Intuitions and Illuminations

Intuitions and Illuminations

We explore the interior realm because it is what we humans are for—consciousness, the marvelous voyage. (Tarrant, J. 1998/1999, The Light Inside the Dark: Zen, Soul, and the Spiritual Life, HarperCollins: New York, p.6)

A few days ago, I didn’t know what I wanted to write other than that I wished, hoped, to write some thoughts from some source that wasn’t the rational, logical mind. Perhaps, to hear the poetry of the soul— mine and of the cosmos. So I started this task with the tool closest to hand, the mind with its raven’s nest lined with ragged and worn memories, and once shiny thoughts. I hoped I would somehow drift out of the nest and into the voice of the heart, soul, or spirit. Those forces of the interior realm. What comes when we are truly awake. What is felt in the larger mind of the body, the heart.

It is hard for me to shift from the rational, doubting, logic-creating mind. Exploring the interior realm can take us very deep, leave us full of doubts or longings.

The heart, soul, spirit triad are believed by some to be three distinct archetypes that bring the same messages in different forms, shaped by different sources. The heart’s communications come from listening to our feelings and emotions; the soul brings ideas and sensed meanings from the quirks and puzzles of consciousness, often packaged in the happenings of the day, in what crosses our path. The spirit’s faint calls are heard in experiences of “the in between”, of sensing more than the eye that saw and the bird that sang, but some relationship of being to being; of somehow transcending our present consciousness and feeling life open wider.

Grasslands National Park
the wind through the grass, the immovable rock

It seems easiest for me to believe that the forces of nature call to us; awaken us to beauty, remind of us powers beyond our own. There is spirit in those forces. Soul in the old tree and the eyes of the wolf. Many voices, perhaps one truth. Offered to us in the silence of the mind or the roar of the wind – the depths of the dark and the bend of light.

And shouldn’t hearing and responding to the inner voice involve curiosity, imagination, humour, and desire; perhaps as much or more than intention, resolve, logic, and commitment? A life time of seeing, hearing, sensing, responding, and waiting to unearth, stumble over, or invent what happens next. The inner voice—a part of a very human life.

I have talked to a few people, more commonly, read from books of poetry or prose in which the author describes the experience of recognizing the heart, soul, or spirit voice. I think it is heard, because those same people believe it exists.

I want to believe that too. Hoping that in the belief that there is more to life than can be known directly, concretely; the invisible might become discernible; the murmur more distinct. Perhaps the spirit whispers too faintly and I am tuned to a louder volume. Perhaps, the soul’s desires are most often ignored, not felt by the heart region of my body. Or contradicted by my seemingly reasonable mind.

It is in the hours of the night that I ask the soul and spirit questions. “What’s wrong?” or “What should I do?” or, “What are the limits of love? Is love inherent in the cosmos—existing in all moments and places and beyond time and space?” No voices answer, or they do, but the responses seem so simple, or so crazy that I don’t believe in them being other than the usual machinations of my mind.

In poet and activist Gary Synder’s view, they might come from a trickster –one so gifted in upsetting everyday beliefs that they are either not heard or not believed. Kabat Zinn might say the messages are there and they come from the heart and the practice of being still and aware.

The task of hearing the soul’s voice seems to be one of going deeper—it arrives as a voice that might easily contradict what we think we know. What we feel pressured to do. The spirit’s voice is perhaps heard as a call to fly higher. What do I know other than I need to be silent, I need to be calm, I need to be outside. Perhaps equally, I need to be in turmoil, or utterly foolish, or enraptured. Willing to live in the extremes life brings and also able to stop and be still whether inside or out.

Once, I heard a voice that did not seem to be my own, say, “Sandra, you are loved.” I did hear it, but not because it was spoken out loud. I immediately called on the inner skeptic to discredit the source and the message. Perhaps, other messages have been missed which means I didn’t or couldn’t shift from the analytic, logical dominance of brain mode to the possibilities of the heart and imagination.

Freeing the imagination is so difficult for me most times. I trod on. It isn’t so much that I need more poetry, more music, more stories, more light and dark, more trees and tiny bugs; as I need to hear, see, feel, with a sense of possibility. A sense that there is a message in their somewhere.  Always a message. And more messages.  And let the answers be riddles. And flashes of light. And sudden darkness.

I am nervous of people who think they know. I want a life with so many meanings it makes me dizzy and a life with moments of respite that feel anointed by something other and benevolent. Blessed times when in returning, I feel renewed. If the holy is anywhere it is in the everyday. Breathe, walk, look, ask questions, believe in everything you can. Oh to voyage far, wide, and deep.

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