Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Air Aware

We forget how powerful the air is when we notice it as the missing element in our experience of the unified field. Here is a small excerpt from The Air Aware: Mind and Mood on a Breathing Planet, by David Abram, from the September/October 2009 issue of Orion magazine (my emphasis in bold):

". . .After all, mind is a quintessentially quicksilver phenomenon, impossible to isolate and pin down. As soon as we try to ponder the character of awareness, we discover that it’s already escaped us—for it is really the pondering that we’re after, rather than the thing pondered. We find ourselves unable to get any distance from awareness, in order to examine it objectively, for wherever we step it is already there. Mind, in this sense, is very much like a medium in which we’re situated, like the ineffable air or atmosphere, from which we are simply unable to extricate ourselves without ceasing to exist. Everything we know or sense of ourselves is conditioned by this atmosphere. We are composed of this curious element, permeated by it, and hence can take no distance from it. (The contemporary word for the mind, psyche, was once the ancient Greek word for wind and breath, much as the word spirit derives from the Latin spiritus, meaning a breath or a gust of wind. Likewise, the modern term atmosphere is cognate with the Sanskrit word for the soul, atman, through their common origin in the older term atmos, which originally signified both air and soul indistinguishably: the atmosphere as the blustering soul of the world.)

To acknowledge this affinity between the air and awareness, however, is to allow this curious possibility: that the awareness that stirs within each of us is continuous with the wider awareness that moves all around us, bending the grasses and lofting the clouds. Every organism partakes of this awareness from its own angle and place within it, each of us imbibing it through our nostrils or through the stomata in our leaves, altering its chemistry and quality within us before we breathe it back into the surrounding world. Awareness, in this biospheric sense, is a quality in which we participate with the whole of our breathing bodies; as your body is different from mine in many ways, so your sensations and insights are richly different from mine. The contrasting experience of a praying mantis, or of a field of wild lupine, is as different from our experience as their bodies are different from ours. Each being’s awareness is unique, to be sure, yet this is not because an autonomous mind is held inside its particular body or brain, but because each engages the common awareness from its own extraordinary angle, through its particular senses, according to the capacities of its flesh."