I’ve been sailing this packet between Boston and Southampton (England) for two years now. I’m first mate McElroy of the ship Atlantic Intrepid, born to a sea faring family with salt in our veins. We are carrying passengers and cargo on a seven day voyage, making good time running our vessel just off the wind.
“The wind is freshening out of the north east, Captain,” I explained after checking our heading on the compass in the ships binnacle. The sails needed to be flattened for the stiff breeze that was now blowing. The jib and mizzen stay sail were sheeted in, along with the main. The Captain looked up to acknowledged as he was attending to the passengers, as I oversaw the trimming of the sails.
The sun was bright with white clouds dotting the sky. The blue water bristled as waves broke on the surface. One wave after another rolled across the majestic sea. Just like a lullaby. Once again I became lost in the day dream of contemplation, watching one wave after another marching forward. “Sort of like my life,” I thought, one person working in harmony with the crew to keep the ship out of the shoal waters and on course. One person, distinct and individual, yet part of the whole moving to the music of the cosmic dance.
From an early age our sense of self (the ego) begins to flourish and exert itself. We often define ourselves by using terms like me and mine. After all, when we look at the world it appears that there is only me, and everything else.
The ego is that part of our conscious psyche that controls thought and behavior. Its mission is to preserve itself at almost any cost. It is amoral and selfish, ruled by the principle of pleasure over pain. The ego gets inflated and feels more important through possession of career, money, and family. Our social position and sense of self worth have been surrendered over to others, since how we look in their eyes seems most important.
Spiritual growth tempers the egos demands. As our consciousness expands so does our heart, and we begin to see other people with kinship and understanding. The great divide between different cultures, religions, and ideological issues begin to melt away.
There are almost seven billion people living on the Earth today. I would categorize our level of maturity and spiritual realization using the following scale:
Infant Soul – Like the puppet Pinocchio who does not know right from wrong.
Baby Soul – Fundamentalist and rigid thinkers who will follow authority without question.
Young Soul – Competitive, searching for fame, and interested in winning (elevating their ego above all over others); cheerleaders and jocks.
Mature Soul – Searching and empathetic individuals.
Old Soul – Self actualized and centered.
The majority of Canadian residents are Mature Souls, while those in the United States are Young Souls. In the United States there are still too many decisions made in the corporate board room based upon the bottom line (financial dollars and profits) rather than on the welfare of people.
Just as a single wave is born from the waters depth, existing for a fleeting moment to touch the sky before falling back into the ocean, so too is the rhythm of human life. As individuals our actions are guided by the ego (small self) but we retain the qualities and stature of the larger universal SELF. The small self emerging from the large SELF, and then back home again.
When a wave rises it can seem vulnerable and alone. Ruled by the small self we are beset by problems and continued concern about our welfare and survivability. There hardly seems enough time in the day to attend to all of our needs. But a person using their full potential, identified as the large SELF, rises to enjoy, succeed and revel in the playground of life. A single wave rises from the water’s surface to exhibit the power and grandeur of the entire ocean.
There is a whole science of wave travel and propagation of energy through various media (water, air, space). Physicists point out that a wave on the water’s surface is really just a passing energy fluctuation. Wind blowing across the surface creates waves. The motion of the water is different than the motion of the wave. The water molecules move in a circular direction. As the energy travels it causes the water at any given point to oscillate up (crest) and down (trough). The overall effect is an “apparent” wave moving across the surface. In reality we are the large SELF and have always been. But in the field of time and space we are forgetful, and appear as the small “self.”
Our individuality is illusory but made possible due to the slight of hand of creation. The unbounded unmanifest, beyond time and space, decided to experience itself. Consciousness became conscious. It’s like when you sit in a warm bath tub for a period of time you no longer feel the warm water. But by moving around and stirring it up you can feel the heat again. So to the unmanifest creates from time to time to experience and fulfill itself.
On this journey you do not lose your personal identity. To the contrary, it is enhanced as you imbibe and take on more qualities of the universal SELF. Even the enlightened person acts according to his/hers own nature. You still have family and friends, your favorite hobby and food, and of course that mortgage payment if you so choose (but now you are no longer bound by the fruit of possession). You act compassionately and responsibly in the world. You are a child of the earth as your family expands to include all of mankind.
Do your best every day to be that person (the wave) that rises up and exercises their full potential (the ocean).