Where are you focusing your attention? Do you spend most of your mental energy mired in the minutia of day-to-day affairs? Do you ever take the time to lift your gaze upward towards a more global and visionary perspective – that which I am calling here our “spiritual horizon”?
Imagine this in your mind’s eye for a moment – your head is tilted downward and your eyes are directed towards this physical life around you. There you see your physical body, the stuff around you, your interactions with other people and your daily list of action items. Your mental coin is being spent on all your worldly activities – your daily habits mixed with your commitments and obligations.
Now imagine your head shifting up a bit and your eyes moving their gaze to the distant horizon. There we see that there is a much larger world around us and that the events of our life are relatively small in comparison with this vast earth in which we are immersed. Yet, at that distant horizon, we sense that vastness continuing on beyond our perception. The truth of life is bigger than we can perceive directly by our gaze – but somehow we know that life extends beyond the horizon.
There’s nothing wrong with focusing upon the details of our immediate life around us. In fact, if we don’t spend some time taking care of our basic needs and commitments, we would not be able to survive in this physical world. The vulnerability is that we become so seduced and enthralled by these mundane and minute events that we lose perspective and forget that our real truth and our real lives are so much bigger.
I’ve had some interesting experiences lately interacting with people who are living through worldly situations that are less than what they desire. I’ve watched them struggle with being so attached to certain specific outcomes in the minutia going on around them that relatively small events can trigger relatively large personal pain. The problem, of course, is that these individuals don’t see what they desire as being “small” nor their life events is being “minutia”. They see what they see and they want what they want.
Outsiders can’t tell them to try and see it differently – generally that only gets them upset and they redirect their frustration at their well-intentioned advisor telling them they” just don’t understand”. I’ve learned to simply love and listen to people who are stuck only offering gentle guidance when I think it will be accepted. I know that in time they will hopefully shift their gaze, see their world differently and release their attachments to these inconsequential events. You can’t do it for them, they have to do it themselves.
I’m no saint. I’m not immune to this same struggle. I’ve often become mired in the stuff of life around me and not able to see the bigger picture. I’ve had to go through the personal pain of attachments to certain outcomes in order to eventually release them and gain the gift of some greater wisdom along the way. Fortunately, I get stuck less and less – but it does still occur!
In my upcoming book Our Spiritual Evolution: Transcending the Third Dimension, I talk about how we simultaneously live in two worlds. Our animalistic evolutionary past ties us to physical hardwired needs and desires that keep us in survival mode. This stuff is what we all too often are looking at when our gaze is downward. Our spiritual evolutionary future calls us to personal growth and development, to seek the farthest reaches of human nature, to transcend our physical habits and addictions and to reach forward towards our spiritual calling. This pull is what we sense when we gaze outward at our spiritual horizon. We know there is something grander and greater calling us beyond the smallness of our individual lives.
I often picture it as if we are living with one foot in the physical world and one foot in the spiritual world – shifting our weight back and forth between our two legs based on where our current focus is directed. Many spiritual teachers have called us to become aware of this evolutionary path and to see it as the development or deepening of our consciousness.
Indian mystic and sage Sri Aurobindo described our evolutionary path as moving from the subconscient where we are influenced by our physical bodies to a more mental state where we use the power of our conscious thoughts to direct our lives and that our ultimate evolutionary goal lay in higher levels of mind that he called the “overmind” and “supermind”. (Link to summary of his evolutionary levels.)
More recently, philosopher Ken Wilber (heavily influenced by Aurobindo) describes the path (in most of his writings but especially in his book Up from Eden) as being from the subconscious levels of matter into the realm of self-conscious egoic minds of humans and towards the higher levels of superconscious awareness where we grasp the subtle, causal and ultimately timeless and perfect realms of spirit.
Our evolutionary future is more vast that our limited conscious awareness can frequently grasp. When we are stuck in the smallness of the events of our individual lives, it’s difficult to sense that there is a greater possibility calling us. Somehow we must learn to let go of being mesmerized by what are ultimately inconsequential and trivial matters. We must lift our gaze to our spiritual horizon and recognize that we are immersed and intimately united within the world of oneness.
The irony is that as we gaze out past the spiritual horizon we are again called to go inward. This time though our gaze is not upon our worldly events but instead moves deeper to that place within us where life animates us – to tap into the source of our individual life and through the power of meditation and reflection to become absorbed within the power that moves us and created us and gave us the gift of this very experience. That place is ultimately our spiritual home and our spiritual horizon is calling us to it.
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!