“Welcome to the moment
This is it, this is all you get
So, just receive the info and then flow
But be prepared to hear No”
Consider the World Tree. This is a symbolism that can be found throughout many shamanic and animistic cultures. The Norse mythologies refer to it as the Yggdrasil, the tree from which Odin All-father hung himself for 9 days to receive the knowledge of the runes. Haitian Vodou references it in the Poteau Mitan, the central pillar of each peristyle. Although known by many names and entwined into many different legends, the concept of the World Tree remains the same.
In shamanic terms, it links the three worlds. The Lower World connects us to energies and spirits that are more primal, such as animal guides. The Upper World is the realm of tutelary spirits such as beings of light or the ethereal aspects of those who have dedicated their eternal selves to healing and helping others. The Middle World is where we mostly reside and this is split into two parts: the physical aspect that we interact with in everyday life, and the shadowy counterpart where our spirit energies and other living and nature-based spirits exist.
In the same way, our own self acts as a conduit between the worlds of the physical and the spiritual. As with the roots of a tree, we stand firm upon the Earth and we also grow towards the heavens like branches expanding upwards and outwards. Our bodies are the link between the two – incarnate as a place where the spiritual and the physical co-exist. Looking at this in terms of the energy systems of the Indus region, our lower 3 chakras (root, sacral and solar plexus) are concerned with ourselves: our drives, desires, confidence, needs, etc. The upper 3 “bodily” chakras (throat, third eye, crown) express our connection to the world around us: how we communicate with our environment, how we see it, how we connect to the ethereal, etc. The heart chakra holds the balance between the internal and the external: it is the compassionate centre from which we can recognise our existence as beings of both spirituality and physicality. The more Eastern philosophies recognise similar concepts with the tantiens (Upper, Middle and Lower).
It's all to easy for us to be contracted into a sense of physicality without much thought for the spiritual aspects of our existence. Day-to-day life has its own demands and concerns and this can cause us to be overly focused on these energies, those of the “Lower World”. We can offset these by engaging in more “spiritual” activities such as meditation, yoga, etc. But even then we may have to think about what to do, or be led into an intuitive response that guides us to the most appropriate action. Perhaps we have spent so long worrying about bills and expenses that we feel drawn to sitting in quiet reflection in a place of nature. Or we may have been day-dreaming for so long that we suddenly find that we're starving and need to eat! The balance is addressed but the actual balancing point is often neglected in itself. Even further from our awareness is the understanding of the Universal whole.
Many philosophies expound the virtues of the “Middle Way” - of trying to live your life as close to a sense of equilibrium as possible. For example, certain Buddhist practices promote non-attachment and a series of suggestions such as “correct thought” and “correct speech” in order to maintain this harmony. The Taijin (or “Yin-Yang”) symbol expresses the concept that everything is a continuously shifting expression of energetic extremes. But even that is a limitation: by imposing structure in the form of the terms “Yin” and “Yang”, we are creating boundaries to something that is without form so as to ease our understanding. This is reflected in the phrase from the Tao te Ching:
“The Tao that can be described is not the Tao”.
Concepts such as Time and Space are limitations that we impose on our existence to make it easier to interact with “reality” and to go about our daily business. We create these structures to satisfy the physical aspects of our being. Our spiritual side knows no boundaries and when we dream we understand this. Attempts have been made to rationalise and deconstruct such experiences and reference them to our physical existence but the fact still remains that when we are in that state, freed from the physical constraints of our conscious existence, anything is possible.
Although we can be aware of these concepts, it is only through direct experience that we can truly reach a state of understanding. Dreaming is but one way of accessing that potential. Techniques such as meditation or trance-work can achieve that sense of understanding. We could enlist the help of plant spirit helpers such as Ayahuasca or Peyote. We could even drum and dance ourselves into a frenzy until our physical exertion and exhaustion allows us to transcend into a more spiritual state of awareness. It has been said of life that it's the journey that's important, not the destination. But in this case, these methods and practices act as a facilitator to allow us to reach the understanding that we don't have to go anywhere because we're already there. We are all of existence and non-existence at every moment as well as at no time.
In order to maintain an effective balance, simply connect to that Universal sense and allow intuition to provide the advice. Whatever activity we are engaged in, try to retain that sense of expansion and connection. Bring spirituality into the physical and physicalise the spiritual, not by considering the extremes but by understanding the whole. It takes a lot less effort to drift down the river according to the flow than it does to constantly paddle according to where you think you should be going.
Thinking of this from a more “scientific” basis, our atoms are virtually indistinguishable from the atoms of any other object. What makes us a unique individual is how those atoms are arranged and the energetic forces that bind them together. We also connect with the particles around us, albeit with “weaker” energetic bonds. They in turn connect with other particles, and others, and so on. Everything connects with everything else. So from this perspective we are a part of the entire Universe and therefore we ARE the Universe. Our own “being” is defined by our atoms (the physical) and the energetic bonds between them (the spiritual). In effect, our very own World Tree explained in these terms.
A regular connection to this understanding, through whichever methods you are drawn to use, can provide a greater focus. Otherwise you may find yourself remembering the memory of that Universal Moment rather than the Moment itself.