Walt Whitman arrived on Earth this day in 1819. It’s Walt’s birthday! Oh, he left that body in 1892, but he still lives, senses, and celebrates.
Therefore, so will I, and so should we all. Neither accounting for nor explaining the depths of Walt’s understanding, I will simply assert he understood the nature of Heart and how that is the energy center where we personalize eternal Spirit.
On this day in 1819, Walt Whitman personalized eternal Spirit. Throughout his life, he became self-aware, understood his own identity and relationship to and unity with the Universe, with all of creation. He knows what spiritual awakening means to humanity — individually and corporately.
The volume, voice, depth, and expression of his poetry and prose reveal this, and to celebrate his birthday, I will share some evidence of his personal truth, one that included all of us. He understands life, in any era — not perfectly, not technically, not even always disciplined, but then no one does.
His prime prose work, Democratic Vistas, proclaims his insight into the deepest need of each of us: to awaken spiritually. While this work is focused on America developing as an all-inclusive democracy, he knows that not only are we a social race but also that we have a sensitive, balanced, spiritual relationship and unity with all of creation as individuals. Therefore, he knows as a society, humanity needs a deeper understanding to benefit from and maintain these relationships, to maximize our experience here, live life to the lees, indulge in all the senses and energies we can grab in this physical existence. We enjoy this physicality; however, we are not limited to this. I see all of this clearly, uncompromisingly in his work, but if you don’t agree, it doesn’t matter. We are still one.
In Vistas, Walt explains clearly what is intimated in his poetry: “In the highly artificial and materialistic bases of modern civilization…tremendous and dominant play of solely materialistic bearings upon current life in the United States, with the results already seen, accumulating, and reaching far into the future [my emphasis], that they must either be confronted and met by at least an equally subtle and tremendous force-infusion for purposes of spiritualization, for the pure conscience, for genuine aesthetics, and for absolute and primal manliness and womanliness — or else our modern civilization, with all its improvements, is in vain, and we are on the road to a destiny, a status, equivalent, in its real world, to that of the fabled damned” (500). America as an ideal conception had already progressed well along the road of failure, but he sees that a new literature, one he calls “a language fann’d by the breath of Nature…tallies life and character, and seldomer tells a thing than suggests or necessitates it” (500), and then an education based on that spirit, can turn the course. To me, this is leading others to my Heart-purpose: discovery of Self and personal truth and purpose.
Walt saw America as the ideal nation with its foundation on democracy, a term for him which embodied every individual, not the privileged, not anyone — just the common, norm, average because that includes everyone. In fact, the older he grew, the more serious shortfalls he saw in the nation. If he were alive today, based on the expression of his beliefs, I’m certain he would be a globalist and see that America fell prey to what he feared. The spread of democracy around the globe and allying with those forces offer the sort of insight and experience of life we each come here for: to create our own meaning, fate, discoveries, truth without destroying one another.
Does anyone doubt this? He didn’t even pretend that his amazing insights were some complete picture. In fact, he thinks they are only half of it: “Books are to be call’d for, and supplied, on the assumption that the process of reading is not a half-sleep…that the reader is to do something… must himself or herself construct indeed the poem, argument, history, metaphysical essay…Not the book needs so much to be the complete thing, but the reader of the book does” (500–501). See, this is a celebration to me: when I pick up one of Walt’s books, I’m ever only holding half of it. The rest of it is in my power of creation. That is spiritually aware, metaphysical writing.
My joy in and celebration of Walt Whitman cannot be contained in one post. By the way, I do not put him on a pedestal — or if I do, I put all on one — because he was, as I am, limited to some degree by the constraints and boundaries of society subtly used by Ego to reign us in. I celebrate and rejoice in many artists who I know and most people. Even the ones who bring me no joy, I understand.
Before I finish this evening, I wish to share a bit of one of Walt’s signature poems, “Song of Myself.” In this poem, he shows his understanding of Spirit in all and unity with that. He in a very real soul and mind way assumes identity with all, himself incorporated into all, “Walt Whitman, a kosmos” (Sec. 24, 41), and he even identifies viscerally with the plants and animals of the earth in Sections 31 and 32, because “All truths wait in all things” (Sec. 30, 46) and those must be learned by coming to know core Self, a personal encounter not taught or coerced: “Logic and sermons never convince” (Sec. 30, 46). Our own Heart must be heard and we convince ourselves.
Walt Whitman understood, understands our divine nature, that eternal Spirit is eternal and, therefore, we are. He grasps the union of physicality and Spirit, and if we don’t, as I’ve said many times, we are not wrong, only missing out on our personal truth and purpose waiting within.
I do not honestly know how many references I could infer or see directly stated as regards this, but in “Song of Myself” he shows this union of physical and Spirit in himself, me, you: “…I am cut by bitter and angry hail, I lose my breath, / …At length let up again to feel the puzzle of puzzles, and that we call Being. // To be in any form, what is that? / (Round and round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither…” (Sec. 26, 27). What is that? You get to answer that one, make the meaning. Just don’t sell yourself or anyone else short.
I would leave you with another question, one I know Walt appreciates: if we discovered Self, our true nature, each one of us, how differently would the morass, confusion, and degradation of humanity and Earth be?
Happy Birthday, Walt! Oh, Happy Birthday to You, too!
(All quotes: Whitman, Walt. Complete Poetry and Selected Prose by Walt Whitman. Ed. James E. Miller, Jr. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1959. Print.)
(Yesterday I left 100 days off the post: instead of 114 I put 14!! Only mention this because today makes 16 full months of an article every freakin’ day!)
In my blogs, I share ideas and emotions and love from my mind and soul as prompted by my Heart. I have shared things from my life — some things, not everything. Tonight, I was at the ballgame, St. Louis Cardinals (my home team since a child) versus the Los Angeles Dodgers at Busch Stadium. Beautiful night. Awful game for the Cardinals. And as I write this it is 11:40 p.m. Guess why I told you this. “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Yes, thank you Polonius! Tonight’s post shall be short. This means I will probably expand some ideas tomorrow, but for now I will be blunt.
I really want to write about the connection, the relationship I see between the literary period and movement of Romanticism and its push into Transcendentalism in the work of Walt Whitman, specifically, and the visual artistic movement of Impressionism in the work of Vincent van Gogh, specifically. While I think a number of correlations and parallels exist, one of the primary ones is the understanding, use, and interpretation of Nature.
We each have different life energy at which we operate, not some specially assigned frequency that never changes — I don’t think — but certainly ones which will be attracted to or attract like frequencies — the law of attraction. I think that’s why some people prefer literature and art from other periods and genres than I do. The expression, influence, and incorporation of Nature and the manner the writer or artist relates us to Nature brings certain frequencies that resonate — or not — with the reader or viewer.
Ever wonder why so much emphasis is placed on Nature in great works? I think the closer we are to Nature, the more we can sense eternal Spirit present in every atom of the Universe, in a more undiluted, unadulterated state, i.e., our soul and mind can sense a closer connection with Spirit, Source energy, our true Heart-essence. We find release, relief, refreshment, and insight when brought into the presence of Nature through spiritually conscious artists, those who themselves have awakened to their own Heart.
The work of Walt and Vincent deeply resonate with me, and Walt certainly falls into the definition of an awakened, conscious soul, one who knew his Heart and the essence of core Self, one who created his Purpose of expression. Tomorrow, I will undoubtedly share some of his poetry — because it is his birthday — May 31. Tonight, though, I lay the foundation from his great prose work of Democratic Vistas:
“There is, in sanest hours, a consciousness, a thought that rises, independent, lifted out from all else, calm, like the stars, shining eternal. This is the thought of identity — yours for you, whoever you are, as mine for me. …In such devout hours…creeds, conventions, fall away and become of no account before this simple idea. Under the luminousness of real vision, it alone takes possession, takes value. …[I]t expands over the whole earth, and spreads to the roof of heaven.”
Whitman refers to the stars and the sky in reference to considering, to arriving at a knowledge of “the thought of identity.” He was an a spiritually awakened human, understanding through the light of his Heart, “luminousness of real vision,” that once we know self, we experience in this life the direct connection we all have with eternal Spirit.
Vincent’s connection with Nature repaints itself afresh in my mind every time my eyes fall on his canvases; his words, though, his words reveal that even though he struggled greatly with Ego, he was a spiritually conscious person. And yes, awakened, self-aware people can, do, and should undergo the struggles to learn to release Ego and allow increasing expression of Spirit in us. Vincent says, “I don’t know anything with certainty, but seeing the stars makes me dream.” He has that same sort of relationship to Nature, one that brings him into fellowship with his Heart and into deeper relationship to Spirit: “Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all…I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?” What is your relationship to Nature, to this creation? Have you found enough of anything to help you identify yourself?
If you don’t have a sense of who you are, of what you can definitively say you want to do here, then please, by all means, wander outside at night, lift up your eyes to those heavenly bodies, the moon, stars, planets, and just listen to the voice of your own Heart. Hey, you don’t even have to take a camping trip to do this!
Well, this ended up being much longer than I thought, and it is much later than when I started. I hope this is meaningful to you, because I will be continuing tomorrow — well, really later today!
Why do you think so many books, systems of magic, philosophies, religions, cults, and beliefs exist? They exist because each of us has Heart, the higher Self, a flow of eternal Spirit personalized in us and who urges us to discover that Source, that Essence. These paths, ways, traditions try to address those most basic human questionings.
However, the plethora of possibilities play right into Ego’s hands, so we reason, based on the Ego-circuitry route, its input and energy, “Hey, I tried to understand this stuff. I tried to figure out what I want to do, but I made stupid choices. I’m too old. I have responsibilities. I’m afraid I’ll lose my job if I try that. I don’t have time. Whaddya gonna do?” Any of those sound familiar? Every single one is Ego reasoning. Oh, don’t forget this one: “Who would I believe anyway? Which one of those ways is the right way? Which one has the truth?” Ego, too!
Oh, not everyone gives up in abject apathy. No, at times Ego will jump at a chance to help someone conform to one of the old standard religions or anything offering a chance of belonging. And when that happens, we have a tendency to disregard any other unpleasant urges of the Heart to release that Ego self and discover our core Self, discover the very reason we chose to come to this magical, mystical, beautiful scene. Of course, we will never know that if we give sway to Ego.
Please don’t be overwhelmed or inundated by all of the possibilities. In fact, many of those spiritual paths offer wonderful ways to help us connect with Heart, and none are really wrong. Wrong comes into play when insistence is made on one way or another being the right way. When it comes to seeking, discovering, and knowing Self, the only thing that is truth is the intercourse between you and Heart. Period. End of sentence.
The connection with Heart provides that which we need to awaken and embark on a continued way of discovery and creation, a path that allows us insight into the presence, work, and movement of Spirit throughout the Universe. No restrictions. No misinterpretations. You and Heart.
However, those paths of enlightenment that resonate with us, that appeal to us, that help us along our way can be sources of rich blessing. Try them. Use them. If you wish, enter deeply into one. Know, though, that it’s not necessary, especially when anything interferes with the fellowship with your Heart. It’s not necessary to learn the intricacies and be a scholar in traditions — unless you want it.
Now, as I’ve tried to indicate, if it resonates with you, by all means, go for it, and I, especially this life-long learner, is not debunking knowledge. I’m simply saying that knowledge never substitutes for fellowship of the Heart or spiritual growth — never. Only Ego would work that into the equation.
Walt Whitman understood this, and illustrates his comprehension and connection with Heart over knowledge in one of his shorter poems, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer.” Here it is:
When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
The wow of the science meant little to his Heart. In his consciousness, at the behest of Heart, he needed to be in direct touch with those stars, with the Universe — no words, no facts and figures. He wished to experience the Universe in the pure exchange of energy. And that’s where all those possible ways, paths, traditions should lead us and allow us to go.
I have one more addition to this; however, I do not wish to gloss over the connection. Therefore, I will take that up tomorrow, as it comes.
In the meantime, blessings in your fellowship with your Heart, in getting to know Self, in increasing self-awareness and awakening. Hear your Heart and run free with whatever your personal truth is.
If you have read much of my work, you know I place some emphasis on getting to a basic, foundational, least common denominator explanation before building any complexity. A subject like consciousness certainly entails complexity, but as I thought of it earlier today, I decided to make sure I could think about it at the simplest level.
In the sense I’m referring to it and the way most do, consciousness involves our soul and spirit. It’s an awareness that we have a higher Self, core Self, Heart which is our essence, our true reality, but that core Self dwells in this physical realm inhabiting this body. The awareness of Heart, essential Spirit within our body initiates consciousness. It’s about as simple as that, if you want simplicity. However, the ramifications of awakening, spiritual awakening, dawning consciousness, leads to a host of wonderful realities.
Many who have not awakened spiritually may very logically claim that we all have spirit, so what would be the big deal about pointing it out? Great question, I think. Not even sure I have an an… Wait, yes, I do!.
We all have Heart; however, we do not all access it. The fact that many don’t becomes evident in the picture painted by the social issues and suffering we see around us every single day. Consciousness, this purposeful acknowledgment and access of Spirit — which I call Heart — within the physical body, results in understanding, processing, filtering, and interpreting life in new ways.
How so? One who is spiritually conscious works in ways that are antithetical to Ego, and Ego is the operative force in the majority of people, which means that most social aggregations of humanity are ego-driven, ego-powered. While Ego urges conformity, it does not produce unity.
Know why? Because wherever our Ego places us causes us to conform in contradistinction to another group, i.e., Ego isolates in a very real way. Even within the group, Ego pushes us to isolation through comparing self to all others, to criticize those not quite as good as you…You get the idea.
Heart, however, unifies in all of our divergencies. Why? Because when we awaken to Heart, when we become aware of higher Self, we realize all others do, indeed, have that same essence, whether awakened, aware, conscious, or not. It’s an energy of understanding, acceptance, and love — of Self and others.
Allow me to back up a bit. When I was a teenager, I learned about the laws of the conservation of energy and matter on a rudimentary level. I transferred and generalized that to human behavior. Choices and actions simply perform transformations. I understand that’s the basis of alchemy: transformation. But just as the difficulty in transforming one element to another is a mystery, so is transforming our life from what it is now to what we would like it to be. However, understanding the power, authority, and means we have to do that is another aspect of awakening, of having a consciousness of higher Self.
Consciousness seems to me relatively simple, i.e., the principle and not the results. The simple part is knowing that consciousness is being aware of transformations. Each and every human being performs transformations, because whenever we take energy or change the form of one thing, it’s a trade-off.
When anyone awakens to Heart, they understand the issues at stake. By using Heart, accessing higher Self, we can frame the questions to capture the essence of where we will stand in relation to the transformation we desire. What am I willing to release in order to allow something else?
To sum it up for tonight, this consciousness of knowing who we are at core and creating what we want through that knowledge marks those who have spiritually awakened. Spiritual consciousness is an understanding that we have Spirit within us — which I call Heart and others call higher Self, Spirit personalized in each — and when we consciously address and access Heart, we can with understanding effect the transformations in this life we wish to experience.
Yeah, I think I like that! Good way to start the week.
Oh, a quick corollary. Since we have eternal Spirit as the essence of who we are, when the body quits, that life energy goes on. This Memorial Day, we can know those who have yielded their lives in service to us are not only honored in memory but also present in Spirit. That’s a comfort.
We are not alone. Oh, not alien-wise. I have no idea about that possibility. I’m referring to that sense of feeling like no one understands us, knows our circumstances, or cares. We are not alone.
Sometimes, I feel alone, very definitely; however, that soul emotion has been prompted by Ego. My core Self, the real me, Heart-me, knows that’s not true. I know this because we are a unity, one. We each have Heart, and that Heart is the essence of Spirit.
Ego has mastered splitting us off, singling us out from the collective. It’s a hurtful, destructive lie. Every time any of us feels that we are alone, we lose. We lose a little bit of self-confidence, a little bit of joy, a little bit of the reality of our existence here. But it’s not a permanent loss!
We are social creatures, and when we feel alone, that works against who and what we are as a human being. This is one of the reasons I like social media. We benefit and call for technology to enhance all areas of life, yet a growing contingency rails agains how antithetical social media is to our social nature. I get some of the argument, but to make sweeping generalizations in the face of contradictions means little — at least to me.
I get to connect with people who share their souls and minds with me every single day on social media. It’s encouraging and enlightening. Yes, I know sometimes it’s damn nice to have someone to be with in flesh and blood who desires to bless and be blessed; however, since I’m not around very many people on a day to day basis, I enjoy the social media connections.
I know myself fairly well, though, and I have a good handle on how we operate based on Ego or Heart. When I feel lonely or down, I work with Heart — not always immediately, calmly, or flawlessly — but I know I’ll be fine. Many people don’t, though, and when folks don’t connect with Heart, that loneliness can cause real damage.
You are not alone. I want you to know every day when I write, I’m thinking of readers, of the tribe I’m part of. Sometimes, I think of specific people who respond consistently to my work, maybe you. (If you just wondered if it’s You, it is!). I invest my soul and mind in my work because of love, because of fulness, because of joy and contentment in my Purpose, because it’s me.
I am aware that I write a lot. I know my writing at times could be revised another time or two, run through an editor, but I am alone (get it!). If I’m revising, getting others’ opinions for everything I produce, I will not get material out every day. I’m not blessing myself or anyone else on a regular basis. If I do that, I will become paralyzed by perfectionism. (This is my issue — not saying daily displays are for anyone else necessarily; that’s between You and your Heart! I know I have needed to publish daily up to this point. It won’t be forever, though!). You are in my soul, thoughts, and words when I write.
I thought of my old friend Walt Whitman and his epic poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” It carries this tangible, palpable sense of social, human connections, even when physical proximity or time is not possible. Yeah, it’s a bit of a mystery!
The whole poem portrays connections with those who are not personally acquainted, and, my friends, that is very real. He sees all the people on that ferry boat and extrapolates: “And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose” (Sec. 1). He expresses his affinity for them and the setting of the ferry and the city.
He makes the connection across time and space crystal clear: “It avails not, time or place — distance avails not, / I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence…” (Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Sec. 3). And just as you in a real sense can see me, sense me here, I likewise do with you, because this is the expression of my gift and love. Walt understood this: “Consider, you who peruse me, whether I may not in unknown ways be looking upon you…” (Sec. 9). We each, in ways of Spirit and Heart, can look upon one another. No, we are not alone, if we do not want to be.
If you feel alone, abandoned, not appreciated, I’m saying please know when you read my words, I am with you, they are for you. We are connected, you and I, in this very act of writing and reading. Allow my words to smile at you, hug you, warm you, encourage you, because that is my energy to you.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!