Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Ineffable Web

Friend Dean sent a query to my ideas and issues salon (Salon Penasco). His query and some of the responses are worthy of a wider audience - and perhaps your consideration and suggestions. Thanks for reading.

Dean wrote:

"There is something that exists between individuals who are fond of one another. It exists, I perceive it, but I cannot name it. I have only become aware of it, though it has always been there, since my father’s death. When I think of him there is an entity, almost tangible, that appears in my awareness. It is more than a feeling, it is an individual existence, a warm and comforting thing, familiar and reassuring, that is there whenever I think of him. I guess I became aware of it as a result of fearing that I would lose 'it' as I had lost him. But I find that it continues undiminished by the passing days.

"Now this creature is not unique to him. Upon reflection I realize that something similar in form, but as unique as the individual involved, exists for me in relation to every person with whom I am or have [ever] been close. I can still find it as regards a beloved cousin some thirty-five years gone, or with old friends who are long lost, as well as with all those whom I am still graced to know. It even exists in relation to certain beloved pets. My wife says that it is 'the bond,' and I agree that is part of it. And typically it arises along with the person’s face, but it’s still there even when the faces I can no longer really recall. It partakes of the nature of the feeling that comes when one encounters again a long lost friend and slips back into that easy and comfortable relationship, whatever it might have been, that returns unchanged by the intervening years.

"So these are some of the things that make it up; emotion, memory, relationships, bonding, but they do not name it... Can you?"

Maggie wrote:

"No, Dean I for one cannot name it. However, I, like you, feel it very strongly. Could part of it be that those of us who feel intensely part of the natural world intuit the ephemeral thread that connects everything, so those who are closest to us - be they relatives or friends - are always with us? Sometimes it almost blows my mind when I look at a stranger and think, 'you are made of the same star stuff as I am made of.' Then that person is no longer a stranger."

Rhonda wrote:

"Could the name be, simply, 'love'? And could this be what is meant by 'immortality'? The way we live on after we're physically gone is (perhaps solely, perhaps only in part) through the love we've nurtured with others. And the way we grow (and increase the likelihood of immortality) while we're here is to expand the circle of our love to encompass all of humanity, all of nature, all of the universe, which also means being the sort of person the universe loves back. For me, this presence you speak of is more 'real' in proportion to the love. Do you find it so?

Then yours truly wrote:

"Lawrence here, with a word for it, for Dean's ineffable web of memories, emotions, bonds, connections - and Maggie's notion that we are the 'same star stuff' and thus, in that way, not strangers.

"I don't want to seem too pedestrian here. Mundane? Worldly? Literal? I feel some of us [most of us, it seems] want a word that will connote the rather mystical grandness of what you feel - and maybe only a very grand word or phrase or concept will do.

"But my word sounds rather plain and simple - but then perhaps it's not so plain and simple, though it seems to cover all this. My word for what you feel is: sentiment.

"Of all animals, perhaps only humans are sentimental. Others may simply be lonely or mourn a loss, but we 'sentient' beings weave a web of sentiments through our emotional and cerebral complexities. Perhaps only we juxtapose the rational and the irrational, the present and the absent, dreams and day dreams, terror and joy, loss and hope.

"Sentiment, in the grandest sense, covers all of this and is understandable - comprehensive yet comprehensible - not really as emphemeral or ineffable or mystical as so many might like but comforting in that we can generally understand our sentiments (and certainly, as applies here, I think, our being sentimental as well).

"If we identify and articulately describe our sentiments, we're about as close as I think we can sensibly get to that feeling of grandness and at least connecting with if not exactly solving some of our biggest mysteries - the ineffable feelings that, to be sentimental about it, 'make us human.'

Any help?"

... And anyone else out there who'd like to chime in on this?


At 5/03/2005 6:30 PM, Anonymous Dean said...

Having read these replies, and others, has helped me better perceive the essence in question. For perception is the point, as it is a thing to be felt and experienced rather than intellectually understood, much as one might feel and enjoy the grandeur of a mountain view or the intense pleasure of a baby's smile (is there anything more pleasurable than making another happy, making a baby smile, a friend laugh, a lover sigh?).

I have come to realize that our purpose in existence is the creation of beauty, physical beauty, intellectual beauty, spiritual beauty (some might say emotional but what are emotions but the voice of the spirit?). And this essence of which I queried, what of it?

As I sat quietly and pondered the replies and just felt, I realized that this essence could be described as strands of the web that tie all things in the great unity, but that description is far too limited. For while these creatures perform that function, they are so much more, they are living, flowing, loving energies, indivdual and unique between whatever existences that share them. I still haven't a word but it doesn't matter. I have them in such greater measure than I had before I ask.


At 5/04/2005 5:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, not mere "SENTIMENT" my bright, but hapless friend. We are simply awakening to the the intermingling of the fullness and the grandness of our ethereal bodies on a higher astral plane, living witnesses of the creation of the material universe from the primeval, shapeless mass. We intuitively recognize, one within another, our common bond of innate (w)holiness and are reaching out, one to another for purification and communion.

:)) ;)


ps. And, honestly, I agree with Dean and Maggie and Rhonda and YOU. I like the idea of sentiment AND star stuff. Works for me. IT's real and doesn't always need a label.

Some can sense in a handshake.

Hey! We _could_ call it ....magic, LOL!!

To be "known", to be "seen", to be accepted.... it doesn't get much better than that.

At 5/04/2005 8:06 AM, Anonymous Susi said...

Reading in the March/April issue of Unity magazine, Ken Wilber’s article Contemplating Art, I found his message to address Dean’s “our purpose in existence is the creation of beauty…” Living with Dean as his long-time partner, typist, cook, friend, and all the other stuff a wife does, it is my pleasure to watch him evolve into the wonderful artist, poet, and philosopher that he has become. He never ceases to amaze and inspire me.

I would like to share some of Ken Wilber’s words with you on art (and what is great art but one form of beauty).

“When we look at any beautiful object (natural or artistic), we suspend all other activity, and we are simply aware…We relax into our basic awareness. Great art grabs you, against your will and then suspends your will. You are ushered into a quiet clearing, free of desire, free of grasping, free of ego, free of the self-contraction. And through that opening or clearing in your own awareness may come flashing higher truths, subtler revelations, profound connections. For a moment you might even touch eternity…”

I also don’t have the word that Dean was searching for. I offered the word “bond” to Dean in the beginning, but it fails to encompass the entirety of the existence we feel. So many good friends have offered such beautiful thoughts on this subject. I have enjoyed them all. It is good to delve deeply, to step outside of self and find those places where we connect with everything else. There is a reverence there that is like a medicine which heals our thoughts, emotions, and spirit. Our existence in the Universe is so much greater than our bodies, our experiences, our thoughts, our feelings. It is necessary to open up and let it all just flow through us, without needing to own or even name it. It is purely experiential. We are limited by words while the Universe is infinite. As the Navajos say, “Walk in beauty…”


At 5/04/2005 9:33 AM, Blogger Rhesus Pieces said...

I choose to call it a soul. It exists and the expression of the emotion can be called sentiment. This exists in many animals. Elephants, dogs etc... all express something we humans might call sentiment.

I'll even go so far as to propose a limit on its existance. I think this soul dissappears when those that remember you go. It's non-transferable. You get it when you develop a bond with someone. Not all associations progress this far.

At 5/04/2005 7:00 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

Seems there are SO MANY political and "news gossip" blogs abounding around and abouts, and in the meantime, my most personal and philosophical posts get the most comments - and I LIVE for comments on this blog - the barometer of my success.

So thank you to all here.

I will return SOON to make amends and amendments to the ideas introduced here.

Thanks! Lawrence

At 5/06/2005 7:11 AM, Anonymous Karma said...

The term "Collective Soul" comes to mind again and again as I read the words above.

In the last few years I have studied, some, and come to identify with the Lakota spiritual path and Gary's use of the word Spirit is dead on for me. Mom has told me the we all came from starduast and will all return to stardust, in essence we are all one at the most basic of levels. The Lakota say "Mitakuye Oyasin" which translates roughly to "All my relations" meaning that all things in creation are our relatives. When I sit and meditate I have begun to be able to truly feel that relationship, that connection to all that is. This translates into scientific terms for me also, the basic building blocks of all things are, at their very core, the very same. What's more energy doesn't simply stop being, rather it changes form. To those ends I say to all who have commented here, Mitakuye Oyasin, Bless you for you are all my relations and I honor my connection to you.


At 10/28/2005 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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