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Painting by F.X. Leyendecker

“To my amazement, I have heard that there are people who have never seen a gnome. I can’t help pitying these people. I am certain there must be something wrong with their eyesight.”
Axel Munthe


“‘Slow’ and ‘down’ are modes of the soul; they are connective modes, ways of keeping connected to oneself and to one’s environment. ‘Slowing downwards’ refers to more than simply moving slowly, it means growing down towards the roots of one’s being. Instead of outward growth and upward climb, life at times must turn inward and downward in order to grow in other ways. There is a shift to the vertical down that re-turns us to root memories, root metaphors, and timeless things that shape our lives from within. Slowing downwards creates opportunities to dwell more deeply in one’s life, for the home we are looking for in this world is within us all along. The lost home that we are seeking is ourselves; it is the story we carry within our soul.”

- Michael Meade


“You said to meditate like Christ. How DID he meditate?”

‘It seemed as if Maharaj-ji was about to answer, but instead his eyes closed and he sat there completely still, completely silent. It felt like he’d totally disappeared. In all the time I’d been with him, I’d only seen him sitting motionless like this a couple of times before. It was extraordinarily powerful, as if the whole universe had become silent. Then a tear came down his cheek. We were in awe. After a couple of minutes, his eyes half opened and, with great emotion, he quietly said, “He lost himself in love, that’s how he meditated. He was one with all beings. He loved everyone, even the people who crucified him. He never died. He is the atman. He lives in the hearts of all. He lost himself in love.”
~Krishna Das

The eye of the heart sees into the spirit and soul of living. It sees more deeply because it imagines. Imagination sees into the heart of things. Our stories and images put roots down into a reality we don’t normally touch in our concrete, materialistic existence. That reality lives at a depth we don’t normally have access to in our culture. Our part of the world limits its awareness to the surface of life. Those cultures that concern themselves with the inner life of humans seem a little too poetic, a little too carried away by fantasies, a bit too airy-fairy.

Our mechanical approach to everything makes us a little blind. Our reality is limited to transactions and what we can verify or else we believe nonsense that we can comfort ourselves with. It’s interesting that our Christianity has become a purveyor of hate and prejudice while our military circles the globe propping up our lifestyle and self centered worldview.

We hardly notice. This is normal life for us. I’ve long been interested in the renegades of our society because they point to another path. Artists, poets, visionaries, avatars of spirit, thinkers of all kinds speak of a different reality, something invisible but more real than the three dimensional world we are so convinced by.

Is there anything more real or powerful than love? How are we changed by seeing that everything is connected, that mutual care and concern keeps the world from exploding? How does deeper vision affect our humanity?

I think we grow by vision. The narrow transactional vision promoted by our materialistic culture makes an upside down world. All the wrong people are powerful and admired. It’s hard to know how to navigate a culture convinced that real life is “every man for himself.”

As a refugee from such a limited optic, I have fled to places where aesthetics and imagination have a bigger role to play. Adjusting the quality of my surroundings is a strategy I adopted early in life. Starting with an introverted need to shut out the noisy world, I progressed to choosing bits and pieces of cultures I liked.

Thomas Moore talks of creating your own religion from what you can find that you can really subscribe to. That’s pretty much what I’ve done with cultures that can fill in the pieces I felt were missing in my own. I’ll always be a hybrid, but that’s the point. I chose this mix myself.

Your given culture can run over you if you don’t resist. You somehow have to take control of the process of acculturation so that it doesn’t make you a drone in its service. A suit that doesn’t fit is never going to fit. I’d rather change the suit to fit me than to change myself to fit the suit.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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