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On Life

Ruminations and provocations.

Filtering by Tag: Ralph Waldo Emerson

What is Empyreanism? A brief overview of the fire inside

Stephen H. Provost

Empyreanism is an approach to life that pursues self-awareness with the goal of understanding and connecting with the world around us. It takes its name from the Empyrean, defined by Claudius Ptolemy as the highest heaven or celestial realm, which translates literally as “the place in fire” (em-pyr). Its core principle is derived from a saying attributed to Jesus in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas: “The kingdom is within you and all around you.”

The recognition that the highest good — the Empyrean or “fire inside” — resides within us leads to the recognition of its presence in everything around us. Hence the symbol of Empyreanism, the flaming heart: the crucible in which the inner realm of self is forged and brought into harmony with the outer realm of the universe. When this is accomplished, the distinction between the realm “within you” and “all around you” loses its meaning: The two are reconciled as one.

Indeed, the inner and outer realms have always been one: Not just spiritually, but physically. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson points out that “the atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago.

“For this reason,” he says, “we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.”

The process of becoming aware of this, however, begins within. As the Buddha said: “The Way is not in the sky; the Way is in the heart.”

And it is a process that is alwaysoccurring, from moment to moment and day to day.

Empyreanism is simply a name for that process. It is not dogmatic, but dynamic: dedicated to the idea of continual growth. It is not a religion, but rather seeks to find commonality in core principles shared by many belief systems, both spiritual and secular. It can be practiced by people of any faith or philosophy, by people of spirit and of science. After all, Jesus spoke of a kingdom of heaven — a celestial realm — within each of us, and Neil deGrasse Tyson agrees: We are made of stardust.

Empyreanism calls upon us to acknowledge this connection and recognize that which we share at the core of our being. It therefore focuses on shared principles such as compassion, empathy, the quest for truth, openness, reverence for nature and respect for others. In doing so, it seeks to build bridges of awareness between diverse individuals, breaking down barriers that obscure our commonality and suppress our connection: barriers such as prejudice and fear.

Such barriers are the result of focusing on our differences, and guarding them jealousy as though they define who we are. But when, conversely, we focus on what we have in common, we gain the freedom to embrace those differences without fear, because we recognize them as new and vibrant manifestations of the same shared spirit.

The bridges we build in doing so stimulate more rapid growth by exposing us to new perspectives. This dynamic process of building bridges and crossing them to explore new, yet somehow familiar wonders is both the goal and the nature of Empyreanism.

Quotes

The essence of Empyreanism is expressed in a number of sayings from around the world. Here are just a few of them:

“The kingdom is within you, and all around you.” — Jesus the Galilean

“Awakening is not changing who you are, but discarding who you are not.” — Deepak Chopra

“He who is filled with love is filled with God himself.” — Augustine of Hippo

“Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” — Carl Jung

“The Way is not in the sky; the Way is in the heart.” — Buddha

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” — Albert Einstein

“Each star is a mirror reflecting the truth inside you.” — Aberjhani

“Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.” — Eckhart Tolle

“Re-examine all you have been told. Dismiss what insults your soul.” — Walt Whitman

“To find the journey’s end in every good step of the road ... is wisdom.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” — Jesus

“Love is the bridge between you and everything.” — Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” — Roald Dahl

“That which is to you hateful, do not to your neighbor.” — Rabbi Hillel

“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” — Rumi

“We are stardust brought to life, then empowered by the universe to figure itself out — and we have only just begun.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

 “E pluribus unum. (Out of many, one.)” — Pierre Eugene du Simitiere

“All things are bound together. All things connect.” — Chief Seattle

“You are the universe in ecstatic motion.” — Rumi

“Peace cannot be achieved through violence; it can only be attained through understanding.” — Emerson