Unit 1: Reverence and Irreverence
Topics: Attentiveness, sacrifice, the body, the heart, moral intelligence, the Fool
To begin this session, Orland further explains a principle that he often raises, the practice of asking, “Who do I need to be for you to be who you’re meant to become?” It is a question that applies to relationships to other humans as well as to one’s relationship to the world. It can include action, participation, aligning, or simply making space.
To host another’s becoming is also to change oneself; that is why Orland says, “Every human being is a threshold for me to cross into a higher expression of myself.”
To accomplish this, Orland shares his fundamental practice, a practice from which he says all else springs: attentiveness. As he describes it, this includes all aspects of the human being: the body and its feelings, the mind and its thoughts, the heart and the spirit. To be a powerful agent of the becoming of others and the world, one cannot ignore any aspect of one’s humanness. Therefore, he does not support teachings like “You are not your body.” Sometimes you must BE your body; it is appropriate to direct your attention there. Other times the body must be sacrificed for a higher purpose, requiring the direction of attentiveness elsewhere. This clarity comes from knowing one’s purpose.
This knowledge of purpose is not primarily an intellectual ntelligence, as Orland makes clear in the second segment. It comes through moral intelligence. It is a function of the heart. Perception of the given world awakens in the human being a kind of creativity, to give meaning to the world and to pursue truth. Orland’s speech in the middle of this segment is particularly deep; I do not yet fully understand it after multiple listenings, yet as usual I feel like I received something new from it each time – especially when I make the effort to give meaning and find truth in this “given.”
In the third segment we explore a few different flavors of irreverence. First is to defuse what might be called “false reverence,” the kind that makes the sacred so serious we don’t touch it. Irreverence in this sense is akin to holding an open mind and an open heart, like a child. That is why Orland says the Fool is the greatest card in the Tarot deck. It liberates us from our inheritances.
Another aspect of irreverence Orland illuminates is that of caution, a shying away from that which we are unready. Because, he says, what we reach for in the world also reaches for us – whether or not we are ready. And so sometimes we properly shy away from too close an encounter with the sacred.
Then we talk about a very serious topic – not taking oneself too seriously! This part is self-explanatory. All idols, all graven images, all self-identities must ultimately fall, as they can only be accurate representations of the real for a single instant (if then). Irreverence casts down the idols, the vanity, the self-importance, the worship of one’s own image or another person’s image. When we laugh at ourselves, we are together in truth. Clearing away the false, the true become clearer – that we are divine beings.
There is so much in this session, but I’ll just offer you one sentence Orland said: “There is a reverse part of our will that when I’m reaching for something, it’s also reaching for me.” Meditate on this and see its truth. We are in a responsive universe. Inside and outside are not separate. We are not the only ones striving to become.
I am fond of saying, “The illness seeks the medicine.” It means that we are attracted to the people, knowledge, substances, and experiences that bring about our healing. Even if we are afraid of them and avoid them, we are also attracted to them. This truth is an invitation into self-trust as a navigational tool for life.
As Orland hints in this session, the reverse is also true: the medicine seeks the illness. The attraction is mutual. You may have experienced this yourself – you are attracted to people whom you can help, for whom you can be a healing presence. I will record a short medication based on this principle.
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