Many will say the essence of life is water. Of course we need oxygen too, but oxygen alone would never sustain life on Earth as we know it. Our planet, our lives, need water.
Our brains are approximately 70% water, our lungs 80%. In total, our bodies are more than half water, 60%. Our earth, visibly blue from space, spins oceans, thunderstorms, and glacial flows. Rivers surge. Waterfalls race. Lakes shimmer. Two Hydrogens and one Oxygen—a life-giving alchemy all its own.
H2O sustains life in the physical world. Lately, Ive been wondering, Does water have a spiritual twin? By this I mean, Is there an essential essence that sustains the astral realm? Invisible life. Where molecules and chemistry vanish. What essence glimmers in this space?
Is it consciousness? God-force? Energy from the ZPE? Love? What is keeping the spirit’s pulse?
Poets are always going on-and-on about “essence.” In poetic practice, locating essence is the key to a deeper and more meaningful experience of our daily lives. And poets, well, they care about the words they use. So I looked essence up.
Essence, the word itself, comes from the Latin essentia “being” handed down from the Greek ouisia “being.” The Oxford English Dictionary explains essence is “originally the substance of the Trinity” calling it the “basic element of anything.”
I imagine before there was anything at all, there was essence. There was some ‘thing’ being. Or maybe there was only being itself?
As a spiritual teacher and guide, I have found discussing being rather difficult at times. I have often thought that maybe being is so easy and natural, its nearly impossible to locate outside ourselves. Perhaps this is why many great wisdom traditions emphasize a practice of being. Meditation. A distillation back to essence within. Could it be that we (human beings) can only understand being through the experience of being?
The great mystic poet William Blake wrote in his book All Religions Are One, “As the true method of knowledge is experiment, the true faculty of knowing must be the faculty which experiences.” I’ve always tried to live my life by this poetic truth. I experiment and experience before I decide to know anything. When looking for spiritual truths and understandings, sometimes the experience is all you’ll ever have. To find spiritual H2O, we might have to experience it for ourselves.
To this end, last summer I found myself drinking rosé and eating a Lebanese salad with a neuroscientist who didn’t believe in the existence of anything outside of his own brain’s function. In his opinion, experience arises and is completely explainable by his neural circuitry. He was adamant: We cannot share our consciousness.
As I listened with a desire to understand the science, I heard things like, “New Age just feels like people trying to sell you shit.” “But why does there have to be anything larger behind our consciousness?” “There’s no consciousness behind the cell, it’s just a function of the genes.”
Look, I agree, the material world is important. Scientists must take a strict materialistic view of the world to both facilitate and uphold their science. We are lucky science can unlock the secrets of the physical world. Without it we would’ve lost many innovations and cures. But deep in my heart, I wholly believe there is much more than the physical world. We argued, and at some point in our conversation I simply asked, “Forget what the science says, can you honestly say you’ve never had a spiritual experience?”
He had. Once. In a National Park.
I started thinking about it … once is not enough! It’s nowhere near enough!
If you believe you are more than physical particles, flesh, bones, blood, and neurons.
If you believe in conscious, intelligent expansion.
If you believe in a shared oneness.
If you believe in poetry, and spiritual impulse, I encourage you to start experimenting and experience your spiritual essence for yourself. Connect into that which cannot be seen and measured. Learn to know its existence for yourself.
One spiritual experience can be written-off as a happy accident. An illusion. A faint dream. That is why spiritual practice (every damn day) is essential to a life fully connected to the invisible divine.
A life where spiritual experience is a daily occurrence offers a much different way of relating and being in the world. In this experiment we inhabit more of who we are. We demonstrate the fullness of our life by actually experiencing it.
Trust me, the only way we learn to experience spiritual essence is to practice it with regularity and find its awareness and presence in our daily being. When we do this, spiritual existence is undeniable. We sense it.
Late last night I debated what I might deem my personal cocktail of spiritual H2O:
Two Loves and one Joy?
Two Eternities and one Liberation?
Two Raptures and one Divinity?
I can’t pretend to know the formula of spiritual essence for anyone else but myself. Still, I have known mine. Then I thought about the universality of water—essential for all. If water does have a spiritual twin, I know one thing for sure, we can all find it in our being.
Artwork by Gabby Longmire