January with Jane – 17. Cataclysm

It begins subtly:

the maple

withdraws an inch from the birch tree.

The porcupine

wants nothing to do with the skink.

Fish unschool,

Sheep unflock to separately graze.

Clouds meanwhile

declare to the sky

they have nothing to do with the sky,

which is not visible as they are,

nor knows the trick of turning

into infant, tumbling pterodactyls.

The turtles and moonlight?

Their long arrangement is over.

As for the humans.

Let us not speak of the humans.

Let us speak of their language.

The first-person singular

condemns the second person plural

for betrayals neither has words left to name.

The fed consider the hungry

and stay silent.

Forgetting/remembering who we are

Last night, as I was falling to sleep, I read a chapter from the book, “Gifts of Near Death Experiences” by the Linns, longtime teachers of processes of healing, integrating physical, emotional and spiritual wholeness, and authors of dozens of books. In this particular book, they look at the healing that we can receive from near death experiences. Their premise is that we don’t have to experience death ourselves to learn from it, but we can benefit from the experiences of others to be reminded into who we are.

The Linns have gathered hundreds of well-documented stories from across culture and geography from persons who have been declared dead and been brought back to life. The similarities of the experiences are stunning, the same core experiences are present—out-of-body experience, tunnel experience, feelings of profound, inexpressible peace, a deep sense of coming home, seeing beings of light, a life review (while being enfolded in such compassion and love that the experience is indescribable in human language), a reluctance to return, and profound transformation upon returning to life.

The Linn’s believe that we all can learn, grow, and heal from these experiences—remember who we are, restructure our sense of what is important, dwell in forgiveness and compassion, which are universal characteristics of persons who had Near Death Experiences. Profound mystical experiences often result in the same knowingness. My own brushes with both of these (no, I did not die, but I came so close to choosing it that Love swept in to bathe me in such a profound sense of Belovedness that I was forever Bound to Beauty… seeing the Beauty of life is another afteraffect)

The first lesson, shared in the first chapter of their book, is remembering who we are, an abiding sense of how we are loved, and knowledge of our deep unity. Upon returning to life, loving one another is not merely most important, it becomes innate, as it is Who we are and what we are made of. We are not TO Love, we ARE Love . Competition dissolves, as does the sense of separation and heirarchy. Domination, dissension, divisiveness, and desire for more (for ourselves), disappear. Those who return universally exhibit a higher sense of concern for social justice, and desire to come together to help others… to feed the hungry, which is precisely what Jane laments the lack of in her poem.

Some basic Teilhardian philosophy inspires my imagination here. Basically, Teilhard, 20th century evolutionary scientist and priest, understood the trajectory of evolution as both increasing in complexity and moving toward convergence (as things come together they naturally become more complex and that complexity and convergence allow for higher and higher levels of consciousness to manifest) in an integral relationship between the parts and the whole in which the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. But relationship is key…symbiotic unity means that as bits come together to make up more complex bits (in which function is divided–more on that later) both the bits and the whole are benefitted. (Hydrogen and Oxygen, for example, forming water, in which then all sorts of things can start to emerge at a new level) So, as Unity differentiates into parts, that same differentiation unifies into a Whole– into one larger, more complex body, which cannot survive without the parts. It is all held in and by a unifying whole.

Jane laments the realization that in this embodied life, we have become increasingly individuated, differentiated, specialized , while Tielhard is rapt by the realization. He sees that from the time the first molecules came together to form a cell and so differentiated in function– some of them taking on the role of cell wall, some as cytoplasm (nutrient and information conveyer), some as command post (spirals of DNA and RNA) etc, more and more subtle and magnificent things were able to form . And as we became more complex, with more differentiated parts, and more complex qualities of life emerged, there also emerged alongside or within that complexity more and higher levels of consciousness, (that is the capacity to choose, to move, and to have an interior life. ) Freedom, spontanaiety (no longer function like a machine), self-reflection and empathy emerge.

Teilhard’s great contribution to evolutionary thinking was that consciousness itself was seeded within the universe along with those subatomic particles as the ‘stuff of the universe’, and that in that coming together is formed a greater capacity to express that original seed of consciousness into being, in a fuller expression. I would call that Growth in Love. Though some might disagree. Teilhard also understood the movement as one towards greater fulfillment of Love. As the stuff of the universe becomes more complex it is able to hold (and manifest) to a greater and greater extent, the energy of Love.

But, as Jane has more succinctly and simply stated in her poem, that differentiation more often, from the perspective of one human lifetime, only seems to divide into us and them. We see ourselves, often, as Greater, and the other as, well, less than. As different . The first person, I, condemns the second person, You.

We, as parts, forget the underlying unity and interdependence of which we are a part. We simply cannot see the whole, nor can we appreciate how it is all unfolding.

Teilhard would say we require this tension, the friction, the heat, the folding (the cataclysm of Jane’s poem) in order to force things to come together to form something new, and that the earth is a perfect proving ground for this, even as gravity itself forced things to come together in new and complex ways. (and yes, as its poles force us apart). The great idea here is that eventually all of these independent complex structures, which are our individual human beings will also be forced by the tension that is life here on this earth, to come together into something even more advanced, into one body, if you will, capable of expressing even more the Consciousness of Love. We are each, individually, merely parts in a greater whole whose destiny has yet to be fulfilled. There is not endless space here to keep dividing as Jane fears…. the turtle separating from the moonlight eventually encounters something by the light of day. Our very closeness forces union.

That is the hope. Hope even in the divisions of our time. I like thinking of myself as a molecule waiting to join another molecule in this new, as yet unknown in potential, body of Humanity.

And, back to the Near Death Experiencers, this is also what they return having experienced, felt, known, this loss of separation from and animosity towards the other, whom they now behold as Beloved. This sense of deep connection and cooperative nature of our Oneness. This sense of being enfolded by Love.

Maybe we need to forget for a time, in order to become, in order to differentiate at all, in order for the tension then to arise, which forces the convergence into Something New, though we wish it were otherwise. In our naivety we long for the lion to lie down with the lamb too soon, for there to be no hunger, for peace to simply be — without division and complexity. Perhaps that glimpse (mystical or upon dying for a moment in time) must therefore be brief?

And yet, the glimpse is everything. The glimpse is Hope, The glimpse is Trust –that though we cannot see it, there is something seeded within us all that remembers and is moving toward that fulfillment of Love’s purpose. The glimpse returns to us the remembrance of who we are, and of what we are a part, of what is important, to the peace beneath and the hidden wholeness deep within the tension. The glimpse resets and restores both purpose and perspective, reminds us how we are to be, resets us on a course that is working towards a nobler goal than our small isolated self can comprehend. The glimpse reminds us why and what is important– puts things in their proper order…and dare I say, phylum, and family- family that feeds its members.

Because from Jane’s perspective, things are simply falling apart.

While from Mystic Julian’s perspective, ‘All is well, and All shall be well, and All manner of things shall be well’.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kidfriendlyyoga
    Jan 22, 2022 @ 20:58:56

    I love your reflection on this poem.



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