The two are related; and we can often learn a great deal about the nature of Being from the world around us, from a conceptual and occasionally even practical point of view.
Today I'm going to return to a subject I’ve written about before, but with a slightly different level of understanding and intention.
There’s a close connection between the structure of a honeybee colony and the nature of Being. It's not just a romantic notion; the way that bees collect honey is a mirror of the way in which our consciousness functions.
I was explaining this to my wife this morning in the following manner:
All of our life, and everything in it—every object, event, circumstance, and condition— is a form of nectar. When I use the words every object, event, circumstance, and condition, of course it sounds generic, vague, and probably insubstantial. It's a theoretical bracket to include everything that happens to us.
But try for a moment to extract that essential concept from its theoretical framework and apply it to the smallest detail of our lives; because this is where the rubber hits the pavement, where we can really see something true.
The tiniest thing, like a delicate leaf on the stem of an herb, or a red light at a traffic stop — the pattern on a tablecloth, the curved shape of a silver spoon — each one of these things is an object, event, circumstance, and condition. We encounter an object in our life; each encounter is an event; there is a context, a surrounding circumstance for each encounter; and there are conditions in which the encounter takes place, that is, our psychological state, the temperature of the day, etc.
The point is that every single thing that happens to one in one's life, every single impression, is a form of nectar. The arisings of the universe are a material exuded in order to encourage us to appreciate, collect, and concentrate its fecundity within the container of Being—i.e., consciousness.
All of this material flows into the body constantly, which is the meaning of the first prayer of my three-part prayer practice: we are vessels into which the world flows.
This understanding is absolutely this central to the beginning of understanding anything about what we are. Along with sensation — which is the active participation in the inflow — this understanding of inflow, of being vessels, is the foundational principle upon which all inner work must rest. That foundation must be practical, that is, experienced in practice, not theoretical, some idea we have about things, which we will inevitably romanticize. One can't allow oneself to become all starry eyed and magical about this — even though the process is indeed magical. One must practically experience it and live within the condition.
Now, we’ll note that life "exudes" all of these substances as a form of nectar, because they attract consciousness. (and, by the way, hence identification.) Impressions are the nectar that the flower of life emits in order for the honeybees of consciousness to collect and concentrate them. This works in exactly the same way as a beehive. The mind goes out and gathers the nectar, the honey, of impressions and stores it in the body.
This is a complex process, because an extraordinary number of blended substances arise from it, all of them composing a whole thing which we call a life, but which is actually a concentrated repository of responsibility, that is, an ability to respond to life.
The reason that life, that Being itself, is arranged this way is because of the need for God's self-disclosure. God wants to know himself; at this can only take place through the concentration of responsibility, that is, the gathering of this nectar of life into receptacles that concentrate it in exactly the same way that beehives concentrate honey from flowers.
This is a reproductive process that takes place within us under the supervision of a queen: and that Queen is the Virgin Mary, the ruling source of all fecundity that gives birth to everything we are. She, as the feminine principle and an aspect of God, rules the planetary world. She also rules the inflow one in the ray of creation as it moves from the sun towards the moon through the earth. As I've explained in other essays, this is why Mary is often shown standing on a crescent moon in traditional religious imagery.
If one wants to extend the analogy further, one should understand that the nectar serves as food for the hive — for the whole consciousness — and it also serves as a material in order to raise more brood. That is to say, in gathering honey in the form of impressions, consciousness gains the ability to reproduce itself.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.