Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Spontaneous Resonance

--by James O'dea (Aug 10, 2015)

A friend recently described her spontaneous reaction to a police officer beating a black youth. The cracking sound of a blow to the youth instantaneously ignited a mighty “No!” as she surged toward the officer whose baton remained frozen in the air. She was like a moral whirlwind entering the story as she put herself between the officer and the youth.

This kind of spontaneous reaction can unleash powerful energy that generally remains latent and untapped—like suddenly having the strength to lift up a car to rescue a parent or child. In a November 2010 article Psychology Today refers to this phenomenon as the convening of “stealth superpowers.” There are indeed superpowers available to us when we tap into the oceanic depth of our relatedness to others and to deep empathic connection with the most vulnerable.

We engage reservoirs of insight and skillfulness in the universe when we spontaneously tap into its deepest moral principles. Heroic acts of extraordinary courage, conscience and selfless sacrifice often exhibit a remarkable degree of spontaneity. And even the Muse itself has this quality: “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” (William Wordsworth)

According to Lao Tsu spontaneity is the essence of Reality itself and we should always get out of the way and “Let reality be reality.” Deepak Chopra puts it simply, “Ultimately, spiritual reality unfolds when you’re spontaneous.” This, in fact, is the Great Way, the flow of the Tao itself mirrored in its energetic aspect as the subatomic flow of the universe. As our great wisdom teachers have pointed out it is the stuff going on in our heads that blocks the flow of spontaneity.

To serve the spontaneity of Life itself and becoming one with it points to the subtle difference between spontaneous reactions and spontaneous resonance. Resonance is about oneness. Just as in the example of stringed instruments -- when a string is plucked on one the same string on a nearby instrument will vibrate. Yes only the same string vibrates -- as if it recognizes its own frequency. Spirituality is about being able to become one with the full orchestral range of vibrations that life offers and recognize it all as the life-giving music of creation.

In science there is the idea that spontaneity is said to occur when there is no external force catalyzing an event. Composting, for example, is an example of a spontaneous process. Under the right conditions Nature will do what is needed.

This notion of spontaneously arising resonance without any forcing is, for Meher Baba, the key to understanding the nature of love and how it spreads: “Love has to spring spontaneously from within; it is in no way amenable to force. Love and coercion can never go together.” Only love can awaken love. With this understanding we can see how a self-awakening love born in freedom might eventually ignite the collective soul of humanity.

James O’Dea is author of The Conscious Activist—where activism meets mysticism. Read more about his explorations with reconciliation, forgiveness and restorative justice.

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On Aug 7, 2015 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 As I understand, a spontaneous reaction is an action to a stimulus outside of oneself. It is like a fight, flight or freeze stress response. It is instinctive with no intervention of cognitive processing. It is an instant reaction.It may result into a positive or negative outcome, a blessing or a curse; a blessing to celebrate,a curse to regret or repent.

Spontaneous resonance happens within oneself with no conscious intention or deliberation. It just happens. It is like a flower blooming, a poem birthing and naturally coming out.It is unfolding. It is like fragrance of a flower spreading without an effort. It is an effortless happening.

I have experienced both -spontaneous reaction and spontaneous resonance. I reacted to a scorpion by jumping off- an instant avoidance behavior, resulting into no painful stinging. Reacting to a driver cutting me off with an angry feeling is another example of a instinctive reaction.

I have had many experiences of spontaneous resonance. I am a poet.The poems spouting from my heart effortlessly have been the most endearing poems.I get lost in my own self to find myself. I am not composing the poem, the poem is composing by itself. The song is composing itself and I am listening to it. The composer and the listener merge into each other. the dancer becomes the dancing or the dancing becomes the dancer. The subject-object separation gets dissolved  resulting in oneness. There is a knowing, an experiencing, a realization of the mantra, aham brahmasmi- I am that. It is an awakening experience. I have such experiences when I meditate, when i walk in nature by myself, when i read certain poems that touch my heart.

We all are blessed with such gifts arising in and from our hearts. It is my observation that we are becoming more and more head-oriented missing the joys of uncomplicated simple but profound living.

May we keep out hearts open to receive and give simple gifts of love and joy.

Jagdish P Dave

On Aug 8, 2015 david doane wrote:

 Spontaneous reaction is an unplanned impulsive behavior to change what is happening, such as a spontaneous effort to catch someone who is falling or spontaneously objecting to something I don't agree with.  Spontaneous resonance is an unplanned feeling of synchrony or harmony with what is happening, such as spontaneously feeling fully in agreement with and in tune with and one with what someone is saying or doing.  I have many times felt spontaneous resonance to something someone has said or done.  Such are moments of unity and love.  I have sometimes felt that resonance with teachers and mentors and simply other persons, and it's a very positive feeling.  Judgmentalness, preconceived notions, premeditated biases, expectations, rules, and fear all block the flow of spontaneity, and being open, present, and accepting of myself get me over all that 'stuff' that blocks the flow.

On Aug 10, 2015 Ros wrote:

Spontaneous reaction must be that moment when you completely relate to a situation or story........there is an outside influence from the thing or person you resonate with and/or the memory .......I completely relate to that because I have had some experience of it in the past...........whereas spontaneous resonance is more like Joy it bursts out of you and makes you connect to the situation willingly.............with a strength or power that can even surprise you. x

On Aug 11, 2015 James Lang Smith wrote:

 Wisdom to resonate with the suffering of another (literally the meaning of com passion) is borne of innate and cultivated wholeheartedness.

After a week meditation on kindness I find myself on a 1st class train carriage due to a problem with the previous train. I am not alone. There are the "1st class" passengers and some drunk, nervously aggressive football fans who are poking fun at an elderly women wearing a kennel club blazer and comforting 3 over-groomed neurotic lap dogs arranged like ornaments on the carriage table.

Now normally I would confront them, appealing to a common masculinity to leave "her" alone, a risky and possibly aggressive strategy. Resonating with the kindness cultivated on the retreat, spontaneously I go and sit in front of her and begin to ask her about the dogs. The football fans leave her alone now she has company and she is reassured that she is not alone. We spend a pleasant couple of hours talking dogs and dog shows until it is time for her to leave the train, waving her goodbyes from the platform. Resonates with the suffering of another, the wisdom of compassion.

On Aug 11, 2015 Cynthia wrote:

Walking.  When you don't know the answer, when you don't know what to do next -- and the not knowing is the stuff in the head that is blocking the flow -- maybe walking can help.  Not walking to churn over the questions in your mind, rather walking with full attention on what is right before you.  This is what occurs to me the last few days.  Walking on the beach, I have felt a resonance with a certain place so strongly that I have stopped there unsure what to do but to stop there and allow myself to hum with the same frequency.

On Aug 12, 2015 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

I completely relate to "getting out of one's way." In any given situation be our true selves and be present. True story: 2010 a fight on the NYC subway; 2 large muscular men punching and shouting. No one did anything to stop them. I had bubbles in my pocket so got up out of my seat, took a step forward, smiled and blew bubbles. Almost immediately the fight was over and the men were popping bubbles and laughing. If I had thought about it, I probably would not have taken the action and who knows how that fight may have escalated. Bubbles are a super power indeed :) A smaller example comes to mind is when one spontaneously meets a friend on the sidewalk in a huge city; if one had tried to plan that meeting without any arrangement it most likely would not happen and yet when we get out of our way, there the person is :) This just happened last week when I took a different route walking home from work in DC. I felt pulled to walk down a different street and then `1 minute later saw a friend I had been hoping to spend time with :)

On Aug 17, 2015 Kay wrote:

Spontaneous reaction is something that we do - spontaneous resonance is something that we feel .