673rd Week: Living with “Wide Open Eyes”
Recently, I read an article by a man named Michael Edwards, about the mysticism of living with “wide open eyes”. Edwards is a social activist, so the meat of the article focused on social transformation. The part of his writing that related to these experiments in conscious living had to do with what happens to the quality of life when we experience ourselves as part of a collective life filled with mystery and beauty.
Here are some of the quotations drawn from that article:
“…spirituality can give us an actual experience of the unity of all things. This experience, when nurtured as a constant practice, roots equality-consciousness, non-discrimination, non-violence and reverence for all people and the earth deep into our core. Here is the American writer and mystic Thomas Merton describing how this happened to him:
‘In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the centre of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness.’”
This article expresses yet another way to more deeply explore and experience how important and helpful it is to cultivate the sense that we are constantly connected to everything and everyone else. When we do this, we have an opportunity to explore it as a way to more deeply connect with the sense that we are actually never alone, that we are part of something larger than ourselves. We might have moments of loneliness but, under that feeling, we are always connected within what Joanna Macy describes as “the web of life out of which we cannot fall.”
Also, when we are attuned to a perspective that focuses on oneness, interbeing, and interdependence, we open ourselves to the unexpected moments of beauty and connection that are part of moving through the world willing to be even more aware that everything around us is alive and expressive in unique and sometimes surprising and wonderful ways. The meaning we make of these moments emerges from the frame within which we hold experience, and a “oneness frame” offers a recognition that we encounter life – the same life that lives us – all around us.
I remember a time when I was kayaking with my sister and we found ourselves visited by dragon flies of bright turquoise and vivid red. Remembering that these visitors carry their own intelligence and purpose in life, the morning on the lake became a time of feeling a deep sense of connection to them. They stayed with us, coming and going, for most of the morning. Then, when we noticed the eagle’s nest up high in a tall tree, another moment of magic emerged. There was a feeling of enchantment not only in seeing the eagles and their nest, but also in noticing more deeply the towering quality of the trees and all the greenery growing along the edges of the lake. Nothing unusual was happening. The only added element was that we kayaked with “wide open eyes” and savored an opportunity to have time to notice and feel connected to the life around us.
For this week’s experiment, I invite you to see what happens if you ramp up your ability to move through your world with “wide open eyes”, and to allow and cultivate a dynamic sense of wonder at the diversity and creativity of the life that’s all around you. Whatever your world view, however you understand the world spiritually, or from whatever map of reality you follow, play with orienting toward surprising moments of beauty, as well as moments of feeling unexpectedly connected to the life around you.
Also, as always, be sure to allow and track any mixed feelings that may arise, as they are part of your wholeness. There’s nothing you necessarily have to do with these feelings. Often, acknowledging, naming, and feeling them without adding in anything extra is enough to allow them to arise, move through, and move on.
As with all these practices, there’s no right way to do this one. It’s one more invitation to explore how the quality of your own consciousness and beliefs powerfully shape the quality of your inner life, moment to moment. Remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to allow judgments to arise, move through, and move on without any need to do anything to or about them. Judging is a habit we all have and, as Jack Kornfield has said, it’s not about never judging. It’s about being aware of what relationship and response we have to our judgments. Allowing them to move on through is an efficient and effective way to relate to this age-old habit.