HJ: As we grow and evolve spiritually, we move from separateness to oneness — we realize that separation is an illusion and truly everything is connected at a fundamental level. As we grow spiritually we become more aware of this fact consciously. We begin to actually recognize the clues that reveal its existence all around us. This is a form of enlightenment. Before this phase of realization, this connection happens subconsciously.
It’s automatic. But is that not part of the definition of becoming conscious? Becoming more aware…? Realizing that there is more to life than meets the eye at first glance. That what we previously assumed was simple and basic is actually incredibly rich and complex, imbued with wisdom and meaning we did not previously see? Such is the case with realizing we are all connected. The implications are massive and have the potential to shift not only your own consciousness, but the consciousness of everyone around you. This knowledge is illuminating.
But for many people this can be an abstract and esoteric concept. The article below from the Wayfaring Fool (an ironic name to be sure), beautifully elucidates this concept in a very accessible way that allows us to shift our perspective, and hence, our consciousness, quite dramatically and quickly. It’s a beautiful, poetic article filled with timeless wisdom that will surely help you see yourself and the world in a new, expansive way.
How we connect, spiritually
How this works is very subtle, varies in mechanism from species to species, but in all cases, there is a subtle nonverbal communication between them whereby the individual bird connects nonconsciously with the flock. And, because the mechanism and signals are species specific, only birds of the same species recognize and are comfortable with these signals.
Humans are no different.
There is within us and birds another mind, located and driven by the brain’s limbic system, that is capable of communicating and connecting with others at an emotional level, without our conscious mind’s awareness. I am going to call this other mind “our spiritual mind”, because it really is about something our conscious mind cannot do. It’s like having a full-time companion with you.
So, when we interact with others, sometimes we ‘connect’, meaning that we really do communicate together, and other times we don’t. When we connect, the reasons for connection are not obvious to us. What’s really at play is that our spiritual, limbic mind is actually having a non-verbal conversation with the spiritual, limbic mind of the other person.
How does this happen?
Within the limbic mind is the amygdala, the seat of our emotions. Our eyes, ears, and olifactory are connected to our minds in two distinct neural pathways: one connected to our cerebrum–the seat of our conscious mind, and the other to our limbic system, the seat of our spiritual mind. As well, our facial muscles are dually controlled by parallel pathways to both our conscious and nonconscious processing centers. The center of primal emotion, our amygdala, uniquely manages our hypothalmus, the master control center of our body’s internal systems.
Our conscious minds are connected with our limbic, non-conscious minds through our senses (sharing sensory input through dual paths), through our memories, and through our emotions. Through these three means, our two minds can ‘talk’ to each other, but not really in ‘thoughts’. Ideas may present themselves, and emotions tell us that something going on with the other person is right or wrong by your own emotions.
But our limbic minds do more than just express feelings within our brains. Because the limbic system is connected to our face, eyes, and to our entire endocrine system through the hypothalmus connection to the pituitary gland, it communicates outward our innermost feelings. In effect, when we feel stress, our body rhythms change, we sweat, we emit odors, we express emotions in our face — the vast majority of which cannot be controlled by the conscious mind. Our internal feelings about the other person and things we’re talking about are being expressed to the other person through our very subtle signs. And the other person is not consciously recognizing these subtle signs, but his or her own limbic mind is. In other words, no matter what we might try to hide, we are going to reveal our emotions to the other person, and vice versa. Our limbic minds, operating completely independently from our consciousness, will betray us, if we are not authentic and connected within ourselves.
The key to this communication is recognizing our own feelings, and to be centered in our emotions. We might say the amygdala has a set of positive emotions: love, certainty/the feeling of knowing, and joy. It also has a set of negative emotions: hate, cognitive dissonance, anger, sorrow. Emotional intensity is often very closely matched with both sides: great love often turns to virulent hate when a person feels betrayed. While it is not feasible to be emotionless, Confucius advised for us to be ‘centered’ in our emotions, to find the peace in the center, and from there, authentically emote as indicated. When we are feeling strong emotion, and it is driving us to a place we don’t want to go, then it’s time to sit back, meditate, center the mind and heart, and then choose more cautiously the emotion that fits the situation. While this may seem hard, through training and meditiation, it’s possible.
So, when we connect with another person, we can choose to be authentic, to know our own feelings, and to express them as appropriate to the situation. As well, we need to listen to our own emotions in the conversation. Our limbic mind may be telling us that there is something amiss in this person, and if we follow the subtleties of feeling as our gut indicates in a conversation, real connection between people is possible.
The Wenzi text says there are three types of listening: one, listening with the ears, which is just hearing what is being said without understanding. Two, listening with the mind, which is understanding what is being said, but does not fully embrace it. Three, listening with the spirit, which is to really feel what the other person is feeling. How do we do this? by recognizing that our ‘spirit’ is really our non-conscious mind, that is communicating with the other person, and by centering our mind, really allowing our spirit to tell us what the other person is feeling.
When we connect spiritually, we feel something amazing. We feel a comfort with the other person, we feel happiness, and we feel love. These are the primal positive emotions of the amygdala, the core of our emotional being. And when we feel these things, our brains, our senses, our hearts are capable of truly understanding and being ‘one’ with another person.
As I look at the flock, and the unity with which the flock seems to have a ‘spirit’ together, so also, when humans spiritually connect, they are one.