June 17 – Spirit and Psychology – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“Even the clearest water seems opaque at great depth.” Joel Agee

Each of us is like a great, untamed sea, obedient to deeper currents that are seldom visible. Knowing this gives us three insights with keeping in our awareness. First, we must consider that the deepest patch of ocean is as clear as its surface wave, though it remains unseeable to the human eye that bob above it. Second, how far we can see into the deep depends on the calmness or turbulence of the surface. And third, just as the depth and surface are inseparable, so too are the spirit and psychology of each human being.

It is our deep sounding, untamed currents that cause us to rise and swell, dip and crash. Yet that base of spirit remains unaffected by the storms that churn up the surface. It obeys a deeper order. Still, we as beings living in the world are always subject to both: the depth and the surface, our spirit and our psychology. Though we can never see all the way to bottom on clear days – when our psychology is calm – we can know the depth that carries us. When free of turbulence and anxiety, we can know the ocean of God that swells within.

So, in love, in relationship, in the brief clarity that living gives rise to, I see all the way through you, as far as my sight can go, and am forever changed. Then the winds come from the east, and suddenly you’re all churned up, your depth seems blocked, and I wonder who you are. This happens in the course of knowing one’s self as well. It is unavoidable. Watch any patch of sea. It is never completely still. Even when calm, it reflects everything as it spreads and never vanishes. So, too, our feelings, which keep changing in the light.

The degree to which we are clear and seeable depends on how calm we are and how calm the day. But we are never cut off from our spirit, any more than the surface wave is cut off from the ocean floor. Fear of living often comes when we place all our energy into the moment of the wave, into the turbulent moment of our psychology.

If revelation is the brief experience of seeing through the surface, into ourselves or others, then wisdom is the recall of that seeing when the waters are murky.

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