We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
TS Eliot (Little Giddings)
Some psychologists suggest that for most people, 75 – 80% of our lives are lived in the past . . . each day, we are 75 – 80% of the time living out of our past . . . that how we look at the world, how we live in the world, relate to one another is largely influenced by our past cultural experiences, our community, and our family conditioning. And it is through this lens we consciously or subconsciously interpret and experience our day and our lives.
And when 75 – 80% of our daily lives/encounters/thinking is based on rehashed experiences and meanings from the past, there is very little experience in the present where we are open to our connection to what is holy and life-giving and life connecting. Our minds and realities become small in that it all revolves around our personal longing, fear, doubts, joys or wishes And our connections with others can become tribal, exclusivist, and self-confirming.
And while this makes perfect sense and is really pretty normal, and at times very comforting, it is also the basis for a lot of our anger and disunity and suffering and narrow-mindedness in the world. So the real challenge for faith and a deeper spirituality is to let go of this “past” lens through which we see the world, and to explore having a big mind in our increasingly narrow-minded and divisive culture.
I recently pulled out my copy of Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It was curious to be reminded that he speaks to the importance of this ability to grasp the “bigger picture”, to see wider possibilities and options than simply the ones we’re most comfortable with. It is learning to let go of assumptions and seeing with a larger, open mind that leads to greater connections in work and life. The 14th-century theologian and Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart put it this way, “The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love. And Jesus said it this way, “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” All of the great religions speak to this letting go of the particulars to experience the largeness of life. Of course, it’s the letting go that trips us up!
I am starting a new series of talks exploring the wider connections in our lives, and the words of Jeremiah, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord’, because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” There is a kind of “big mind” seeing that reminds us we are all grounded in the same being of the eternal. In this “new covenant” we are interconnected in mysterious and wonderful ways.
This Sunday, September 9, singer/songwriter Hannah Kirby (finalist with The Voice, 2016) will be back with us and we’ll start our new series: “THIS is HOW — ‘Big Mind’ Help for Narrow-Minded Times”
I hope you can join us at The Historic 512!
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven