By Celia Coates
At a conference in 2008 Elmer Green said,
“There is only one really important question: What is our relationship to the Infinite?”
If you already know about Elmer Green and why someone might want to pay attention to his views, skip this next paragraph –
Elmer was born on October 10, 1917 and died March 5, 2017. During his long life he made major contributions, first to knowledge about our bodies and then to wisdom about our spirits. He earned a Ph.D. in biopsychology from UCLA and went on to do research on states of consciousness and the electrical frequencies we produce that are called brainwaves. He became one of the pioneers in clinical biofeedback, teaching us how to use our minds to help our bodies. Then, after he retired from his mainstream career, he was free to teach and write about his lifelong exploration of subtle energies and the multidimensional nature of reality.
Elmer taught that it was essential for the sake of our spirits to develop ways of learning about the non-visible levels of reality. He knew the truth of what Rumi wrote:
“Invisible, visible, the world does not work without both.”
If we are locked into a materialist viewpoint and think that the concrete, measurable world is all that’s important, we rarely consider the nature of the Infinite, let alone our relationship to it. We are so busy with the fullness of being right here, right now, that we get distracted from paying attention to what else might be around and beyond us. Some people have spontaneous mystical experiences that show them the invisible side of reality, but if that doesn’t happen, how can we figure out any answers to Elmer’s most important question?
In this short post I can only make two beginning suggestions.
There’s a Sufi song with the words, “Listen, listen, listen to my heart’s song.”
To find answers about what’s real and most important, we can start small – with our own self. When we are deeply quiet and aware in a focused way, we can catch our own heart’s song. This sacred listening is a kind of meditation that can set us on the path to discovery. Once we begin relating differently to ourselves because we’ve practiced this inward listening, we can go on to listen to other people.
I have learned a great deal from “listening” to others. Wise teachers, writers, storytellers, explorers, and some enlightened scientists, have expanded my view of existence far beyond what I could have learned alone. I’ve collected a few of my favorites here:
“The whole mind is like a full moon; everyday consciousness is like a mere shaving of it.”
“We live in a world where magic and mystery are commonplace and what is now known was once unknown; what is known is constantly coming into existence.”
Russell Brown, M.D.
“When you have a profound awakening that you are part of a cosmic process that is going somewhere, you find yourself falling more deeply in love with what is possible than you are with what has already happened.”
“Western science prides itself on its objectivity and freedom from cultural bias. However, societies and their belief systems deeply influence the questions we ask, the experiments we design, and the stories we create about the cosmos. By posing questions in different ways, other societies formulate different accounts of the world.”
F. David Peat
“Each individual is put into the world to do a job, and he comes here (beyond death) best and happiest only when it is completed; after he has gathered to himself as nearly as possible his requisite of work and experience. The purpose of the present divulgence is to restore in earth consciousness the necessity of individual effort, and the assurance that the effort will not be wasted.”
Stewart Edward White
“We are the agents of transformation that God uses to reconfigure the world.”
Bishop Desmond Tutu
Thomas Merton had an epiphany in a crowded marketplace:
“Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depth of their hearts, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time, there would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed.”
“The human soul
Is as water,
From heaven it comes,
To heaven it rises
And down again
To earth it must,
“The sum total of minds is one.”
Attributed to Schrodinger by Robert Anton Wilson
We do not all learn about the Infinite in the same way. Nor do we relate to it in the same way. But we can gain enough information from ourselves and from the past and present embodied spirits around us to begin the transformation of knowing that both the visible and invisible sides of existence are real and important.