The World, the Self and the Spirit

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The tree is our greatest companion for inspiring thought, our sheltering friend, our very breath. I am sat under one, having a little think. Nature has the ability to condense the complex, muting the internal boogaloo to reveal the true beauty of presence. If you’ve ever taken a walk in the woods to clear your mind, you’ll know how effective that is. It seems that no matter how the mind wanders, it comes back here, to a still certainty.

This tree has many branches that extend out above my head, like the fingers on my hand attached to my arm, and all the other layers of my form, each limb, each fine threaded vein, like the roots reaching down into the earth. When I hang out with a tree for an extended period of time, I feel its strength in a grounding embrace, in a mere whisper it tells me the art of being, infinite wisdom. Then I start to imagine myself, a fractal in some universal, geometric intricacy, a colossal kaleidoscope rotating endlessly, every turn aligned in connection to the next. I think about the connections I make in my own life and I’ve whittled it down to a fundamental three. Connection to the world (connection to other bodies, material obligations, economic development, etc.), connection to the self (connection to your own body, intelligence, maintenance and nurture of the body, etc.) And then there’s the spirit (The universe, the higher self, God) the non-tangible, and so for many, easy to disregard. I used to be like that, I didn’t want to be another western millennial trying to find myself, ‘tragic!’ I’d scoff. Unbeknownst to me that in time, my soul searching would be my one true salvation. Though with every new idea, every realisation came a hundred more, like fractals in consciousness that ultimately lead to the same questions. ‘Who am I and what is my connection to all of this?’.

I hope you didn’t come here for answers because I haven’t the slightest. I speculate, I pray, I read, I try to develop my ideas. And yet there’s always this sense that true intelligence is a process of unknowing. So I head into some forest and surrender to the sanctity of being.

With each action or inaction I ask myself, with what am I connecting in this moment? The world, the self or spirit? Ideally, all three simultaneously. I’ve developed this system as a coping mechanism, it works quite well for me in easing the internal chatter, existential discomfort, the insatiable curiosity, and ultimately brings me into the now.

The problem it seems is that we live in a culture of militant individualism, there’s an emphasis on the idea that what we are, is who we are. From birth we’re branded, maybe we catch a glimpse of our reflection in a window, the light and shadow dance to form the contours upon our face and we think, ‘this is me’. We’re told how to define success, we’re taught to fear the process of deterioration and rebirth, desperately try to block it out. If only we’d take a moment to observe the seasons passing we’d see this is the entire theme of the material world, change.

We’re told that the nature of liberation is one fleeting bodily experience after the next, this notion only keeps us rooted in the physical, then we’re surprised when we find ourselves in the mucky whirlpool of sense gratification once again. Some temporary fix, a different job, another chai latte, a romance. Some way to patch up the cracks in a crumbling facade.

So what’s the solution?

Let the facade crumble and allow the consciousness to become elevated? I don’t know, I’m a true novice, a spiritual baby. What I do know is that connection to the non-tangible is the most important because it allows for real connection to the world and the self, though it is not necessarily a very comfortable process, and it could take lifetimes to achieve liberation. It’s not a one size fits all. I like to ask myself with what I am connecting, I like to maintain a relationship with God, I like to sit in the forest for hours and hours, days if I can, but that’s me, within this body, within this period of time. Disconnection, it seems, is the ultimate ignorance and to be avoided where possible. And so I aspire to be like the tree, grounded in form, yet intrinsically connected to the present.

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