The Three Faces Of Connection

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know I am a big fan of the Integral Philosophical Model, or AQAL (short for All Quadrants, All Levels, All Lines, All States, All Types). It’s a large framework philosophy that claims to be able to hold just about all phenomena and fluctuations of reality. As far as I can see, it succeeds. It is easy with AQAL to examine something in a way that reveals interesting facets that might otherwise be hidden. One of my favorite facets is to look at something from the three major perspectives of I, We, and It, or first-person, second-person and third-person. With that in mind, I wanted to share something that I think is a fundamental spiritual practice that occurs in a great many traditions, namely: connection.

Connecting consciously and purposefully has a profound effect on one’s experience of a situation and goes a long way towards healing and promoting wholeness, or harmony. It is basically a fully acknowledged transmission, reception and acceptance between “self” and “other.” This act crosses the bridge between “self” and “other” in a flash and can create a space and opportunity to penetrate and influence each other to mutual advantage.

The category that pops immediately to my mind is second-person connection, or connecting in the “we-space.” In this case, we, as the “self,” connect with another as the “other.” This is where we take a moment to “get behind” the view of another, making space for their perspective and opening to an exchange of understanding. This can be a simple hug, a knowing nod, a smile on the street, letting someone cut in front of you in traffic, or sitting down to an honest and embracing conversation of depth with a loved one. It can also be the silent-timeless mind transmission between teacher and student.

No less profound is connection in the first-person, or the “I-space.” In sitting meditation, you open fully to the raw suchness of the moment. This “inner gesture” of Dr. Hubert Benoit is where we take up a position at the very core of ourselves and open to what we are experiencing in this moment with a sentiment of, “Speak, I’m listening.” Creating a great allowance, we settle at our very heart and let ourselves simply be with acceptance and attention.

Lastly, there is connection in the third-person, or the “it-space.” Here, we come face to face with the great system, Indra’s net, the web of life. We do not simply examine the physical world as we find it. Rather, we fully confront and engage what is, setting up a resonance that leaves an indelible mark on our soul and the cosmos at large. In a quiet walk in the woods, we are doing more than simply walking in the woods, but are instead walking with the woods.

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