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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. March's Theme: "Reflection"
Volume 5 Issue 3 ISSN# 1708-3265
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Beyond Reflection

with Dawn Baumann Brunke

As my dog Barney has often told me, there is nothing like seeing the world completely from another being's eyes to shock you into the realization that the way you experience the world is unique to you.

For me, this has certainly proved true. Seeing the world from many different animal viewpoints has revealed to me, beyond a doubt, that our experience of the world "out there" is exceedingly dependent upon the world "in here"—our own distinctive thoughts, observations, and manners of perception.

This is why it sometimes happens that a common, everyday image—a running dog, a flying bird, a laughing child—may unexpectedly touch us deep inside, nudging us open to an entirely different perception of reality. Some would say this occurs not out of the blue, but because we are ripe and ready for the experience. Still, is it not remarkable that something so simple on the surface can suddenly cause us to realize what we are looking at is actually much deeper, much richer, much more amazing than what we first perceived? And—equally true—that so are we although more wondrous than what we had heretofore imagined.

One morning at home, while watching the fish in my aquarium, I noticed a reflection in the tank from the kitchen's bay window, located on the other side of the house. The small rectangular images inside the tank perfectly revealed the window's vista of an Alaskan blue-grey sky with low puffed clouds nestling atop white-tipped mountains. This was not so strange, of course; it was simple science, easily explained by reflecting waves of light on glass. And yet the way in which I saw the reflection—call it my relationship to this reflection—triggered something within.

I wondered why I had never noticed the window's reflection before. Surely it had been there many times. Perhaps my vision had been so focused on the movement of the fish that I simply didn't apprehend other fields of perspective. I thought these things as I watched the fish glide through the blue-grey sky, their bellies skimming the pointy mountain tops, their bodies moving in and out of the clouds' mirrored reflection: water to air and mist and back to water again. As I softened my gaze, I also saw silvery shadows of the fish: fishy doubles which reflected upon the reflection of the window. And as I released even further my habitual way of seeing, I watched with delight as some of the fish broke away from their reflections, swimming quite deliberately into the dark mountain and grey-skied reflection which was also a doorway.

It's a portal, I exclaimed. And, in that early morning frame of fanciful, open-ended possibilities, I considered: Why not go inside?

There is a kind of giddy silliness that accompanies some awakenings, and so it was for me. Journeying into the fluidity of water, accompanied by the cheerful encouragement of the Fish People, was great fun, but gliding through the doorway of the mountain, flying into the brightly reflected, brisk, blue-grey sky was exhilarating. I sailed into alignment with the expansive joy that was so cleverly compacted into a phrase Barney had used several months before. 'Knowledge in movement' he called it—and now I knew what he meant to be perfectly true.

Back in my chair, I felt a thrumming, expansive sense of centre. I marvelled at how a simple shift in perception can act as such a potent key, how the unlocking of something so vast can be held as such a tiny seed inside us all along. Once again I was reminded how it is that by going beyond ourselves, we also move more deeply into ourselves.

How marvellous that one moment—perhaps when you least expect it—a door flings wide open, exposing with sudden clarity that "out there" is really, truly, "in here". That, in fact, there is no door. That out-there and in-here are simply two perspectives which are also one, indelibly infused in this particular game, on this particular planet, alternate expressions of an underlying essence, an energetic suchness, both unified and diverse.

Perhaps the real question is: who are we in consciousness as we perceive our world? With what level of consciousness do we interact with our surroundings? Are we ready—really ready—to open ourselves to a deeper relationship with reality—and with ourselves?

Dawn Baumann Brunke is the author of Animal Voices, Awakening to Animal Voices and the upcoming Shapeshifting with our Animal Companions, from which this article has been partially excerpted. Her books explore the deeper nature of our relationship with animals, nature, each other and ourselves. For more, see Dawn's website.

Be sure to read the reviews of her book "Awakening to Animal Voices" in our May 2005 Issue and her book "Animal Voices" January 2006 Issue.

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