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The Shape of Being

In Grade 4 we were given class time to draw a blueprint for the house that we’d like to live in one day. I made a large round circle on my page, added two lines to mark the door then set my pencil down.  img_0431My teacher looked up from his desk at the front and frowned. The rest of the class was busy turning their rulers and paper this way and that.  I quickly took up my pencil again and spent the remaining hour designing roundish furniture to fit inside my circular house.

Recently I listened to an interview by someone described as “an intuitive empath.”    (There was a time when the voices inside my evangelically-formatted head would have cautioned to keep an intellectual distance.  I’ve learned over the years however that when it comes to spiritual integrity curiosity generally serves me better than suspicion.)

Penney Peirce has devoted her career to the study of human intuition and makes the case that human consciousness is undergoing a critical shift.  Up to this point in our development, she maintains, the “human geography of perception” has by and large been linear and left-brained. In a linear world everything is premised on the concept of separation and the space that exists between things.

Peirce makes the case that the relational universe is spherical rather than linear.  Inside a spherical universe there is no separation, not even within time itself. Some things exist at a different frequency or have not manifest themselves physically yet, nevertheless, maintains Peirce, everything exists all at once in a unified cohesion. Access to this reality is a matter of practised “softening” to what is already there,  what Peirce calls “playful attention”.

This is a concept I can hardly wrap my Western-educated brain around. Everything I’ve ever been taught, whether religious or secular, is decidedly linear with a beginning in the Garden of Eden (or its organic-y, evolutionary equivalent) and an ending in the Heavenly City (or its utopian, secular equivalent).


Peirce insists that the more we move out of the word-based left-brain and into the intuititive-based right brain the more we appreciate the interconnectedness of all things.  One of the ways the muscle of right-brain perception can be exercised is through meditation (or “contemplative prayer” as my tradition would say).  In the interview Peirce described the effect this way:

You will begin to experience yourself moving out in all directions until you realize that you are shaped like a sphere. That your energy level is you at a different frequency. That it goes out all around you in every direction and it gets bigger and bigger, and it includes more and more time, more and more space, more and more knowledge, other dimensions – everything. All the beings in the world…once that starts happening to you start to realize how interconnected everything is. That’s where we start seeing that other people are in me, so I must know about them and they must know about me at some level.

When I was a kid in rural Africa I would go up the hill to my friend Wangari’s house for sleepovers. img_0433-1Wangari lived in a circular mud hut with her sisters and mother and grandparents. Everyone, even the young goats and the chickens, slept in the same round room around the dying embers of the central cooking fire.  I would lay awake beside Wangari on our goat-skinned framed cot and think how I could draw a straight, unimpeded line between me and everyone else in that home. It was different from my family’s missionary house down the hill where we all slept in our own rooms, separated from each other by stone walls and doors and hallways.

I’m learning to meditate/pray in the early mornings with my hands open and my palms turned upward on my lap imagining the universe as a sphere about me. There is a direct field of energy between me and everything that exists. I think of it as the Christ Presence at the centre of all of us that connects us all to each other.

For now I’ll hold off standing up on my chair in my Grade 4 classroom and shouting “I knew it”.  All the same it is reassuring to know that my grade school instincts about living in a round world may not have been that far-fetched after all.