Friday, January 20, 2006


Integration, integrity, wholeness, completion, wellness, healing… These things are the work of soul. The work is done within and without, inner and outer, internal and external, the self and the world. The primary tools are seeing and hearing—having eyes that see, ears that hear, and a heart that understands. When things are seen, heard, and understood—when they are greeted with, welcomed with Presence—when they are seen to be, known to be, and allowed to be what they are, as they are, something happens. A shift occurs. Things change. It may be more gradual than we would like, but nothing can remain as it is once it has been seen for what it is. Or, if it does remain as it is, its impact will change. It will not mean the same thing it meant before it was seen, heard, known, understood. And, if a thing’s meaning changes, it doesn’t matter if it changes or not.

Integration, integrity, wholeness, completion, wellness, healing… These things come about when we attend the world within and without; when we listen to what is being said, and to what is also being said; when we see what is being done, and what is also being done; when we witness what is happening, and what is also happening. Nothing is forced. Everything is received, welcomed, honored. Everything is allowed its rightful place at the table. The lion lays down with the lamb, and all are safe in the compassionate mindfulness of attending presence.

There is movement when something is seen for what it is. This might be called “the shift of recognition.” The phrase, “Oh, NOW I see,” is always accompanied by a physical shift in the person seeing. Her, or his, facial expression changes. Her, or his, posture becomes more erect. There is a different tonal quality to her, to his, voice. Seeing has a physical component, a physical impact. We see and we shift. We see and things change.

Once we see, we cannot live as though we do not see. We can deny what is “there” only so long as we do not see what is “there.” Once seen, we have to act in the service of the vision. We have to live out of the truth we know to be true. We can only kid ourselves so much. When our eyes are opened, the pretense is over, and we live in light of “that which is.”

It is not surprising, given the power of seeing, and hearing, and understanding, that so much effort goes into “spinning” perceptions and describing how things are in terms of how we want them to be, or how we want them to be perceived. “I’m not getting older; I’m getting better.” “I’m not grotesquely obese; I’m just a tad overweight.” Of course, negative spins are also popular with some. “I’m old and over the hill, and can’t do anything but sit here and wait for the undertaker.” And, anorexic young people cannot get out of their minds how fat they are. Right seeing changes everything. Moves everything toward the center; toward itself; toward what it is, and toward what it needs to be.

If we saw everything there is to see regarding the implications and outcomes and results of our behavior and attitudes, we would behave, and think, differently. We live as we do because we have narrow little limited perceptions of reality. It pays us to not know what we are doing. We get by with a lot more that way. We build the factories that pollute the air that warms the earth by telling ourselves there is no correlation between our factory and the disappearance of glaciers and the melting the ice caps. If we had known then what we know now, our now would be vastly different.

It hurts to see. We cannot see without things changing. And, we like things as they are. We hate turbulence and chaos and transformation. We hate not having life like we like it, not having what we want, not having things our way. Seeing changes everything. Not just the things we want changed. Once we see, we have to serve the vision, or cut ourselves off from our soul. That’s the story of Eden and Gethsemane. Not Seeing has its outcome, and Seeing has its outcome. Pick your poison.

Integration, integrity, wholeness, completion, wellness, healing… These things come with a price. We can want what we have no business having, which can include wanting to stay within the safety of the “tried and true,” and never venturing beyond how things are “supposed to be,” to push against the limits and stroll through the unmapped regions where “there be dragons.” How does what we want contribute to disintegration, fragmentation, separation, and division? In order to be married, goes the saying, we have to give up our idea of marriage. In order to be healed, and whole, and integrated, and “at-one,” “in synch,” with ourselves, we have to give up our idea of what it means to “have it made.” We may find that integration means being okay, at home, with parts of ourselves, for instance, that we never thought we could tolerate and always wanted to “disappear.” Once we see, things change, but the change may not be what we had in mind.

It takes courage, resolve, willfulness, intention, deliberation, commitment and determination to live toward integration, integrity, wholeness, completion, wellness and healing. There are strong forces pulling us apart, interfering with our ability to see, and hear, and understand. The seeing, hearing, and understanding have to take those forces into account and attend them, become aware of them, bring them into focus, and see them, hear them, understand them for what they are. Only then can things shift and move forward.

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