At the aquarium, waiting for a wedding to begin

This poem started writing itself years ago at the Seattle Aquarium. I’d arrived for a an evening wedding, and had time before the ceremony to stand transfixed before three exhibits: the jellyfish, the octopi, and the seahorses. The wedding was beautiful, but the image of the seahorses lingered longest. This poem is from my book, Pluck Another Apple, Eve, And Finish It .

At the aquarium, waiting for a wedding to begin

Dorsal fin fluttters
a soft wave.
Prehensile tail
wrapped around a coral twig
lets go,
curls into the golden ratio
of nautilus,
a perfect Fibonacci spiral.

There was a first time in all time
when something dropped to its knees
in awe.

I speak of that moment
the universe grew into
while its galaxies
spiraled in swept currents,
the first time something gasped
and knelt
because it didn’t know
what else to do.

The photograph of the swimming seahorse is from Pixabay.com, and was posted by PublicDomainPictures.

One more degree of freedom

If you’re at all like me, it’s your body that tells you when something infinite is moving within you. It’s your body that transforms abstractions like Awakening, Opening, Freedom, Unity, Grace, Source, and Awareness, into an intimacy you can trust.

When it speaks, 
it’s not often sound I perceive, 
but sensation.
A knife-quick outbreath
concaves my chest;
my heart splits 
and refills it. 
Tears rise and my mind weighs in 
but by then I’ve already answered.
If I touch a wall to 
steady myself, 
people who notice may wonder 
if something’s wrong. 
Nothing is wrong. 
These are the moments that make me. 
The whisper enters; 
something breaks open. 
One more degree of freedom. 
The day goes on.

From Pluck Another Apple, Eve, And Finish It, poems by Holly L. Thomas.

Like the butterfly, shapes change and wings grow…

Adhering to our own motto of cultivating awakening and lifting “outside the box” to new levels, we’ve been inspired to step beyond where we have been and what we have known. This blog is changing its name to…

The Enlightenment Zone

We want to share our thinking for making this change with you, our readers, as the blog site looks different and the feel is somewhat different.

Why the name change, you wonder? We will continue to explore the themes that we have been writing about since 2015. However, we realized that the context wanted to expand from the company, Sourcing The Way, into a wide-open space of awakening and transformation.

What started as a place for Jeff Vander Clute and Maria Baeck to share their latest thinking has organically become a collective space for growth, change, inspiration, encouragement, and provocative ideas regarding the profound possibilities of human experience.

Jeff Vander Clute and Maria Baeck

Listening deeply for the most aligned path, it was clear that the blog had outgrown its original home and that it would flourish more fully with a new domain and as part of The Enlightenment Zone. The new “vibe” and design are also a much better fit for sharing visual art, poetry, and other creative expressions of awakening. We hope you will enjoy what’s coming!

Meanwhile, the new web address for this blog is blog.enlightenment.zone. Links to the previous domain and to content published under that domain will continue to work thanks to the magic of WordPress. People who are subscribed to this blog will now receive emails from “The Enlightenment Zone” rather than “Sourcing The Way.”

Thank you for joining us on this journey of evolution and… enlightenment!

The New Consciousness

The “New Consciousness” is a comprehensive new pattern of activity and insight on the planet that includes both the knowledge and lived experience that all of life, and everything in Nature, is one whole and indivisible system of being. This one whole system has countless layers of individuals and collectives expressing all manner of possibilities, and yet there is only one living process going on.

Naturally, what is one and indivisible cannot truly be separated into, for instance, me and not-me, even though we may speak that way as a convenience. The experience of physicality becomes supremely joyful when we realize that, whatever the appearances, there is nothing outside of our one shared being, and nothing can ever be “other”. The genius of Creation is that what appears to be outside according to the five senses is always present in some form on the inside. There is always a correspondence that can be discovered, and especially when we are curious about how the one whole system functions, our abilities to tune into Nature’s subtle, though always available, information channels awaken.

Since there is only a single whole living system, it is true that “whatever we do to the web of life, we do to ourselves”1… and this applies equally to our fellow beings. To condemn anyone or anything that appears to be outside of us gives rise to external conflict and also produces disease inside of us. Similarly, to condemn anything on the inside energizes conflict on the outside as well as disease processes within. Each and every form of rejection, no matter how subtle, produces conflict within our one shared being. This conflict will eventually show up as challenges for our individual and collective bodies, and these challenges will be experienced in one form or another by all. All such episodes are a call to the New Consciousness; they are a means of getting our attention so that we might choose to step into the greater wisdom that is beckoning. Wherever there is conflict in any form, there is the opportunity to realize the New Consciousness more fully. And in this New Consciousness, there are much more empowered ways of transforming and healing the world available.

For one living in the New Consciousness, the richness and texture of life are radically enhanced, and there can be experiences of an almost overwhelming joy. One who lives in this New Consciousness experiences a state of vastly expanded identity without losing the beauty of individual experience or the ability to attune, discern, enjoy life, and make decisions from wisdom. Individuality is fully expressed within the New Consciousness, and at the same time one’s words and actions are naturally harmonized and aligned with the whole of Nature, offering immeasurable benefit to the one whole system. Thus we come to realize that there is actually no trade-off between the good of the individual and the good of the whole. Instead, there is synergy. The individual and the whole are indivisible, and the well-being of one is the well-being of all. At the same time, the diverse multitude of temporary distinctions and expressions becomes the basis for the experience of… beauty, truth, and goodness.

From the perspective of the New Consciousness, the entire progression of human events is seen as a movement from the entrenched belief in separation and the myriad painful reflections of that belief, to ideas and experiences of interconnectedness, and finally to the direct knowing and joyful experience of underlying indivisibility. Although codes of conduct and moral injunctions have served to maintain a semblance of coherence on the playgrounds of earlier stages, these structures are successively released as one’s capacity to move in a way that is attuned and aligned with the whole increases. Thus the individual who lives in this New Consciousness has realized the natural, comprehensive, and spontaneous harmony, which cannot be imposed or even taught, but which must inevitably awaken. Once the New Consciousness has awakened, the true and lasting peace is finally lived as the obvious and most-fulfilling choice.

*****

1 Chief Seattle: “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together.”

Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Seven Practices of Thriving and Abundant Consciousness

Hi friends!

Just before the turn of the year, Jeff received the following in meditation…

Seven Practices of Thriving and Abundant Consciousness:

  1. Beauty
  2. Creativity
  3. Relaxation
  4. Simplicity
  5. Enjoyment
  6. Love
  7. Clarity

These seven practices necessarily expand and awaken individual and collective consciousness, and they create the experience of abundance. Together, they support an opening into Joy and Receptivity. They also support the deep work of healing, clearing, forgiving, and integrating that so many of us are drawn to at this time.

Curiously, three of the above practices – Relax, Enjoy, and Love – consistently show up in the same order in our work with The Consciousness of Money. “Relax, Enjoy, Love” is a simple formula that has already been helping people to live in much lighter and more abundantly joyful ways. Now, with the expanded set of seven practices, we have “more ways to play” as well as additional tools for staying grounded and clear.

Here’s our suggestion for the New Year: Let’s all see what happens when we celebrate and engage with these seven practices in the first few months of 2019. All of us at Sourcing The Way and The Consciousness of Money invite you to join in this fun experiment, and to let us know what starts to flourish as you do so!

A Journey of Totality

The following is a report of my journey and experiences related to the Total Solar Eclipse that crossed the United States on August 21, 2017.

On Sunday the 20th, I drove from Aspen to the path of totality in Wyoming via secondary highways. The traffic across the Western Slope of Colorado was light but the feeling of energy pressing in was intense. In fact, the subtle energies calibrated the strongest (by orders of magnitude) of any I had ever experienced. With further clarity I realized that a massive consciousness pressure was enforcing a kind of one-pointed attention and emptiness, which dovetailed beautifully with the meditation of driving through the mountains and high desert.

At some point it became clear that I needed to open completely to receive the gifts and messages of the eclipse, which were already coming through. The main messages were:

  1. The field of Vibrational Manifestation (i.e. the world, including subtle realms) is being re-seeded with new opportunities for awakening.
  2. The USA has the opportunity to be reborn from the new consciousness.
  3. The seeds are deeply planted and the opportunities for awakening will rise to the surface in the coming weeks and months. (In this moment, I’m getting through late January 2018.)
  4. By committing to awakening and AWAKENESS, we align with powerful forces of transfiguration. Doing so will greatly ease our experience of these times.

I car-camped in CBEAUTY next to the Boysen Reservoir overlooking the Wind River Reservation.

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Continue reading A Journey of Totality

Labradorite

If I tilt this piece of labradorite just so,
when the angle’s right,
the grays of sky and sage
give way to Aurora fire.
Flames beneath the surface
blaze blue-greens
particular to this stone’s
particular sheen and qualities.
And also, uncontained, beyond containing,
deep light-lines straight as arrows
cross its face, bridges
to the something more
this piece was part of.

If you acutely angle a mind
in the geometry of surprise
enough to catch its story looking elsewhere,
a soul with the sheen of a rufous throat,
but neon-bright, shows itself,
blazing through the story’s camouflage,
and all the edgeless lines of light it holds
are pointers to the next soul and the next,
hints of the original urge
to break into so many,
and of the ache for union.

Shattered into everything, the All
reveals its fire through our faces.

IMG_3230
Photo of labradorite, by STW council member Dave Smith

Holly Thomas is a member of the Sourcing The Way Council. This post from her forthcoming collection of poems is part of a series of  “Glimpses” — brief explorations inspired by sourcing, the occasional bolt from the blue, or simply noticing.  

 

The Velcro Ego

Spoiler alert, in the highly unlikely event that it’s not already glaringly obvious: I have not left my ego behind me on my spiritual path. But I know a few folks who have. Instead of identifying with their personalities, they consciously wear them like luminous clothing. Their sense of Self as Source dons just enough cover to function in the world.

I’m not that…realized? Lately, though, I’ve had some success at more quickly recognizing what my ego is up to, and helping it relax into the background so the larger me can show up. This post is about one tool I use to do that.

First-up, definitions

In this case, by my ego, I don’t just mean the parts of my personality that inflate and deflate. And not just the ‘healthy self-image’ self. I mean something closer to the whole Sagittarian tango perceived as me. But even that’s not quite it.

Let’s say my ego is the part of or aspect of me that’s focused on 3-D reality. It favors stability and safety. It tries to handle experience by concretizing it. When I’m not paying close enough attention, it treats as solid a range of stories, memories, experiences, sensations, and states of being that aren’t solid at all. Right, wrong, good, bad, true, false, better, worse—it’s the aspect of me that knows how to cope with a world of dualities and tends to feel threatened by any suggestion that there’s something more subtly unifying and non-dual going on.

The ego isn’t wrong. Not exactly. It is important to know the difference between the bug and the windshield. Being oriented to 3-D reality helps keep me alive. But I don’t want that narrow a view of reality to define and control me.

My ego has a black belt in doubt. It gets uneasy when I experience creation in non-dual ways, but it’s too clever to try to shut down such experiences by saying they’re not real. Instead, when I let it, it casts aspersions on my sense of the meaning of such experiences. Or, switching sides in the same game, it makes me need such non-dual experiences to feel ‘worthy’ or ‘important’ or ‘special’. Either way, my ego knows exactly how to hook me if I let it make me the fish.

“Small moves, Ellie, small moves”*

I’ve forgotten exactly what I was doing, but I was being stupidly judgmental about something, feeling simultaneously self-righteous and disgusted with my self-righteousness—a particularly nasty left hook/right cross combo. So, I took a breath and noticed what my ego was up to.

Next, I stepped back to wonder why. “I” didn’t vacate the premises, I just shifted perspectives. Ego is made of stories, and I caught myself for the millionth time assuming my stories were true.

Noticing I was hooked on my stories was all it took to unhook me for a while. So I took a good look at this Holly person who’d moments before been so firmly perched on her pedestal, and all I could do was laugh. I dropped my judgments like a boring book and became intrigued by this notion of ego hooks.

Next thing I knew, an image of a strip of Velcro popped into my head.

Velcro

Analogies are like rubber bands. Stretch them too far, they snap. But stay with me while I work this Velcro analogy a bit.

Velcro is a brilliant tool for keeping things sturdy, contained, controlled, and tight. It’s
adjustable, within limits. It’s nearly indestructible. It’s easy to peel apart from the edge, very hard to pull apart by a perpendicular attack (assuming the Velcro is strong and well-enough made).

Left to its own devices, Velcro also has a remarkable ability to pick up lint and pet hairs and crumbs and other gunk that bit-by-bit clog it up. Plus, if it’s not kept fastened up or wrapped, it tangles itself with itself. In fact, it can tangle itself with pretty much everything.

Velcro works for me as an analogy for the ego first because it’s not cloaked in spiritual or religious or psychological language. No intimidation factor. No holiness needed. No incense required.

Second, because Velcro isn’t all or nothing. Yes, each hook is binary—it’s either attached or it’s not—but a whole strip of hooks presents a whole range of…let’s call them ‘degrees of attachment.’

When I was in high dudgeon as Empress Holly Judging Herself and the World, my ego was firmly attached to itself. But just noticing that much was like peeling up a small corner of a Velcro strip, then a bit more, and a bit more. I didn’t have to open the whole strip to grok what my ego was up to. I didn’t have to dislike the Velcro, resent the Velcro, love the Velcro, or become realized enough not to need the Velcro. I just had to peel it open a bit at a time.

Practice makes practice

Since then I’ve been using this Velcro image a lot. When I catch myself falling for one of my stories—the need to be right, for example—I take a breath and imagine myself peeling up a corner of a Velcro strip. Often now, all I need to do is think “Velcro” and whatever had me hooked settles back into a non-issue.

The best thing is that it’s getting easier to unhook. I catch myself sooner, so the ego doesn’t as often attach all the way before I start peeling it back open.

Here’s where the analogy stops:

Velcro doesn’t learn from experience. Holly’s ego does. It can be cunning, and it’s fully capable of at least attempting to subvert this practice. But instead, it seems to appreciate knowing it doesn’t have to alternate between locking up tight and flapping loose, frantically snagging whatever it can. Plus, my ego rests better knowing that I don’t see its penchant for attachment as a character flaw. It’s just attachment—a tightness I can loosen or release.

Maybe my path will one day rip off my ego for good, hooks, loops, stitches, and all. Maybe death does that. But meanwhile, it’s still here, and we have come to an understanding. My ego is finally learning to relax and release its hooks more quickly, sometimes even gladly. And I’m finally learning to avoid getting so tangled and snagged.

ππππππππππππ

*”Small moves, Ellie, small moves” is a line is from Contact, one of my all-time favorite movies.

This post is the third of a series in which Holly’s sharing “glimpses” that come to her through meditation, Sourcing, the occasional “bolt from the blue, ” or simply noticing. 

It’s right there

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. 

 

Allium: A Glimpse of Grace

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.”

The glimpse

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.

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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.

Magnetic attraction

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 inventedgifts 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.

Or…

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.

purple-allium-806370_1280