Lately I've been finding quite a bit of humor in pondering the cosmic situation in which we all find ourselves. Accordingly, one sacred story tells us that the Divine Presence, being the ALL, had no way of knowing Itself, Herself or Himself, for nothing can ever be known without something to CONTRAST it with, just as the shadows present early and late in the day are needed to make the best photographs. Since this is the case, the Source "decided" to play a game, whereby It incarnated Itself in billions of different bodies, minds and personalities, and in millions of different species. From a mystical point of view, each of us is, at root, a different view on the ALL, a unique lens through which It sees, knows and celebrates Itself. Here, we are each like a different mountain peak composing an endless range, a unique dune making up the vast desert of the cosmos.
Interestingly, the Divine took enormous risk in becoming embodied in such a diversity of ways, for this meant that all of those various ways of seeing would somehow have to figure out how to reconcile their differing views and learn - through trial and error - how to find the ALL hidden deep within each of them. In fact, we as a species - after millennia of war and bloodshed - are just now getting the hint and learning - one baby step at a time - how to do this. Hopefully, under the attractive power and grace of our Source, we'll learn how to accomplish this important task before we destroy ourselves as a species or make our natural homes unlivable. Here we need all the help we can get from the plants, animals and landscapes who each - when consulted - are more than able to contribute a unique and necessary flavor of wisdom to the process of reconciliation.
As just one example of the conflicting lenses we humans use, we might consider two completely differing views on the virtue of humility. According to a traditional or conservative view, humility involves submitting one's own mind and will to an already-established tradition, often codified in a sacred book. Any deviation from this standard is then viewed as the epitome of arrogance. On the other hand, a more adventurous or liberal view of humility holds that we as human beings are meant continually to take in new information, to evolve our own view endlessly, and to move beyond all that has gone before. Adherence to our own established tradition at the cost of adventuring into unknown territory and embracing the best parts of the views of others is here seen as the height of arrogance!
Ha! It's no wonder that many indigenous societies see a TRICKSTER-figure at the Source of creation! It helps immensely, in fact, to remember that none of us CHOSE this crazy situation in which we find ourselves. There is instead a jokester - a "heyoka" as our Lakota brothers and sisters would remind us - present at the heart of it all! It's best, therefore, to laugh at ourselves and get on with the task of seeing how we all might fit together into a single, multi-faceted WHOLE. For ultimately - WE DO! :)
Photos: The Great Sand Dunes and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, San Luis Valley, CO, April 2-3, 2016. A trickster-raven calls from a cliff near Moab, UT
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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.