The Smelting Pot

Why is it that so many people have such a deep-seated fear of oneness?

Honestly, you say the word and you can feel people cringe; that is when they are not jumping all over you for promoting ‘New Age claptrap’ or un-American sentiments.

Un-American? Really?  Last I heard America was the ‘Great Melting Pot’ where Peoples of different races and religions came together and became something more together than they were individually; a place where thoughts and concepts and ideas could mix freely and homogenize into something altogether different; something stronger and more unique.  Well, that’s how we billed ourselves, Once Upon a Time.

Times, it seems, have changed.

Once upon time the concept of the Great Melting Pot actually made sense.  It didn’t matter who you were, or where you were from.  You could come and add your own uniqueness to the mix; you could learn new ways of thinking and doing and being and, out of them, create a life for yourself that was richer and stronger than would have been possible if you had continued to go it alone; like taking a plate of Iron, melting it down to its most basic, fundamental levels, removing the impurities, oxidizing it, and ending up with steel; something far stronger and more durable.

The problem is that over the years the concept Great Melting Pot has turned into the great Homogenizing Plant, and homogenization isn’t about increasing strength and stability of any one person or group of Peoples.  Homogenization is where substances are brought together and emulsified until what made them “them” is distributed evenly throughout the mixture and there is no uniqueness or individuality left.

Steel is still Iron; just iron that has been purified and strengthened.  When you homogenize milk, on the other hand, while it loses its impurities, it also looses much of the richness and flavor that made it so enjoyable to begin with.  If you don’t believe me, stop by a farm sometime and take a drink of milk fresh from a cow, there really is no comparison.

Believe it or not, this is the same problem that people run into when they think of the concept of spiritual unity and oneness.  Instead of seeing oneness as a smelting pot; a process that enriches the individual; a process that not only removes your impurities but strengthens you with concepts and ideas that you might never otherwise have encountered, they see it as homogenization; as a loss of everything that made them an individual.

They have somehow got it into their heads that when you subscribe to “oneness” you give up all of your individuality; all of your flavor; everything that made you “you.”  Actually, they couldn’t be more wrong.

Oneness isn’t about becoming the same as everyone else.  It isn’t about losing your distinctness or merging into some sort of protean soup where you give up your ability to think for yourself.  In fact, as long as we live in this physical universe and subscribe to physical duality that is patently impossible.  Our very existence as human beings here on this planet indicates that we are here to live as individuals and to thrive, each of us in our unique and distinct physical package.

What oneness is about is acknowledging that at our most fundamental core, each and every one of us is made up of the same substance.  Oneness is not something that we strive for; it is something that we remember because it is something that already happened.

We all come from that great smelting pot where the iron was crafted into steel.  Through the process of living, each of us takes on different strengths and weaknesses.  We’ve had different alloys added into our mix to make new and unique metals.  We’ve been cast into beams to hold up sky scrapers and into fence posts and belt buckles and kitchen kettles.  We find our place as cookware or flatware or decorative objects that have to be highly polished.

But underneath it all; underneath all of the polishing and decorative coats of paint; underneath all of the plaster and plumbing that have been built up over us; underneath of the circuits and computer chips and plastic casings; we’re all the same.

No matter how we may fight the knowing, we ARE all one.

There is no getting around it.

Acknowledging the fact that we are all, at our core, spiritual beings and that we are made up of the same stuff does not mean that we will stop being who and what we are, that we will have to melt down the sky scrapers and the flatware and the belt buckles and the jewelry and give up our individuality for some sort of homogenized boredom.

All it means is that by acknowledging that we are all made up of the same stuff we will go about our lives with a fresh perspective; the knowledge that no matter how different we may seem, at heart we ARE one.

And that, my friends, can make all the difference in the world.

The Enlightened Art of Chasing Rainbows

You’ve run into them, I know you have, those New Age ‘gurus’ who sell a method or process of enlightenment that is “guaranteed” to work.   Well, you have to buy their book or their 10 disc CD set or sign up for their online course (where you get a personal spirit coach and a free reading on your etheric colors).

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not knocking their methods.  In fact, I have read a huge number of “how to” and “self help” books that contain some extraordinarily awesome suggestions; tips and techniques that have definitely made my own spiritual journey far richer and more interesting than it would have been if I’d continued to keep slugging away through the underbrush on my own; forging my own path with absolutely no outside help and only a semi-sharp machete.

I only have one problem when it comes to these sorts of spiritual teachers, and that is the overall attitude that there is just one way to enlightenment – their way – when in truth the process of enlightenment is more like chasing rainbows.

Didn’t you ever chase after a rainbow as a kid?  You can see it, its right there!  And yet, when you get to the point of the rainbow’s origin, what do you find?  Nothing but mist and sunlight; nothing tangible; nothing substantial, and definitely nothing that you can lay your hands on and say “hey look, I’ve got me a rainbow!”  In fact, once you reach the point where the rainbow seemed to touch the ground, chances are that you will have found that it has moved on to the top of the hill; the top of the mountain; always a step ahead of you and just out of reach.

As you get older you learn about how rainbows are made and even the knowledge that it is nothing but raindrops and sunbeams doesn’t deter us.  Even the knowledge that the array of colors is due to the prismatic effect of refraction doesn’t keep us from our goal.  We still try.  We might even consult with others who claim that they know how to pin one down.

Yes, there are teachers who have a grasp on ways to help you see the colors more clearly.  There are those who can give you a step by step description of what each color means and others who will be able to walk you through the process of refraction and be able to discuss the philosophical meaning of rainbows and the importance they play in the human drama, but there is not one teacher out there who can teach you how to lay your hands on that rainbow.  Why?  Because it can’t be done.

That’s right.  There is no such thing as “achieving” enlightenment.  I don’t care how hard you run or how many mountains you climb, you will never “achieve” enlightenment.  There will never be anything that you can hold out and say, “Here is enlightenment.  It is within my grasp.  It is mine.”  Why?  Because enlightenment is not something that you get; it is not something that you get.  Enlightenment is the process of stepping back and discovering that enlightenment was inside of you the entire time.

You are the sun.

You are the rain.

And it is in your heart and mind and soul that the rainbow not only has its origins but where you will find your pot of gold as well.



Snow White and the New Age Fluff Bunnies

Redefining the Misperception of Love and Light

I suppose that I should apologize for not being one of those kooky new age fluff bunnies who skulks around under random pieces of furniture collecting negative energies and dispelling them with love and light and a trilling song to small animals  a’ la Snow White.

I’m sorry, but Snow White has always annoyed me to no end.  Forget all of the quips about her living with seven men and still acting like she’s all sweet and innocent, it’s her voice (in the animated Disney version) that drives me absolutely batty; all high and squeaky.  But more than that, it’s her naive attitude towards life in general that leaves me shaking my head.  Come on already, who actually takes (and eats!) apples from withered old hags who appear at the door of your cottage; a cottage that is in the middle of nowhere nonetheless?  Not to mention falling hopelessly in love with a man you’ve only met once!

I actually met Snow White once.  Well okay, it wasn’t Snow White.  It wasn’t even the actress that played Snow White (actually I think she died back in 1997). She didn’t even have a squeaking voice.  Actually the woman I met had an attitude that reminded me of Snow White

I was visiting a New Age psychic fair with some friends and the woman was running a stall where she sold lovely little crystals that she had strung together with colorful beads to make “power prisms” that you could hang in your living room window.  There was nothing wrong with her stall.  The beads were very lovely and she seemed like a really nice person, but when she criticized me for “not being positive enough” when I mentioned a news article that I had recently read (and which tied in with the conversation we were having) I was, quite literally, flabbergasted.

“You really shouldn’t talk about things like that” she said, putting one hand over her heart.  “You’re not going to get anywhere if you think about or mention negative things!”

I admit that I had to blink at her.  There was really nothing to say.  She was totally sincere in her reaction and seemed genuinely aghast that I could call myself a lightworker and still mention something negative.

What I wanted to tell her is that she clearly misunderstands the concept of a lightworker.  There is nothing written anywhere that says that a lightworker has to be all light and love.  There is not even anything that says that a lightworker has to be continually positive and upbeat.  A lightworker is any being dedicated to the cultivation of inner presence as well as the elevation of awareness not only in yourself but in others as well.

Come to think of it, like so many others out there, she probably also misunderstands the concept of light.

Anyone who thinks of light as being all love and etheric gentleness has obviously been standing too long gazing at the moon and has probably never stood too close to an open fire when the sparks are flying or has gotten a serious sunburn while lying on the beach.

Think about it, what is the source of light (and life for that matter) on this planet?  The sun of course; and the sun is no gentle etheric light that soothes and calms the soul.  The sun is powerful. It brooks no argument.  You can’t hide from it.  It cuts through the darkness like a knife through butter and has the power to transform whatever it touches. There’s just one problem, the touch of the sun is not always gentle.  In fact, while it can be soothing and nurturing, it can also be downright painful.

The caress of sunlight is what encourages a seed to crack itself open, put down roots and become a plant.  Its gentle touch coaxes the leaves into unfurling and the flowers into bloom.  But it can also destroy.  When exposed to direct sunlight bacteria tend to die in hoards, as do many fungi, molds and mildews, and too much direct sunlight can turn a verdant meadow into a dry and barren place.  In fact, our planet cannot handle true direct sunlight and still be hospitable to life.

Much of the sun’s power is filtered through our atmosphere where the dangerous rays such as X-Rays, UVC, UVB and UVA (all of which can be damaging to DNA) lose much of their destructive force as they pass through the ozone layer and atmosphere.  But even these rays can be used discriminately to fight everything from the spread of skin fungi by using germicidal lamps to PUVA therapy for psoriasis. But then there are also lasers that concentrate light for precision work in eye surgeries and the treatment of cancers. You just have to know when it is the right time to use the light for gentle healing, and when it is more important to cut right down to the heart of the mater.

Have you ever seen a picture painted by an artist who didn’t use shadows?  There is no depth, no perception, no way to gauge distance or to orient yourself in relation to your location in space and time. By using shade and shadow an artist breathes life into their work.  It becomes alive.  It is the balance you see that makes all the difference.  Knowing when to use the light, and when to let the light speak for itself, and when to make room for the shade and shadows that will put it all into perspective.

You see, aside from the light, discernment is the true lightworker’s most important tool.  You have to be able to understand just how much (and what kind) of light is needed.  In order to understand this you also have to be able to discern the usefulness of shade and shadow (when appropriate), especially when it casts what the light illuminates into sharp relief or brings it into clearer focus.  Without it the light would go unnoticed and unappreciated, and awareness, after all, is what being a lightworker it is all about.


©Stephanie S. Henry 2012