Absorb and include

These few words express simply and elegantly the best way to learn and grow from all our experiences. If there is to be a reason why we have the experiences that we do in life, if any kind of purpose can be found in the multitude of experiences we encounter, it is to further the expansion, development and evolution of consciousness. The way we do this is by ‘absorbing and including’ the information that comes to us through the senses and also through feelings, intuition, and internal stimuli. Engage fully with the people you meet, and listen to what they have to say. Be aware of your environment and see what it is telling you. Observe your own reactions and feelings when faced with new experiences, for there is as much to learn through self-inquiry as there is from the outer world.

There are no mistakes in terms of the experiences we have in life; everything we encounter is an invitation to grow and integrate a new aspect of Being. If you notice that you keep having the same kinds of experiences or encounters in your waking or dreaming life, take that as a sign of something you have not yet integrated but are being asked to take in. If you find yourself stuck in a repetitive pattern, look more closely and be sensitive to details and particularities – perhaps there are lessons still to be learned from your present stage. Once you have absorbed and included something into your consciousness, it will appear almost transparent and become a natural part of the landscape. Only things that demand our attention stand out and get noticed. Stay focused on the margin of experience and see what is calling you: this is how you discover your path of growth.

An interesting aspect of consciousness is that it does not seem to stop searching when it finds what it considers to be perfection in an object. We perpetually seek out better, more refined objects to bring into our lives, whether it be an attractive partner, a perfect work of art or music, a deliciously satisfying meal, a picturesque sunset, a peak experience or perfect moment, but when we find something close to perfection, consciousness quickly tires of it and begins the search anew. Consciousness seems to want to move ceaselessly towards expansion and growth, to assimilate more and more knowledge and experience. We are attracted not only to ‘the best’ but also to the new and different. We venture off into rougher, more uncharted territory in order to find new things, leaving aside the familiar. This is part of our evolutionary purpose: to expand consciousness to embrace the widest possible context and find a place for everything.

‘Absorb and include’ is compatible with but not identical to Ken Wilber’s concept of ‘transcend and include’ where holons transcend and include the sub-elements that constitute simpler levels of development. Absorb and include refers to the expansion of consciousness via full awareness in the experiences of our life. Some of these experiences will be pleasurable, others will be painful, others confusing or unsettling, and so on, but they all have value and should be accepted with an open heart and an open mind. It is our challenge not to turn away from those experiences which are hard to handle, but rather to face them straight on and give them our full attention and respect. Usually messages from Spirit enter quietly and subtly at first, and we are given several opportunities to pay attention before things get loud and blunt. With keen awareness, we can pick up on the message at an early stage before it becomes painfully unavoidable.

A spiritual path calls on us to look at the world around us and embrace more and more of creation as part of ourselves, learning to overcome the dualistic mindset which divides the world into ‘inside’ and ‘outside’, often assigning an inferior status to those things that reside on the outside. Spiritual development for me – again, to borrow an idea from Ken Wilber – means recognizing that fundamentally there is no ‘other’, there is no ‘outside’ because all of creation exists inside the universal consciousness which we experience as our mind. Every person, every idea, every behaviour that we see ‘out there’ belongs equally ‘in here’, thus any division we make or wall we build to keep things separated is division within ourselves. The path of health and wisdom integrates rather than divides, building connections between seemingly disparate elements.

On the practical level, we often give up on important projects because we don’t see how we can get from our current position to our destination. This often arises because we are overly ambitious and we try to ‘absorb and include’ the whole project in one big step. Things do not happen that way; we are wiser to break it down into many small steps, each of which can be overcome and dealt with on its own. Nobody builds a building all at once; first they lay the foundation, then they put up the frame, then they add the plumbing and electrical, then the walls and floors, and finally they paint and furnish the interior. Step by step, great things come about. The same principle could be applied to education, musical and artistic skills, personal development, and everything else we work on. We don’t have to absorb and include everything at once; we just need to pay full attention to experiences as we pass through them, taking action as required, one step at a time, and progress will happen on its own.

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~ by spiritualseeker1 on November 7, 2011.

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