Posts Tagged ‘light’

enlightenment

it happens daily —
the world turns, the sun rises
— my own blindness kills

This poem was born out of a feeling of regret. I dreamed I turned up to play French horn in an orchestra, but then realised I had no French horn. Awake, I fell to thinking of my teenage years and how lazy I was in regard to French horn practice. I now practice yoga on a daily basis, and because my body is old, I notice the stiffness immediately if I miss a day’s practice. I fell this morning into wishing I had realised the importance of practice. Who knows I might now be a professional musician. And this feeling of regret forced me to consider the totality of what we owe to this life or to ourselves by being alive. I suppose you could say I fell to regretting not having achieved enlightenment in this life. The subject of enlightenment was already fairly close the surface of my preoccupations since Friday night when a Buddhist friend used the term in a Buddhist sense and I found myself rebelling inwardly — I doubt whether it’s either helpful or meaningful, to accept enlightenment as something the Buddha achieved and the rest of us can only strive after in a futile sort of way. My poem wanted to bring back ‘enlightenment’ to the literal meaning of the literal light which fills our physical world. But of course I end up, in the poem, with a metaphorical blindness nevertheless.

Advertisements

orbit

….and I would argue
for a return to the old
cosmology — Earth
at the centre of all things —
for this is where we are, yes?

I doubt I can explain this coherently. First let me describe my dream last night. I was in the centre of a large city. Although it was impossible, in the dream there was a planet not much smaller than the earth, located in the centre of the city, and a very skilful pilot was flying an aircraft or spacecraft, in a long elliptical orbit round the planet. Somehow he did not collide with the buildings of the city. The idea seemed to be to use the gravitational field of the planet (or the impetus of the orbit) like a sling shot as the point of departure for a longer journey elsewhere. Meanwhile I was worrying in case the mass of the orbiting spacecraft might in some way upset the equilibrium of the planet at the centre.

Secondly, let me sketch some thoughts I was having yesterday. In many spiritual traditions, there is the idea that the dead need to be able to let go of their attachment to things earthly and move towards ‘the light’ (whatever that means). This idea is found in spiritualism, in Tibetan Buddhism, and in Jung’s ‘Septem Sermones ad Mortuos’. I was thinking yesterday how absurd this is. Surely this life, on this earth, is worth every bit as much attention on the part of the dead, or more, than life in ‘heaven’. For me, this is similar to another idea I entertain periodically: the idea of telepathic communication with aliens. If aliens exist (probabilities are high that they do) and if their intelligence is superior to ours, they are far more likely to be encountered in our minds than in our skies. And in that case ‘here’ (this planet) is somehow not different from ‘there’ (their planet). And ‘we’ must be ‘them’. In that case, what seem to us purely human dramas — on this planet, in our families, in our minds — are in fact, unbeknown to us, providing an arena where ‘they’ act out their dramas.

In that sense, we are the centre of the cosmos. Or at least the centre lies, if not exactly in ‘us’, in the unknown foundations of our consciousness.

There are also resonances in all of this, for me, touching on my relationship with Liz and the way I have made her the centre of my universe.

of course never

the dark element
in human nature threatens
us all equally —
Christ please when can I give up
playing heroes and villains?

Good and evil are the weirdest pair of opposites. They are almost more meaningful than light and dark — seem to be hardwired deeper into the core of our being and our perception. They also turn out without fail always in practice to be illusory, deceptive, slippery, subjective — an eternal temptation to be over-simplistic, to the point where they teeter on the edge of meaninglessness. Yet constantly resurrecting themselves anew. I was led to this reflection by last night’s dream where I was offering a homeless girl a bed for the night. I fell to thinking of how basic our human need for shelter is — for somewhere safe to sleep. Then I thought of the dangers that threaten. There are no wild animals. Just other human beings whom we cannot trust. Maybe the time will come when all human beings trust one another completely. And can do so with impunity. But how are we to reach that point? Will we ever reach the point where each individual human being has an internal awareness of their own capacity for evil, so rich, that it precludes doing evil in the outer world? I suddenly saw that I am constantly turning other people into heroes and villains, as a matter of habit. It’s not so much specific instances I’m thinking of here, as a constant predilection to experience the outer world in terms of good and evil, and thereby lose track of the good and evil within.

clouds

weird formations
seducing the mind into
unreality

I dreamed of a very weird cloud formation. When we were tiny and young, each of us had the most intimate conceivable encounter, all the time, with the Great Unknown — because that’s what life itself was to us — and what we ourselves were to us. We were new to it all. Everything was hugely unknown. I honestly don’t understand how it can have come about that my adult consciousness has carved this niche for itself — like a cave — where it sulks, surrounded by the comforting Known. My forays into pornography have a lot to do with being an itch to experience the totally irrational, the totally unknown. I can do that at Catholic Mass. But the intensity of my own sexual desire challenges my rational side much more dramatically. My aspiration would be, to maintain some kind of constant vigilance against too much rationality. Or, on a positive note — to look constantly for the miraculous element of Being, in my daily life, in the workings of my own consciousness. Monotheism has quite a lot going for it, in the sense that it does encourage an awareness of one’s own essential helplessness in the face of some immense force larger than itself. Again, that is similar to what I experience in viewing pornography. Pornography is essentially dark, and monotheism light. What’s needed, doubtless, is a uniting principle of wholeness. I believe Jung called that The Transcendent Function. It’s a long time since I read the relevant texts. But I googled it just now and came up with the following typically abstruse quote from Jung’s Psychological Types:

From the activity of the unconscious there now emerges a new content, constellated by thesis and antithesis in equal measure and standing in a compensatory relation to both. It thus forms the middle ground on which the opposites can be united. If, for instance, we conceive the opposition to be sensuality versus spirituality, then the mediatory content born out of the unconscious provides a welcome means of expression for the spiritual thesis, because of its rich spiritual associations, and also for the sensual antithesis, because of its sensuous imagery. The ego, however, torn between thesis and antithesis, finds in the middle ground its own counterpart, its sole and unique means of expression, and it eagerly seizes on this in order to be delivered from its division. [Psychological Types, CW 6, par. 825.]

superlative

love — the faculty
most like blindness — most like light
— in love I’m secure
at home — yet furthest travelled
from the shores of my known self

It’s very curious that I arrived at this poem via a dream of Rai Waddingham, and just goes to show, I suppose, that romantic love is only a tiniest fraction of one aspect of the totality of what the word love can mean. I am aware of nil romantic feelings towards Rai. But love, all the same, describes best how she figures in my world. I can say that now because she is no longer my boss at work! She went freelance nearly a year ago, but I have seen her from time to time since then in a work context. Anyone interested can check out her website here. In my dream, I was trying to get her attention, interrupting another colleague in order to do so — then apologising for interrupting — then launching into a demand for Rachel to share whether there was some book that had helped her through her darkest hour.

moral

relativity –
where the light shines for as long
as the dark permits

Last night I dreamed of Darth Vader. Wasn’t surprised. It’s at least as good a way of conceptualising absolute evil as the Nazgul two nights ago. Am a passionate relativist and this poem pleases me as helping me towards understanding what I actually mean by that. It seems to be inextricable from another passionate belief, which I guess comes out in the poem – that darkness is more powerful than light. That may not be literally true. It may not even be philosophically true. But it’s something to bear in mind as a necessary counterpoise to the inane positivity that human beings generally tend to strive after, and which can never be anything but overloaded in the direction of the light.

science and magic

light is both at once
a wave and a particle —
in the same way, love’s
reality consists in
fantasy pure and simple

I dreamed last night of Anna, my first love — a long and involved dream, and unusual, for the fact that I seemed to be myself as I am now, in the dream, with all or most of the thoughts and feelings about Anna appropriate to not having seen her for thirty years. There seemed to be the opportunity for sex with her, but in the dream, I was able to interrogate myself whether sex with Anna was the wisest course to pursue. What about her marriage (she was married with children last time I met her in 1985)? The dream ended with her husband rescuing me — literally pulling me with a firm grip of his hand in mine — from the bed in which I was beginning to get it on with his wife. It was almost as if we were allies, with Anna, or Anna’s sexuality, as the enemy. I’m very pleased with this poem. After all, there was never in reality the slightest physical expression of love at all, between myself and Anna. It was pure fantasy. But all love without exception is pure fantasy. That’s just what it is, in itself.