I keep being surprised when paying attention to the small stuff sharpens my appreciation for larger and more abiding concerns, including the way I experience time.
Noticing the passing moments and days, I notice the tendencies and opportunities present in the whole of my life. From there, my environment can feel more open, more allowing. New activities and new directions appear as if out of the shadows. For instance, I may follow up an interest I scarcely knew I had, into something I had previously considered beyond my capacity to understand.
Perhaps understanding is always like that: an area of knowledge that seemed unapproachable from the outside welcomes us as soon as we take a step into its world. That step can feel like the cracking of a sheet of ice in springtime, or the seemingly sudden calving of a huge glacial shelf in Greenland: not a sudden occurrence at all.
A shift recently occurred for me that was more personal than the waltz of trees budding and dropping their leaves; and of miniscule importance in the face of the changes our planet is now experiencing. I simply started reading a book.
I purchased “The Religion of Tomorrow”: by Ken Wilber and have been reading it every day. Weighing in at almost 1000 pages, it isn’t a light read, but 7% in (as my Kindle measures reading progress), I already feel at home in its pages.
This book explores how things fit together globally and how an evolution that has been going on for centuries is changing both society and human consciousness. The author, Ken Wilber, uses the terms Integral and Integral Spirituality to invoke this evolution, in which the irreplaceable insights preserved by traditional religions—frozen for a thousand years or more—are finally connecting with current discoveries about life.
I first encountered “Integral Spirituality” through Bruce Alderman, who recently interviewed me on his “Integral Stage” channel:
Perhaps I’ll say more about my experience reading this book, as I forge ahead from the 7% water line, but for now I’d like to share how maintaining my relationship with a pendulum clock is making me aware of the overall stream of time in which I live.
I’m now winding my pendulum clock three times a week, in order to keep it running. For more than a decade, it’s been my faithful companion in the stream of time, reminding me to pay attention to how moments become days and weeks, and how if I don’t respond when possibilities call to me, I probably never will. In that spirit, I realized that I had assumed that Integral Spirituality was too complex for me. As with particle physics and neurological mappings of the brain, I appreciate visiting some fields of inquiry when a layman’s guided tour is available, but I don’t imagine that I could go further into them.
A few steps into this book, I’m discovering that I have been exploring some of its themes in my own parallel universe. I too have been noticing that a comprehensive evolution toward unity is occurring in our world, and that it is engaging more and more people. And I too find spiritual support in an intersection of traditional religion and daily life in our ever-changing world. It is heartening to learn that the obvious decline in the impact of traditional religions (slipping into the shadows along with their deep understanding of inner being) not only has an historical background (that they speak for the concerns and perspectives of fewer and fewer people) but that a coming together of ancient understanding and life as it is lived in our world is occurring in widespread ways.
It is common knowledge that traditional religions have failed to incorporate the great strides in the understanding of ordinary life that have been made in the intervening centuries. But reading about a ground on which ancient insight into being and an evolving understanding of ongoing life in the cosmos are meeting one another, feels like a light immerging from under a bushel that has been covering it for thousands of years.
It’s too soon to say whether–for me personally or for our world–a unifying coherence that has been hovering in the shadows will enable disparate understandings to recognize their connections with one another. But I can already sense a potential shift in myself that I hope will—by opening up into new fields of exploration—create adventures to carry me through my remaining days.