7. ~SOUNDINGS~: PART 1 – The Essentials | 7th Essay – Sensation

by Frank L. Jordan III

7. Sensation

Photo courtesy of Agustin Ruiz



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Life begets sensation.

As a life form evolves, develops,

     the complexity of the sensations it experiences develops.

To live is to feel, to see, to hear,

     to taste and smell,

          to experience emotions, thoughts—

          an inner flow of ebbs and tides.


All life forms experience these things to some degree.

Whether it be a flower turning toward the sun,

     or a woman turning toward her lover,

          sensation is present, for sensation is life itself.

So to be a more highly developed  life form

     means to experience life’s sensations more deeply, clearly.


Look at the canine, with its superior sense of smell,

     being able to detect the scent of a subject,

          follow the trail left,

          long after that subject has passed through the air.


Look at the feline, with its superior eyesight,

     being able to detect shapes and track them

          in the virtual absence of light.


Look at us human beings,

     who, in the throes of sexual pleasure,

          can be shaken from head to toe—

          who, in the clutches of emotional upheaval

               can be driven to our very knees.


Yes, to live is to experience sensation,

     and for there to be sensation,

          there must be the possibilities of pleasure and pain.

For the same living tissues that make sensations possible

     are the same living tissues that register pleasure

          if exposed to nurturance,

          and pain if exposed to violence.


Pleasure and pain are the flip-sides of the same coin,

     that coin being sensation.


To see is a pleasure, to lose one’s sight is painful.

To hear is a joy, to lose one’s hearing, an ache.

To touch is stimulating, to lose one’s sense of touch,

     an emptiness.

To live without violence

     is to experience healthy and joyful sensations.

To live with violence

     is to have joyful sensations interrupted,

          to have them replaced with pain, sometimes agony.


Yes, it is essential for there to be the possibility of pain

     for there to be the reality of sensation.

This is a principle as basic as the existence of life itself.


The reality of pain is not conjured up by God

     as some sort of learning experience for us,

          for all living things.

The reality of pain is intertwined within the very fabric

     of this evolving universe.

It is an actual aspect of the unfolding manifestation of God,

     of this continuing collaboration of nature with God.


So is the reality of pleasure,

     although an understanding of pleasure is less intriguing.

We simply enjoy it, pursue it, long for it—

     not really caring so much why.

But pain is another story.

It can consume us, overwhelm us.

It has the potential to drive us deep within ourselves,

     crying out, reaching out with a yearning

          and longing for release,

          for something, someone, to deliver us.


Yes, it seems that the deepest growth of a living being

     usually occurs during life’s more painful episodes.

And for the most part, the appreciation of the joys of life

     are experienced at the level of inner growth

          that one has already achieved.


For instance, one who has lost his or her spouse

     will often emerge from the grieving process

          a stronger, more sympathetic person.

Whereas someone who has won a lottery

     might experience great elation,

          but their level of personal growth

          remains basically the same.

This even holds true for the joy

     resulting from an accomplishment.

It’s not the joy that causes the actual growth,

     but the discipline and sacrifice involved,

          the struggle endured.


However, although suffering in life carries with it

     the possibility of strengthening character,

          it by no means guarantees the certainty

          of such growth.

For the outcome of a person’s encounter with pain

     is determined by how constructively or destructively

          that person deals with it,

          and often, how well that person shares

               their suffering, their loss, with God.

For really all suffering, all pain,

     involves the loss of something.

Even a minor injury means losing a certain degree

     of comfort or mobility, or both.

Show me a painful experience that does not involve a loss,

     and I’ll show you a loss well hidden.


For even the pain of a desire unfulfilled,

     of something not yet attained, involves a kind of loss.

Because there was a previous time

     when that desire didn’t exist or was sleeping,

          when one was content with a lack,

          was innocent of a want or need.

It was a time, now lost, gone with lost innocence—

     like when there is the ache for sexual union

          only after one’s sexuality awakens,

          only after that innocence is lost.

But how well we deal with such longing,

     or really how well we deal with any pain or loss,

          depends on how constructive or destructive

          our approach is, our attitude is.

And how constructive or destructive we are towards others

     concerning our own suffering

          is determined by how thoroughly and genuinely

          we share our painful experiences with God.


Sharing our pain with God,

     yes, sharing anything with God for that matter,

          is not always easy, far from it.

For many circumstances of our existence, many realities,

     can become obstacles to our sharing with God,

          to our experience of Pure Love.

I believe that certain circumstances of life become obstacles

     because we have a limited understanding

          of the relationship between God,

          these circumstances, and ourselves.

And while these obstacles are numerous for adults,

     they can be even more numerous for children,

          because children are particularly vulnerable

          to the debilitating effects of life’s harsher realities.


Children need to be loved, protected,

     nurtured and cared for—

          at least until they can care for themselves,

          and often longer.

If they don’t receive adequate care,

     then a painful experience can become traumatic,

          can scar a child’s psyche,

          can become an obstacle between that child

               and his or her joyful, loving feelings—

               can alienate that child from himself or herself,

                    others, and God.


And where there is trauma and alienation,

     there is paralysis and fear.

Their actual hearts—those well-springs of joy

     and deep, abiding love,

          beating with the promises of childhood—

          can become scarred and broken,

               slowly dwindling into numb emptiness.

And where there are broken hearts,

     sensation is lost, life goes into hiding,

          for so much of life is sensation.


So while we as adults strive for understanding,

     while we pursue our happiness,

          and confront our private demons,

          the needs of children, all children,

               must ever be before our eyes.

For they are entitled to a healthy, happy start,

     a solid footing amidst the shifting sands of life,

          so that whatever circumstance meets them,

          it will find them with sound minds and loving hearts—

               hearts full of rich sensations.

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