The Unseen Too Is Real

What does it mean to live a soulfull life? Something that a man in his nineties said to me has stayed with me ever since we talked over a year ago. His answer was, “It is living as though the unseen too is real.” He shared this after telling the story of his brother who committed suicide decades ago and how this influences his life and living still. What I took away from our conversation is that there are deeper currents that inform and sustain us in a fundamental way, but that we rarely acknowledge or talk about.

Underneath the surface of my life, the material world that seems so real and demands so much of my attention, there is another quieter, invisible animating force. Living with a sensitivity to what is unsaid and unseen but still very real – dreams, longings, difficult feelings, ghosts from the past or the future – and giving space for and expression to this, this is what soulfull living is for me.

One of the ways that I create this space is by writing a book. It’s a daunting and terrifying task and so I comfort myself that maybe my book is only for me. That for now I am teaching myself. The chapter I am currently working on is about spiritual practice and I’ve been writing about how for me this boils down to trusting that I am connected in unseen ways to deeper currents that I can rely on and rest in to. Or, as Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote, that “what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

“That’s lovely in theory,” my inner critic taunts me, “but do you practice this?” So, mindful that my consulting revenue had dried up with the COVID pandemic and that I was likely to be in a very real material pinch soon, I wrote this prayer on the 3rd of April 2020:

And on the 1st of May I started a meaningful new job. I am not a fan of new age rhetoric about ‘manifestation’ and ‘abundance’ and the point of sharing this story is not something pithy like “just pray/ believe and your material life will flow smoothly”. Rather, I write to encourage you to trust in the deeper currents that I know you feel too. Where is Life currently moving you? When you are quiet what knowing emerges? What is gently but persistently callling you?

For now, my daily practice in amidst a world that feels particularly chaotic and difficult and an inner critic that continues to berate me, is this extract from page 56 of Eckhardt Tolle’s little book called Practising the Power of Now.

“As you go about your life, don’t give 100% of your attention to the external world and to your mind. Keep some within. Feel the inner body even when engaged in everyday activities, especially when engaged in relationships or when you are relating with nature. Feel the stillness deep inside it. Keep the portal open. It is quite possible to be conscious of the Unmanifested throughout your life. You feel it as a deep sense of inner peace somewhere in the background, a stillness that never leaves you, no matter what happens out here. You become a bridge between the Unmanifested and the manifested, between God and the world. It is this state of connectedness with the Source that we call enlightenment.”

All too often I forget about the currents that flow underneath material circumstance and the choppiness of my mind talk. And then, in moments of grace and awareness in amidst the ordinariness of my day, I come back to resting there. Maybe you will join me?



18 July 2020