Spring, Rebirth, Easter and the Natural Self


I hear they are having a good sugaring season in Vermont this year! The sap rises up through the maple trees after being underground all winter with the first warm sunny days of spring. It splashes generously into buckets and pipelines, and then onto breakfast, feeding us sweet-loving humans with the nonchalant grace of nature’s plenty.

The bird-song celebrates each spring morning with unabated joy made into sound. We have mockingbirds in my neighborhood. They stun me each morning with the purity of their joy.

Nature loved winter too. Winter is a season a lot like we’ve been having in our human affairs because of our long-time enslavement to mind’s creations and its seeking after comfort. But nature loves winter too. We need the winter part of the cycle. In nature a lot dies back in the face of the cold. In our human development a lot dies back in our times of discomfort. Our perspectives change. Old models fall. We go back to essentials. We are no longer fooled by trinkets and baubles. We get motivated to find what is real and substantial… what doesn’t change when everything is taken away.

And then spring comes! From our journeys into darkness, at some point the thaw begins. That which was solid becomes liquid. That which was stuck becomes free. Rivers flow again towards the ocean.

In the Christian tradition Easter has a wonderful symbolism that seems to refer directly to what we are talking about here. Jesus is a wonderful example of how even the worst possible thing can happen to you, yet Life/God/Christ is at work in the midst of it, rising again from whatever grave there has been. Jesus’ death, the interval in between and the way Christ rose on Easter all point to a rebirth process that nature is displaying every springtime. Jesus, the human being, had to say “thy will be done” for his true identity, the Living Christ, the awakened One to take over.

The problem I see in the Christian tradition’s use of this story, is that being “The Christ” (or being one with the “Father”)is understood to be something lofty and unattainable for regular people. Same with Buddhism. No monk or minister would dare to utter such words of blasphemy as to say that they were also That! But they are! They are–with no diminution of Jesus’ attainment or Buddha’s, and no illusions as to anyone’s human vehicle being infallible first. In spite of all warts they/we are already that, always have been, and so, dear reader, are you.

Its just that over the past few thousand years we’ve maintained and passed on a load of cultural and familial conditioning that causes us to identify with the imperfect little human story that we’ve been told is what/who we are. And all the time it wasn’t true.

I invite you to open to your inner springtime. Nature is encouraging and encouraging us towards this. Rather than relating to “Christ or to “enlightenment”, lets just call this our “natural self”. This has the same feel as watching how a tree moves in a gentle breeze, a brook running downhill or when listening to a bird on a spring morning. But this is felt when looking at yourself, at who we truly are, behind/before all the thinking. Our entire surroundings everywhere, even and especially in a nasty place that isn’t what we wanted, life is calling to us to notice what we are. It is time.
Poem to Spring Love

Buds breaking, in motion
Towards the lushness of summer leaves
Through the quick celebration of flowering,
Life paints itself
With a delicate paintbrush
On the hills
In a thousand shades of green,
As I drive between them
In awe and gratitude.
Yesterday my wonder was full and complete
In Love with the world;
Today is new again; remade through your touch.
There is the ecstatic arch of my spine
Alive in the bedrock
Deep under the swell of the hills
Rising and falling, riding the greater breath.
Your touch is in the penetration of air
into unfurling leaf.
Your eyes awaken remembered green
Touching the hills with springtime.
Your voice celebrates in birdsong,
The joy of being alive.
Thus do you enrich the ground of this day.
I split like a seed.
The roots stretch
Into the mysterious dark for nourishment,
Feeding the unfurling bud
In it’s journey toward the sun.

© 2008 Alice Gardner

If you wish to explore these subjects further you may wish to consider purchasing my book at Amazon.


Embracing Ideological Difference


Life has a way of bringing us exactly the experiences that are needed to awaken us (even if they are not the ones we might choose) and we can notice the same process in our collective experiences as participants in our governments and economies.

If you have looked deeply into this for yourself, or if you happen to have read my book Life Beyond Belief you are quite familiar with how the circumstances of our everyday lives support awakening out of our ideas, and into the reality of what is happening beyond our thoughts about it.

One of the collective experiences of our time is in the political arena, whether it be between different political parties or different countries. In politics in America for instance, although we of course remain individuals, many of us classify ourselves as being Republicans or Democrats. This is one more label (not so unlike calling ourselves Israelis or Palestinians) with which we categorize our thinking. Whichever particular category we choose represents particular sets of ideas about how things like governments and economies work. In the present climate of economic downturn, bank failure and unemployment, the outstanding characteristics of these categories are differing ideas about what we should do to set things right.

If we look into both sets of ideas, we can notice that although these categories of thinking are different one from another and go on to discount each others points of view, they also have something in common. Both political categories are the same in that they each consist of ideas only (or call them ideologies) and people who internally categorize themselves in this way are constructing their own mentally derived realities based on those ideas. They are seeing the world through an ideological filter.

So here we are. The economy is messed up and it continues to go in an uncomfortable direction. Its easy to see that we could become fearful over this and polarize further into our ideological corners. That is one invitation life makes–and perhaps we need to further explore our fears before we are ready for another option. If we have looked into it deeply however, we know better than to act out of our fears. We know where that takes us. We know the end result. We see it in all the wars going on in the world. We see it in the ideological gridlock on Capital Hill. Life is showing us something here.

Here in the 21st century, we have somehow now developed a capacity to respond to life in a different way–a way that is not an externalization of our fears, such as war, hatred and self-righteousness have been in the past. We find that there is another possible response now. We no longer are tied into being a Democrat who resists Republicans or visa versa. We are becoming aware of who we are (before thought arises) and are moving beyond this old ideological narrowness into a deeper and more satisfying human experience.

We can begin to see a third optional response to our circumstances being demonstrated by the world around us, in nature and in whatever particular circumstances we find ourselves in. Of course I write this without knowing what is happening in the life of each reader, but I write it nonetheless out of a trust in how life works. Life gives us each exactly what we are ready to see in each moment. I look around and I see morning coming. I see the morning light meeting the darkness without hatred or resistance. I see the pull of gravity pressing downward on the upward growth of my houseplants and the trees outside my window without rancor. I notice the ideas passing through my mind, flowing like water, doing what they do, going where they go, without having to be either right or wrong; without needing to make others right or wrong.

Without categorizing, ideas flow with grace and openness. Life is at ease with itself. Difficulty and opportunity, dark and light, gravity and growth are two sides of the same coin. Discomfort simply guides the attention to what we need to notice in each moment. All is well each moment, and yet action is unhampered. In fact action is freed. The freedom from inner categories, the embracing of seeming opposites in ourselves, seems to imbue our actions with an impact beyond what was previously possible. We fulfill our parts in the collective experience with the vitality of life flowing through us, moving us in unique and perhaps unexpected ways.

by Alice Gardner, author of “Life Beyond Belief, Everyday Living as Spiritual Practice” available at amazon.com.