Reflections: The Practice of Good-will

“Peace on earth, Good-will to man.” Henry W. Longfellow wrote these words as repeating lines to a poem in 1864.  If you are alert to dates, you’ll realize that this was written during the Civil War.  The sentiment is noble, and Longfellow was well aware that “hate is strong and masks a song” (taken from the same poem).  But he persevered with his optimism nonetheless.  I think we can forgive him for excluding women.  He wrote with the language of the time.  Well, actually he was inspired by biblical times.  The repeating line about good-will is borrowed from the Bible (Luke 2:14).

The sentiment seems simple enough.  But it’s not, you know.  Or perhaps it’s simple as sentiment, and so much more difficult to actually intend.

At a recent shamanic gathering, we combined a journey to the spirits of winter solstice with an intention of good-will towards our circle and beyond.  For me, the exercise was literally grand.  A soulful and jolly spirit made a visitation, embodying elfish delight with a sprinkling of light, rather like falling snow – a blessing that was encouraging rebirth.

Put that on a Christmas card and you have a nice sentiment.  Intend it as an act of generosity and of connecting with the spirits of the Season, and the world opens up – if only for an undefined but finite moment.  Outside of time – we think so.  But when the drumming stops and we return to ourselves, what do we bring back of the experience?  What do we will to continue once the drum is returned to its hold (or the sacred relic or Power object is placed back on the altar)?

Good-will is generally defined as social kindness.  Awareness and personal integration will extend a gesture of kindness. A gesture good-will can deepen through the connection with the wholeness of our being.  When we are intending good-will we are extending a full-bodied blessing.  It’s not inflated to think that the state of our minds and of our being influences our ability to extend some degree of blessing into a specified target of intention, although it would be inflated to expect grandiose outcomes.  Personal will shines light into a single corner of the universe, or can connect with other personal or Universal wills (creating will-webs).

Another avenue of will is be-quested. This quested will can birth from shamanic journeys, forays into Soul, and the Good of expanded consciousness that brings us into contact or resonance with the generous will of our universe. Genuine contact and shifting with or into these helping spirits can extend the good of our will.  Every encounter with helping spirits is a potential rebirth of our own spirit and a conduit through which we may dream of peace, good-will, and the activation of a circle of Potential.  The closer we get to the core of our wishing, the more palpable the effect of that merging.  It’s not a state of mind we can perpetually sustain, so we should make the best of it when the connection is present.  Interesting pun – present.  Connection makes a fine gift.  Imaginative recall can follow you into the world like a trail of sun pollen.

Good tidings, and good-will toward men, women, and children.  If your world extends to furry creatures, ETs, and trees – then good-will toward furry creatures, ETs, and trees as well.

It’s a practice, bringing light from the darkness.  Peace on earth.  It’s a way of integrating aspects of the spiritual realms and extending good-will toward the sentient beings of your directed intention.  Direct your intention.  Please don’t come to expect that your thinking can envelop the universe in an omnipresent gesture.  Send your spiritual holiday cards one medley of targeted greeting at a time.  Imagine a choir of angels singing a carol of Christmas prayers.  Or perhaps your predilection is to conjure or discover a sort of spirits (a sort of spirits is the term for a gathered group, like a pack of wolves or a flock of birds).  The boon of your journey could be a Power song of solstice.
The season awaits our participation, our preparation for the rebirth of light.  Merry mind-wishing.  Holiday sphere.

Optional Postscript Definition:
(Based on perceptual philosophy.)
Personal will is the force of our life, transcendence of our day to day ego-mind. We often think of personal will as being the equivalent of willpower.  It is not.  Willpower is the conscious effort to herd an impulse or maintain control (example: using willpower, I refrained from eating a cookie).  While a modicum of discipline is required, personal will is more related to metaphoric flight, coming into accord with the essential self.  Personal will moves from the center of the whole person – the combined intention of mind (emotions, intellect), body (the inclination and habits of its operation and perception), and spirit (the flow of spirit, which may related to chi). So here’s one definition of will: the synergistically combined and integrated whole aspect of the self that exerts a force of desire and intention.  It is intention that influences our world.  Willpower may be the starting point, but to engage the will requires both personal awareness and integration – the engagement with the whole of your being.  Will is the unwavering awareness that makes influence and meaningful action possible.

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