In a Wilderness Mysticism, we find ourselves living in the liminal realm between sky and earth, which represent and embody the domains of the Absolute or Transcendent on the one hand, and that of the Relative or Immanent, on the other. The Absolute might be spoken of as the stable, unchanging, sky-like vastness that serves as the ground out of which all of the relative realities of life emerge and to which they return. The Relative, on the other hand, is the evolving, ever-growing river of beings and events whose Oneness is actually quite different from the Oneness present within the Absolute.
While the vast spaciousness of our awareness might be considered the Absolute's version of Oneness, the interconnected web of life or Net of Indra - where every being mirrors every other being - constitutes the Relative's version of Oneness. Both types of Union - Vertical and Horizontal - are always present, and both are sacred.
Some mystical traditions understand the ultimate form of Oneness as a more-or-less permanent melting of our identity into the vastness of the Absolute, thus leaving the realm of the Relative behind. However, Wilderness Mysticism understands that - just as we live out our lives in the liminal realm between sky and earth - so the ultimate Unity involves not a disappearance of our individual identity into the realm of the Absolute, but the ability to dwell IN BETWEEN the Relative and the Absolute. Here, rather than working to bring all "water-droplet" existences back into the "Ocean" of Being, we dwell consistently IN BETWEEN droplets and Ocean.
Putting this in theistic terms, Jewish philosopher Martin Buber declares that "Spirit" resides neither in the "I" nor in the "Thou," but IN BETWEEN I and Thou. Thus, our lives consist in the movement back and forth between these two contrasting realms, a movement that serves to join or stitch the Two Realms together within the reconciling Third, which is precisely who WE are!
Photos: (Top) Cache la Poudre River and Fall foliage, Poudre Canyon, CO; (Middle) Aspens and rocky outcrop near Red Feather Lakes, CO. These two photos were taken on October 12, 2015; (Bottom) Deer Mountain, cabin, and Aspen tree, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO, October 2, 2015
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.