The Empty Vessel (but what a vessel...)
I have a client who I speak to on the phone. I have never met her in person. I look forward to her calls in the way my four year old looks forward to Christmas. What will it be this time? What joke or warm comment or beautiful insight or humble confession will I hear from her this week?
We talked about how as we pay less attention to all the stuff that is whirring round in our minds, we become empty vessels, open and ready to receive and act on the wisdom that is continually coming our way.
As we were talking, I knew that the principle was true. We are walking, talking, moving spaces. Yet equally fascinating to me was the form of my client that surrounds and shapes this space, the form that makes the shape possible. As we spoke, I knew without doubt that there is an essence of her, my client, that is indefinable and that is as magnificent as the space that we were discussing.
And it is the same for all of us. The same in the sense that we are not the same.
In focusing on the space within, we forget the vessel that is making it possible for the space to be.
That is how it should be.
Because any thought of what are they thinking of me, how am I coming across, am I getting what I want, I'm so different from them, we will never agree on this, do I like this person, do they like me? All of that just gets in the way.
And those thoughts can't come anywhere close to the vessel anyway. Anything that we think about how and who we are and how and who someone else is is held in thought and has no truth to it. We cannot define it in words.
And yet... and yet... this vessel is there. It is the unmatchable indefinable essence of each individual. It is a miracle, it is unique, it is a work of art, it is exquisite, infinitely detailed, complex, profound. It is far beyond description.
To say that we are waves of an ocean, made of the same energy, appearing and disappearing is absolutely true. Yet in pointing to the sameness, we miss the indefinable, momentary glorious uniqueness of each of the waves.
Each wave is a shape for the universe to express itself. And the shape is beautiful and beyond thought. As we realise that our idea of who we are is absolutely made up, the more this essence of who we are sparkles and dances and sets the world alight. The more intensely ourselves we become. The letting go of being just makes the being more beautiful, more mesmerising.
Even more miraculously specific, is that the wisdom that flows into the space that this vessel creates is designed expressly for that vessel and for the precise situation in which the vessel finds him or herself.
Then the individual will shape it, express it, say it or turn that wisdom into a form that no one else on the planet could do.
Occasionally, the universal-turned-individual wisdom is fully, truthfully expressed, through someone's unique personal essence with so little of the person in the way that it speaks to everyone.
The magnificence is such that world catches its breath for a moment, takes a step back to hold onto a chair.
This is when the most profoundly moving works of art are created, when humanity's greatest leaders speak words that end centuries of hatred and violence, when huge leaps are gained in our medical and scientific knowledge.
And it is also present, in the tiny, numerous, every day unique expressions of wisdom. When a parent turns a squabble over who gets the blue cup into a moment of hilarity for the whole family. Or when a nurse comforts a patient. Or when we decorate our house. Or laugh with our friends. Or become absorbed in our hobbies. Or work for a charity. Or write a letter. Or choose a new outfit or a new job or a country to live in.
On Michael Neill's Creating the Impossible programme everyone gets to chose something that seems way beyond them that they really want. All of these projects are powered by universal wisdom, expressed through the unique essence of each individual.
Helping 1000 young people see their power to change the world, won't be for everyone. But how amazing that Stephanie is doing it. We might have no desire to coach Benedict Cumberbatch but we can love that Katarina does. Holding poetry workshops for businesses is something that might never occur to us. Wonderful that Peter is doing it. How great that Stef is learning Spanish to train people in Latin America. And those exquisite paintings from Molly created in the way that only she can...
This is the real wonder of life. All of us experience life in exactly the same way. All of us are wisdom receptors and all of us have a shape and a way of turning the formless into form that is impossible to replicate.
Actually, perhaps the real wonder of it all is that for this essence to be appreciated it needs a witness.
This is where we come in. When we really see this essence in another, when we are free of any agenda other than to simply marvel at the unique being before us, we are seeing, in that beautiful distinction from ourself, ourself.
In that one exquisite moment, we witness the infinite kaleidoscopic gift of life and we know that is who we are.
We are uniqueness noticing uniqueness.
We are life realising itself.