Thursday, April 14, 2011

To Learn From Animal Being

Nearer to the earth's heart,
Deeper within its silence:
Animals know this world
In a way we never will.

We who are ever
Distanced and distracted
By the parade of bright
Windows thought opens:
Their seamless presence
Is not fractured thus.

Stranded between time
Gone and time emerging,
We manage seldom
To be where we are:
Whereas they are always
Looking out from
The here and now.

May we learn to return
And rest in the beauty
Of animal being,
Learn to lean low,
Leave our locked minds,
And with freed senses
Feel the earth
Breathing with us.

May we enter
Into lightness of spirit,
And slip frequently into
The feel of the wild.

Let the clear silence
Of our animal being
Cleanse our hearts
Of corrosive words.

May we learn to walk
Upon the earth
With all their confidence
And clear-eyed stillness
So that our minds
Might be baptized
In the name of the wind
And light and the rain.

~ John O'Donohue
from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

Monday, April 4, 2011

Essential Nature

Ultimately all suffering is caused by the pain of separation from our essential nature. Just as a tree or a bird in the wild has a natural expression of its potential, we as humans have the potential to be intimately connected to our own natural expression. We also have the gift of being conscious of ourselves in the process. This gift of consciousness can lead us through the conditioning of our minds to our natural state of being.

Much, if not all of our suffering, is generated by our conditioning and beliefs that separate us from who we are. The threats that we continually face as we go through our day are usually not a threat from the world around us, but our own internal dialogue and beliefs about how life should be.

There’s nothing we have to change about ourselves. In the sense that I am this type of person and I need to more of that type of person, or I am deficient in these qualities so I need to improve myself to be more like that. What is really required is often just a reorientation to our experience.

In almost every instance the family we are born into is unable to provide the unconditional love and nurturing we need to grow in a natural way, so we find ways to adapt. We adapt to our early family experience by using the capacities we have available to us at each developmental stage to, not only survive, but to get as best we are able the love nurturing and attention we need and desire to grow. We also develop feelings of deficiency – if I was more like what my father expects me to be like I would be worthy of the love I don’t receive.

Conditioning permeates all areas of our lives: our beliefs about food, politics, morals, the roles we need to adopt, the purpose of life or goals we need to aspire to, and most significantly, what our relationships should be like. How should I think and act towards others, how should they treat me, how should this person, friend, partner, husband, wife, child, behave towards me.

The bottom line is that through all of this conditioning and trauma, we loose touch with our essential nature.