Apprehending Reality from Different Views

“We have said that this [spiritual] consciousness in its full development seems to be extended not in one but in two directions. These directions, these two fundamental ways of apprehending Reality may be called the eternal and temporary, transcendent and immanent, absolute and dynamic aspects of Truth. They comprise the twofold knowledge of a God who is both Being and Becoming, near and far. … But the first awakening of the mystic sense, the first breaking in of the suprasensible [sic] upon the soul, commonly involve the emergence of only one of these complementary forms of perception. One side always wakes first: the incoming message always choosing the path of least resistance.” ~Evelyn Underhill

Apprehending Reality

It is not only in the development of spiritual consciousness that we see this duality. There are many things that people see differently. While there are many views when we look at the details, overall it is a dual view. The scientist or mathematician sees the thing one way, the artist another. The atheist and the theologian are also likely to see a thing very differently.

Ms. Underhill calls the two views of spiritual truth eternal and temporary, absolute and dynamic. Moving and static might be another way to look at it. The dynamic view sees reality as moving, flowing. The absolute view takes a static image of it. Both views are true. Both views can reveal things the other view misses.

A well known experiment in photography revealed that there are times when a racehorse has all four hooves off the ground. And lets consider a humming bird. If one person who has never seen a humming bird first sees one sitting static on a tree, she notes it’s size, color, pointy bill, etc. The second person who only sees the hummingbird flying notices its fast speed, it’s great maneuvering ability, the way it flutters rapidly from flower to flower. Both have seen the same bird, but in different ways. Both have seen truth, but only partially. Only the one who sees both views sees the complete truth. Only seeing the complete truth is really apprehending reality.

Path of Least Resistance

I think Underhill is correct in saying that which view we experience first when we awaken is the one with the least resistance. Those of us more prone to look at things as in a photograph will have that view of the spiritual realms. Those who think more of moving and changing will see things that way. They are apprehending reality, but not all aspects of it. One thing we need to understand, however, is that the constant movement that happens in spiritual realms does not represent change. At the highest levels of pure spirit, change simply doesn’t happen. God is always God. Yet that level is said to be one of great and constant motion. I suppose it is much like me sitting in a chair and apparently not moving, yet internally there is much movement; blood flowing, heart beating, lungs breathing, energies flowing, brain thinking, etc.

Blocking Reality

Unfortunately for some of us, the path of least resistance is still too much resistance. Just as the Native Americans couldn’t see the ships of Columbus when he landed because their beliefs didn’t allow them to accept the existence of such large boats, any view of spiritual truth is blocked by beliefs contrary to their reality. Whether we believe there are no spiritual worlds, or have a very false concept of them, the result is the same. Like Jesus said, “The Kingdom is all around you, yet you see it not”. So one of the first things we all must do is try to clear out those false beliefs that are blocking the truth from us and start apprehending reality.


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