Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Where is Here

by Christina Carson

“In the beginning was the Word.”  Familiar phrase, eh. Much is written about that sentence and the meanings implied, and though exploring that is not specifically the intent of this blog, I was once again reminded this weekend of the power words have to impact our lives through the meanings we apply to them. What happened this weekend? Husband, Bert, and I were asked to speak at the funeral of a friend, Jean Gentry, who had passed on a week earlier. She lived a remarkable life and was someone whom it was our privilege to know. She had lived into her nineties, thus the crowd was not one typified by deep grief, for hers was a long life well lived. But since most attending were family, many of those there had had a significant relationship with her, and she was indeed missed.

When Bert and I finished speaking, we invited the group to participate in an informal storytelling session of experiences they had with Jean. Some stories were touching, some were funny, and through those personal reflections, the greater family, I believe, came to realize even more clearly what an extraordinary mother, grandmother and friend Jean had been. Bert addressed their deeper recognition that she was now gone by suggesting to them that she is, in fact, still here.

That’s when it hit me, the power we give to the meaning words carry. I’m not arguing for any particular life-after-death scenario, but it became clear to me that we humans, due to the meaning we've attached to the word here, have left ourselves in quite a bind. For most, here means able to be acknowledged by our five senses. Most specifically, if we can touch, see or hear them, we can accept them as here. We agree to that definition as fact, even though it was we who determined it. It didn't come to us from a proverbial higher source or ancient scrolls or laws, we humans are the keeper of our spoken language, and we bestowed that meaning on that word. Like a dog chasing its tail, we define a world with the meanings we give to it, which then create boundaries and limitation that we become imprisoned by.

What if our view about here was akin to Ramana Maharshi’s, an enlightened Indian who lived in our time? He defined here as
Sri Ramana Maharshi
everywhere present and lived a life that made it clear that was indeed true for him. Death didn't end anything for him except freeing him from his flesh form. As he lay dying, his young disciples sat about him in deep grief bemoaning his leaving them. His reply was simply, “Where would I go? I've always been here.”

Redefining our terms, literally describes our world anew. When Newtonian physicists originally defined subatomic particles, such as electrons, as entities of minuscule mass held in orbit around an atom’s nucleus, they organized the world of matter for us in a specific manner. It was much akin to concrete building blocks, orderly and measurable. But then quantum science came along presenting a different view when it became clear electrons were actually objects that instead had no intrinsic properties and were undergoing continual transformation. That suggested that matter, rather than having solidity and definition, now became something created from entities that seem like whimsy itself. Though that hasn't yet changed how we see the world around us, it is only because our minds are as yet unable to accommodate that view. Its seeming chaos and spontaneity frighten us. It was the view, however, that Ramana Marharshi lived from daily and why he made the statement that he has always been here.

 Maybe here does indeed mean everywhere present. But one thing for sure, our definitions represent our reality only as long as we agree to that arrangement. Here might be a great word to start with to kick the edges out a bit.

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