Silence, Stillness, Snow
This series of posts, for a good time now, all involve simple descriptions of subtle qualities of Earth; that is, those qualities that continually reveal, if we attend Nature with an open heart and a quiet mind, the Spiritual Earth. One way of imagining these descriptions is as the speech of the Grail. Think of the Grail as the continual descent of the divine worlds into Earth and the continual spiritual/soul birthing from the depths of Earth resulting from this union, with the heart-centered human being as the bridging of the worlds.
Snow fell here in north Texas on Sunday, a heavy, wet snow with an accumulation of three or so inches. Snow falling, large flakes, coming down rapidly, as if being attracted by Earth. She welcomes them. When snow comes, so does the quiet. Snowing opens the Silence, the doorway to the spiritual Earth. The realm of Silence is like a permanent, invisible embracing of Earth that surrounds everything without exception. Developing the capacity of entering into the Silence is an act of preservation of the physical-soul-spirit of Earth. Being aware fully, heartfully, with snowing as a presence constitutes one way of awakening the bodily capacity to dwell within the Silence.
When snow lightly descends, particularly as large, rapid flakes, we get to see the very presence of the realm of the Silence coming into being as the descent of the great geometry of the sky; snowing crystallizes the moisture of falling flakes, becoming the invisible geometry that permeates the very structuring process of the creating of Earth from the spiritual realms. The geometric radiance of each snowflake reveals that the Silence is like a communal effort of the angels invited to Earth by the depths.
The doorway of the Silence also opens the other way as the doorway from the depths of Earth, opening the upwelling of the Stillness. The Stillness comes from a region a thousand times deeper than the Silence, probably from the very center of Earth. In the gnostic myth of Pistis – that is, ever-faithful Sophia, Sophia remains at the center of Earth, as a help to what must be faced by humanity.
It is as if the falling snow attracts the pregnant Stillness from below to come and join into union with the Silence. The realm of Stillness is like a vast open, inner space of pureness, as inwardly pure as the purity of snow. Full, easy breathing arises as all anxiety and tension is dispelled, just like taking a long walk in the snow.
The Silence and the Stillness, their very existence, does not depend on snowing and snow, but they both utilize the garments of snow to draw us into them, and reveal these two most significant qualities of the Spiritual Earth. Once bodily noticed through these gifts, the bridging function of the human being can be noticed through tending these two regions simultaneously beyond the times of their enhancement of the winter.
A practice for entering the Silence: with eyes closed, place attention at a specific region at the periphery of the body, say the outer edge of the left arm. When attention is placed there, it feels like being lightly touched, as light as a snowflake touching the skin. Then, put attention into that place; it is like taking attention and putting it over there. The Silence opens immediately, and it is indeed like standing outside in a gentle snowing. A spontaneous smile comes, like being visited by an angel – perhaps that is why children love lying in the snow and moving their arms and legs, making the outline of an angel who has ‘landed’.
A practice for entering the Stillness: The Stillness is like the blanketing of Earth with snow, looking toward the sky but coming from below. Walking in the snow is also walking within the endless depth of the Stillness. You can get there by first entering into the Silence, and then moving attention down into the infinite inner space of Stillness that opens into the spherical place without boundaries. The body inwardly tingles, a smile again arises spontaneously.
Space as the Sea of Love
Typically, when we perceive the incredible beauty of Nature, the immediate connection seems to be with a particular appearance – a sunrise or sunset, a mountain scene, deer, a forest, a flower, a bear, trees – though, certainly, in these moments of pure beauty, a sense of wholeness is experienced, even when we focus on a single natural presence, for example, berries on a tree.
Still, I’ve noticed something else occurring in moments of the experience of the beauty of Earth, in Her expressions as Nature. The medium of the perception of beauty is always the surround of space. We are not usually at all aware of sensing or perceiving space, perceiving through space, yes, but not the seemingly empty space itself. The seeming emptiness of space appears even more apparent indoors, for example, in a room.
As I sit here, in this room, my office, many things reside – desk, chair, tables, piles of papers, computer, lights. And the floor, ceiling, and walls of the room itself. Within this space, when something is noticed, it seems as if seeing, for example, simply senses something wherever attention lands. I look over and there is my phone, sitting on the desk. The space around the object typically goes unnoticed as it seems to be pure emptiness.
Space is far from empty.
Try visually sensing the space within a room, placing your attention there rather than on an object. As you simply allow this to happen without thinking about it, just relaxed and noticing and staying present with the space, the space does register as a sensation – at the place of the heart. An actual emotional tone registers, a subtle but nonetheless powerful emotional tone, best described as the presence of awe.
Something else happens too. For example, when I’m sensing the space of the room, the solid aspects of the room – such as the wall and the ceiling, as well as the corner and a part of the adjoining wall begin to merge into the space and what was before seen as simply objects appear as if moving into the space, and the walls, floor and ceiling too, now also partake in the sensed emotional tone of awe. I use the word “awe” here because a strong urge to draw back with an intake of breath occurs – the same kind of occurrence when we notice something of great beauty in nature, milder perhaps, but exactly the same tone.
The sensing of space does not occur only through the eyes, but through the whole-body eyes.
We experience whole-body seeing as seeing-feeling. I don’t see an object when I see the space of a room; rather, all of sudden feeling comes pouring into the body, that is, feeling is being seen! This feeling is not ours, it is Earth-feeling, registering bodily.
The things that are within that space do not disappear, but they do change their appearance—they now feel at home rather than those lonely isolated objects that are scattered around.
When I am aware of the sea of space, when that sea of space is noticed, it is feelingly noticed as the presence of Love. Space is the “sea of Love” – that is, endless, borderless, unending depth, undulating, always present – present as connecting, as love always does – love makes connections, love is the connecting. Love is also the presence of peace. As the world becomes more and more chaotic and more filled with meanness, space becomes our refuge. It is not ‘spacing out’, but rather spacing back into the place of the occurrence of Love. Earth is the planet of Love.
Everything said here concerning space as the sea of Love can, of course, also be experienced outside. I chose to utilize a room as an example because a room—as everything on Earth, is of Earth, and sometimes, quite often in fact, Earth offers Herself to be re-shaped, in this example it is the Earth taking the shape of a room.
Earth as Teacher of the Radiance of Love
In each post describing intimacy of heart with Earth, the qualities of intimacy differ in relation with respect to what expression of Earth as Nature we are tending. Being in heart-relation with a tree differs from being with a mountain, or a flower, a stream, woods, and so on. Wholeness and multiplicity are not exclusive of each other; exclusiveness only occurs when living logically/mentally. It does not occur when we are living intuitively. And, we get caught in a kind of unconscious self-centeredness when we try to hold on any such experience of Wholeness/particularity as if it were now some kind of a possession. If anything, the possessiveness needs to go in the opposite direction – that is, surrendering to these experiences rather than making them into yet another product to have. Moments of “Earth bliss” tend to immediately turn into a commodity.
The subtly here centers on how difficult it is to stay with the kind of intimate experience that EARTH AS LOVE offers to us. Earth-Love may seem to be an entirely new category of love; we know of sexual, romantic, self-love, spiritual love, but Earth-Love may seem new. It is not; rather we don’t recognize the term nor the experience for what it is because all of humanity has undergone an “adaptive remodeling”, a putting on of a kind of permanent shell of supposed superiority to Nature, and thus to Earth. We remain quite unaware that everything, absolutely everything, without exception, is poured out to us as the Holy Grail of Earth, which we take and use as if She were a compilation of possible bliss experiences. We risk missing the chance, maybe a last chance, to embark on a different way of life, a life of intimacy with divine nature.
Her LOVE is so great, so outpouring without end, that there is no moment that She withholds emanating Love. You may be saying – “oh yes, how about the earthquakes and the tsunamis and the fires and the hurricanes and the tornadoes and the floods – that does not look like love to me.” She does not do that to us. These phenomena are the necessary adjustments needed for her to remain in balance – and we are responsible for the imbalances.
How can we speak of the Divine Love of Earth? Love of this nature is a(r)dor-ation. Earth a(r))dores us! A(r)dor-ation is something way beyond worship; with worship there is an unbridgeable cleft between two lovers. Earth is the Teacher of a(r)dor-ation, that is, Love without separation between the Lover and the beloved – ever! We experience this Love every moment, awake or asleep, but are cold and removed lovers, which does not stop her from trying to teach us to live within the earth atmosphere of Love, spirit-soul-body with spirit-soul-body, seamlessly.
Those small moments when I try to speak of being within Earth rather than on top of Her, those are only small tastes of a(r)dor-ation. Tastes of pure feminine receptive Love. When we experience such moments, they are moments of Her loving us! The task of this turning age is that of opening our hearts with ardor into ardor.
I found someone who says all this in such a beautiful way that I want to offer his words here, knowing that the author is speaking from within a remembrance of people (the Manichaeans) who lived this love-intimacy with Earth – in the 10th-13th century. It is amazing how this imagination is so significant for this time:
"Manichaeans had developed a spiritual natural science with their clairvoyant way of thinking, which could recognize divine nature in visible, concrete existence; in the radiant fire of the long breath of the sun, in the hastily waxing moon, in the expansive deep nature of the human soul, in the many voices among animals, in the embracing cloak of trees and plants and in the various displays of light, fire, air, wind, and water. The halos of glowing stars dying off in the heavenly sea were seen as the openhearted scripts of reverent wakeful angel beings. The entire cosmos was bathing in a refreshing light of the divine spirt and the Manichaeans approach the earth we walk upon cautiously, like Mary Magdalene. (pg 31)
(Reference: Manichaeism as the Christianity of Freedom and Love by Roland van Vliet).
Living in such a manner is not a matter of going back or renewing something from the deep past. The memory helps, for sure. But truly intimate presence with Earth now has a new requirement. This kind of intimate love also has to be enacted between people. This way of being with Spiritual Earth cannot be a private experience nor held that way. The good news of where we are is inherently communal, and as we discover where we are, what we do will change drastically.
Ever-Green and the Tree of Life
Sequoia, this magnificent being who I introduced in the last post with a simple practice that awakens the body to the immortality of wood, now becomes for us, embodied tree-awareness. Such awareness takes many forms, as there are many kinds of trees, which, as a whole, form the image of the Tree of Life. Connection with Sequoia forms awakened bodily connection with the Tree of Life.
This season honors the mighty Ever-Green. Her beautiful canopy-form inspires a particular uniting of Earth-Heaven through bodily feeling the immortality of Earth.
In the great gnostic tradition, Sophia, who together with God, in the beginning before beginnings, feels the fullness of the desire of birth-ing and traverses the universe to complete this desire. She creates Earth-as emanating, expressing her own divinity, AND she creates the humans who have the purpose of helping Earth re-unite Her with the Divine, which does not necessarily mean going back to the spiritual worlds, as if Earth is not of the spiritual worlds. Humans are here as bearing the awareness of Earth as immortal.
The way to hear gnostic, that is, soul stories like this is through the soul rather than an alternate creation story as if it is incompatible with the biblical creation story. Soul knows with immediacy while cognition typically “knows about”; in this sense soul and gnosis go together.
The little practice last time gives an example of being within our destiny as human beings. Earth is not complete without soul-intimacy with humans and humans are not complete without soul- intimacy with Earth. Earth, without the internally felt soul presence of the humans is left vulnerable to destruction.
This season, particularly during the time of the winter solstice, gives the special opportunity of a most important inner intimacy with a particular form of tree, the Ever-Green.
Outside, in a relaxed state, with attention within the heart, notice the form of an Ever-Green tree, with a point at the top, expanding toward the base. If we notice such a being, having stopped our thinking for a few moments so that the body can feel the movement of the forces, a particular sense of the immortality of trees awakens.
The top of the tree becomes like a point – but that motion of the point does not stop where the form of the tree stops – or tree tops. The energetic, subtle, spiraling forces continue – and are home when they come to the center of the Great Central Galaxy, the spiritual place, the home of Sophia, the Soul of the World. Those forces are also returning, coming downward through the tree and into the ground, going through the roots of the tree where a transformation of forces occurs, and Earth forces move up through the tree to the tree-tops and out into the Great Central Galaxy. The fullness of this making and expressing Life is given in the emblem of The Tree of Life in the opening picture of this post.
The bodily experience occurs within the physical body, which is more fine and refined than the material body, but still felt as sensation, inner sensation, registering within the finer nerve connections, a registering within the invisible physical body rather than the visible material body.
I have not read of this pattern of ongoing creating which begins to awaken within us the bodily-felt wonder of the immortality of Earth. This description came through contemplative experience. This experience also gives body and awareness to what is meant by The Tree of Life. This immortality is recognized, for example in the form and movement of the Kabbalah, and also by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
The world-wide willful destruction of trees as well as their destruction brought about by climate change and yearly increasing forest fires, reveal how the Tree of Life remains permanent, though has to continually adjust the Whole to do so. The recent and ongoing destruction of the Amazon forest, for example is now releasing some of its kind inhabitants which are likely to reduce the human population considerably, for the Whole must remain Whole. Innumerable viruses are losing their homes with the destruction of the forests – and they are finding the way to the humans.
Throwing more and more money at climate change cannot produce the needed readjustment of the Whole. The endeavor of the technology of ecology, as it is being imagined, is actually destructive. For example, so-called scientists, who are not scientists at all but rather merely the technological workers of pure materialism, have now completed what they call ‘barcoding’ of all of nature – all the plants, all the animals, and all of the sea creatures and creatures of the air. BARCODING, which means the willful alteration of the Whole by making it seem to be just a vast collection of various parts, which can be digitalized and treated accordingly—that is, taking one species at a time and making alterations, completely in the absence of life-as-Whole.
Just imagine, if every human could feel a bodily, soul, spirit connection with a tree – that would immediately restore Wholeness.
Within Earth’s dreamtime, trees are immortal. I came to this phrase “Earth’s Dreamtime” after working with the practice posted last time – going to sleep slowly and waking up slowly. When I do this simple practice, I found I dream every night, but the nature, the place of the dreams is very different than usual dreaming. In these dreams there is “my” presence within the dream, but not the usual kind of ‘dream observer’ within the dream, in Archetypal Psychology, called the dream ego. Tentatively, I feel these nightly dreams are also happening during the day, all the time. Earth’s dreamtime. Attention to the dreams, just noticing them, begins to change our sense of Earth.
This practice that easily becomes a conscious habit, puts us on the return to being in harmony with the rhythms of Earth – in this instance the day-night-day-night rhythm of Earth. Gradually, once this rhythm is reestablished in the body, who is also of the substance of Earth, we can begin awakening to bodily presence with Nature’s expressing Earth.
As a ready example, this astounding immortal tree in the opening photograph. All trees are immortal, and a few, like this mighty sequoia show this to us. The symbol of the Tree of Life is not only an imagination. Its sensory-perceptible presence shows us the living reality of this symbol.
This tree, in numerical time is 3200 years old. She is 247 feet tall and 27 feet across. This tree was 700 years old during the height of ancient Greek civilization, and when Jesus lived, this tree was already 1200 years old.
Notice the size of the man at the base of the tree and the man high up within the tree.
This living instance of a Tree of Life can be called a prototypal presence, indicating that working prototypically within the BECOMING of Earth continues the creating-emanating process rather than assuming creation is all done and over. When we assume that creation is finished, we change Her active sacred service into being a slave in servitude.
Working with the Tree of the Photograph
Enter into the Silence by closing your eyes and being still and notice that regardless of what may be going on – though it is better to stop thinking – there is the presence of a vast infinity of The Stillness and The Silence. They are presences and experiencing them does not have to do with the cessation of sound. Then place your attention at the interior of the heart.
Within this state of presence, gaze with the photo for a few moments, feeling Her presence within the heart. The moment that happens, you find this mighty presence and you are now forever together. All you need to do, at any time, is let your attention go the center of the heart and gesture “Tree” with your lips. Notice what bodily occurs. A breath of awe arises; Sequoia can be felt as present, and it is more like you are within Her rather than She is within you. One cannot help but feel Her-as-You, bridging Earth and Heaven. Your body has changed. The uprightness of being an Elder enters and is present. This, being an Elder, has nothing to do with age, though the inherent Wisdom of Age helps.
You will find that you want to be with Her many times during the day --- and Her resonance within you also extends beyond body, and with just a slight noticing --- something else happens. Wherever there is wood you feel the living being of wood as sacred serving. All the wood in your dwelling, even the wood that forms the basis of your house and is now invisible can now be felt as sacred presence of pure kindness. All dwelling are inherently sacred temples of Earth, waiting for our presence to activate them.
We are never really removed from Earth, even though She seems to be undergoing vast destruction. She is. Her spirit is not, and if we become intimate with Her as Spiritual Earth,
we may have found a path of renewal that will begin to be visible.