Neuroplasticity and Spiritual Development

I recently read an article entitled “How To Draw Better.”  A few salient points made by the author, Jesse Miller, strike me as pertinent to spiritual development as well:

“Simply put, neuroplasticity means that our brains change their shape and structure as we learn new skills and information.

A scientific study into the development of drawing skills in students found that the best learners used a ‘strategic’ approach to learning. These students identified their weaknesses, and found tried-and-tested methods to practice and improve them. They also tracked the progress of their skills, and updated their practice methods accordingly.

Research has shown that the development of motor skills requires periods of rest between practices, when our brains can gather together and act on the information. Therefore it’s best to do this exercise little and often – practice it just once a day for as long as you can.

But recent studies into the neuroscience of creativity have found that looking at the works of others may indeed be essential to cultivating a creative mind.”

Surely, the soul, like the brain, is neuroplastic..or are the soul and brain one and the same?  In any case, the soul is constantly adapting.  Its development depends on spiritual practices.  It does not grow and thrive on prayer alone.

The soul needs quiet and solitude to create the environment in which the Spirit can work.

A person who desires to live deeply into her/his spiritual life would do well to delve into the writings of the mystics in diverse traditions and pull out spiritual practices that fit with their lifestyles and belief systems.

Learning to draw is similar to spiritual development. If you are intent on learning either skill you will both enjoy and benefit from reading this article:

https://www.jenreviews.com/how-to-draw-better/

 

Heresy and Experience: Blurred Lines

gods eye and my eye

“The eye with which I see God
Is the same eye with which God sees me.
My eye and God’s eye are one.
One seeing.  One knowing.  One loving.”

Meister Eckhart

As a young and naïve theology student, I took a course on process theology, and it changed my life.  Faithful adherents of institutional doctrine would say it changed me for the worst.  You be the judge.  This post comes out of personal experience.  I walked out of that class one day and met a friend who asked, “How are you?”  I replied, “Well, currently, I seem to be an atheist.”  Laughing, he claimed that atheists make the best Christians.  Subsequently, I spent several months researching mystics, and I regained God, in a rich and unexpected experience.  God had become my own greatest potential already realized, and thirty-four years later, this is still my experience.

The church branded Meister Eckhart a heretic for preaching that, “My eye and God’s eye are one,” “All that is [exists] is in God,” “We are sparks of the divine.” Eckhart denied the charge.  I have studied and prayed with this profound mystic for a very long time, and I am finally old enough to realize that he was indeed saying at least, that we are growing into our divinity.  Is not a spark of fire, fire?  It may not be the whole campfire, but when a spark flies up and singes the hairs on a camper’s arm, he knows it’s fire!  I believe that God is our own greatest potential already realized, and we unveil it minute by minute, day by day.

By  seeing.  “My eye and God’s eye are one eye:  one seeing.”  Soul-sight differs from soul-seeing.  It comes from God as a package deal, but we have to learn how to see with it.  We can’t see a painting with the eye of an artist without developing an artist’s skills; similarly, we don’t see with our soul-eye without developing spiritual intuition.

By knowing.  “My eye and God’s eye are one eye:  one knowing.”  Most readers of the Hebrew Scriptures understand that Biblical Knowing refers to sexual intercourse.  Adam knew Eve, and they had a son….The meaning can also go much deeper, describing a profound act of contemplation.  There really are not words which adequately describe union with God, but here is an attempt.  Individual sparks unite to make a fire, until they become indistinguishable.  The spark is the fire, and the fire is the spark.  If we are to experience this kind of knowing, we need to identify the lost fragments of our souls, and bring them back.

By loving.  “My eye and God’s eye are one eye:  one loving.”  Knowing leads to loving.  We must learn to love our lost soul-fragments.  When we do, all the pieces will come together in that acceptance, and we will know and love God within our wholeness.  If God is our greatest potential already realized, loving ourselves is loving God.

Blending visual art and words and music are ways to draw us deep into the eye of God. It doesn’t matter if our attempt falls short of expectations. I don’t really know how to draw or compose music. I just let go and do it, trusting that you will forgive my ignorance! Here I have created a mantra and put it to a simple Gregorian chant. When I can catch a space, I sing it repeatedly within the quiet of my soul and it sometimes brings me into contemplation, at least for a moment. Feel free to download this image and make a bookmark of it as a reminder.

my eye and gods eye are one eye 2