Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hildegard and the Journey

As my gentle readers know, periodically I interrupt the science and the story of my neurons and  wonder about the why I am doing all this and the what of greater consciousness. 

I mean, there's got to be a point to it all.  As Shakespeare said, "Who would fardels (burdens) bear?"  So, I have been looking at different manifestations of the greater cosmos and have found the neuroscientists right there trying to relate the inner cosmos of our neurons to the cosmos.  I have seen the Buddhists, physicists and neuroscientists come together in discussions between the Dalai Lama and leading scientists and, of course, that makes me wonder about Western religions and their dialog with the inner and outer cosmos. 

Hildegard's preaching tours through GermanyImage via WikipediaHildegard of Bingen, Image via WikipediaA number of folks have been re-examining the life of Hildegard of Bingen, a medieval Catholic saint.  There's a movie coming out around the US this year.  Hildegard was a renaissance woman: nun, doctor, musician, artist, theologian, administrator, playwright, and mystic. She was the "Grandmother of the Rhineland mystic movement,"which included Francis of Assisi, Mechtild of Magdeburg, Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich (indirectly), and  Nicolas of Cusa.

In her writings, Hildegard examines the relationship between the inner and outer cosmos.  She sees the human body and psyche as "creation-in-miniature".   "God has arranged all things in the world in consideration of everything else."  We are interdependent with creation and should learn to live wisely within it.  Hildegard expresses her views not only through her writings but through her mandalas linking the personal to the cosmic through and through viriditas–the healing power of the Green. "Holy souls draw to themselves all that is earthy."

I, the fiery light of divine wisdom,
I ignite the beauty of the plains,
I sparkle the waters.
I burn the sun and the moon and the stars,
With wisdom I order all rightly.
I adorn all the earth.
I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.
I am the rain coming from the dew That causes the grasses to laugh With the joy of life.
I call forth tears, the aroma of good work. I am the yearning for good.

Hildegard of Bingen 1098-1179
Hildegard was also into herbalism and healing gardens. Many healing gardens have labyrinths.  I like to think of labyrinths as physical representation of the mandala... meditative walking through healing gardens.  By walking the labyrinths (otherwise known as the path to paradise or Jerusalem),  you can  directly connect the personal world to the physical world to the divine.

Maybe somewhere in here lies the point  to all the therapies that I have been doing.  By restoring my senses of vision, hearing, smell, balance, etc., I can experience the physical world much more fully, and though integrating experiences of the world with the personal world, I may be able to experience a much deeper spiritual world.  In my Journey through the Cortex,  I am walking my own labyrinth.

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