While preparing for last week’s chat on freedom, I had come across a reference to Thomas Paine’s essay titled “Common Sense” – an essay, written by an Englishman, published anonymously in early 1776, that is said to have greatly influenced and inspired the writers of the American Declaration of Independence. I was intrigued enough to get an electronic copy, and have been reading it this week.
Towards the end of the week, my reading of “Common Sense” was complemented by my (re)reading of “Practical Spirituality” by Swami Vivekananda. I couldn’t help but be struck by the common threads in the two writings, by two people who were so far separated by time, space, and causation. However, as often happens, when East meets West, and the waters of thought and action meet in Oneness, harmony is the result.
So, I paused to consider. What is the message of harmony that I could take away from these two treatises, for the cause of “Common Sense Spirituality”? Let me share with you the four quadrants of the message – I invite you to play in the template of four quadrants and arrive at your own interpretations of “Common Sense”.
Identify, focus on, and devote your best energies to the “big rocks”. How often do we begin the day, the week, the month or the year with good goals and intentions, but tend to “lose our way” among the little pebbles of life? For me, some of the the big rocks are morning meditation, tea and coffee conversations, walking in nature, sitting in evening reflection, and such. What are your “big rocks” and what quality of time, space and energy do you invest in them?
Feeding is important. It sounds simple, but the quality of what we feed our mind, body and spirit greatly influences the quality of creative energy that becomes available to us. Common Sense invites us to evaluate our feeding, our intake through all our senses, and develop awareness of our output. Are we emulating GiGo Garbage in Garbage out) because we are led by FoMo (Fear of Missing our)? If so, we are spirit-bound to course correct and improve the quality of our intake.
Weeding is directly connected to feeding, and the two combine to influence growth. As a gardener, I am well aware that no matter how hard I try, weeds have the propensity to appear “out of the blue” with alacrity and regularity. In order to prevent the mind garden from being overrun by weeds of fear, hate, judgement and the like, regular weeding is common sense. Regular weeding also ensures that our spiritual feeding has the maximum nutritional effect on our subtle body.
In the fourth quadrant, is breathing. Although breathing is an autonomous function, which is a good thing, we do have the ability to develop control over its rhythm. Beyond the purely physical benefits of breath awareness, the art of breathing directly influences our nervous system, its currents and its energies. The common sense way to regulate the perturbations in our emotional state is to watch the state of our breath. Emotions feed our thoughts, which often feed our focus and the actions that we take in the first quadrant of “big rocks”. Harmonize the flow of life-force provided by the breath, develop flexibility and resilience, and all the four quadrants can come into harmony by returning us to the center of wellness.
P.S. I am sure that you can think of many different “common sense” ways to fill the four quadrants… share with us your ideas in our weekly gathering, Sunday July 14 at 9amET in #SpiritChat on Twitter. Namaste – Kumud
The “four quadrants” of Common Sense