As human beings, we seem especially prone to seeing things in terms of either/or. This is true particularly in matters of religion and spirituality. A fundamentalism of words and dogma views oneness and unity as antithetical to the spirit of truth. On the other hand, a mystical fundamentalism sees words and ideas as dangerous, and silence and oneness as the true reality. Exoteric religion views our individuality as everything. Esoteric religion often thinks of every form of individuality as mere ego and seeks to annihilate it.
Wilderness Mysticism notes the beauty contained in the perennial change of seasons and seeks to apply this phenomenon to the realm of religion and spirituality as well. This time of year, we realize that BOTH Autumn and Winter have their own share in reality. Right now, many of us are dwelling in the time in between the two, and the resulting coincidence of snow and colored leaves is, we have to admit, really quite stunning. Similarly, dwelling in the non-dual realm between silence and words, individuality and oneness, theism and non-theism, or traditional religion and non-traditional spirituality is the way to go for a Wilderness Mystic.
Each of us may be prone to emphasize one side of the polarity, but a healthy spirituality still acknowledges the reality of the other side as well. As a contemplative, I am more weighted toward silence and oneness, but I value ideas and individuality as well, especially as they add a sense of surprise and intrigue to the realm of silence-and-oneness, and vice versa.
After all, the highest nonduality - unity, Oneness - is able to embrace the positive aspects of distinction and individuality as well. If it didn't, it would not be a true non-duality. And, as I've noted on other recent occasions, REAL nonduality embraces both vertical forms of Unity (where form arises from formlessness and words come out of silence, and vice versa) AND horizontal forms of Unity (where various forms, ideas and words all mirror each other as integral aspects of a multi-faceted Whole). For each of these Two ways of perceiving is needed to complete the other. As always, Both/And is the way to go.
Photos: Autumn, Winter, and the In-Between Season, Colorado and Wyoming, September and October, 2015
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I am available for one-on-one sessions giving instruction in Wilderness Insight Meditation and Wilderness Contemplative Prayer, or for spiritual direction / mentoring via phone or Skype. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested. The rate is $65 per hour-long session. You might also want to check out my Spiritual Direction with Stephen Hatch Facebook page.
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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.