It is the known which veils the surprise.
In active acceptance the unexpected comes to you.
*Jean Klein. I Am.
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Note - In this writing, "heart" refers to the vital, or feeling, aspect, whereas I usually use "heart" for Spirit immanent in the human (i.e., soul, spirit, True Self, Self), the doorway to Spirit's cosmic aspect. To live in the communion I indicate below, the vital aspect needs healing enough to welcome it. Before we enjoy consistent, subtle, and transpersonal intimacy with Spirit and others, we undergo healing of the vital aspect: mind (mental), body (physical), and heart (feeling) need sufficient receptivity to allow the intimacy to flourish over time. Otherwise, the heart will keep opening and closing. Devotional spirituality provides a safe space of love and trust for healing, so the heart can consistently be open with Spirit and among others. Openness does not mean receptivity, however, to abusive relationships or a felt-need to like or share time with anyone. One learns there is an intimacy that transcends the egoic idea of intimacy, and, so, does not include how the ego previously interpreted it. Yet, this is a wisdom we learn, no one can teach it. Last, one could say the Contemplative Life is a life lived in inner communion, with heart and mind and body together in the silent welcoming of unceasing devotion.
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The Jews in a small town in Russia were eagerly awaiting the arrival of a great Hasidic Rabbi. The people spent much time preparing, for this was to be a rare event.
When the Rabbi arrived, all met in the town hall. He sensed tension, as all prepared to listen to the answers he would give. The Rabbi said nothing at first, only he gazed into their eyes and hummed a melody. Soon, everyone began to hum with him. He started to sing, and they sang with him. He swayed and danced in solemn, measured steps, and they joined in. They became so involved in the dance, so absorbed in its movements, they forgot everything else on Earth. And every person was made whole inwardly, healed, and could see the inner Truth.
The dancing continued for almost an hour. Afterward, everyone sat in silent peace that pervaded the hall. The Rabbi spoke the only words he said that evening: "I trust I have answered your questions." He left without saying another word. Everyone went home glad of heart.
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The Hasidic Jews speak of devekut. Devekut is Hebrew for "communion, sharing, fellowship." The Hasidic affirms the Holy's presence in the world and fellowship between the "upper realm" and "lower realm." In this communion, dance can be an answer, prayer can be laughter, praise can be a teardrop, silence can be "Thank You."
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In Silence, one can sense a movement from lesser to greater receptivity, and opening and closing to this fellowship. Spaciousness may arise and descend, and one may sense motions of connection to a specific person or thing to a more general openness to everything. Consciousness is dancing, and we observe its movements. We see how consciousness naturally moves toward communion, and when it moves away, is drawn back toward communion.
These are the movements, including when the heart is closed in on itself, that goes on outside times in Silence. We learn, by observing mindfully, this fluctuation between the polarity of receptivity and non-receptivity. Hence, we become more skillful in living with openness, though openness has varying degrees from barely to very. Even when living open-hearted, one can meet someone, talk, and the heart expands, then, when leaving, retracts some. This is natural, while the heart as the soul is naturally all-including and all-open always.
While doing this writing, I had two conversations with persons unfamiliar to me, both for booking rentals. In each, I felt a spirit-connection, so joy and uplift of heart. Naturally, based on varied factors, as in, contact with another, engagement in a work we enjoy, weather, physical health, stress, fatigue, and so forth, the vital will alternate. We cannot sustain a consistent wide-openness, but we can in the soul in a more subtle connection with Life. Obviously, also, the more the self lives from the Spirit, or the Spirit through the self, the more and deeper will be the vital joy and other uplifting sensations of affect. Hence, the healthier one will be emotionally and physically and spiritually.
Also, as we move more into Spirit through the heart as soul, we rely less on the vital. The vital is taken up more into the transpersonal. Feeling is spiritualized, and you do not experience emotion as you once did. There is a nonpersonal element to transpersonal affect, for it is denuded of the egoic. When personal emotion moves through consciousness, it quickly recedes back into the transpersonal. An example of this is when a person loses desire to live in happiness in preference for living joyfully - joy is a subtle affect free of the personal.
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If due to hurt, the heart closes, one can patiently wait for the heart to reopen or engage spiritual practices to assist it to reopen. One does not need to pursue being open all the time. Sometimes, the heart is closed wisely, for it is not prepared to receive the communion that is arising to it or it needs aloneness for healing. Be gentle in these matters. Gentleness itself is healing for the vital aspect.
Yet, the heart hardens - to use an old reference-, when the heart remains closed too long. Persons say, "She is hard-hearted" for such persons. Yet, even then, the heart can receieve healing through Grace and open freely again, tender and responsive to Life. However, there must be the will to open back up. As long as a person keeps the lock on the door of her heart, it will remain closed not only to others but the Divine. Yet, Grace can transform the hard to tender.
Hebrew Bible, Ezekiel 36.26 -
A new heart I will give you. A new spirit I will put in you. I will remove from you the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
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We can see the Rabbi in the above story as representing Life inviting us to join together in Its dance of unity with Itself and all beings, human and otherwise. Then, we find dancing is more enjoyable than not-dancing, and the openness we once feared becomes a well-spring of new possibilities and unforeseen surprises. Most of all, we find and feel love everywhere, for the sense of love flows through the vital aspect. As Klein says - the unexpected comes to you.
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*(C) Brian K. Wilcox, 2020
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher FirstBooks. The book is a collection of poems based on mystical traditions, especially Christian and Sufi, with extensive notes on the teachings and imagery in the poetry.