Last Saturday it topped 100 degrees in Palm Springs, and while everyone else huddled near their air conditioners, I hit the pool. It’s a fairly big, well-maintained pool for the community where I’d been staying as a friend’s guest. I had her place mostly to myself, and, at tea time on this particular day, I had the pool to myself as well. No distractions. Bliss.
I’m not a great swimmer, but I swam a set of laps in my awkward way and played with kicks and water-robics to work out some kinks. I also sat for a while in the shadier of two hot tubs and said hallelujah when I realized its jets were positioned perfectly to simultaneously massage the small of my back and my feet. Yes.
Granted, hot tubs are counterintuitive on hot days, but desert dryness makes it work. Feeling sufficiently cooked after 10 minutes, I jumped back into the pool to cool off. The sun was already working through my last layer of SPF 50, so I splashed over to a shady corner and stood up. I looked back out at the pool’s sunlit surface, and noticed the water.
That sounds weird, I know. Obviously, I was already aware of the water. But it wasn’t until I just stood there and looked that I truly saw it.
After a moment, I realized my mind has been so well-trained to interpret the water surface as “silvery” that I’d overlooked its spectacular colors. It rippled with circles of bright sunlight, deep sky blue, a nearly-neon light turquoise, a dark turquoise carried up from the pool floor, flashing rings of lavender and orange, and patches of mauve and ochre reflections of the arid hills. Every bit of the surface was alive with motion because both I and the air were breathing.
I couldn’t believe that in all these years, this was the first time I’d ever stood in a pool that particular way, with the sun at my back, “merely” watching sunlight cast such specific, amazing colors across the surface. How much else hadn’t I been seeing?
With the sun still behind me, I stepped out to the center of the pool—just 5 feet deep—and looked down at my own silhouette. Around it, sunlight rippled in bright refracted patterns over the turquoise floor. I moved my hands in the water to speed up and slow the shifting rings and lopsided ovals. In a marvelous illusion, they appeared to emanate from my shadow self and interact with every other drop of water and flash of light.
Years ago, a beloved friend wrote this on my birthday: “Life is a garden, not a road. Where you go matters less than what you notice.” For a long time, seeing has been part of my practice and my gift. But sometimes I forget and my vision dulls.
I needed the water’s reminder to keep practicing. To revel in the interconnected, restless aliveness of what’s right in front of me. So much becomes clearer when I look where the sun is pointing.
Holly Thomas is a member of the Sourcing The Way Council and a writer, editor, writing coach, and artist. This is the second of a series in which she’ll share “glimpses” that come to her through meditation, Sourcing, the occasional “bolt from the blue, ” or as in this post, simply noticing.
Holly Thomas is a member of the Sourcing The Way Council and a writer, editor, writing coach, and artist. This is the first of a series in which she’ll share “glimpses” that come to her through meditation, Sourcing, and the occasional “bolt from the blue.”
I was listening to a radio interview with a holocaust survivor who had decided to tell his story after 70 years of hiding his concentration camp tattoo and keeping quiet. What convinced him to speak out was seeing a picture of himself on a website that claims the holocaust never happened. The site had labeled as fake a photo of the emaciated child he’d been at Auschwitz. Every time he showers he still thinks of the gas chambers. Asked his most vivid memory of being 4 years old, he said “the smell of burning human flesh.”
I put my head in my hands, and for a few seconds something shifted behind my tears. I, or I AM, felt and “experienced” the immensity and range of what people go through. I felt this immensity as what Experience experiences through us. I perceived it as how Source/God/All-that-is, by any name, discovers what it’s like to be embodied in human form and to explore existence ruthlessly, beautifully, or both, in every possible variation on human life. I got a glimpse of that totality—the expanse and the intimacy, the detachment and the care.
Often when my awareness leaps to some ‘higher order’ perspective, an image appears in my mind’s eye. It usually stays just long enough for me to register it, then disappears. This time, the image was an enormous sphere made up of every human life. I could see each person as alive and distinct, standing alone inside the cupped shape of his or her own existence. The cups were crowded together, but each held only one person.
The result was much like the spherical cluster of individual blossoms in a giant allium. Within each blossom, the stamens and pistil have plenty of room, even though the sphere itself looks crowded.
Zoomed in close enough to watch one person speaking, I simultaneously sensed our union within some living sphere, and the sharp necessity of our individuality. When the image zoomed back out, I saw the sphere’s entirety and felt a relentless curiosity—the Curiosity of whatever un-nameable Source we arise from.
At first that curiosity was frighteningly ‘other’, but as soon as I named my fear, compassion replaced it. Not my own compassion, but a sense of the Source’s concern for the human experience. Source may be an artist devoted to experiencing everything that is possible to experience, even when that includes vast cruelties and injustices. But in that moment, what I sensed at its center was goodwill—an affinity for love, if not love itself. Source seemed almost magnetically attracted to how we, and perhaps all sentient beings, encounter, recognize, and embody Grace. I felt Its sureness that our lives, as part of the entire living whole of individuality, somehow make Grace more real.
What I sensed is that Source, by whatever name, is not only curious, but kind. Maybe that’s because kindness fascinates it. Or maybe it’s because Source is as hopeful as it is inventive.
Perhaps what prompted the beginning of individuated consciousness was as much the yearning for company as a desire to experience and explore. Perhaps when Source set itself on a path toward embodying that consciousness, it discovered that beings capable of Grace do more to satisfy its yearning. Perhaps hope and kindness are things sentient beings invented—gifts Source cherishes and wants more of.
These many words fail to capture what it felt like for a few moments to sense into the All of us living as all of us. To connect with the potential majesty in every act of being, and the particular beauty in acts of being that offer courage, hope, forgiveness, grace, and love.
The practice of truth-seeking requires that I ask myself whether this vision was wishful thinking. Maybe there is no goodwill in some original Source of being. Maybe Source is immensely indifferent and our capacities for compassion and grace are just two flecks of color on an infinite canvas of creation. That’s not my preferred version of All That Is, but would it change anything? Each of us can still embody Grace. If Source exists but doesn’t care, our ability to look one another in the eyes and see mystery there, and to love into that mystery, is something from which even Source itself might learn.
On 10 July 2016, I meditated on the words that could perfectly represent what calls to me most deeply – my essential purpose and work in the world. About three minutes in, the below started to arrive and I was compelled to get up and start writing. It is true that supporting people in realizing and accepting their own divinity brings me unsurpassed joy. And in the context of Sourcing The Way, our work goes beyond the client’s Self-realization to include living and working beyond ego, as a radiantly whole person or organization. May these words be of service.
To Each One of My Dear Clients and Beloveds:
Time is short. Nonexistent, actually. So let us be brief: You are a unique Avatar, Buddha, Christ. You are a creator god on Earth; and even such expansive language understates Your majesty.
By some miracle, we humans have the experience of life, and we have the experience that everything in life comes from something else. Through investigation, and given enough time and resources, we always seem to be able to find the source of whatever it is that we are investigating. This ability to inquire is certainly one of our greatest gifts. We are born with the capacity to explore life and discover the source of it. And when we find the source of life, we also find the source of peace, happiness, and flow…
The word “self-realization” is especially challenging to define, since what it refers to must be experienced to be understood, and yet the fullness of what is revealed is beyond intellectual understanding. Nevertheless, with a bit of good fortune, we may taste the nectar of self-realization by taking a little journey together.
Many Eastern wisdom traditions hold that reality, a.k.a. the world, is experienced as a projection of forms from a source that is beyond the forms projected, much like a movie appears on a screen thanks to a very bright light at the back of the theater. In the 20th-century analogy, the projector beams moving images onto a two-dimensional screen; and though the images are flat, people easily identify themselves with the activity happening in front of them. In the second decade of the 21st century, we are beginning to see holographic projections, in which the images produced are three-dimensional. Once this technology has been perfected, humans will have created a powerful tool for understanding “Maya” – the world of illusions, or divine display – by losing themselves in three dimensions.
I left Seattle on October 8 for an extended journey in service to humanity’s evolution. My first stop was the San Francisco Bay Area, where I spent two incredible weeks with “sacred subtle activists” connected with the Gaiafield Project and had the opportunity to dip into the Bioneers and Science and Nonduality conferences. On October 16, while meditating on a mountaintop – yes, really… in the Santa Cruz Mountains – I received a spontaneous transmission of spiritual and soul healing and experienced, in an incredibly gentle way, the release of psychological death.
After ten beautiful days of family time and self-care in North Carolina, I continued on to London with a commitment to support transformation for the financial services sector. My business partner in Sourcing the Way, Maria Baeck, lives in Canary Wharf, which is one of the major financial hubs in the world. Our approach to industry transformation includes both exoteric and esoteric aspects: We work with key individuals in the industry who are absolutely committed to life-affirming (r)evolution of that industry, and we work with the transpersonal heart and consciousness of the industry as a higher-order being, or superorganism.
Since my psychological death (and Maria’s as well, for that matter), the potency of our subtle/esoteric work has seemingly jumped off the scale. For brevity and readability’s sake, the depths and details of the consciousness technologies we have developed will be shared elsewhere. Suffice it to say for the moment that in the case of industry transformation, the process begins with realizing oneness with the industry as a whole and with the corporations that predominate. Then, both for and as the inner heart and consciousness of these entities we verify that there is an awakened desire to transform in service to life. (We find that this is almost always the case; and when it’s not the case, it’s not yet right timing for transformation.) Then, both for and as these entities, we make a number of specific commitments to realize transformation for the optimal well-being of ALL.
It is typical that within a few days or weeks (at most) of working in this fashion, we start to see in the media – or hear about through back channels – significant advances, breakthroughs, and/or shifts. Our first few experiments involved Ebola (the next day I read about an experimental vaccine that was 100% effective in treating monkeys), Israel-Palestine (a ceasefire was announced two days later… and obviously there’s still plenty of work to do), Ukraine (a ceasefire was announced the next day, and again there’s plenty of work left to do), and a number of corporations that shall remain nameless, but which seemed to shift in ways that at least we perceived to be positive and life-aligned.
One of my personal favorites is the story of a coaching client who was teaching a seminar to 10,000 employees at one of the world’s largest oil companies. In one of our sessions, we were inspired to connect with the inner heart and consciousness of this multinational corporation in order to support it “in its highest expression, consciously flourishing for the optimal well-being of ALL.” Three days later, our client emailed to say that various computer systems had been acting up in bizarre ways, that everything felt shaky, that she felt a strong need to ground and take salt baths, etc. When we reconnected with the inner heart and consciousness of the corporation, we received that it was trying to get our attention, that it was announcing its transformation, and that all we needed to do was commit to support that, without needing to know how or what form it would take. Soon after we did this, our client reported that everything had settled down in “the field.” However, in the weeks following, the price of oil plummeted, rendering the Tar Sands uneconomical and reshaping the global energy markets…
Of course, all of these anecdotes could simply be coincidences; and we can offer no conventional explanations for how esoteric work “behind the veil of separation” might influence super complex systems that are believed to operate according to the rules of causality and locality. Perhaps one day scientists will discover that the beautiful indeterminacy of super complex systems opens up the possibility of nonlocal and acausal connectivity on a macroscopic scale. In the meantime, we are intrigued by the extremely high correlation of doing subtle work and then being surprised by unexpected shifts. The correlation feels to be about 0.8 for the first year; and we sense that it has been rising since our psychological deaths. And, yes, we would welcome a way to study this scientifically!
A strong intention of this “world tour” is to connect with sacred sites. During two of my previous trips to the United Kingdom, Maria and I visited Avebury, an ancient and subtly vibrant Neolithic destination with stone circles, avenues, and burial mounds. This time we visited Stonehenge with Dr. Jude Currivan, who is on a scientific advisory board for both Stonehenge and Avebury and who has great expertise regarding the archaeology of sacred sites around the world.
In honoring and entering into relationship with the ancient monuments and temples of humanity that remain today – unifying us across epochs of time – we sense that we are being gifted with greater capacities to offer healing to both the human collective and Mother Earth. Our next stop is India, where we will spend a month working with the School of Inspired Leadership and visiting sacred sites along the way.
Meanwhile, the Paris attacks and an outbreak of violence in Africa and Europe have shifted our focus from industry transformation to healing the underlying causes of terrorism, which bombings and retaliatory policies will never accomplish. The very first words that came to me in meditation after the #ParisAttacks were: “This is the swan song of separation.” Then a little bit later I was given the following:
The forces that would separate themselves are fighting with ever more zeal because on some level they’re aware, rightly, that the Apocalypse is approaching. However, the deeper meaning of the Apocalypse is dropping the veil of separation, and in this sense the forces of division are correct: The end is near for the world based on separation. Ironically, many are fighting in the name of Unity and will receive what they’re fighting for, if not in the forms imagined.
As an “intervention,” Maria and I were inspired, individually and then working in circle with another friend, to realize oneness with humanity and then, both for and as humanity, to cultivate “unity and harmony in the one family of Abraham” and to liberate “disunity and disharmony in the one family of Abraham.” Later, in relation to Islamic State I could feel a great force saying, “We will not be trampled on any longer!” This gave me a visceral sense of my brothers and sisters, the sons and daughters of Ishmael, however estranged we may all be in the present world situation of reinforced separation.
Another meditative insight is that the overall context can be likened to a modern-day version of the Mahabharata – a collective (in this case) spiritual initiation conjoined with an utterly tragic and maximally convoluted war on seemingly external battlefields. To the extent that the situation is convoluted beyond what our historical conditioning can handle, we are being forced to resolve the problem from a higher (as in more unified) level of consciousness and awareness. In other words, we are being challenged to evolve our minds, our hearts, and our souls… and the invitation to let go of that which we believe separates us from our neighbors is becoming more and more insistent.
There is much more that could be shared from our meditative inquiries thus far into patterns of violence. An interesting follow-on is what happened the night of my birthday, November 21, when Maria experienced debilitating jaw pain that was apparently linked to global terrorism. It seems that, in showing up with a total commitment to serve the collective healing of this issue, the issue showed up in us (physically for Maria), albeit in a different and thankfully subtler form. By engaging in much the same way that we work with our advanced clients, we were able to resolve the jaw pain; and our sense is that there will also be an overall lessening in the intensity of violence in the coming days and weeks. Meanwhile, we will remain open and continue to address, systematically, whatever symptoms may arise, knowing that the results go far beyond what can be locally or causally explained.
The following night, walking back along the docks from our favorite Indian restaurant, Maria and I were inquiring into a persistent cough that I have had to sometimes greater though mostly lesser degrees for a long time. She heard the words “speaking truth” and had an intuitive sense that I was holding back from speaking what I know, which was certainly the case. To share this openly what is, for us, a nearly continuous flow of the miraculous, beyond “reasonable” explanations, is risky from a conventional perspective. And yet, the part of me that feared taking risks, being deeply seen, and being shunned for speaking truth is what died on October 16. So, on the spot I committed to speak truth, whatever Truth has to say, come what may… Literally that very second a firework launched from the roof of a nearby building. It was not a holiday – Guy Fawkes Night had come and gone – and, truly, that was the only firework we saw or heard all evening.
According to Greg McKeown, one thing that may prevent us from reaching the next level (whatever that may be) is “success”.
A somewhat mind-boggling statement as we are used to thinking that once we are “successful” then we have it covered. Now having heard him speak to his inquiry and findings, his statement makes perfect sense. As the word “successful” is riddled with assumptions and connotations, I’m looking at it through a broader lens. I hold it to mean “a frame of mind where we feel content and in balance”.
Below is an inspiring short video (5 min) that speaks to staying successful through providing space for reflection, to help us discern what carries the most meaning in our lives, personally as well as professionally.
Allowing Greg’s message to bridge to what Sourcing the Way offers, language courtesy Jeff Vander Clute, we resonate strongly with following a path of:
Discerning the essence
Opening space regularly to stay in the flow
Developing the capacity to say no (gracefully, respectfully) to the inessential