How to Get What You Just Don’t Get

cloudsA truly amazing example of what I’d call an open secret showed up in a story I heard awhile back about one of the famous explorers that we all learned about in history class. Except I don’t remember hearing this part back then.

It seems that when Magellan sailed the coast of South America into the straits that now bear his name, the natives didn’t see him coming. Mind you, the heroic Portuguese explorer took five ships crewed by 260 seamen on this epic voyage that crossed the last great unknown ocean. How could five ships be invisible?

Well, the natives didn’t see the ships because it was the early 16th century and they’d never seen ships before. They saw only what they already knew. The billowing sails blended into cloud formations, the hulls rose and fell into the sea’s natural waves.

Remarkable to imagine, isn’t it?

Couldn’t happen now, though. Could it? Not in the 21st century, certainly. I mean, the world’s all been mapped now, hasn’t it?

And then again, maybe not. After all, we experience the world with the senses we know–sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing. What if something else exists right here that’s unknown to our ordinary ways? Are ships sailing by that we’re calling clouds because we don’t understand?

I think so. But what we’re not seeing is not physical. It’s spiritual. It’s experiential. It’s our essential presence, which is always there even when we don’t know it.

Open Secrets Hidden in Plain Sight

On an everyday ordinary level, an open secret is something you just don’t get. It’s hidden to you. But since other people seem to get it, it must be visible to them.

My favorite example of this phenomenon is my vast collection of diet books. Every one of those books represents at least one person who got the “it” that made them thin. Meanwhile, many of the rest of us are still groping around for the key that unlocks the vault to the Big Secret. In other words, we still don’t get “it.” And it’s right there in plain sight.

A Lucid Moment is an open secret suddenly revealed. Just because we didn’t get the aha! ten minutes (or ten years) before doesn’t mean it wasn’t always available to us. Did Rip van Winkle cause the world to begin by waking up?

The Five Subtle Secrets

There are five essential qualities that we need when we undertake–as true soul work–any creative project, relationship or inner development. I call them the Five Subtle Secrets, but they are taught one way or another in all major spiritual traditions from Adam to Zen.

Although I am not a Sufi, I love the Sufi way of illuminating these subtle qualities through color:

  • Yellow is the Joy essence
  • Red is the Strength essence
  • White is the Will essence
  • Black is the Peace essence
  • Green is the Compassion essence

These five subtle energies symbolized by the colors are essential aspects of our true nature, our true self. They are always present. Always.

When we’re awake to them, these subtleties arise in our experience as needed. But they seem to be held secret from us because we don’t remember they’re there when we actually need them. We once knew as children, but as our personalities developed we lost touch.

The good news is that the blocks to the subtle energies (our habitual ways of being, our defensive structures, our fears) can be used as gateways into the particular essential experiences that they hide.

I’ll tell you more about how these essential qualities arise in us and how they can help us “get what we just don’t get” in future posts. Meanwhile, I wonder. What seems like an open secret to you in your life?

Be Sociable, Share!

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!