The Search For Union

Social isolation has made this a challenging year. Connections are fundamental to our well-being. 

I have been writing about the importance of maintaining balance in life, suggesting that the development of spirit, along with mind and body, is critical to a life well-lived. 

Developing spirit is about growing our capacity to experience connectivity with life. Spirit expands our circle of “We.” Its home is union, which translates to a felt “oneness.” 

The central question then is how to grow such connectivity. What follows is the approach I found after years of searching. I share this not as a definitive solution but as a potential direction you may wish to explore. 

I was never able to find the connectivity I was looking for in religious services, so I turned to wisdom literature in hopes it would illuminate a path. Some of my favorite sources are listed on the website under “further reading.”

As I studied, a common theme emerged:

Union lies beyond the realm of thought.

At first, I didn’t want to believe this because it suggested my approach was a dead end. Ultimately, I found this to be true.

It turned out my search was misguided, like looking for missing eye-glasses that were sitting on my head all along. Spirit is always present but often hidden in the distractions of a busy life. Stillness turned out to be my teacher.

Stillness has been practiced across cultures for thousands of years. The practice involves finding a quiet place, emptying one’s mind, and sitting in peace. 

That doesn’t sound very productive, does it? 

I decided to give it a serious go anyway.  

I practiced for a long time. Guess what happened?

Absolutely nothing!

It felt like trying to move a pencil by looking at it. 

Luckily, the practices were relaxing, so I continued, giving up on achieving “mystical union” or anything else.

In retrospect, practice was a lot like fishing. One can fish for hours and not catch a thing. But the moment you set your rod down to get a beer,…… boom, fish-on!

Once I stopped trying to achieve a result, I simply “dropped in!” It was an experience that doesn’t easily translate into words.  

At first, it felt like an “altered” state of consciousness. I no longer feel that way. Union is not a “state” of consciousness. It’s our natural existence, obscured by layer upon layer of pre-occupation, thought, and feelings of separation. 

So what does this have to do with spirit?

You might have noticed I use the term union and spirit interchangeably. That’s because, to me, they feel intertwined. Spirit leads us to union.

In sloughing off the accumulated layers of varnish experienced as a separate “Me,” awareness opened to spirit, leading to a new level of connectivity in life.

Once we experience radical connectedness. Nothing is the same.

For me, it turned out that “The Eagles” were right! 

“You thought you could find happiness 

Just over that green hill 

You thought you would be satisfied 

But you never will- 

Learn to be still”

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Fundamental Principle: Bringing life energies into balance.

Questions To Consider: What does awareness feel like, absent of thought?

More information including background principles, suggested reading, and a library of previous posts can be found at http://tim-coats.com

4 Replies to “The Search For Union”

  1. It is, indeed, a curious thing this thing we call unity, this thing we call spirit. Somewhere between navel gazing and star gazing there is a realm in which we are meant to dwell. Genesis 37 opens with “Joseph sojourned in the land of his father’s sojourning. It is a curious word “sojourn,” one we rarely use anymore. It means to travel, dwell, subsist temporarily in a place one does not own, depending on the generosity of others to survive. I love words that communicate such depth and breadth of meaning so susinctly. But think about it from another perspective. Joseph’s father, Jacob, spent his entire life sojourning, living permanently in a place that is by nature temporary. Sound familiar to me. We are all a bit like Joseph, I suppose. Whether we stay in the Promised Land or go to Egypt to accomplish great things, this life is temporary and we had better make the most of it. For me this has something to do with blending my life with others so thoroughly that we become. At least that is my goal, my intention. So, it sounds like we are on the same page with this experience of union, unity, spirit or whatever we wish to call it. Wish me luck, and I will do the same for you.

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  2. Wonderfully written and explored— Spirit and Union—incredible life and wellness feelings or attributes. Your example reminded me of my fly fishing experiences ….. alone in a mountain stream with Mother Nature all around you. I am in waders and walking up the meandering stream—- casting here and there trying to find that perfect spot where the trout might be waiting— how do I present my fly just perfectly so it looks real to the unsuspecting fish–keeping the line taut or ready to tighten if the fish strikes—- casting again and again as I continue up the stream… looking at the water flowing, the woods around the stream changing, the various rock formations in the stream causing the current to flow in different paths, the sunlit sky above casting light and shadows on the stream—all outward experiences that I internalize as I keep moving onward. I catch a fish and we struggle together for a minute or two and then I release it back into its home and personal environment. All of a sudden I realize that I have been in that stream for 3 hours or more and it seems like it has been only minutes—why has it seemed only minutes I ask myself………..You provided the answer above—SPIRIT and UNION. I was at one with the total experience—–stream, trees, skies, fish, rocks, my slow movement in the water with my waders on carefully making each step along the way—– what an incredibly peaceful time and experience. As I write this note, the feelings of those special fly fishing moments come rushing back into my mind, head and body and I just had a deep sigh !!

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