What you are looking for is what you are looking with.
– Ernest Holmes
While I am no longer a practitioner of the work, this remains one of my favourite New Thought Spirituality quotes. It embodies an important philosophical wondering for me: how the nature of any one thing is informed and defined by the presence of everything else. How does my seeking of something influence, and even change, that which I seek? How can its presence influence me and my seeking of it? Buddhists refer to this principle as co-arising. The western term for it is “relational thinking.”
One of the very real consequences of humanity is that what we bring to an experience shapes that experience.
So, if when we are in the presence of limitation, illness, weakness and death we feel less like ourselves instead of more, it occurred to me to wonder, what are we bringing to it? If we interpret this natural space as dangerous; diminishing to ourselves or our lives; less authentic or worthy; a failure of ingenuity, imagination, faith or perseverance; or a chance to triumph what are we bringing to it?
I wonder why it is that limitation, illness, weakness and death don’t seem to naturally stimulate feelings of wholeness and trust. There’s no reason they can’t. There’s no reason a wild experience like illness or the limitations that are a natural part of life on this planet can’t knit us together, bonding us more closely to life and each other. Even if our bodies (or a part of the body of the planet) is for all appearances “falling apart” or wearing out, this is life being itself. It is its essence to be informed and defined by the presence of all of that is, including us. But only if we separate ourselves from nature, placing ourselves at a distance from its way of being, do we become convinced that this relational flow runs primarily in one direction.
Yes, what we bring to an experience shapes it, but it is a belief of extreme hubris to see ourselves as the shapers of reality. We influence and define all that is and all that is really should be influencing and defining us. So when we look at limitation, illness, weakness and death perhaps it is time to look with different eyes. Perhaps it is time to look with openness, humility, co-operation, creativity, curiosity about how life is and what it needs from us, obedience and a willingness to know The Difficult well, on its own terms. If we had eyes like that, we might just find something more wonderful than we can now imagine.
What do you see when you look at limitation, illness, weakness and death? What are you looking with?