Stir till it Sizzles


 “Man is not fulfilled, (although we often make do) solely by what we perceive through the senses, comprehend with the mind, or feel with the heart.” (Raimon Panikkar, Mysticism and The Fullness of Life, p. 169/370) 

 More than these modes of apprehension, ”we also have," says Raimon Panikkar, "an intuition, albeit vague, that there is something more beyond what can be touched, known or felt.”

 There is, Panikkar is saying, yet another level, mode, or way of seeing - on the level of spirit that, upon being accessed, ties together, or integrates, the other levels, resulting in the experience of the fullness of life.

 It is therefore the case, if this is true, that the human being’s possibility of fulfillment is directly related to the degree that he becomes aware of, and follows, some perhaps unheralded vague intuition into that deeper realm that unites the others. The possibility of fulfillment, or a sense of completion, depends on it.

 Expressed even more strongly, Victor Frankl states: "Wholeness means the integration of somatic, pscyhic and spiritual aspects. In no way are we justified in speaking of man as only a "somatic-psychic whole.

 "It is not possible," says Frankl, "to overstate that it is this three-fold wholeness that makes man complete.

 And, “without the spiritual as its essential ground, this wholeness cannot exist. As long as we speak only of body and psyche, wholeness has eluded us." (V. Frankl, Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning, p. 34) 

 Such a state of wholeness is only realized therefore to the degree that a vague intuition, perhaps barely discerned at first, or frail in its first appearance, is stirred until it sizzles. Then, when sizzling hot, this shining dimension will do its harmonizing work.

 Now, this vague intuition of a something more, of a greater possibility, is an inner ability, or faculty of perception, sometimes referrred to as third eye seeing. It is a way of seeing that turns life into an adventure of never ending possibilties of illumination.

 But what, of course, our culture typically prizes is first and second eyed seeing, the kind of seeing done with the mind and senses only. This is but a two-fold focus, leaving out that essential, third dimension. 

 According to the great sages and seers, to be living thus, is to be stuck in a restricted and bound condition. This is the natural, carnal or unregenerate state. By its nature, this level of existence is unbelieving or atheistic.  

 When all of one’s energies are given over to this natural state, third eye seeing is suppressed or covered over. First and second eyed seeing dominates. Third eyed seeing, if acknowledged at all, tends to be underestimated, and perhaps relegated only to what is sometimes seen to be praised in a Star Trek Episode. 

 Panikkar’s effort is to encourage the cultivation of this vague intuitive capacity. Everything depends upon stoking the fire of this intuitive sense.

 He is referencing here a level of knowing that might be compared to something like a built-in radar, an inner realm beyond the mind and senses, that we all possess, but perhaps rarely access. 

 And, of course, the whole point of the use of radar is to help us to see what is ordinarily not seen by the mind and senses. 

 "There’s another world!” we exclaim upon first looking through a telescope or a microscope. There are outer worlds and inner ones, far greater than had been imagined.

 On such occasions, we are humbled and perhaps shocked to realize that an  ordinary and everyday level of awareness is a paltry thing. Upon awakening, it is then realized that we had been walking around blindly. 

 That is just how it is when the third eye awakens. You see and understand as you never have before. There are now new vistas and new horizons: 'I once was blind but now can see. How could I have been so daft!'

 And so it is that when some vague intuition, or still, small voice, is noticed and followed that, it can become the chief catalyst in changing your life forever.

 Some vague intuition, perhaps barely recognized or heard, can become, if tapped into and taken seriously, a compelling, irresistible and incomparable power. 

 It has the potential to be the singlest greatest factor in determining the direction our lives take and their quality.

 And yet how easy it is to miss the adventure into deeper levels of awareness and possibilties of fulfillment.

 In fact, our entire society is structured to ensure that such an adventure will never even begin.

 For we are living in a world and a culture that suffocates the still, small voice, the vague intuition, by a preoccupation with thrills and spills, and with bread and circuses.

 A Roman writer described the state of the Roman population in its sorry decline: "Two things only, the people anxiously desire - bread and circuses.” 

 The government therefore, to pacify the Roman populace, distributed free food and staged huge spectacles. The officials created their own versions of the Super Bowl - great extravaganzas to ensure that most everyone was permanently doped.

 As in Orwell’s 1984, where the mass of the population sit in the public houses, perpetually stupified by the steady flow of cheap gin - their souls numbed by the constant sensory bombardment of loud music and news reports coming at them through huge video screens. As long as there are lots of new sensations, most are not inclined to question their imprisonment. 

 There is therefore the need - for those of us who are searching for something more, to break out of this darkness, to break on through to greater visions and possibilities.

 The way is to take seriously the vague intuitions that we sometimes feel. The way is to pay close attention, for example, to that still, small voice, or vague intuition, that sometimes wakes us in the night.

 Says Stephen Buhner, who experienced just such a stirring of this intuitive sense. "My recognition of this feeling sense (this vague intuition), I regard as the most important insight of my life.” (Stephen Harrod Buhner, The Road Less Travelled, Holistic Science Journal, Vol. 2, Issue 4, Pathways) 

 For Stephen, to follow this inner sense was to go down the road less travelled. It meant for him acting against everything that he’d been taught.

 Those around him, friends and relatives, would not let him go easily. They pushed back against his concern to heed this inner sense.

 "I was to find," he says, that no other quality of my character was more intensely assaulted.

 The particular tactic used against him was that someone would try to "analytically overwhelm me with mental commentary and data.

 When young, he says: "I was too unsophisticated to respond in any meaningful sense.

 Later he learned how to manage the assaults and to realize that he was the one with clarity. His wordy attackers were the confused ones.

 He knew, as the scientist-turned-philosopher, Michael Polanyi, knew that, he knew more than he could tell - that his own tacit level of knowing, vague as it may have felt sometimes, and hard to express, was the most important dynamic in his life!

 He learned to trust his vague intuitions, just as Borghild Baldauf did, when, in 1997, she was sitting in the "small quiet backroom of my home listening to a monthly radio program on different world religions.” 

 One evening she heard about the spiritual experience of Dr. Sarla Kumar, who had experienced spiritual initiation through the Indian scholar-saint, Swami Lakshman Joo. (Borghild Baldauf, Samvidullasah, ed. Betinna Baumer)  

 "There was something in Sarla Kumar's experience, says Borghild - "her evident sincerity, simplicity, devotion and joy” that somehow seemed to fit, or resonate perfectly, with her own searching heart.

 She knew then that a no holds barred response was required of her.

 In time she found herself on the other side of the world at an ashram in an atmosphere of both "peace and intensity, an indication to her that the place was authentic. 

 There she sat listening to "the fervent recitation of ancient hymns.” She experienced the music as "like seeds, falling on a soil which increasingly was open and ready to receive.

 "On the last day of this enriching time, a strange thing occurred. I started weeping and for hours there was no end of my tears."

 "Fortunately I was alone that day because it was as if - for the first time in my life - I had lost control of myself. Completely helpless, I was unable to form a clear idea, lost in the welter of disparate emotions and the vain attempt to get the rudder back into my hands again."  

 "There was nothing I could do except to go to the meditation room, prostrate myself there and let go of everything." 

 "What had happened? During the night my former life had passed by like in a flash.” It was an experience of purification, the greatest moment of her life.

 What had begun years before as but a vague feeling in response to a radio broadcast, had become for Borghild, a life changing, sizzling realization.

 "This sensation, explains Panikkar, "is hidden in the innermost Man like a mysterious root."

 When it is stirred, it serves as a signal or pointer to a possible something more - to perhaps our greatest possibility. Such a vague sense can also  sometimes serve as a harbinger, or portent, of things to come. 

 It’s a certain level of knowing, an intuitive way of knowing, that Rabindranath Tagore gives expression to in a poem:

 "I woke and found his letter with the morning."

   "I do not know what it says, for I cannot read." 

     "I shall leave the wise man alone with his books."

       "I shall not trouble him, for who knows if he can read what the letter says."

         "Let me hold it to my forehead and press it to my heart."

           "When the night grows still and stars come out one by one, I will spread it on my lap and stay silent."

             "The rustling leaves will read it aloud to me, the rushing streams will chant it, and the seven wise stars will sing it to me from the sky."

                "I cannot find what I seek, I cannot understand what I would learn; but this unread letter has lightened my burdens and turned my thoughts into songs.” (Tagore)

 The one receiving the letter felt that the unread letter had to be approached by another way. He would uncover its meaning through a silent communion with reality.

 R.J. Owen, a Literature teacher, is another who found that almost his entire education had been against the development of the most important sense he knew. (R.J. Owen Barfield, Prophet Against Positivism)

“ If," he says, "we had come into graduate school with some vague notion of poetry as somehow magical and divinely mysterious, we were encouraged to rid our minds of such an idea."

 "For poetry and imaginative literature were to be explained by "rational and scientific analysis."

 "We were, he says, "being trained as positivists.” That is, he was being indoctrinated into the spirit of the age, call it positivism, materialism or nominalism - interchangeable terms for the same thing, an approach that has to do with "the reduction of reality only to that which the mind and senses can apprehend." 

 "We were," he says, "led to believe that there is no magical or mysterious “inside," to even the greatest poetry."

 "We were not encouraged to take seriously writers such as Shelly, Emerson and Whitman, who claimed to be somehow in touch with the Divine mind."

 "And so of course we lost something of inestimable value: the belief that there is something magical and mysterious, or super-rational about the higher poetry.”

 He was being instructed to take the poetry out of poetry.

 He was being taught that Literature is on the same plane as everything else. Literature is but a purely human construct, and "explainable in purely human terms."

 Now, the assault against this inwardly felt dimension, this tacit level of knowing, this realm of vague intuitions, continues in our day to be as fierce as it’s ever been, if not more so.

 The challenge for any of us who do not wish to submit the best part of us to the prevailing orthodoxy of positivism, is to find within ourselves the ability to endure non-recognition.

 For it is better to resist, than to go along. It is better to turn one’s loneliness into a chosen aloneness, or spiritual solitariness, than to go on being lonely in the crowd.

 An inspiring model of resistance against the tyranny of nominalism is the case of Owen Barfield, the friend of C.S. Lewis, whose early writings on this subject received almost no response in England. 

 Unrecognized therefore, but needing to make a living, Owen took over his father’s law firm for many years. But he never forgot who he was and what he cared about. 

 R. J. Owen describes Barfield in this way: "At the end of his life, in frail health, having outlived his friend, C.S. Lewis, by thirty years and Tolkien by twenty, and with no guarantee of any fruit, his commitment to his own ideas had scarcely diminished.

 And yet - and here was the great surprise! - when, late in his life, Barfield took up his pen again, he was astonished to find that there were, after all, people who cared about his writings and wanted to see him!

 His fans were located in several North American universities, including the University of British Columbia.

 Invited to speak to adoring crowds, his wife, who had never understood him, stood amazed at the response to her husband.

 Those of us, who, like Barfield, are determined to resist the spirit of the age, have before us the challenge to to hold on, no matter what, to our perhaps peculiar intuitions about the way to go.

 We must continue to listen, and listen hard, to the still, small voice within. 

 We must continue to heed our vague, intuitive sensations.

 We must continue to stir and nurture within ourselves what we know to be true, and to keep on stirring these energies until our convictions are felt as an irresistable, sizzling, and sustaining power.


Dona Nobis Pacem 1 Max Richter