View from an Empath 

Sitting on a wooden bench outside my local public house I stretch my aching legs and decide rest up a while from my countryside walk. 

There is a faint breeze ushering in the early dusk bringing with it a chill tincture of the night ahead. The smell of freshly mown grass adds to the subtle atmosphere of near perfect sanguinity I begin to feel. Taking a small sip from the cold beer held tenderly in my hand and placing it down upon the table I begin to relax even further. 

As I light my ( occasional) cigarette I watch my exhaled smoke form a brief swirling pattern in the air before finally dissipating in the gentle wind. With that last out breath I feel as if I have also cast out any feelings of tension that may have remained leaving myself in a pleasantly grounded state of awareness and reflection. 

Pausing, my attention moves to taking in whomsoever is in my vicinity on this calm and tranquil evening. 
  – the somewhat overdressed, heavily made up lady with her male partner sitting at a table on the opposite side of the lawn. It feels that she is constantly undermined and criticised. She seems to no longer to have the self confidence to escape after years of negativity. She is veritably trapped, feeling she deserves nothing more than what she has. 

  – the older gentleman sitting by himself in the corner, a baseball cap covering his eyes as he nurses his glass of spirit and ice. An ex military man, mumbling a soliloquy of painful memories and regrets. Rheumy eyes gaze blearily out from under his cap as the waitress delivers another in a long line  of shorts. It may not numb the pain but his mind will be disabled enough to compromise his ability to dwell on the past until sleep or unconsciousness overcome him. 

  – the young couple sitting nervously opposite one another across another bench. A fledgling relationship, both a little anxious about saying or doing the wrong thing laugh uncomfortably in conversation. Both fidgeting restlessly but desperately seeking each other’s eye contact. 

  – the young mother doting on her two year old, making entreaties for him to eat. Her partner sits there disinterested, texting on his mobile phone. His demeanor suggests his belief of that he is an ‘alpha male’. His overt masculinity she once found attractive, however now all she feels is oppressed and disregarded. 

  – a young man laughing and joking loudly with his male peers, feigning confidence and social adeptness. His insecurity given away by his frequent glances to his peers to assess to what degree he is accepted and as to whether his manner is being well received. 

Feeling a little depleted energy wise, I move my awareness to the surrounding landscape beyond the beer garden. The leaves on the trees shimmering in the slight breeze, the cattle grazing and  lowing quietly on the outlying hills, the coarse caws from a family of rooks passing overhead and the subtle coo of a nearby wood pigeon help to energetically reconvene. 

As I walk away to resume my stroll in the countryside I cannot help but wonder why it is that humans are seemingly so complicated and frequently so unhappy at times. Surely if we were living in our ‘natural state’ then you would think that our behaviour would be more sentient as it appears with fellow species here on Earth. 

I endeavour to leave such thoughts behind however, not wanting them to detract from the essential essence of Nature’s presence.

Primal Empathy 

Primal Empathy 

( or my current take on understanding empathic awareness) 
Within ancient cultures ( especially of the indigenous form), animism seems to have been the original belief system adopted by humanity. It’s a little paradoxical however because the ‘practice’ of, and the animist beliefs associated them were never extrinsic to man’s early existence. 
“Our original way is not a belief system. It is a lived way of life, being a participant within the whole of the living world”. (Graham Harvey 2014).
We were closer to Nature, creatures, objects and places were all perceived to have a spiritual essence. All was deemed to be animate and alive. 

Bearing this in mind it would be quite understandable that the human race had a natural empathic relationship with the world around them. 

This may thus suggest that empathy was an organic and naturally occurring emotion in early Man. 

Even today, one can still read of other cultures for whom this ethos predominates i.e. Native American and the indigenous Aboriginal let alone historical references including Hinduism and Buddhism to name but two. 

The question is, what happened? 

It seems patently obvious that currently most of society are happy to act as blind consumers of the Earth’s resources, be it animal, plant or mineral. 

Even with each other there is an ongoing one upmanship. Individuals seeking more wealth and power than our peers in order to satiate our ego’s, thus warding off the underlying feelings of insecurity and disconnection. 

Have we been socialised and conditioned out of these feelings? 

For those of who are genuinely ’empathic’ or energetically sensitive, it would explain much. 

Many of us feel :

  – a natural loving affinity for all of Nature and the Earth 

  – an acute ability to feel the pain of others including humans, animals and the environment 

  – out of place in Western Society, as if we belong elsewhere 

  – often a sense of loneliness and anxiety eased when in Nature

 So if this were the case, what can we draw from this supposition? 

I personally feel that we need to remain authentic to ourselves and to individuate as individuals. This way we can be led by Spirit to serve our worldly purpose. We may not know the whole picture but in many ways we do not need to. We can be content in the knowledge that we are here to serve a purpose and to this we must be true. We should not mistake our empathic gift to be something to be used for personal gain or to be seen in isolation as a burden on ourselves as sometimes it may seem. 

For being energetically sensitive is all about connection and realising the interconnectivity of all creation. 

I have been fortunate in having experiences of feral vision and Advaita which seem to support this scenario. 

Therefore the existence of the Oversoul / Collective Unconscious /Paramatman appears to be a defining issue in understanding true empathic feelings. 
“I feel it with my body, with my blood. Feeling all these trees, all this country. When this wind blow you can feel it. Same for country … you feel it. You can look, but feeling … that make you. Feeling make you, out there in open space. He coming through your body, look while he blow and feel with your body…because tree just about your brother or father…and tree is watching you. Earth…like your father or brother or mother, because you born from earth. You got to come back to earth. When you dead…you’ll come back to earth. Maybe little while yet…then you’ll come to earth. That’s your bone, your blood. It’s in this earth, same as for tree” (Bill Neidjie 1985).

Tat Tvam Asi……?

As many of us go through times of what seems spiritual growth a number of occurrences may happen. 

  – Our human ego becomes transparent ( as do the covert ego led actions of others). That is to say we still have instinctual urges and drives but we see them for what they are, merely actions to defend itself and preserve its fragile integrity.

  – We transcend in our awareness of the world around us, well over and above our previous human egoic based interpretations we had held before. 

  – Paradoxically we may perceive ourselves and the world around us as a vastly interconnected web yet seamless in our shared existence. 

  – Whereas our previously ‘reality’ may have been defined in human terms as the experience of life that is identified with the majority of individuals within that particular society. It may now include much numinous experience. For example of being aware of the mythic aspects of self and society. Of the subtle but substance of dreams,  visions and unexplainable personal epiphanies. 

 

If these instances occur one can easily find oneself feeling isolated and alone as few others share similar experiences. 

These feelings may not be new, especially to those of us who have ’empathic tendencies’. 

For those of us who are ‘energetically sensitive’ ( or empathic), most, if not all of our lives can be spent being misunderstood not only by others but also by ourselves! 
Ironically if we can incorporate our empathic perceptions into an understanding of the nature of existence, we see that we are far from alone. The fact that we can preternaturally sense the energies of people, places and objects suggests that there is an aspect of self in others. As in the  Sanskrit phrase ‘ Tat Tvam Asi ‘, meaning ‘ Thou art that ‘ ( from the Chandogya Upanishad). 

Empathy therefore, if one is able to nurture it effectively can be a springboard into spiritual awareness. Whereas if one sees it as a solely personal, human quality in isolation, it may well become something of a burden. 
In summary, empathic awareness along with spiritual awareness can easily leave our human, egoic selves feeling alone and isolated. Yet paradoxically from a spiritual / objectively empathic perspective the suggestion is that of the unity of all things, of there not being a identifiable separate self.

The Story Thus Far…………….

My previous post was about an epiphany I had a few weeks ago now. I have had requests to elucidate what exactly I experienced, so here goes.
I generally sense that we all grow develop in different ways in terms of spirituality, that is to say that there is no generic right path. However if we are authentic in our approach to life we have the capacity to individuate and thus are more able to fulfill our own potential.
There have been many subjects and experiences historically that have resonated with me although at the time I was not sure as to why. A kind of intuitive nudge I suspect.
These in short have been :
– sense of oneness with Nature
– Neolithic and pre Neolithic history
– ancient sites
– quantum physics
– Taoism
– Buddhism
– aspects of Paganism ( pantheism and pantheism)
– animism
– the works of Carl Jung
– deep ecology
– Hinduism
These are to mention just a few. I have also experienced instances of Advaita and to some extent Kundalini.
I also am very empathic by nature and can sense feelings and energies in people, animals and places.
However until now I had been unable to unite them into a coherent understanding of my own individual vision of the world.
My current suspicions are as follows :
– in primitive early man there was a strong empathic connection with our planet and its flora and fauna
– in sensitive and empathic individuals today this is also the case. Part of our mind is not ours but is found outside in the object. That is to say that intuitively we feel the unity with existence, that we are part and parcel of the the world around us. Thus due to this kind of unconscious link we are able to feel the energies of others and places around us. We recognize that we potentially share the same soul
– this would explain why many spiritually empathic types feel that do not belong to this world as it is currently. Due to Western Societys propensity to subjugate Nature in many of her forms, to live among the general populations casual acceptance of this is uncomfortable to say the least
– some Animistic belief systems ( e. g. American Indian cultures) recognise the Divinity in Nature and treat the world around them accordingly. This tradition and its maintenance would continue to maintain that natural empathic link.

For many people in Western Cultures these feelings are now lost or irretrievable due to the generic dualistic and Cartesian mindset. Hence many people are concerned about the environmental impact it is having upon our planet.
I hope that I have explained myself coherently as it’s rather a tricky topic to write about, mainly because the essence of it all is not about thinking but feeling.
I’m now going to have a read of the Chandogya Upanishad.

Tat Tvam Asi

Journey of an Empath 

No one person or organisation has a monopoly on truth.
Certainly when it comes to spirituality and the development of same, there are probably as many paths as there are people.
Everyone has a unique predisposition and potential inherent in themselves, all that remains is for that individual to discover it, nurture it and follow it wholeheartedly. Also to trust in their own instincts to go with whatsoever resonates with them.
Saying that our spiritual paths do have some similarities:
– the knowledge in our hearts that there is more to this human existence than our everyday life.
– an irresistible inclination to follow this regardless of our circumstances.
– a humble acknowledgement that most others will not understand, so frequently it will be a lonely quest.
– and that as with all journeys there will be times of fear, tiredness, hardship and loss of direction. Nevertheless we know that the only way is onward.
So by imparting some of my experiences I hope to reassure other travellers that if we follow our intuition, progress will eventually be made.

For a long time I have continued along my spiritual path encouraged mostly by small glimpses of insights into the nature of life and perceived reality. Also seemingly by novel interests that I have collected along the way with which I have found resonance although I knew not why at the time.
Often the way ahead is unclear.
As we tread through life we often are walking in the wilderness with no particular identifiable way forward. Sometimes there will present a choice of paths to take and we have to decide which one ‘feels’ right for us at that time. There are many distractions along the way enticing in their apparent security and material comforts but my journey consists in part of the relinquishment of such, much as the spiritual seekers of old resorted to hermetism and paucity in order to gain clarity.
And occasionally if we are truly fortunate we will arrive at a clearing and the way forward becomes clearly apparent.
That dizzying moment when all of what you have learnt and encountered before unite in a coherent picture. When ones spirituality ( which is usually difficult to define in real terms) unites with one’s individual human cognition in a way that can be physically manifested ( lived) and can also be related to others in a comprehensible manner.
Not ever exactly but in way that can be expressed to some degree.

These moments are few but when they occur one becomes revitalised and further inspired to continue. One’s experience suddenly becomes fraught with synchronicities, every breath, movement and view become numinous, imbued with holiness.
I personally have had to take a week out to be able to assimilate the most recent occurrence for fear it may overwhelm me and render me unable to effectively live my day to day existence.

However the challenge is clear. For my progress to continue, I have to unite my future actions in the world to be in alignment with my spiritual heart.
It will probably again demand I remove myself from societal norms and live life authentically as I have to respond to the call of my soul.

“The fact that a man who goes his own way ends in ruin means nothing…He must obey his own law, as if it were a daemon whispering to him of new and wonderful paths…There are not a few who are called awake by the summons of the voice, whereupon they are at once set apart from the others, feeling themselves confronted with a problem about which the others know nothing. In most cases it is impossible to explain to the others what has happened, for any understanding is walled off by impenetrable prejudices”. 

Carl Jung. 

A World in a Grain of Sand……..? 

Grateful for the opportunity to rest, I sit down leadenly in my armchair and close my eyelids. 

Outside I hear the wind press itself against the windows, giving the occasional gentle whistle where egress is found. 

The distant sound of children’s laughter, as natural as the babbling of a brook.

A soft, lilting chirrup of birdsong joins Nature’s symphony providing the perfect soundtrack to my repose. 
The generic aches and pains from my previous exertion gently remind me of my physical incarnation. I can almost feel every muscle, tendon and sinew of my body, still tender from my activity..

My heartbeat steadied to a dull regular pulse within my chest, my breathing reduced to a gentle ebb and flow. 

Slowly and tentatively I drift into an involuntary but not unwelcome meditative state.
A discreet impartial awareness arises within me, allowing a sensual acuity of my inner processes.

Words are barely able to interpret the experience. 
I can sense ( feel? hear?) the incipient vibration of air molecules upon the emanation of a distant crow’s caw. 

I can sense the almost untrackable speed with which the sound reaches my the membranes of my eardrums. 

That bundle of energetic information now rapidly traversing through a network of neurones and synapses, electrically bridging the gap between receptors to continue it’s journey. Becoming lost and indiscernable amongst the multitude of other quantum neurological activity. 
I am paradoxically both acutely and dimly aware of other physiological processes inside of me.

Of how I am a world within worlds. 

My arboreal lungs exchanging gases to maintain homeostasis. 

My arteries and veins carrying my lifeblood to the entirety of my corporeality as rivers and streams carry sustenance to the land.
My true self is indiscipherable from all that exists.

I am of the world yet also between the worlds. 

I am the earth, the air, fire, water and yet quintessentially spirit.
Returning from my reverie to my mortal existence. Back to the comparatively coarse and blunted sensorium with which my human form is endowed.

I live my life in the knowledge that all is not what it seems. 

That whatsoever my earthbound experience is at any given moment, it is simply a temporarily fleeting corporal construct.

The Ghost in the Machine ( a paradoxical reflection) 

” Listen – are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? ” – Mary Oliver. 
So, what happened? 

I understand the premise that the whole is more than the sum of parts however it gives little in the way of logical explanation. 

So a coal miner marries a factory worker who begat a son. Neither parent ( or any other relative) ever had an interest in the esoteric or spiritual. They were both very grounded in their day to day human existence. Conversation generally touched on the unremarkable topics of football, work, family members and associates. Therefore in terms of hereditary and environmental conditioning I should not be whom I am. 

Also it appears that the majority of society live similar lives to that of my parents. 

I seemingly cannot. 

I am consumed by an inner restlessness, a thirst for knowledge and understanding of the world about me. An eternal journey of inner and outer discovery, of questioning everything that I happen upon. 

Despite society’s pressure to live within recognised and largely acceptable themes, I cannot. 

Many of my feelings and ideas used to remain locked away in my head and my heart for the fear of rejection and ridicule of others. Some such were:

  – my ability to read people, their histories, their hearts desire and their hidden agendas

  – the barely tangible energies of places and people, linking past and future existences 

  – the experience of none duality, in the light of which the physical world dissolves into a dreamlike state

  – the daily synchronicities, of eels and Ouroboros, of Nataraja and quantum reality. 

 

So here I stand, watching the world go by in a neverending stream of apparently meaningless activity. Very few seemingly stopping to question what they are doing or why. Most comfortably coccooned in their experience of mortal existence, of living within the confines a predetermined, linear and purely reactive life. 

So, back to my original question. 

What happened? 

Am I cursed? Gifted? Possessed? Individuating? 

A man’s knowledge is always going to be finite in the grand scheme of things, sometimes one has to accept that there are no simple answers. 

Personally I go with gifted and individuating . 

The immense depth and painful beauty of my experience of the world though at times a little overwhelming, is something that I cherish and would never relinquish. 
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