I am a little world made cunningly
Of elements and an angelic sprite,
And burn me O Lord, with a fiery zeal
Of thee and thy house, which doth in eating heal.
John Donne, 1572-1631
David Spangler's writing always make me think of cooking, as in the fiery alchemy of Donne's poem. Mostly, though, I mean cooking as in the wonderful illustration on the cover of the 1973 Tassajara Cooking book. I remember the first time I held the book and marveled at the idea expressed in the illustration. The whole of the monastery, its buildings and surroundings and meanings, its gardens and streams, seemed simultaneously the recipe, the ingredients and the resultant dish.
In graduate school, we were taught in essence that you are the trouble fed to you by your parents. It was as if the core identity was entirely the result of genetic input plus the psychological tangle of the family of origin. For David, there is so much more to it. How much more depends not on an existing set of facts, but on us.
Certainly we can include the psychological tangles of the family of origin. But for David that assumes the role of a minor ingredient compared with, for example, the four key elements of the Presence exercise: the sense we each have of a transpersonal or sacred soul; ourselves as part of the natural world; ourselves as each an element of the specifically human, but global human family; and finally ourselves in our everyday current life-contexts.
The art of cooking these ingredients means first heating each of them to the point of fragrance. With the fire of our attention, we inwardly enliven, energize, and invite each of these selves until they release their specific aroma. There is further culinary artistry in allowing the four to blend and harmonize as a single coherent, integrated person, a totality that includes them all and remains both active and open.
Amazingly, it's all there for the asking. Participants on Tuesday reported that when we asked, these distinct selves arrived: spiritual, Gaian, human-race, and quotidian. As we further asked for them to be vehicles of the sacred, of life in the widest sense, sacred life arrived to permeate them. When we asked the parts to blend, a delicious blending occurred.
The Presence exercise asks us harmonize the Venn diagram of our multiple participations and allegiances. We all always already belong to these realms. The unity within our individual multiplicity becomes coherent and evident as we perform it.
Next week, we'll move on to Chapter 8, and work in particular with the exercise "Attuning to the Soul" on p. 96. Again, as in cooking, a vessel is invoked in this exercise that can allow the incarnate personality to hold and be marinated in the soul qualities that the practitioner invites.
Remember: you can order the book in question, Working with Subtle Energies, as well as find out a lot more about the Lorian community and Incarnational Spirituality, at https://lorian.org/
all blessings to all,