My more long-suffering readers will remember there is a metaphor I am particularly fond of. We might call it the parable of the raindrop. When the sun shines on the vastness of the sea through the mechanism of evaporation water vapour is formed. Now the sea is the final repository of pretty well all raindrops and when they arrive there they lose all sense of identity and merge homogeneously together. When the sea water evaporates it changes from liquid to gaseous form but it is still undifferentiated and homogenous. Finally in the upper atmosphere some of the water vapour coagulates around a dust particle and suddenly we have a raindrop. This process mirrors what the ego does in humans promoting individuation and separateness.
And soon, of course, atmospheric conditions permitting, the rain drop, and many like it, fall to earth. The rain drops feel drawn together to coalesce in streams and rivulets. Unbeknownst to them this inexorable desire the feel to come together is nothing more than, as we know it, gravity. They are compelled by gravity to flow from higher places to lower places. We might ascribe to them a “desire” to move downhill. The raindrop has no control over this process which is inexorable. It is born of the ocean through the life energy of the sun. It has a short life initiated by a “seeding” process and then it runs its short course under the influence of gravity.
In my imagination I suppose there is a collective consciousness. (This is not a too different scenario from those of you who suppose there is a God!) This is the ocean of potential and actual awareness. This is the foundation of everything. This is not anything material – it is the underlying stuff of the Universe and sometimes it manifests itself in materiality just as the ocean sometimes manifests itself as raindrops. It has sometimes been called the “Ground of Being.”
And of course to continue my metaphor there is a “seeding” process, involving males and females, that levers a little bit of that collective consciousness out of its veritable ocean of collective consciousness to become what we might call an individual human being. And then of course we are faced with the same dilemmas as the raindrop.
Our egos contrive to ensure we differentiate ourselves and mark out our specialness. But even preserving our separate identity we have social needs and a desire to belong. Thus we are faced with the contradiction of preserving our separateness whilst wanting to coalesce with others.
When the raindrops fell down from the sky they begin to coalesce as well. Some fall into rockpools that are fated to be small and which will finally evaporate again without ever melding and merging with many of their kind. Others trickle into small streams only to find that they are impounded by weirs and dams. They are thus prevented from continuing onward to the final ecstatic embrace of the sea.
Human beings find similar obstacles to their spiritual gravity. Some will find it difficult to merge with any but family. Others get stuck in religious sects or those with similar political ideology. Most will progress at least to the larger pool of nationality. But these impoundments don’t offer the same enhancing humanity that can be experienced by opening the floodgates and rushing to the embrace of the collective consciousness where every single entity can be recognised for its humanity and embrace the humanity of its fellows.
But you might argue my metaphor is incomplete. What of the raindrops that fall in the desert – that have no hope of ever reaching the sea?
Then I would direct you to think of the psychopaths whose only interest in their fellow humans is how they might be used or profited from. Or the unfortunates that suffer autism and don’t have the skills or the innate inclination to want to be close to their fellows.
Now this is of course a contrived metaphor. On many dimensions human beings are not like raindrops at all. Yet even this manufactured parable can teach us something. In pondering it, it seems to me a great shame that many of us do not allow our spiritual gravity to do its work and propel us to a place of unity and oneness. So often we get stuck at one of the barriers and confine ourselves to identifying with only a small part of the humanity that we potentially can all inhabit.
This “spiritual gravity” that I have proposed seems to me like the Tao of Lao-Tszu. It is not something we have to seek. It is always there and all we have to do is surrender ourselves to its influence and it will bring us to our desired destination. Yet like the Tao the final destination should not concern us. Unaided it will propel us on the journey of our lifetime and those who are aware of its influence will relish in every rivulet, cascade and surging torrent along the way.