Images: Acrylic originals 2012-2014
The Space is Held
In the new age and therapeutic community there is this metaphor of holding space. This basically means that (ideally..) the therapist or the facilitator is allowing people in the space of a workshop or a therapeutic context to be and feel how they are, without judgment, and without interference.
This is done for various reasons, probably the best one being that it allows space for parts of each-other to been seen and acknowledged in accordance with the healing process. Worth noting is also that sometimes its motivated by a desire of the facilitator to appear more 'with it', and so project an idea of themselves as being stronger than other people. This isn't necessarily bad, because we all take it in turns to be strong for each-other, as long as its conscious, and no-one is being exploited by the illusion.
The business and marketplace is essentially primed for and orientated around the projection of salable power, and novelty. Its interesting that the 'spiritual marketplace' is so subject to the current cultural attitude of retail therapy. Its not that the work being taught is valueless, but only that it must be marketed in order to register in the consensus paradigm as valuable.
Similarly, strength and stillness can sometimes be a presenting social armor to protect a vulnerability. The coping mechanism of never showing weakness is a common trait in this context of psychic competition. Never showing weakness, however, is a good way to get sick.
I'd like to use this context to present a foundation of spiritual practice. For this I'd like assume that the contemporary motivation of spiritual practice is integration, peace, happiness, healing, power or some combination or subjective interpretation of these things.
In the shamanic traditions the journey into darkness is an essential motif. In the teachings of the Buddha Gautama Sakyamuni, Dukkha, or suffering, is the first noble truth. The heroic journeys of the mythologies of ancient cultures inevitably present trial and challenge as the hurdles in the path to peace and harmony. Its only through our relationship to the suffering of life that we grow and strengthen. The miracle of healing is the transmutation of the darkness into beauty and meaning in relation to the whole.
Dogma can been seen as the prescription of appropriate ideology and methodology in accordance with tradition. It is inherently cultural in the sense that a group of people within an institution of knowledge more or less subscribe to it as a superior model. Dogma defines the parameters of the unknown, at best in the interests of learning, at worst in the interests of control. The seeker appeals to the dogmatic structure in the face of the uncertainty of the unknown. Dogma is a safety blanket.
In the practice of techniques of spiritual awareness, whether seeing the externalization of creative process, or in meditation or embodiment, the space of the unknown is held ready for the practitioner. It is the same space that holds all of creation. It is labeled variously as God, the Great Spirit, the Void, Oneness, the Mystery, the Cosmos, or the Universe.
The edge of learning in authentic spiritual practice is the shortest distance between the known and the unknown. Practice is paving the way into the unknown. For each stone laid, there is the space available for it. The quality of workmanship is subject to the attitude of practice. There is no path without the space.
Worship or devotion are loaded terms, and can conjure up images of irrational world views, blind faith,
charlatanism. Misunderstanding around theism, spirituality in general, and religion have tainted the act of worship. Real worship is a practice of attention and awareness on the space that is held for the presenting experience.
Worshiping the space, whether internal as in meditation or external as in creative expression, is the process of maintaining relationship to the space. In experience, space is unknown.
The space is held, by its very nature. The rational response is gratitude for and love of the space of the unknown, that allows for the unfolding of experience, endlessly and without judgment. The space is infinitely patient. This is why we can say God is Love.
The interference of dogma in social and interpersonal contexts is either informative or restrictive. The dogmatic map of experience is not the territory of authentic relationship to reality. The reclamation of the the right to assign meaning to personal experience is the empowerment available in spiritual practice.
Mysticism is the worship of the mystery of reality in the present experience. The development of practice is the unification of the subject of practice and the practitioner. The integration of the mystery is spiritual and psychological freedom, and so the practitioner is free to practice.
The space is held.