It was one of those evenings when, tasks satisfactorily completed, our conversation meandered through a plethora of topics. “I’ve been feeling recently,” my husband offered, “that love is the only thing that really matters. Everything else is irrelevant.” So began a delightful discussion of love, the meaning of life, the best way to use our limited time on Earth~~and optical illusions.
The Rubin Vase is a well~known illusion that demonstrates the distinction the brain makes between figure and ground as it processes visual stimuli. The eye naturally perceives the figure~~in this case, a vase~~but with practice can learn to shift focus. Two faces in profile then arise from what had previously been mere background.
Spiritual practice is a bit like that. We learn to shift our focus in order to attend more fully to that larger ground, while creating lives~~our unique vases~~that are in harmony with it. The word harmony comes from the Greek harmonia, meaning both “accord” and “framework”, and the verb harmozo, meaning “to fit together”.
To live in harmony means, therefore, that we identify more completely with a framework of accord, in which all fits together with ease. Human actions which are in sync with that framework flourish. If, however, disharmony is the norm, the structure~~whether it be a political system, a family unit or a human body~~will weaken and fade away.
As we train ourselves to perceive that larger framework~~the ground that holds the vase~~we learn to love more purely. We come, too, to abide more fully in Love with a capital L, and to return to that ground more quickly when we stray.
In my work as a psychotherapist, I regularly see folks who seek a spiritual realignment, though they most often choose other words to describe their need. Often their disharmony is a legacy of the unhealed wounds of their parents. It may also be self~made, the result of having chosen to live at odds with their own values and greater knowing.
And it can also be simply an expression of the human condition, as we are called individually and as a species to know more fully a larger Love, one that moves beyond and through the vases of our lives. Harmony of spirit is our birthright, and we can always return there. That greater field of Love that gave rise to us, that never went anywhere and continues to fuel our every breath, seems ever waiting to welcome us back, ever waiting for us to wake~up.
But it doesn’t really wait, not in any kind of passive way. It calls to us in each moment, in every spinning atom and twirling galaxy. It is we who grow in our ability to listen and to respond. It is we who awaken and decide to choose harmony again and again and again.
This was the result of my conversation with my husband. We both once more affirmed our commitment to a greater Love and to honor that commitment in all our actions. For, as my husband said, all else truly is irrelevant.
So, this column ends with love streaming out to you, dear reader. Can you feel it? I hope so. I hope, too, that it reminds you of that larger Love that holds you always.
To have some fun with the Rubin vase and some renditions, click here.