Given recent events, the outcry to stop our nation’s division is getting louder and louder, but how can this be done? The reasons for the division, in the first place, come from such strong fundamentally different ideas about what the right solutions are, for so many facets of our society. My friend recently repeated what is often said to couples who are having marital problems. We need to stop thinking of each other as enemies, tearing each other to the bone, and instead, see each other as loving people, allied against the problems which we face. Perhaps this would be easier to do, if we contemplated and realized how much more alike we all are, than we ever truly and deeply realize.
I recently read a parable that made so much sense to me. My regular readers know that I sometimes explain humanity with the idea that we are all branches, or leaves, or roots of the same tree. Sometimes, I make the analogy that we are all different cells of the same body. This new parable talks about the idea that we all submerged Buckets in a huge, vast, timeless, limitless ocean body of water. Our submerged buckets are all individual and different. The buckets are different sizes, and different colors, and different shapes. Some of the buckets are quite fancy and some are quite simple. Yet, each bucket is truly unique. Even the buckets that appear to be the same, the “twin buckets” so to speak, are submerged in a different part of the ocean, and so they are likely to have unique marks left on them, from a passing shell or a shark fin, that helps distinguish them from all of the the other buckets. In short, these buckets represent our own shells. Our shells are made up of our own living bodies and forms, plus our personalities and our egos. But interestingly, just as all of the submerged buckets are filled with the same ocean water, all of our submerged buckets, each contains inside of itself, the exact same “stuff” – soul, spirit, God, Awareness, consciousness, Love, Source, whatever you want to call “It” – essentially the stuff, the essence, the force, etc. that makes all living things “alive”, versus inanimate, unconscious things like our couches or shoes or bricks. Thus, as the ocean is inside and yet also, outside all of the submerged buckets in the parable, so is the very same Universe inside and yet also, outside, all of us and all living things. Keep in mind, all of the buckets are one-of-a-kind. They come in all arrays of colors and all forms. They have landed in different parts of the deep sea, and so they have had vastly different experiences. Some buckets are quite porous, almost like a thin membrane, and what is inside of the buckets, and what is all around the outside of these buckets, flows in and out of them, quite easily. These buckets might sometimes get labeled as “fragile and sensitive.” Some buckets are solid and thick and stay deeply rooted at the bottom of the ocean, surviving all sorts of deep water disturbances. These buckets might sometimes be described as “hardened and tough.” Some buckets have been really been put through all sorts of tests, attacked by sharp toothed fishes and steel propellers and pollution, and they have the scars to prove it. Perhaps these buckets sometimes get called “damaged.” Some buckets have been around quite some time, and they are covered with barnacles and sometimes are considered to be “set in their ways”, deeply rooted in the sand. Some of the buckets have gotten so old and so worn, that they have disintegrated, so that the part of the ocean which was once contained inside of them, has flowed back into the vastness of the stable ocean that has surrounded them, for all of their existence. The buckets are all just buckets. They aren’t good nor are they bad, they are just vehicles for the ocean water to flow into and to experience itself, in a distinct light. Each of the buckets was formed differently from a physical standpoint. Where each bucket has landed into this vast ocean, and what they have experienced in their individual places of landing, have helped to shape and to evolve them even more, into their own unique selves. If we can see ourselves as the submerged buckets, we know that our outer shells are just the form which we were born into, plus the experiences that we have gone through along the way, creating a recognizably unique person, and a colorful personality. Still, like the submerged buckets, we are all filled with the same “stuff”. And better yet, just as the ocean covers all of the submerged buckets, we are all surrounded by the very same powerful “stuff,” that is also contained inside of all of us. A lot of us have forgotten that fact. A lot of us think that we are just the shells of ourselves. A lot of us think that we are just the bucket part of ourselves, and that is when we lose all sense of our connectedness, with all that is. That is when we play small and get mean and greedy and defensive and fearful and angry and puffed up. Because really, what is a bucket compared to the vast ocean? A bucket by itself, is dwarfed by the ocean and lonesome on the shore. A bucket, by itself, is a fearful state to be in.
In yoga, people often greet each other with “Namaste.” Loosely, translated, it means, “The spirit in me, recognizes the spirit in you.” In other words, I can see past your bucket form, to all of the beauty and creation which is held inside of you, and which is also held inside of me. Maybe if we all work harder at seeing past the bucket walls, of anyone we meet, (understanding that their bucket covering was created out of their own experiences, which may have been vastly different experiences than our own experiences), we can get a glimpse of what really lies inside. Maybe by us trying to see the spirit inside of others, we can help them to remember that they are much, much more than an empty, decaying vessel, and in the same light, they can do the same for us. And then all of us can feel more confident, in the face of the challenges ahead of us, knowing that everything which we need, in order to prosper, individually and societally, is inside of all of us, and all around us, for all of eternity.
He fills heaven and earth as the ocean fills the bucket that is submerged in it, and as the ocean surrounds the bucket so does God in the universe He fills. “The heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee.” God is not contained: He contains.”
— Aiden Wilson Tozer
Are you passing on love, or are you passing on pain? Heal your pain and pass on love. (this will be the daily mantra of the blog, for the rest of this year.)
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