the Virgin and Mother Earth
by Juan Antonio Revilla
Developing in ourselves the right feeling-attitude towards the object of observation, it becomes possible --through the re-education and discipline of feeling and thinking that has been described-- to hear, to touch, to visualize, to know the feelings, the inner movements of the object's soul. This knowledge is direct and concrete, it is like a river that one sees coming and going from the object to us and from us to the object, like when we relate unselfishly to a friend.
When we use this approach to seeing someone praying to the virgin, and later attempt to describe the experience, one realizes that it can described from different points of view. We have so far only characterized the atmosphere or colors of the experience as a whole, the feelings that permeate it, the presence, perceived as a certain type of movement, gestures, and feelings. I have characterized this filling presence or color atmosphere as a combination of faith and devotion, surrender, humbleness, a state of grace, a feeling of beauty that radiates from the head of the person praying, a sensation of purity intermingled with sorrow, and --I add now as an important component-- a feeling of rest. All these appear as presence that permeates everything, leaving in us the impression of a full cup that has started to overflow.
If instead of the presence or atmosphere we focus our attention on the person, we realize that all these feelings are more accurately described as "feeling-states" or states of being; all together they constitute the act being executed. We begin to see the feeling of "rest" that permeates the atmosphere more clearly as a conscious act where intellectual thinking has stopped and thinking appears surrendering and dimming, we see the person offering herself or himself, "dying" as it were. So despite the physical stillness of the act, the offering or rest is perceived as a movement of the person surrounded by the feeling atmosphere or presence, that seems to embrace everything with a deep blue mantle that produces sensations of pink and lighter yellowish tonalities on the skirts.
Throughout this we watch the weaving motion of our thinking, making connections not by means of concepts or "conclusions" --those would kill everything-- but by means of pictures in our imagination. This pictorial movement of thinking has a life of its own and is two-dimensional, it doesn't "go through". The power of this pictorial thinking is concentrated on our attention, on our eyes: it seems to have no limits or no ending, it comes and goes threading things together. It moves with our *I* (or our eyes or field of vision) and is subject to our will, but it is not fueled by desire or possessiveness of any kind, we watch it and let it flow naturally as if guided by an invisible hand. It never stalls or dies, when we are ready the pictures begin to shift focus and transform themselves.
When we have a clear enough imaginative picture or feeling of the object, we can compare it with other similar objects. For example, we can contemplate the differences between praying to the Virgin, praying to God, and praying to a Crucifix. We can look not for "formal similarities" as in the above example, but for similarities of content, i.e., experiences with similar colors and feeling-atmosphere that would otherwise appear as unrelated. This way we discover that a mother reclining her head in sorrow toward her child in arms, or a person overtaken by compassion for a helpless animal suffering in the street, have an almost identical presence or "enclosing" bluish atmosphere as when we observed a person praying to the Virgin, the difference being not in the mood but in the direction of the movement in each of the three cases.
For example, I mentioned the difference that can be observed in the movement during the act of praying, where the strength seems to be concentrated on the presence that is pulling the person to it, "holding" the person, while in the case of the mother one sees the presence pouring itself on the mother, as if filling her with strength. In the case of the helpless animal on the street one can observe a bending motion in the person similar to that of the mother, even though the person remains physically stiff or unmoved; one also sees something similar, but with the colors reversed, in the feelings of the animal, and the same presence is perceived as in the first two examples. As we begin to shift our focus to the world around us, pictures and sensations, sounds and smells appear in our consciousness, and even though their colors and moods may be very different, their morphology is the same (or viceversa) and we recognize them as the same presence, the same being.
For example: the phenomenon of a gentle rain on an open field has the joyful mood of a new beginning, and is directly opposite to the enclosing mood of the act of praying. But when we look deeper following the path of "morphological observation" we can see how they are related to the same living spiritual being that is present in them.