Recently I came across an old CD of some excerpts that Michael and I picked out in 1990. As a listener to New Dimensions, you’ve heard me say that one of my prayers is to notice the signals coming from spirit. So, with curiosity as to what I might find on this decades old program, I put it into my CD player. One of the excerpts included part of our dialogue with holistic counselor and teacher, Gloria Karpinski. Although she is talking about the difference between religion and spirituality, her metaphor reaches into deep wisdom that most especially applies today as our culture has become ever more divided by polarizing viewpoints. Often our grip on what we see as “truth” could be likened to a bulldog gripping its bone with resolute tenacity.
Here, Gloria shares an eloquent metaphor that helps me to ease into the possibility of widening my lens of perception to include a greater frame.
I often go to my inner guidance with a question. When I inquired about the confusion between spirituality and religion, I was shown this image: There was water flowing everywhere. There was not a place that it was not flowing. It was freely given. You could not earn it.
Then I saw a variety of containers. Some were tall and skinny and some were short and fat. Some were plain and some very ornate.
All of the containers had some of the water. None of the containers had all of the water. As long as the containers kept the water flowing, it was still living water and viable.
I then understood that the minute you put a lid on a container and said we’ve got the water, it stagnated and was no longer living water.
The containers are human made. They grow organically out of the culture that birthed them. They are ornate or tall or short or whatever. I’m not putting down containers because we live in a dimension of form. We have physical bodies. You and I are using words and they are containers. We need to respect and value them.
However, I think we must not be confused about the container and the water. Because the water is the living spirit and it exists everywhere. It is the height of arrogance to think any one system, any one’s container, has captured the water. My respect is great for all of the containers. But my interest and my devotion is to the water. (From Program 2192 Rhythms of Conscious Change)
The message I get from this metaphor is that the “living water” is in the process of a flow of dialogue, of an openness to new possibilities, of deep listening for a greater truth that can come out of attending to what is being spoken. In this listening there might be a word, or an image, or a concept that will open like a trap-door and we tumble into a new, greater, more effective, more inclusive possibility. If I cap off my opinion and my view as the “right” one, I’ve closed myself to the “living waters of spirit.”
To further this metaphor of a trap-door to a new place, I turn to my conversation with Brooke Williams, an advocate for the preservation of wilderness who lives in Utah with his wife and partner, New Dimensions many times guest, Terry Tempest Williams. He’s the author of many books including Mary Jane Wild: Two Walks & a Rant (btw Mary Jane refers to a wilderness area in Utah)
I made the point that we often put people in a certain boxes when they stand for something that is very disturbing to our point of view. We talked about the Rumi poem as translated by Coleman Barks: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field, I’ll meet you there.”
Brooke responded with a surprising and lens-broadening perspective:
I love that poem… It’s like we always talk about compromise and there may be a middle ground because not everyone feels the way I do. So, if we want to get along, we have to meet somewhere in the middle.
However, lately, the middle has been too far away for either side… And then I realized that that poem didn’t say between right doing and wrongdoing there is a place—it says beyond. And I think that was really a moment of epiphany for me. It’s not between, there’s somewhere out beyond that we have to get to—both of us, all of us.
I don’t know if it’s possible or not. But to me, it makes more sense… There’s a whole other place beyond where we’ve never been that we have to go. That’s what I came up with. (from Program 3750 Become a Pilgrim and Explore Inner And Outer Wilderness)