*Brian Wilcox. 'the sky speaks'. Flickr
A continuance of dialogues with a sage who did not see himself as a sage, but others did; from Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage," with preceding and concluding verse.
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"I squeeze my eyes shut and practice being not seen. I open one eye. 'Well? Can you see me?' 'Yes, Bob, I can see you.' She said my name. Bob. It makes me feel Ö well, seen. And heard. Like Iím a person. Or whatever I am. Iím glad Iím not invisible after all."
*Wendy Mass. Bob.
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Today, after a first and unedited version of the dialogue below, I was walking a dog for a friend. A man was walking toward us. He stopped. He bent down to the dog, Maddie, and gently, while looking into her eyes, said, "I see you." And Maddie was looking gently in return. She was receiving, heart-with-heart. That is being seen, meaning intimacy. That is like the quote above, words of the enigmatic creature Bob. We desire to be seen, not just face-to-face, but heart-with-heart. In the culture, in the country where I live and likely most modern societies, there is a massive project of entertainment to keep us entranced, meaning spiritually asleep. We suffer from a feeling of isolation, which is not natural to us. We must value intimacy over entertainment, to reclaim our souls, ourselves. Even spirituality can become entertainment, when all life is to open us to a communion of depth, of being-with-being.
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You often refer to intimacy. When someone speaks of intimacy between two persons, that usually means sexual intimacy now. What do you mean by it? Why is it so important?
Actually, sexual copulation is an apt sign of intimacy as connection, as withinness. The 'male' principle is moving inward, the 'female' principle is the receptive principle; this is the yin and the yang, both being essential to intimacy. I often use "connection" for intimacy, but "withinness" provides a closer parallel to what I mean. Sometimes I use "communion," sometimes "love."
Please share more about the sign of intimacy being in copulation.
The word "intimacy" derives from the Latin intimus, meaning "inmost, innermost, deepest." In copulation the sensitivity for a female is mostly at the entrance of the genitalia, not on inward. Yet, both male and female enjoy a more indepth penetration and receptivity. This, then, is not physical in origin, but relates to the primal need for increasing depth in connection. Sex at its best is a means for deep connection, spiritual intimacy. This parallels structures of shrines, churches, temples, and other worship meeting places, where one progressively moves toward the most holy place, or holy of holies, as the ancient Hebrews spoke of it. And, without the 'female' principle, there is no intimacy. The 'female' principle may appear the weaker, but the power of the 'female' principle is the power of choice to be passive and open to be penetrated by the 'male' principle. Unfortunately, Western cultures, influenced much by Christianity, have mostly desexualized religion and sex is looked at as dangerous, something we do not speak about. I mean, how many Christians would think of Jesus masturbating? or enjoying a wet dream? or relishing a deeply shared sexual relationship? But in the Eastern spiritual paths, generally, that would be seen as a blessing for Jesus to enjoy, even a sacred sharing. So, we have lost the power of sex to be a sign and sacrament, while the church may give lip service to it. Yet, the double-message is too strong. Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, must remain a virgin perpetually. And how often in Western religion is the clear sexual indications in the Gospel treated well, which speaks of God impregnating Mary? "Overshadow" is certainly not merely a kiss on the check, so to speak. I say all this, to emphasize the power of sex to image for us the power and beauty of intimacy, and how we need to claim that image as holy.
So, they're degrees?
Intimacy has no degrees. Intimacy manifests for us to the extent we are prepared to receive, that is one reason we engage a path, to grow in capacity for intimacy. To grow in capacity really means the dissolving of the obstacles to intimacy. As our capacity for more subtle intimacy happens, we meet more subtle obstacles. We cannot say this deepening of intimacy ever ends, potentially it is infinite, or endless.
Spiritually, whom are what are we intimate with?
If we name this, that easily becomes an obstacle to intimacy. Yet, a name can assists us. If a theist, the intimacy may be with God, for example. If not a theist, with your own essential Nature. Actually, for a theist, it can be seen to be with both the Supreme Being and oneself as part of that Being. Yet, most theists project Being at a distance and fail to see that who one truly is is part of that Being, often what I call an expression of. This same intimacy can be with anything or anyone, to the capacity of each to participate together. We cannot, for example, have the same intimacy with a tree that we can with a person, simply for a tree and person are not designed with the same potential for intimacy. Yet, we can have intimacy with a tree.
Does a theist ever grow beyond seeing intimacy with God as an object outside?
The path leads to neither inside nor outside. Intimacy is too intimate to be located like that. Likewise, intimacy is beyond God or not-God. Intimacy, we could say, is God. God is Intimacy. Theism and atheism are both based on creating God, or a Supreme Being, as an object. Atheists fail to see this, as theists. So, this distancing and objectivity hinders intimacy, for it maintains the idea of separation.
Sometimes in meditation I feel very, very close to something, and I get scared. I tend, then, to pull back. Is this what you refer to? And has this happened to you?
This likely happens to anyone who meditates to integrate duality into nonduality. This fear speaks of a closeness we are not habituated to. Yet, meeting this closeness and fear of it is a sign the path is opening us up more, creating more tolerance for intimacy. While our nature is intimacy, the ego sense, being identified with the body-mind, has been habituated to distance. A Christian scripture says, "The spirit is willing, the flesh (or, ego sense) is weak." Meditation is a process of restructuring from separation to union to oneness; so, from body identify to spirit identity. Yet, as well, oneness makes possible union and separation, for oneness is first, our primordial nature. Oneness can play as a felt-sense of either separation or union. In other words, you cannot undo oneness, it is the source of what appears to be its opposite. Separation is the play of God, the dance of Life. If you see this, it can lead you right back to oneness.
How can I work with creating tolerance of intimacy?
Well, that is the whole path, both within meditation and outside it. Engage the path in awareness, and the path will work for you. Certainly, taking opportunities to open the heart or keep it open in everyday life works to create tolerance for intimacy. This, again, is tolerance for your real nature. Also, it helps to notice the situations wherein you tend to close the heart, which really is your closing yourself off from yourself. When you do this, you are putting up a wall that keeps out the other and yourself. The nature of Grace is openness, pure welcome. Grace, by which I mean Presence, your essential being, itself never closes the door, never puts up a "No Vacancy" sign. We each have been wounded differently, and in particular contexts we shut down. We may have our heart open one moment, the next not. Yet, the nature of the heart, we ourselves, is openness. This is why we suffer so when we close the heart.
Sometimes, I feel I can't be open. I automatically shut down.
That reminds me of one of my spiritual companions sharing with me of having a moment in silence when she felt she was losing her identity suddenly, and she pulled back. Creating tolerance for intimacy entails, also, being compassionate to yourself. There is nothing wrong with this shutting down. See it. Accept it. In time, again the path working for you, you will see healing evidence when you do not shut down as quickly or you may find you remain open in situations you before would throw a wall up. Also, be understanding that in the body, we sometimes may sense we need to pull back from closeness, that it is becoming too much for one embodied: the body will communicate this to us. I see my spiritual companion as reclaiming her embodied selfhood, when she pulled back. That is okay.
Are there times intimacy isn't possible with someone?
Sometimes, it is not possible. Yet, you can remain an invitational presence, for you are that. Regardless, remain intimate with yourself. Enjoy this closeness where you find it, but do not try to push it on anyone. And, recall, you do not have to be with someone to be intimate with them, not at the level of the heart. A person who feels little need to be with others in proximity physically may be a person with marked intimacy capacity, for intimacy is first a matter of spirit, of our heart.
I have a dog I feel very close to. Is that spiritual intimacy?
Intimacy with human or nonhuman beings, as well as seen or unseen, this is the same intimacy. Intimacy is one. When we say, we are closer now, that is saying nothing about intimacy increasing, only about ourselves allowing more intimacy to manifests. Intimacy itself does not come and go, increase or decrease. As to your dog, your dog can become your excuse to avoid intimacy with humans. And humans use humans to avoid intimacy. An example is serial sex. Yet, a so-called highly sexual being may have little capacity for deep sharing. He or she is just using others. To such a one, sex is basically meat on meat, not heart-with-heart. In fact, one who never engages in a sexual act, a celibate person, may be more sexual with others, without any overt sexual act... but let us not go there today, maybe later, if someone wishes.
You spoke of moving from separation to union to oneness. What is the difference between union and oneness? I thought they are the same.
They are not. Let us share on that in our next sharing time.
I would appreciate, also, your sharing about how a relationship with God plays in intimacy. I mean, how it might help us with being more close to others. I don't know what God is and do not have any set idea of God, but that something that I feel so close to in silence, I call that "God." I would like you to share on what's meant when you speak of "invitational presence," also.
Very good. We will do that. Remember, in sharing, which is an act of intimacy, both are givers and receivers. So, we will. The I dissolves in oneness, and acting as we helps toward that depth of connection, so close we cannot locate where an ending and a beginning could be. In truth, there is and never has been one. So, I look forward to our sharing on these matters.
*Brian Wilcox. 'connections'. Flickr
(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019
The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.