A hundred years ago, Rudolph Steiner said that the greatest challenge of the coming age of humanity would be to allow the heart to teach us to think in a new way. Our minds naturally observe things from a safe, analytical distance, but our hearts yearn to have a much different relationship with the world. Our hearts learn through intimacy, compassionately “feeling into” whatever they are in conversation with.
I work with metaphor, and metaphoric knowing is an intimate way of knowing. Metaphor asks us to be in relation with whatever-it-is we are seeking to understand. As St. Augustine apparently said, “A thing is recognized only to the extent it is loved.” And Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote, “People cannot learn what they do not love.” We can’t really know something by analyzing it from a detached distance. Knowing something intimately requires our love. Through the feeling dimension of metaphor, our hearts teach us to think (and know) in new ways.
In my work with metaphor, I have come to learn that it is much more than a tool of language. Metaphor is a profound portal into another realm, another dimension, that is very real and very alive. We discover this dimension—lying under the surface of ordinary reality—when we allow ourselves to step into it.
In his book Dynamics of time and space, Tarthang Tulku writes:
Suppose we could take hold of something very small by the edges and gradually stretch it out so that it became larger. For instance, we might start with a cell from the body, gently pulling on it so that after several minutes it was a few inches across….If we continued in this way until the cell was several miles in diameter, what would we see when we looked at the original point from which we started? Would there be anything there? Would there perhaps be an associated field of energy, with a distinctive feel?
In the quote above, Tulku suggests that when we stretch a cell, we may feel an “associated field of energy” that we can’t feel when the cell its original, microscopic size. As the cell is stretched, it becomes big enough for us to feel its presence. So too, with metaphoric images. In order for us to experience the potent feeling dimension of the metaphoric realm, the image must be “stretched” big enough for us to step into.
In Doorway sessions, when we allow our hearts to intimately “be in relation” to whatever healing image shows up, something amazing happens: The image expands so we can feel it. Here is an example of a typical message that came through during a Doorway session:
“I am [the image]. I would like to expand out. You have seen me now. You know that I exist. Thank you. Now let me expand. I am not something you can figure out, like a tool in your toolbox. I am not that. I am something you will enter—a new space that you will enter. Enter me now. Imagine being inside of me. What will you do inside of me? You have to feel me first before you will know what to do. Feel into me. Let the cells of your body know me. I’m a new space for you.”
Feeling is how we connect with the potent creative forces of the Universe. And it is only through stepping into metaphoric images that we discover this potent feeling dimension.
…the expanded world of ‘nothing at all’ and the ordinary world of substance coexist. The difference between them is not one of sequence, but of scale and perspective. If we look from the usual perspective, we see solidity; if we look from an “expanded” perspective, substance gradually grows more attenuated, eventually arriving at a final stage that is open and empty.
In other words, looking from our “usual perspective,” we believe that what we see is all there is. But there is an amazing aesthetic dimension that’s available to us; it’s simply a matter of perspective. If we had the capacity to become very, very tiny, spaces would open up that we couldn’t see when we are “regular” size. Well…we do have that capacity.
In the metaphoric realm, we can shape-shift into an infinite number of sizes and spaces. And these new spaces have their own unique “field of energy."
So why should we care about this? Because the feeling dimension of metaphor offers us a profound way of learning and knowing, one that brings us into potent relationship with the creative forces of the Universe. Through our heart’s capacity to feel, we enter a realm where we are gifted with a much different perspective.
And when our perspective changes, everything changes.