If you sit still for a while, completely relaxed, and let your thoughts run on, let your mind think of whatever it likes, without interfering, without making suggestions and without raising any kind of obstacle to the free flow of thought, you will soon discover that mental processes have a life of their own. They will call one another to the surface of consciousness by association, and if you raise no barriers, you will soon find yourself thinking all manner of things both fantastic and terrible which you ordinarily keep out of consciousness.
Over a period of time this exercise will show you that you have in yourself the potentiality of countless different beings—the animal, the demon, the satyr, the thief, the murderer—so that in time you will be able to feel that no aspect of human life is strange to you—humani nihil a me alienum puto [“I think nothing human is alien to me,” from the Roman playwright known as Terance].
In the ordinary way, consciousness is forever interfering with the waters of the mind, which are dark and turbulent, concealing the depths. But when, for a while, you let them take care of themselves, the mud settles and with growing clarity you see the foundations of life and all the denizens of the deep. You may see other things as well. “Two men looked into a pond. Said the one: ‘I see a quantity of mud, a shoe and an old can.’ Said the other: ‘I see all these, but I also see the glorious reflection of the sky.’”
For the unconscious is not, as some imagine, a mental refuse-pit; it is simply unfettered nature, demonic and divine, painful and pleasant, hideous and lovely, cruel and compassionate, destructive and creative. It is the source of heroism, love, and inspiration as well as of fear, hatred, and crime. Indeed, it is as if we carried inside of us an exact duplicate of the world we see around us, for the world is a mirror of the soul, and the soul a mirror of the world. Therefore when you learn to feel the unconscious you begin to understand not only yourself but others as well, and when you look upon human crime and stupidity, you can say with real feeling, “There but for the Grace of God go I.”
From "The Meaning of Happiness: The Quest for Freedom of the Spirit in Modern Psychology and the Wisdom of the East."
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you relate to the notion that the world mirrors the soul and the soul mirrors the world? Can you share a personal story of a time you deeply felt that no aspect of human life was strange to you? What helps you develop the feeling 'There but for the Grace of God go I?'
This reminds me of how we don't choose our parents, our upbringing or our youth experiences. So when1 kid is killing things its not entirely their fault. We have to help and intervene, it may or maynot work but it is all of our responsibilty!
The reason so many people miss out on their blessing is because they decide to settle for a microwave dinner instead of waiting on the feast God has for them.
We Become the Stories We Tell and those we consume. So, it makes sense that the world mirrors our perceptions and our perceptions mirror the world. What we focus on we see and this becomes our world view and then impacts our feelings. The beauty is we have agency each day to choose a new story: what do we see when we look at that pond? Are we focusing only on that mud and debris or also on the beauty of the sky reflected within? As we focus on the world: are we seeing the challenges AND the beauty in our fellow human beings? How might we look at the other and see ourselves? I find what helps me do this: is to imagine that person as a child, their innocence, their vulnerability. And then in seeming them as a child to also see them as not so different from me. Example, someone who's belierfs are far different from mine, if I think of them as an innocent and vulnerable child, I can dig under that belief to a value they hold, maybe it is security. When I think of that value, I see my own value reflected too. They become the same as me, so there is nothing strange or foreign, we are one. For "there but for the Grace of God go I" I think of how at any moment any of us can be in challenging situations: how can we see each other with compassion? Ourselves with compassion too? <3[Hide Full Comment]
I love reading Aaln Watts. This writing evokes many wonderful memories of listening to his talks. As I understand we have two levels of consciousness-superficial and closed and deep and open. We are so much used to the first level of conscioubness that we miss the inner landscape with muddy and clear waters, all manner of things fantastic and terrible. When we let the free flow of thought letting whatever come up and go, we are able to feel that no aspect of life is strange to us. To quote the Roman playwright Terance," Nothing human alien is alien to me." And when we let the waters settle down, we relate to the changing world with growing clarity and see the foundation of life. Then the world mirrors the soul and the soul mirrors the world- a state of mental clarity. Practicing Mindfulness meditation has been helping me to see the inner landscape and the outer landscape clearly.
When i pay my full attention to watch a child working with me, I see the display of many emotions in her face coming and going. Since I am not judging the display of her emotions, they come and go and the face of the child shows its child -ike transparency. It gets clearly reflected in my eyes. Here the world mirrors the soul and the soul mirrors the world. I love and cherish such expereinces. As we gorw older, we seem to lose this great gift of being our authentic self. In therapy I see my clients slowly and gradually removing the veil to hide thier authentic face. Such expereinces also help me to develop the feeling" There but for the Grace of God go I
May we cultivate relationships with us and others to enable us to reflect our soul in our eyes and in the eyes of each other!
Jagdsih P Dave
I've come to know that I am in the world and the world is in me, the forces that operate in the world are the same as the forces that operate in me, and I and the world are made of the same stuff. More than the world mirrors the soul and the soul mirrors the world, the soul and the world are one. At this point, I know always that each of us has in us every aspect of human life, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have it in me to be a saint and a sinner, a nurturer and a killer, a giver and a taker, a helper and an abuser, compassionate and hostile. What I am has to do with my choices, and my choices have to do with a multitude of factors most of which are beyond my comprehension. I've been fortunate -- I have enjoyed many positive circumstances. As for any and every option, "there but for the grace of God go I."
For many years now, I have experiemented with watching the mind. A few things stand out for me.
- It's a scary thing to do and to discover the "denizens of the deep". Which is perhaps why many of us (unconsciously) refuse to take on this adventure.
- You begin to see more and more of human folly in yourself. Allows you to be more emphatetic and understanding of what one sees in oneself and in the world "out there".
- Its a very fruitful and interesting endeavour. Just like a diver in the deep ocean discovers all sorts of beautiful things, a diver of the psyche gets insight into all sorts of psychological and spiritual phenomena. Feels like a very rich experience, though one can barely articulate it to someone not aquatinted with this kind of inquiry.
- I feel very grateful for having this opportunity in this lifetime.