephemeral made real. Her dream, his reality. From the back cover her own face smiles back.

***

An old story plays out in images on the flickering screen, acted to perfection by movie stars, long dead perhaps, but here, forever, captured in an unending moment. The story may have no basis in reality… or perhaps it does…but the grief of she who weeps for her son is that of every mother’s tears. Alone in the dark, tears course unstoppable…rivulets of pain and compassion… from cheek, to throat, to breast… back to the heart that watches, a mother’s heart who knows that grief. The acted emotion evoking a response, a mirror, in the reality that observes the fantasy.

***

Faded photographs, a tapestry of images… instants in time captured by the lens and brought back to life by the sight of the heart. Memories carry presence from the now to the then as eyes read the story of the past. The emotions are not then, but now.

***

Paint rushes across canvas, swirling and curling like dust-devils in the heat of summer. You can feel it beating down on the unprotected head. Energy flows in every line and curve…passion made visible, calling to something deep within your being

***

The music begins and you are lost in images born of sound and emotion, carried upon wings of imagination shared across centuries, heart to heart with unspoken words….

***

School dinners. It is not the same smell… but so close you are instantly transported back to childhood, feeling once more all the small details of that moment, recalling the taste of a favourite sweet, perhaps, or the comfort of a touch. For a scintilla of conscious time you are a child again.

***

You will have noticed a bit of a theme going on here… images, brought to consciousness through the senses and evoking emotions that are not images or memories in themselves, but, here and present now. Many spiritual paths over the ages have advocated a leaving behind of the things of the flesh, divorcing ourselves from the senses and focussing our attention firmly upon the higher and ethereal realms of spirit. I cannot, nor I think, can anyone say with any certitude, except that of personal conviction, whether this is the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to go about things.  There are and have been mystics of all faiths and paths that have embraced this concept with their whole being and who have come to a personal enlightenment. There are others who have embraced the world and all it offers and who have also reached that level of spiritual beauty.

For me, personally, and for the Silent Eye, we have chosen the latter path…or perhaps it is closer to the truth to say it has embraced us. The idea of turning away from the world, for me, implies a separation from the Divine, by whatever name we choose to call It. The world in which we live, the bodies we inhabit, the creatures, great and small, with which we share this planet… our home… to me are all expressions of the One.

Even as a child the idea that we should turn from ourselves… away from how we were made, the tools we were given with which to experience the world… seemed odd. Though I was raised in a rather unusual family with wide ranging religious and spiritual beliefs, I live in a nominally Christian country, went to Sunday School and learned from the Bible. It says, quite clearly, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:27. KJV.  In fact, in the same phrase, the point is hammered home  thrice.

Now, the Sunday School child, with the child’s simplistic viewpoint, could not quite grasp how, on the one hand, we were being taught that God was omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent… yet had obviously got it all wrong, because we had to be ashamed of our bodies and their functions, deny human emotions and senses and try to become perfect. Surely, I thought, if God had created us in His image… like a mirror… we were already perfect in His eyes?

Ah, said the Sunday School teacher, smiling beatifically… but there was the Fall… the expulsion from Eden…sin….

Hmm… thought the child, rapidly learning to keep quiet… but didn’t God create the Tree, the Apple and the Serpent too? Maybe He knew what He was doing? Maybe, they too were part of His plan, His perfection?

Decades passed, symbolism and abstract thought were engaged upon and explored, beliefs changing and evolving as life added to the store of knowledge and understanding…yet this idea always stuck, unshakeably, in my mind.

Maybe, just maybe, the things of this earth were meant to be experienced and learned from? And perhaps the senses we use to move blindly and often blandly through life were the gateway to a deeper understanding? And when I realised that it is through the senses that we touch the deepest emotions that began to make sense.

There is a difference between being a slave to the senses and using them… the same difference perhaps between using opiates for medical purposes and for the recreational escapism that ends in addiction. The one offers release from pain, the other dependency.

There is no guarantee that the reality any of us sees is the same as that seen through another’s eyes. We all see the sky is blue… but how can we tell if what I see as the colour I call blue is the same as the colour you see? We agree, by consensus, that it is blue.. and can replicate our own version of blue in other things… but who is to say my ‘blue’ is not actually your ‘green’… just called by the same name? Our perception of the world is unique and personal, but we have a consensual language with which to share experience.

Perhaps the only area where we can touch each other’s reality at a deep level of true understanding… where we can communicate heart to heart, wordlessly and in all simplicity… is through the emotions… and our emotions are accessed through the senses. Think about that; without the physical senses we could not feel… indeed, most of the language of emotion describes sensation… we feel, are touched, we hurt….

There is another phrase from the Bible that also stuck, “…a sword shall pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” Luke  2:35

Emotions are universal, timeless and understood by all. Once experienced they are part of us and we recognise them in ourselves and in others. Empathy, not sympathy. Compassion answers grief, eyes meet in joy, tenderness meets need… a wordless understanding that transcends all other forms of communication. Who among us that has experienced the heart-piercing sword of loss cannot feel it in another? The thoughts of many hearts, indeed, become clear when we allow ourselves to listen to our own.

Maybe just being human can bring us closer to each other than we realise…across time and space, across all political and geographical divides, leaving an imprint of emotion that others can understand, miles and millennia apart.

24 thoughts on “Being Human

    1. We work with them, so have to find the words, Robbie, one way or another. Many people share this perspective, from many paths… it crosses the artificial barriers of religion and looks deeper into the human story.

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  1. I believe that it is our intellect, memory, imagination, and ability to choose, that makes us human–all these things are also part of God’s divinity–which makes us part of God’s divinity as well. It’s the ability to choose that often gets us in trouble. God’s world is beautiful and we’ve been given our senses in order to appreciate it, but as you stated, we can become a slave to them. Wonderful thoughts, Sue!

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    1. My beliefs may have taken some less orthodox directions since childhood… but I have never been able to comprehend the logic of denying our place in Creation or labelling an entire species as sinners. I’d like to think a Supreme Being would know what He/She was doing…and I’m pretty sure we are too small, in the grand scheme of things, for any of us to have all the answers. But perhaps we can glimpse them sometimes.

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  2. I’m going to be re-reading this post many times. So much here! So many questions about WHY we’re here as well as which is the best “HERE” to be in. I go back and forth between embracing reality and then realizing that reality may only be a dream. Another dimension? As you say, my blue (reality) could be completely different than your blue (reality). But isn’t it fun, us humans, trying to figure it all out? ❤

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    1. I find it an endless source of joy to contemplate these questions, Pamela.
      I wonder if it matters at all that reality may be only an illusion? If our consciousness is here, experiencing it, there is purpose to our presence… and that holds true whether this reality is ‘reality’ or ‘dream’. xx

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  3. Life is ever a total amazement every day, and we must be ready to be open to whatever it brings us, for there is no guarantee that the next day will be as today might be, good or bad as some might label it. Since I finished my first level of study, so much has brought so much into my consciousness that it is almost overwhelming. I am perhaps seeing people in and around my life not as I want to see them, but entirely differently – perhaps for the first time, who they are or seem to be and what their motivations are or seem to be. I am seeing that many of us perhaps do not like where we are or what we are doing, but we wait for someone or something else to change it all. People look for ways in the universe to save them from themselves. I have never been so surrounded by this in my own life with those I have thought I knew, and who now seem like strangers I have never

    When I read this wonderful writing, it was as though I was seeing in a mirror some of my own thoughts about life and things in the Bible, etc. As a child, I too questioned “the original sin,” first of all not understanding how having free will could be a sin, and secondly, how could a little child be born in sin when it could not even speak the word? I questioned the aspect of doing what we chose as always being wrong, and how a mere snake could represent sin and evil. Yes, I have seen the snake in many stories and myths, and it is always given an aspect of what we designate as evil. But so are other creatures, both four or two-legged, in their actions and beliefs. And we are always “evolving.” I read the other day how chimpanzees, who have lived primarily from fruits of trees and fish perhaps sometimes, are now smashing and eating tortoises they find and also going to “war” with other chimps or other primates, and devouring those they manage to kill. And another instance of certain sharks eating shore birds now.

    So this whole world is in a state of flux. I read how an underwater volcano that lies deep in the Pacific Ocean, is moving 4 – 6 inches a week, and how it is very active, but still underwater, and it was even referred to as pregnant earth. What is happening to our once stable earth? Have we abused it to where it is beginning to react with a major change that may prove disastrous to us all?

    So what does all of this mean for those of us who are human beings related to our consciousness? I have not had time or energy this past few weeks to write much, but my mind has been in overdrive. I see that instead of each of us trying to see the same blue or the same kind of tree as the other sees, we are fighting to have them see the way we see things so to speak via analogy.

    We are not trying to understand others who perhaps do not speak the same language, live in different cultures, have different belief systems, skin colors or eating habits, but rather seeing them as our “enemies.” “I fought the enemy, and the enemy was me.”

    I thank you so much for this thoughtful message, and like others of us, I will read and re-read this again as it has so much meaning for me at this point in time. I am working on some decisions that I need to make and follow through on, and this is very helpful. Thank you again for everything now. Anne always

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    1. Thanks, Anne. I think much of the problem you speak of lies in our perception of the earth as being a fixed point in our lives, rather than accepting that it too will evolve and change as it ages, just as we do. I wonder if, like us, nurture will affect its behaviour…and how much of that nurture is in our own hands.

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      1. This is one of the best responses I have heard about this earth and the universe as well. It is interesting that this topic came up when it did. I get a lot of free subscriptions, and I am not sure which one I read about this in, but the author was talking about pregnant earth. It has something to do with the volcanoes and earthquakes, and he was telling about how there is a huge island with a volcano under the Pacific Ocean and it is not only exhibiting volcanic activity constantly – major activity, but it is also moving 4 – 6 inches a week, the whole island. So yes, I think that the earth is evolving, and I wonder too if we are perhaps too late from all the damage that has been done in the world and is continuing to be done to the earth and to its creatures. Botswana, where a large percent of the elephants still live, has opened up for hunting elephants once again. How sad that the world cannot even hear what the earth is trying to tell us. Yes, I like your response very much. There is so much to wonder about in the world it is mind-boggling.

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