THE COLORS OF SPIRIT: A Dialogue with Laurel Adams
(First, for context, here’s my 2010 NDL article, followed with comment by Laurel:)
As very young children we are told bedtime stories. Even if our parents never actually read stories to us. We take in all of our life-story at the nipple of life, so to speak. And what we are fed adds not only flesh to our bones, but ideas to our head. From birth right up to the age of three or so, our naturally serene and quiet self becomes thoughtlessly aware of our body not as a separate entity, i.e. “my body”, not even more simply “the body” but as a warm, fleshy extension of Self. We revel in the total sense of aliveness conveyed by the five senses which, at this early time, do not belong to a defined person. As this pure, open consciousness, we are swept up into life without preferences, without needs, without wants –everything is somehow provided to keep us alive and happy.
Our sublime contentment is altered, if not shattered, when our sixth sense – mind – kicks in. At first, mind does not know what to “think” about all this life that’s going on around it. In fact, there is no sense of a separate self cognizing a separate world; all is one and the same. No time, no space, no distinction, no thing. But gradually, naturally, innocently and mysteriously, a sense of a “me – in – time” emerges. And once upon Time, our individual story begins. We learn a new sense of self. A self that now has a name, a body, an identity. All of this is imparted and absorbed in the course of growing up. Many of us can recall some aspects of this incorporation of our environment into a composite person we call “ME” This “ME” is accumulated and stored in a MEmory which will be constantly consulted to interpret “reality.” And as our taste for life unfolds, we learn to like certain flavors and to dislike “others” we now consider plain vanilla. We are fed these flavor preferences primarily by our parents, who, inturn, were fed the same tastes as their parents’ parents. On and on, the human story is told in time.
Our new, strictly conceptual self , as understood and interpreted by what we now call “my” mind, moves out of our earlier, parentally “programmed” phase, into a pre-conceived life and world. Our “story” becomes the story of what’s going on. But, for some, our story seems somehow never quit complete – something is missing! And so our Search begins, and we are dragged – sometimes through a fragrant garden, and sometimes over miles of rough road – to find the missing part we want to be happy like we were before Storytime began. For some of us, “want” turns to need, and we are forced to abandon our efforts to “keep it together,” to cohere these disparate parts that somehow never add up to a whole. As viewed from the perspective of Cognitive scientist Francisca Varela: “ Our microworlds and microidentities do not come all stuck together in one solid, centralized, unitary self, but rather arise and subside in a succession of endlessly shifting patterns.” And the Indian spiritual sage Ramesh Balsekar further adds: “ What we do is project a self into our “actions” because by so doing, we think we account for the way our actions seem to hang together.”
Day after day we pine away, until One day dawns, and we realize that we are not our story. Never were and never could have been. We glimpse our real, whole Self, and there’s no doubt about it! We see that we are that which reads from behind and before every Story ; that whole which contains all stories. That Oneness which illumines all life.
And that self-same sun never again sets. The bedtime story about who we, once apon a time, thought we were, has a truly happy ending.
Thank you for publishing freely what is truly FREE. I began reading Real, Whole, Free and Happy as a matter of curiosity, stayed because I rather enjoy a Screwtape Letter wit/content and continued on because I found much of my collective life experience unfolded in the wordless words I, too, realize are mere pointers. As an artist, it is quite refreshing to find written brush strokes that mirror those of colour and non-colour, of form and formlessness…ones that dare to stroke at Being, every so fleetingly… Thank you again for the moment. Gratefully, Laurel
James (editor NDL) says:
Thanks Laurel for your eloquent depiction of my word-smithing…truth to tell, it comes not so much from mind (that often used to be blocked) as from a greater inspired place that is rarely blocked.
As an arts guy myself,I appreciate how difficult it can be to attempt to express the inexpressable, and yet we are moved by formless spirit to find some form that bears hints and whispers of immortality.
Love, and all will flourish!
It is such a delight when mirroring occurs…and, “a thought connects to a thought” as my Aunt Jill used to say. Certainly, feel free to publish anything I have shared. Thank you for your imagery that touches the heart of my radical journaling. Whether I paint with words or watercolour, I long to touch the colors of Light, to explore the relationship between light and darkness, form and formlessness…the Colours of Spirit! Thank you for sharing your archives…it personally validates an aesthetic path that is both familiar and well traveled and reminds me once again that there are no coincidences in the Oneness I call Source. All is well. With gratitude, Laurel
The pen and the brush (as are the saucier, the garden shovel, the scrub brush for that matter) are one for me. When, one day, I awakened to the fact that the body I was conditioned to call “me” was but a channel where Creative Energy could meet energy to rendezvous, play with, Live in, Love and flow through …I could finally set about the surrender to the Moment and the Great Undoing. Call it Grace, Beauty, Universe, Humility, Love, God…the labels stream on unendingly because they are poor containers, too unrich in Paradox…but, IT freed me from the insanity of “knowing” and threw me into Unknowing. What a rich feast…the patterns of many dyings…successes, fear, suffering, silence, pain, Fear, illness, beauty, Gratitude, loneliness, aloneness, words, Silence, music, aesthetics, FEAR, GRATITUDE, LOVE, …SILENCE. The hand-in-hand journey with the Beauty of my Love experience is the only thing I can offer as near to reflecting Truth, having reached a “certain” age, having also… “looked at life from both sides now…”. I find your writing style, experience base, and open sharing to be personally validational as well as enjoyable. Onto your call for Truth seekers’ explosive words…(although TRUTH defies such containment, but you already know that)…here are some favorite “fingers pointing at the moon”:
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this “emotion” is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder, or stand rapt in awe is as good as dead. His eyes are closed.” ~Albert Einstein
“The teacher is always quiet during the test.” ~Anonymous
“Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guiltiest of lust and sinne.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked anything.
A guest I answer’d, worthy to be here:
Love said, you shall be he.
I the unkinde, ungrateful? Ah, my deare,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, sayes Love, who bore the blame?
My deare, then I will serve.
You must sit down, sayes Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.” ~George Herbert
“On a dark night,
Inflamed by love-longing~
O exquisite risk!~
Undetected I slipped away.
My house, at last, grown still.
….O night, that guided me!
O night sweeter than sunrise!
O night, that joined lover with Beloved!
Lover transformed in Beloved!
…I lost myself. Forgot myself.
I lay my face against the Beloved’s face.
Everything fell away and I left myself behind,
Abandoning my cares
Among the lilies, forgotten. ~John of the Cross
Songs of the Soul..excerpts, translation Mirabai Starr
Yes, the best was saved for last! Enjoy. Laurel