“Perhaps ideas are the single most precious miracle in human existence. For ideas determine our goals of action, our styles of art, our values of character, our religious practices and even our ways of loving.”
-James Hillman, Kinds of Power p. 16
The experience of a taking in a transformative idea
Coming across an idea that is somehow compelling – that grabs me – i am drawn into it, wrap my mind around it, meditate on it, ruminate on it, chew on it and, pondering the implications, swallow it whole allowing it do its work as it is digested. (Most of the digestive processes beyond chewing and swallowing are out of conscious control.)
The idea bumps into other connected thoughts jostling them about and causing them to vibrate and shake loose, leading me to suspend my allegiance to them wondering what else. Some old ideas are reinforced, others amended, some even thrown in the trash though perhaps to be pulled out again – even if they contradict.
Make no mistake this filtering down process is not (only) in my head. I can feel it in my body. This is the continued forging of a path through a dense forest. Finding the path anew is liberating like the freedom of having one’s spine in correct balance and alignment. Sometimes the release of energy causes me to laugh. I know it in my seeing. Certain things become brighter, more transparent. I see differently. I speak differently. My speaking expands outward from my core so change the core, change the speaking. I know I am changed, even if just slightly. I feel it in my body, I see it in my seeing, I hear it in my speaking.
And yet the best and most powerful ideas are about me only to the degree that I am a vehicle for collective thought – the relatively autonomous life of ideas we share and evolve by means of shared intention spread in bits over many. I am the grateful and wounded recipient of the thought of our age. Ideas course through us as our collective lifeblood. More often than not they carry us along on currents so powerful we can’t swim to shore to glimpse the river. Though with effort and a willingness to be different it is possible to stick our heads up long enough to see and wonder “what else?”
You could say there are two sorts of ideas: Some ideas come from within the river, the river’s voice articulating the wisdom of the age with its strengths, biases and blind spots embedded in its ideas. Some ideas come from poking up out of the river to see through or under the wisdom of the age teasing out its biases and blind spots, forging new ideas and wondering what else might be true. The strength of the first sort is in the “aha” moment of hearing clear expression of what was forgetfully lived. The energy released is that of simple awareness – seeing more clearly what one has been living, confirming one’s unspoken assumptions. The strength of the second sort is in the “aha” moment of being freed from the biases of the age by forging new understanding. It satiates, for a moment, the hunger that arises out of the sense of “not yet.” New understanding opens us to question and wonder. This sort of thought is on the forefront of personal and maybe even collective change – the emergence of a new consciousness.
So who would want and choose to wonder “what else?” Who among us is called to question? Who among us is called to see differently? Where does that call come from? How do honor the call when it comes? Many blessings on your quest.