The text of this sonnet can be seen at the end of this reflection. You can download a pdf of the reflection and sonnet here: In All Things Thee to See reflection
This is a poem about seeing, both literally and, more importantly, figuratively—about where we focus our heart and mind and what truth we perceive.
How we see ourselves determines how we treat others, it determines our ethics, so it has enormous consequences in the world.
How we see the earth and our place in it determines how we treat other creatures and the ecosystems that support all life.
The Golden Rule, or loving your neighbor as your self, is at the heart of all the major religions and systems of ethics.
Loving your neighbor as your self requires having both a true perception and a healthy love of your self and the world.
Loving your neighbor as your self does not mean merely that you love your neighbor in the same way that you love yourself. It means waking up to the reality that you and your neighbor truly are one self in very slightly different manifestations.
Loving your self does not mean selfishness or self-infatuation or narcissism, because your true self is not your selfish ego. Your true self is the spirit of the universe that created you flowing through you, it is the part of you that every other created being shares.
Your self is not your self, it belongs to the universe. As Teilhard de Chardin saw, our self is not a part of the universe we own wholly, it is the whole of the universe that we own partly. (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Science and Christ (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), pp.12-13)
To love your self, then, is to love the whole universe that you share with every other self as one.
We see this truth by shifting our focus away from our old way of looking at our self.
The slogan of John the Baptist and Jesus is translated in most Bibles, “Repent, for the realm of God is at hand.” The word translated as repent is metanoia in the original Greek. In this context it means to expand the vision of our heart, mind and spirit to a new perspective that can see God’s realm of true oneness here on earth.
We have to let go of our old focus in order to have a new focus. We need to empty ourselves of the self-will and craving and clinging of our ego so that we can look more deeply at our true self and the true nature of the universe.
The Christian spiritual path calls this step kenosis, the Greek word used in the New Testament for self-emptying. Kenosis leads naturally to metanoia. When we empty ourselves of our false self the true self becomes unhidden.
The result of kenosis and metanoia is agape, the Greek word for a love that is God-like and Christ-like, that sees universal oneness and loves its neighbor as itself. Agape is not based on the worthiness of others, nor is it trying to make ourselves worthy, it is simply allowing the spirit of the universe to flow through us. It is what we were created to do.
We urgently need to let that spirit flow through us now because our world is in trouble.
Every time we practice expanding and deepening our vision, seeing ourselves and our world more truly, we are moving humanity a step closer to creating the realm of God on earth, a sustainable harmony grounded in justice, compassion and love, what my brother George calls a Golden Civilization.
It all starts with seeing—seeing what is golden in our hearts, and recognizing that same ember in all things.
In All Things Thee to See
A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heav’n espy.
from George Herbert’s “The Elixir”
My woodstove has a window in its door
because it warms the heart to watch the flames.
Right now, my vision through the glass is poor,
part glare, part soot. My eyes are playing games.
They seek my presence in the vague reflection,
or fixate on the dark, obscuring flaws.
I have to force my eye to shift direction
and choose to see the gold behind the gauze,
beyond this drawn-down blind that judging mind
can make of anything we crave or hate.
Surfaces hold us when what wait behind
are gifts of light upon a sacred grate.
Training my eye to see past its desire
I pass through glass and fill with golden fire.
copyright 2021 Thomas Cary Kinder