When we look at a painting we may see many different parts. We may see the blue colour, or the pink; we may see the petals of a flowers or the gentle brushstrokes with which Monet created the flow of water. We may see form, shapes, and movements – lines of lines creating other lines like the lines of on our palms, or the paths of life. We may see perhaps even the history, culture, or historical context. And if we tuned in a bit more sensitively, we may see the emotions, intentions, the heart and soul behind the painting.

All these are different ways of seeing. Each purposeful, and each needed, and each only through our own view. For a painting is only a window – it is the glass not the ocean.

I often tell a story about an elephant surrounded by monks, each sitting beside one another. Each was asked to describe what they saw, and each saw a different part; one saw the tusk, the other the leg, the other the sunlight touching the skin and it seemed a bluer shade than all others described it. Who was right? All were. Who told the truth? All did. But the Truth, that’s a different perspective, a higher one, a one we’ll never fully know as human beings because of our limited understanding and conditioned human minds. The humility of this deserves to be treasured.

No matter our religious traditions, beliefs, or lack thereof, all spiritual paths usually reside in one simple awareness: that there is something far greater than our individual selves.

And here we are, with a painting, and all its many different parts. To see them all together, the colours, the forms, the emotions, the history, the hands and the brushtrokes, and each little petal, and then be able to perceive an additional layer of meaning to it all, this is transcendence.

Transcendence goes beyond analysis, beyond our world of emphasis on the logic, rationale, the judgments and the measurements. It is a deeper meaning that lies beyond the lines and measurements. The world of transcendence is the world where poets, musicians, authors, monks and spiritual teachers reside. It’s the world of the mystic, the visionary, the healer.

And if you call to mind the people in your life who have truly embodied what it means to be human, and humane, you’d probably find out that they spend most of their time in the world of transcendence. These are the people who walk a kindness and patience of rhythm, with deep respect, appreciation, humility and reverence for life and other people. These are the people who may be seemingly ordinary, paying great attention to the simple beauty of life, while doing all their work with dedication and a certain level of quietness; with a quietness of wisdom in their subtle gestures and words. These are the people who have the curiously shy aura of the real artists – the artists of life, of love, the mystics who enter all with a beginner’s mind.

In a world that praises and rewards grandiose individualism, touching the transcendent can be a humbling experience. And this is what deepens us in meaning, and in love, and we can experience ourselves through life in much richer and present ways.

We all here experience gravity. We have beliefs, thoughts, limits, pre-conditionings, safety patterns. Gravity is good, and it needs us to understand it, which begins with awareness that it is there, and seeing it for what it is. But gravity also implies resistance. And there is a way to go beyond the gravity.

We are here to fall within the non-gravity, the non-resistance, so that we unveil our true self and creative unlimited potential – to touch that which dissolves some of the pre-conditioning of this world. And so, to go beyond the gravity means to unhold our hands from the attachments of only seeing one part of it all.

To be on a spiritual path is about self awareness – it is a way to go deeper, and expand in perceptions.

We go deeper, because we want to touch something that dissolves some of the pre-conditioning of this world, and allow us to experience a different kind of freedom within that which is called the hidden world.

We go deeper, because this allows us to have more confidence moving forward that we are not just a body, and that we are more than what we thought we were – we are something that is beyond our conditioning. These sometimes almost mystical experiences, born out of our inner worlds and intimate walkings, or awakened through our interactions with others, serve that confidence – serve the faith on the path that way. And it also serves the purpose that we can now be of help to others in a better way. 

Transcendence comes from the Latin prefix trans-, meaning “beyond,” and the word scandare, meaning “to climb.” So to transcend means to move beyond the ordinary limitations; and in a spiritual sense it means to see beyond the physical needs and realities.

Transcendence is a way of fully seeing the world; it’s a seeing beyond the surface level towards the deeper connections that are at play. It’s seeing the meaning of the whole beyond the individual parts.

The benefit of touching transcendence is that you now have the opportunity to see the deeper reality and the interconnection of all things. And this holds you. It holds you because you now realize that you’re not just mere a part, but you are a part of that whole deeper reality just as anything and everything else. This allows for a deeper and more meaningful interaction with life, in a much more intentional and present way, as we become more fully aware of the greater arch of our life and its connection with the larger whole.

When we see, even if only a glipmse of the deeper reality, we get to touch that which is beyond us, and all of life becomes deeper, richer, more meaningful. God is an inner experience, just like love is an inner experience also.   

Whenever someone asks me about life’s purpose, I can tell you straight away that it is, for all people, to be of service to others and to learn to love, and then, loving fully. For each person their path that way may be unique, and the expression of that through their hands, lips and gestures may be differently manifested. But it is still the same in its essence: Being in service to others, and learning to love more fully and intentionally.

The art of life is the art of love.

One petal, then another, blues in pinks, emotions in hearts and in hands, with gentle brushtrokes, lines of lines and in other lines like history and lineages of soul; and in the way of water, we have the beautiful water lilies by Monet, and we have each other.  

Ways & habits to incorporate the practice into your life:

Love ~ Nature ~ Tradition

Zoom out, and try to maintain awareness of the bigger picture. Settle into the understanding and humble truth that there are clocks beyond the hands of our human made clocks; and there, there is its own timing and divine order. Trust that each step matters, even if you can’t yet see why. There are decisions to be made always, stay in integrity and kindness; and when faced with a decision, try to reflect on how you may feel about it looking back.

Incorporate a spiritual practice like prayer, and build your strong spiritual core. Reflect on your relationship to God, what does God mean to it, and what parts of that belief might be because of some inner limitations or experiences that are no longer serving you; what more is there for you to explore, open up to, or surrender to; where in your life can you release control a little bit, and fall into the hands of trust, trusting that life will provide for you what you need working through the hands of others also.

Consider your family’s traditions and your spiritual upbringing. Find a daily or weekly tradition that you may have left behind and try practicing it for a month. Explore the roots of this practice and try to enter more deeply into its true intention – what is the essence, what was the meaning behind it? What lies beyond the words and verses, what unfolds through the cooking of the meals? Is there something you now perceive that you didn’t before? Perhaps re-read an old poem, or book, are there new insights emerging, are you perceiving, feeling or seeing something you hadn’t before? Devote to finding the rare gems of wisdom that may remain hidden to most people’s eyes.      

For more of my writings, browse through my Art of Love.

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Cover art by Claude Monet, Water Lilies, W.1708.

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