|Take a walk alone in a crowd of existence.|
Biologists regularly talk about symbiosis, which literally means “living with”. In biology, some symbiotic relationships are based on obligation, requiring both species to depend on each other for life. Other symbiotic relationships are based on choice, meaning that both participants have the option to live with the other organism. Heartspace is both types of symbiosis at work, and in that, it’s a contradiction. Astronomer Carl Sagan once called out the contradictions of humanity by declaring, “You’re an interesting species. An interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.”
We seem to relish contradiction, every one of us. People who appear solitary in their daily life may be internet stars, while movie stars may just want some time alone. Heartspace operates according to this appearance too. One contradiction is that it requires nothing from us in order for us to benefit from it, yet when we use it consciously Heartspace can enrich our lives. Another is that by becoming more engaged within ourselves, we become capable of engaging more with other people. You may have noted more apparent contradictions throughout this book. Rumi’s teacher, Shams Tabrizi, explained the depth of this reality when he wrote, “We can only learn and advance with contradictions. The faithful inside should meet the doubtful. The doubtful should meet the faithful. Human slowly advances and becomes mature when he accepts his contradictions.”
I say apparent because while they look like they work against each other, these things do not. Nothing in Heartspace is contradictory, nor is Heartspace itself. Instead, it works in an evolutionary fashion. In evolution, there are no straight lines and nothing progresses from here to there with entire clarity. Instead, there are starts and stops, trials and errors, downturns and upswings. The principle of engagement operates similarly. Rather than Heartspace continuously getting more and more advantageous for us, there will be things we’re engaged in that, in large part, do not benefit us. Other times there will be very obvious ways that you benefit from engagements. Neither is better or worse than the other. At this point, you might recognize Heartspace as being just like life. It simply is, and what we label Heartspace is our choice.
There are times we’re engaged in things throughout our lives that may be unhealthy for us. We might be engaged in thinking that is toxic and poisonous. We might be in relationships that are abusive or exploitative. Some things we’re engaged in may appear like a collection of crutches we keep by the doorway, just waiting for us to alternate through them every time we try to walk outside. All engagement is not apparently beneficial.
However, simply living through these engagements gives them a purpose. They might have felt like good or bad purposes, but they still served a purpose. They might have challenged us to actively protect ourselves. They caused us to meet new ideas or learn new things. Maybe they taught us patience. But always, always Heartspace allows what is supposed to happen, happen. It all occurs because of the principle of engagement.
French mathematician Blaise Pascal once wrote, “Contradiction is not a sign of falsity, nor the lack of contradiction a sign of truth.” Seeing that contradiction is only an appearance, Heartspace is suddenly neither false or true – it simply is. Now we can begin to understand how all things are together at all times in a marvelous tapestry of engagement. The heinous and the beneficent suddenly co-occupy the same spaces, as both can lead towards engagement. There is nothing wrong in this moment, and all contradictions melt into purposeful engagements. We can celebrate the contradictions and revel in engagement for all it is worth.