Two writers who I find very interesting are the Druid/animist philosopher Emma Restall Orr and the Carmelite theologian Ilia Delio. I thought I might try to compare and contrast the two but such a weighty endeavor is beyond me at this tail-end of the year… probably for the best as I would most likely just embarrass myself in the attempt.
But they are beautiful thinkers whose words I would like to share as we come home to the end of this strange, strange year and begin to contemplate the new one:
This thinking I, this conscious awareness, is a huge responsibility. In offering us the potential for self-determination, it also gives us the power of self-separation, of selfish destruction, kicking in a reality that has forgotten natureʻs integration.
It can be painful for natural wakefulness to become conscious awareness. For the majority, life is hard, filled with pain, struggle and confusion. Staying numb, barely using the lit mind but to perpetuate passivity, is a common choice. Not thinking is not the answer though. We must think. Our human nature has evolved by considering options, reviewing priorities, balancing needs. But equally we must strive to feel, to listen and see, allowing the simplicity of perception, of natural prehension, to give access to the shadows of the mind and wisdom held in that twilight.
For the animist, seeking to understand nature, the meditative calm of prehension affords the possibility of slipping the chains of mechanical time and measured space, to bathe in natureʻs wakeful simplicity, learning there about the purpose of being. The experience of integration which underlies that state allows us to feel too the strength that is the community of humanity. Cutting bread, chopping wood, gazing into the hearth fire, shedding tears of love and loss, walking by the riverside, laughing in a crowd, pausing to find words, in all the small actions of a simple life we become aware of how much we share with our ancestor: over millennia, little has changed in our nature. Feeling connection with our heritage, within the soul of humankind, accessing its experience, its memory and wisdom, there is more wakefulness, more strength, more ability to live with respect, in peace.
From Emma Restall Orr: The Wakeful World: Animism, Mind, and the Self in Nature
We need to rediscover the link between knowledge and love, a penetrating vision of wisdom by which one knows in a way more deeply than the mind alone can grasp. Knowledge is to deepen our participation in the whole, not to control it. When we are unconscious of our connectedness to the world of things, we cannot be intelligently related to them. We know objects as data not as mirrors of reflection. The self that is divorced from the world of conscious experience is a self that tries to control the world of experience. One knows intellectually but not intelligently; that is, one knows from the operation of the brain but not from the body of the whole person, the senses, and the emotions. Our modern system of knowledge is an efficient, mechanized system of information gathering that can now be done by a computer as well as by a human person. Knowledge is taken in as a product for individual gain. One consumes information, takes it in, chews it up, and spits it out without necessarily being changed by it. Consumptive knowledge leads to individual power without regard for the inherent good of the other. Such knowledge cannot make the human person whole; neither can it connect the human person to the larger whole of family, community, and universe. When knowledge isolates and individualizes, it fragments love into a thousand little pieces.
Wisdom is knowledge deepened by love…Evolution depends on wisdom and our capacity to love. And education plays a vital role in how we love.
From Ilia Delio, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!