The marriage of academia and mysticism

I went to study with Fenway today, she had a few papers to write and I had to get some reading done for my class in Adult Development.  The “challenge” for this class is that not only are our readings supposed to be done prior to the beginning of class but we are also expected to find interconnectedness between the readings, prior knowledge, and our own human experience.  I put challenge in quotes because I do believe this to be one of my great strengths, one that has gotten catalyzed by this program and the willingness of faculty, namely Terri and my advisor, to encourage finding connections in the seemingly unconnected.

I was reading Bill Plotkin and in particular an overview of his work called the Wheel of Life.  The title of the first section read “Circles of Wholeness and Fourfold Totalties,” and immediately I connected to it.  Not-so-ironically this time last year I wrote, Maybe we die in this life and are reborn in another carrying with us the karma  we incurred in our past life.  Saddled with all of our previous experiences buried in our unconscious and every now and again we get an inkling of something old and newly familiar (deja vu).  Maybe we repeat the cycle, like a distillation process.  Perhaps we are living continuously so that we may learn each time after to become more pure and more loving, less attached and closer to god.  I have a feeling (just now I had it) that heaven is empty.  Void of people that is, but exists only as nature. I can’t think of anything else that is perfect, can you? As I read Plotkin’s work he spoke of cycles…directions…seasons…time…each moving in circles and each in terms of quadrants( spring summer autumn winter, sunrise noon sunset midnight). Something very key dawned on me in this reading, while Plotkin suggests that north, the midnight of life this place for the elders the place of crowning, social hierarchy steeped with knowledge, skill, and fortitude…wisdom as we near death.  I thought, well surely we die many times within one life. In an effort to somewhat explain his work I will attach a photo that is a gross generalization of complex and fascinating thought: 

Plotkin states that in the west  there are little deaths as we grow more introspective and discover ourselves more, but I both accept and challenge that thought.  In my own life experience, I believe that throughout my development I have made one complete rotation moving from the birth in the east through the death.  I see my adolescence as a birth of me as a young woman hedonistic in the way that I sought to connect with those things that felt good and were appealing to my spirit and while engaging in those behaviors I was very out of touch with what I really needed, nor was it ever even a consideration.  Through the south, or noon where my emotions took blossom; falling in love for the first time, developing strong and intimate relationships with friends this was literally my life from probably 17-19 years old.  I cannot think of a single more important priority to me than being social.  Through my autumn, the shadows and the stress of near darkness say to me that our fears are present even without the threat of danger…and sometimes that’s how it is. The unknowns allow our imagination to run wild.  This was college. What if I don’t graduate? What if I choose the wrong major? What if my parents are disappointed in me? What if I mess up my credit? What if what if what if? It was as though I was the center of my own universe and suddenly my friends or family could not help me enough to get out of my own head.  There was a constant cycling back to the self and worry over whether there was something else I could be doing.  On to my winter, post grad depression and then championing it.  Going from wanting to not wake up to seeing the good and light in every day is quite a transformation but that was my winter, that was my midnight. And in that darkness, as I settled into it and allowed myself to just BE sad, BE unhappy, BE unfulfilled, somehow my vision adjusted and I navigated my way through it. There is a patience that one gets as they live and experience something like that, too, and it is very reminiscent of the patience of elders.

So while I really connect with Plotkin’s Wheel of Life, I see a theory within a theory…I see it as the earth spinning on its own axis as it moves around the sun, you know?  Like, we move quickly through the wheel at the same time we move slowly through it.  And in a lifetime of moving from spirit to spirit, we also complete the cycle in phases of our own human development as well. Similar in thought to Plotkin’s idea of cycles is Margaret Wheatley who suggests that chaos destroys an old way but not without leaving the tools to develop the new way. Immediately as I read this I jotted down, “Is there a higher governing intelligence conducting this chaos?” I certainly believe there is.

I got home from my day with Fenway and had fully committed to forego any more thoughts of academia and to watch a movie.  I opened my Netflix envelope and lo and behold the Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer.  Not 10 minutes into the program he quotes Max Planck, “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”  The matrix of all matter…this great conductor, this incredibly sophisticated and omnipotent system that rules us all down to the smallest bits of our composition, this intelligence…what do we call it?

God? Buddha? Allah? Tao? I, for one, call it God but do not believe any of the other names are incorrect. I believe that this divinity appeals to us in ways that we can understand and in ways that we are able to digest it.  So for some God tastes like grapes…and for those others it tastes like oranges.  That is not to say that God is only grapes or only oranges, God is all things one and the same.  At least that’s my interpretation.

So I think about this, and I think about the wheel and I wonder the purpose?  The answer that comes most readily is that just as there are years of learning and developing the skills to exist and succeed in the physical world, there are years of learning and developing to exist and succeed in the spiritual world and we spiral into one and out into the other when we are called.  When we can receive the message.

Originally, this morning when I thought about what I wanted to write about today it was about lies I used to believe.  That I needed someone to comment on a picture saying it was pretty before I could believe it was so.  That success meant earning a certain dollar amount or being recognizable by a certain community of people.  That love was reserved for those who looked a certain way.  These fallacies that I bought into that at some point, served a purpose, yet now feel antiquated and even archaic.  Somehow within the time-span of breath came a growth, a maturity, a literal awakening to a truth that I am sure is not THE truth, but one that needs less and knows less.

I named this post as such because I foresee my works being a hybrid of my spiritual work and my academic achievements.  It already is. My curiosities in physics and chemistry, politics, law, education, writing, art, music, and religion all melt together to create an amalgamation of thought that  serve a purpose yet unknown to me.  And 1400 words later…

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