THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF ORDER
by Ford Johnson
Much like beauty, order is also in the eyes of the beholder. But whatever our perception of order, once it is achieved, a sense of harmony with spirit is experienced. As parents, my wife, Mary, and I would have to deal with the continuing tragedy of disarray in our children’s rooms. Venturing into this region was truly a “walk on the wild side.” Our children argued, “It looks perfectly fine.” They were happy with it and were upset if items were reorganized. We would argue the practicality of our concept of order; at least we could find their clothes. With their sense of order, everything seemed mixed up to us, as, at times, they couldn’t find anything to wear or other important school items. They still argued their concept of order was an equally viable alternative to ours. But, in the end, our argument won the day. We were satisfied with this victory, but their argument lingered with me
While in a park one day I viewed a beautiful array of plants that landscapers had prepared for the public. As I walked to the edge of a planted area and into a wooded forest, I observed trees fallen at all angles and leaves scattered across the ground. In other words, the forest seemed very much like my children’s room, and the landscaped area like the concept of order my wife and I shared.
As I looked deeper into nature’s version of order, I observed, in a way, everything was in perfect balance. Every fallen tree had stopped at a point where the downward force had been balanced with the upward force. Everything was in equilibrium. The same was true for every branch, every leaf, and every object I saw on the ground. Was this order? Was my vision of order superior to or simply different from the order that nature had created? After deeper reflection, it was quite clear to me that there were different fundamental forms of order even if its underlying pattern was not immediately discernable.
First, there is man-made order. This is a combination of natural aspects of order combined with a more rigid and structured system that aligns itself with the illusion of the straight line. There is something about straight lines, squares, circles, and other “perfect” forms, which gives us a sense of comfort. Perhaps it is the simplicity of the design that creates a feeling that we have more control over things structured this way. This is the more conventional concept of order. It is expressed in the objects we create, in the manner we attempt organize our thoughts, and in other forms that embody color and form we perceive as humans.
The second form might be called natural or spiritual order. This is what I observed in the forest. We see it in the array of stars in the sky, a swarm of birds in the sky or fish in the ocean. In natural order, everything is different. Everything is unique. All things unfold in accordance with a higher set of laws not always apparent to human consciousness.
The third type of order might be called randomness or chaos. It may be strange to regard this as a form of order, yet it is. It was this form of order to which my children, in a way, were referring. The order represented in chaos is unique to each agency creating it. In my company, I was often confronted with staff members who insisted upon their own form of order in their immediate work spce. They argued that everything was in perfect order; they knew where everything was. They may have been correct, but I hastened to remind them that others worked in the company also. Everyone was required to pass the broken-leg test: could order be perceived and understood by others such that important items could be found if they were not at work?
While no form of order is spiritually superior to another, the world would not run very efficiently if there were no common acceptance of certain standards of order. Every facet of our lives is organized in this way. From highway and building design to language and information, there are standards of order that define society’s acceptable approaches, though subject to continuous and evolving change. When we align our consciousness with these standards, they form a definition of order within our own universe. When our actions and environment are aligned with this definition, we feel harmony and balance. This in turn establishes a link with ubiqutous energy of spirit (light substance), which then flows more freely into our consciousness, taking the shape of order as we perceive it.
We experience this when we clean our car, keep it shiny and in good repair. The same alignment with spirit occurs when we straighten our desk or room. All of these situations align us with our internal sense of order, and that links us with spirit. Again, order can be found in man-made, natural, or random forms. Spirit will flow into and help manifest any form of order with which our consciousness has aligned. It will manifest all forms that in turn reflect what the individual perceives as inner and outer harmony.
As a spiritual student, I practiced an exercise that greatly assisted me in moving from one internal sense of order to another. When I started in business, its demands required me to align with the standards of order in that world — not the standard with which I was then aligned. Twice a day, I opened a box of toothpicks and threw them on the table. Slowly and methodically, I placed each toothpick back into the box. The visual image of moving from random order to structured order became impressed upon me.
As a result, my personal space was more conventionally neat and orderly, my desk was better organized; my logical processes were crisper. Other aspects of my life also reflected this order. As I embraced and felt attuned to it, I was careful not to fail to appreciate other forms of order. By shifting to these other forms we tap creative, spontaneous, and innovative thinking, which perceived random and chaotic patterns of order are capable of producing. In the end, it all comes down to choice. All aspects of universal order are available tous, and they all have validity — but our kids still had to clean up their rooms!
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