“Stanzas Concerning an Ecstasy Experienced in High Contemplation”

“Stanzas Concerning an Ecstasy Experienced in High Contemplation” 
By St. JOHN OF THE CROSS

I only come across Dr. Saint John of the Cross this morning in a paper submitted to Academia.edu by Michael McGlynn, an Associate Professor of Literature at National Taiwan University.

Hitherto I had only ever come across St.John in earnest, turgid religious literature I never bothered to finish. Had I persevered I may have made my first discovery not only of St.John but of the word mystic, as well as my first introduction to the experience of a mystic in this, one of St.John’s most famous poems where he validates the mystical experience of Reality (MER) as transcending all human mental, physical, ability to know or express ultimate existence.

That I didn’t, suggests to me I was not meant to find out and understand for myself the meaning of my direct mystical experiences of Reality until now, much later in life.

I cannot express how profoundly moved, humbled and blessed I am by this late, validating discovery. I recognise every word, in its most metaphysical sense.

Enjoy:


Stanzas Concerning an Ecstasy Experienced in High Contemplation 

By St. JOHN OF THE CROSS

I entered into unknowing
Yet when I saw myself there
Without knowing where I was
I understood great things;
I shall not say what I felt
For I remained in unknowing
Transcending all knowledge.

That perfect knowledge
Was of peace and holiness
Held at no remove
In profound solitude;
It was something so secret
That I was left stammering,
Transcending all science/knowledge.

I was so overwhelmed,
So absorbed and withdrawn,
That my senses were left
Deprived of all their sensing,
And my spirit was given
An understanding while not understanding,
Transcending all science/knowledge.

He who truly arrives there
Cuts free from himself;
All that he knew before
Now seems worthless,
And his knowledge so soars
That he is left in unknowing
Transcending all science/knowledge.
   
This knowledge in unknowing
Is so overwhelming
That wise men disputing
Can never overthrow it,
For their knowledge does not reach
To the understanding of not understanding,
Transcending all science/knowledge.

And this supreme knowledge
Is so exalted
That no power of man or learning
Can grasp it;
He who masters himself
Will, with knowledge in unknowing,
Always be transcending.

And if you should want to hear:
This highest knowledge lies
In the loftiest sense
Of the essence of God;
This is a work of His mercy,
To leave one without understanding,
Transcending all science/knowledge.

Mysticexperiences.net

BEING

By Anthony Garner, zenothestoic.com (on Weltanchauung):

Sitting in the garden listening to the rain.

There may be no more to be said than that. Call it a koan if you will, or a haiku perhaps. But do not be entangled by words or definitions.

If you must subscribe to any line of thinking, let it be Eastern. I am Zen. Doing nothing.

I am the Tao. I am the Hsin Hsin Ming.

And so are we all, did we but know it.

In the quiet, I have seen my origins. I have witnessed my past and my future. In me as in all of us, there are a million, million years of history.

In meditation, it is not too fanciful to speak to your long deceased father. Or mother. Or any of the millions of things you have been in the past, or will become in the future.

I sense a life in the woods, way back in time. I witnessed my consciousness emerge from all those eons of experienced time. And somewhere a monastery, in more modern times. Always a monastery.

And I saw the way it must end. Or rather, not end. Continue.

As I sense my father in me, my son, if he cared to think about it, would sense me in him. And his mother.

A seeker eventually finds. I have found. The truth, the way, reality – call it what you will.

It is devastatingly simple and of incredible complexity.

The simple part is to be. To feel the waters and flow of time around you and to go, to drift with the gentle current.

There is no more to it than that. If you seek contentment and meaning, then accept the river, the flow and do not try to go against the stream.

If you seek complexity, you will certainly find it, but it will avail you little.

Complexity is to be found in your body and the millions of working parts which make you what you are.

Complexity is to be found in the society and economy we have created.

Let it all pass. It will do so of its own accord in time. All is change, there are no constants.

Being, that is all there is to it. Sitting in the garden and listening to the rain.

_____________________

Comment by Keith:

“Your beautifully expressed experiences are very gratifying to witness. Your voice’s interpretation and communication are perfect for me. Quite an experience.

“If the Hsin Hsin Ming (mind) referred to is consciousness it echoes one of the last experiences I had in MER when I was mystified by observing the back of the body of Keith Hancock from a distance as it stood before an endless void of greyness as if about to make a final movement into it.

“I identified totally with the invisible observer of this scene and often wondered what the observer was in which the ‘I’ was so absorbed, separated from Keith Hancock. I came to recognise this observer as mind despite that conflicting with my experience the human mind as I understood it then does not exist after human death. Now I know it as consciousness. I am beginning to realise this consciousness is what exists in Reality for ever. It becomes clearer to me that consciousness is what the human journey is all about. It never ‘dies’.

“Kindest regards,

“Keith.”

Reply by Anthony Garner:

“I am astounded by the similarities between what you describe and what I felt the other day. Although I did not express it, I too felt that day that death was illusory. I too witnessed my own body, not from a physical distance as such but as separate from my mind and, in a sense, irrelevant. I recognized that it was not “me”, that I was different and in a sense, immortal. I seemed also to sense the end of my body, its death. Some sort of premonition perhaps, or maybe a realization that the body is irrelevant.

“And my consciousness seemed to extend back endlessly in time; I seemed to witness it’s past ands its constituents. Almost a past life (lives) experience. I am not sure where my “beliefs” now lie. What I do know is that I feel a very different person.

“Thank you for sharing that with me Keith. It is gratifying to know that others have experienced similar and equally strange visions of what is or what may be.

“Best

“A”

SEE OTHER COMMENTS ON this post on zenothestoic.com (on Weltanchauung) for very interesting comments by other Anthony’s followers (including two of ours!).

HSIN HSIN MING

‘Faith in mind’, is a poem attributed to the Third Chinese Chán (Zen) Patriarch Jianzhi Sengcan.

It is shared here by Anthony Garner, zenothestoic.com. (Anthony is a follower of mysticexperiences.net).


The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.

When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.

If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind. When the deep meaning of things is not understood, the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.

The Way is perfect like vast space where nothing is lacking and nothing in excess. Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject that we do not see the true nature of things.

Live neither in the entanglements of outer things, nor in inner feelings of emptiness. Be serene in the oneness of things and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.

When you try to stop activity by passivity your very effort fills you with activity. As long as you remain in one extreme or the other you will never know Oneness.

Those who do not live in the single Way fail in both activity and passivity, assertion and denial. To deny the reality of things is to miss their reality; To assert the emptiness of things is to miss their reality.

The more you talk and think about it, the further astray you wander from the truth. Stop talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find meaning, but to pursue appearances is to miss the source. At the moment of inner enlightenment there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness. The changes that appear to occur in the empty world we call real only because of our ignorance.

Do not search for the truth; only cease to cherish opinions. do not remain in the dualistic state. Avoid such pursuits carefully. If there is even a trace of this and that, of right and wrong, the mind-essence will be lost in confusion.

Although all dualities come from the One, do not be attached even to this One. When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way, nothing in the world can offend. And when a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way. When no discriminating thoughts arise, the old mind ceases to exist. When thought objects vanish, the thinking-subject vanishes: As when the mind vanishes, objects vanish.

Things are objects because of the subject (mind): the mind (subject) is such because of things (object). Understand the relativity of these two and the basic reality: the unity of emptiness. In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable and each contains in itself the whole world.

If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion. To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult. But those with limited views are fearful and irresolute: the faster they hurry, the slower they go.

And clinging (attachment) cannot be limited: Even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray. Just let things be in their own way and there will be neither coming nor going. Obey the nature of things (your own nature) and you will walk freely and undisturbed. When the thought is in bondage the truth is hidden for everything is murky and unclear. And the burdensome practice of judging brings annoyance and weariness. What benefit can be derived from distinctions and separations? If you wish to move in the One Way do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas. Indeed, to accept them fully is identical with enlightenment.

The wise man strives to no goals but the foolish man fetters himself. There is one Dharma, not many. Distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant. To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind is the greatest of all mistakes. Rest and unrest derive from illusion; with enlightenment there is no liking and disliking. All dualities come from ignorant inference. They are like dreams or flowers in air – foolish to try to grasp them.

Gain and loss, right and wrong, such thoughts must finally be abolished at once. If the eye never sleeps, all dreams will naturally cease. If the mind makes no discriminations, the ten thousand things are as they are, of single essence. To understand the mystery of this One-essence is to be released from all entanglements. When all things are seen equally the timeless Self-essence is reached, No comparisons or analogies are possible in this causeless, relationless state. Consider movement stationary and the stationary in motion, both movement and rest disappear. When such dualities cease to exist Oneness itself cannot exist. To this ultimate finality no law or description applies.

For the unified mind in accord with the way all self-centered striving ceases. Doubts and irresolutions vanish and life in true faith is possible. With a single stroke we are freed from bondage: Nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing. All is empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of the mind’s power. Here thought, feeling, knowledge and imagination are of no value. In this world of suchness there is neither self nor other-than-self.

To come directly into harmony with this reality just say when doubt rises “not two”. In this “not two” nothing is separate, nothing is excluded. No matter when or where, enlightenment means entering this truth. And this truth is beyond extension or diminution in time and space: In it a single thought is ten thousand years.

Emptiness here, emptiness there, but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes. Infinitely large and infinitely small; no difference, for definitions have vanished and no boundaries are seen. So too with Being and non-Being. Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments That have nothing to do with this. One thing, all things, move among and intermingle without distinction. To live in this realization is to be without anxiety about non-perfection. To live in this faith is the road to non-duality, because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.

Words! The Way is beyond language, for in it there is no yesterday no tomorrow no today.

MER NOTE: Some schools caution that mind is the enemy of realising Reality.

Mysticexperiences.net

THE SILENCE.

In my view this paper is not just an examination of a powerful poem about the mystical experience, it is also a valuable summary of science and academia’s current interest in the historical and contemporary experience of the Silence of the mystical experience of mysticism (MER).

The full text is available through Academia.net

Silence as Cognition in San Juan de la Cruz’ Coplas del Mismo Hechas Sobre Una Alta Extasis de Contemplación

By Michael Mcglynn, Professor at National University, Taiwan.

SUMMARY

“This essay is an expansive (non-reductive) treatment of one poem of the Early Modern Spanish mystic San Juan de SILENCE AND INEFFABILITY AS COGNITION IN SAN JUAN DE LA CRUZ’ “COPLAS DEL MISMO HECHAS SOBRE UN ÉXTASIS DE ALTA CONTEMPLACIÓN”

FORWARD

“This essay is an expansive (non-reductive) treatment of one poem of the Early Modern Spanish mystic San Juan de la Cruz, namely, Coplas del Mismo Hechas sobre un Éxtasis de Alta Contemplación.

“The refrain of this poem is a claim to transcend all knowledge through an ineffable experience. As disciplinary walls tumble. this ineffable experience bears re-evaluation with evidence from experts in pertinent fields, such as cognitive science. A case is made that Juan’s claim to know by unknowing is a feature of ordinary cognition, though perhaps his experience was an extreme case. As a corollary conclusion, it is observed that twentieth-century approaches to texts are quickly giving way to approaches that match the ‘holistic’, networked culture that characterizes contemporary society from Toledo to Taipei.

INTRODUCTION

“The sixteenth-century Spanish Carmelite priest Juan de la Cruz is famous for his poetry about the mystical union. The refrain of Juan de la Cruz’ 1578 poem about the mystical union, Coplas del Mismo Hechas sobre un Éxtasis de Alta Contemplación, expresses the ineffability of the mystical union with these words: y quédeme no sabiendo, / toda ciencia trascendiendo (2-3: ‘I remained unknowing while transcending all knowledge’).

“This ‘unknowing’, or ineffability, is a common trope in both European and World mystical traditions. The experience of transcendent divinity, whether one believes in divinity or not, is by definition beyond expression. As a poetic trope, the ineffability of such experience is not uncommon, even in secular poetry. San Juan’s more unique claim is that he came into practical knowledge directly by means of this ineffable experience.

“This is a handbook definition of cognition: ‘all the mental processes by which people become aware of and gain knowledge of the world’ (D.A. Statt, The concise dictionary of psychology, London-New York, Routledge, 1990). Juan uses the terms conociemiento, inteligencia and noticia.

READ THE FULL TEXT

mysticexperiences.net

FADING FROM THE WORLD?

By Stoic

FOREWORD: Stoic is very much like the rich man who told the biblical Jesus he wanted to follow Jesus but couldn’t just yet because he had to go home to bury his just deceased father. Jesus is said to have insisted the young man “let the dead bury their dead and follow now”, meaning that the enlightened are alive and the unenlightened are still dead, give up the world of the dead. Sadly, the young man left anyway. But Stoic isn’t leaving!

Stoic, a successful financial expert with family, friends, colleagues, intellectual and professional, family and friends’ as worldly attachments was a restless, demanding Seeker. Now he is answering the Call beginning to let go, entering the silence, giving up human clutter. He is a Follower of mysticexpriences.net. This essay from his Blog explains how his new approach to enlightenment is working in these early days for him.


FADING

I had the curious sensation of fading, being absorbed into the background, while walking along a country lane in glorious winter sunshine this afternoon.

Perhaps letting go does that to you. Perhaps the mental discipline of letting all pass returns you in a very real sense to where you came from.

It seems that once you have stopped clinging so very fervently to the things which once seemed to attract you, moth-like to the flame, your mind is freed.

I can not say that the sensation this afternoon was not accompanied by a gentle melancholy, but the feeling was not an unpleasant one.

To every thing there is a season,
A time for every purpose under the heaven.

Letting go does seem to become easier with usage. It strikes me there is a likeness in methodology to renouncing an addiction. It’s all or nothing.

I admit to having always been binary, but this time it is irreversible and I’m happy with that. It’s like Alcoholics Anonymous really: the addiction you are giving up is the world of emotion. Or rather the world of destructive emotions. And once you have admitted to it, you are in a sense free.

Happily you do not seem to have to tip out the baby with the bathwater – pleasure remains. Quiet and hidden.

Wife, son and such remaining family as I have buzz around me and I am contented to feel them nearby. Letting them happily fizz and fuss in a companionable sort of way. Letting them get on with their lives, and they mine.

There are so many things I should have done today and didn’t. Nor will I, in all probability. It seemed a day rather for contemplation than busyness.

No global gladiator, I have renounced the power breakfast for replenishing the bird feeder and watching the robin play. I have left cocktail networking to others and potter through the odd domestic task I was entrusted with, as my busy little wife fidgeted off back to London. In a rather nice new BMW to which I had treated myself, but which has now been wholly absorbed by my friend. Well, I don’t like driving anyway; she is welcome.

I am reminded of the Ode to Autumn, this lazy winter’s day:

Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom friend of the maturing sun.

Lest that sound too valedictory a comparison, I must state otherwise. I am content to sit careless on a granary floor. Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep, Drowsed with the fume of poppies.

But there is still plenty to be done and having renounced life as you once knew it, it may be easier to take more beneficial pursuit. To see what is around you and who, and to give it and them the attention which they deserve.

To walk in the winter’s sun while there is still breath in your body and a pair of legs able to carry you. To spread perhaps a little of your own newly discovered “gospel”. To make the world a place of slightly less fear and slightly greater beauty.

Why speak of autumn when mid winter is upon us? Because winter is not yet in my bones and while I may, I will feast still upon the ripe rose-hips, the last of the summer’s leaves and the still warm sun.

Winter is for another day.

QUESTIONS ABOUT POEM: “MYSTICS”

 

Q: Can you explain two things in your poem about mystics?

A: Alright.

Q: Here’s the poem, with the question:

MYSTICS.

Few here of their kind,
Orphaned souls
No parents find
Entombed in man’s mortality
And man’s defaulting mind,
Neither human, nor sublime:
Lost, yet Divine.

Nanaimo, 2011.

Q: What does “ … man’s defaulting mind” mean?

A: Spiritually, mankind’s mind just ticks over, never gets used except in the more or less autonomous function of default in the absence of any spiritual input.

Actually, a lot of low IQ minds could be said to run in even less than even the fully autonomous functions that control the body’s inner and outer physical functions never mind the more spiritual/conscious features awaiting awakening.

Q: You use the word “Divine” when you have said that you never experienced God in your mystical experiences of Reality.

A: This is poetic licence. The word is a primitive, outdated identification of humans’ growing consciousness of an existence beyond current human knowing, except for glimpses of it by mystics.

“Divine” and “God” are two inadequately minuscule concepts crammed with spiritually inexperienced artificial meanings like “faith”, “hope” and “trust”. These empty words are akin to self hypnosis and on that delusional level might bring some relief in human concerns, that’s all; (“Fake it until you make it”).

Reality is reliable, steadfast and benign by its nature and we are a part of It. Nothing man made lasts or is anything like the totality of Reality. Reality is the only thing. The reason I used the word divine is because of its lingering archaic power in the present primitive state of human development. And because it portentously rhymes with the sonnet’s the word “sublime”.

Mysticexperiences.net

WAS SHAKESPEARE A MYSTIC?

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on: and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

The Tempest (Prospero, Act 4 Scene 1)

POETRY AND MYSTICISM By Colin Wilson

IN REVIEW

Poetry and Mysticism by Colin Wilson is published by City Lights Books in Paperback and PDF.

COMMENTARY

I have experienced profound “peak experiences” when writing and writing poetry. I also experienced spontaneous mystical experiences of Reality several times a year from the age of about 15 to late 30’s.

These experiences did not reach the same levels by any means. The creative “peak experiences” from writing were emotional, human, very limited by comparison.

I think the distinction is important enough to be noted before reading Goodreads’ introduction to the book.

EXCERPT from Goodreads

“The mystic’s moment of illumination shares with great poetry the liberating power of the deepest levels of consciousness. In the words of William Blake, If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to a man as it is, infinite.

“Poetry, Wilson argues, is a contradiction of the habitual prison of daily life and shows the way to transcend the ordinary world through an act of intense attention-and intention. The poet, like the mystic, is subject to sudden “peak experiences” when “everything we look upon is blessed.”

“W.B. Yeats, Dostoevsky, Gautama Buddha, Kazantzakis, Van Gogh, Rupert Brooke, Arunja, Nietzsche, A.L. Rouse, Jacob Boehme, Suzuki, Edgar Allan Poe: their visionary understanding can generate an awareness in each of us of our potential to open the floodgates of inner energy that creates mystic experience.

“Colin Wilson first received international acclaim in 1956 for The Outsider. “”Ever since I was thirteen, I have been obsessed by the question of the nature of mystical experience,””he writes, and from that time he has been on a quest of the mystical in poetry, religion, and psychology.”

Mysticexperiences.net

BECOMING A MYSTIC: Marooned

A Follower asks where he can find an account of my mystic experiences on this Blog. There are hints and affirmations throughout the Blog but no whole, progressive narrative account, so here it is:

I had spontaneous yearly experiences of mystical reunions with Reality from about 15 to 35 years of age. I kept them to myself for nearly 50 years.

They recreated me from a who to a what and gave me a sense of having existed from the beginning of all things to the end of all things; of belonging; and of “everything belonging to me” that others describe as “oneness”; an overwheming liquifying of my matter into pure joy; a profoundly thankful humility; a disappointment in not finding “God” there; a sense of knowing everything; of not existing anywhere but in the experiences; of knowing real reality of existence is the Reality I was experiencing; the frantic helplessness of desolation, of abandonment as each of the experiences ended.

As each of my experiences dissolved me back into my humanity I felt a keenness of loss, outcries of alarm, a profound, wrenching desperation of catastrophic bereavement. I scrabbled against it in futility. I felt marooned, a feeling that taints my human existence to this very second.

I was infused rather than taught or shown or guided. I remember there was nothing to see, hear, smell, physically feel, or think.

In one of my experiences a voice told me quite clearly and emphatically, ALL IS WELL. I was dumbfounded so the message was repeated three times …

The reason I was dumbfounded and deeply disappointed was I thought the message came for someone else. I looked around but there was no one else to see.

I was baffled for years over that message because I had not asked or thought of a question to which that might be the answer.

Another time, I was levitated out of my body. It happened without me noticing. When I did notice it seemed quite natural. I was overjoyed that God was ridding me of my body to take me up. Then I was bitterly betrayed on looking down to see my body still there about 15 feet below.

My conclusion now is there seems to be a Process into which I have been drawn, rather than “God”. This Process is nowhere near as limited as the human word “God” implies. It is benign, caring of all creation, guarding, guiding, aiding and comforting, a constant seemingly natural state of unending contentment, peace, tranquility, humility, gratitude, awe and joy. But it is not about making me a better human, though that, I think I can presume, is automatic, axiomatic. We are all more than merely human.

My sense of personality, character, body, mind, intelligence, intellect, did not exist in my MERs, nor did I miss them, expect them or need them.

I came away with the impression human bodies and brains die, but their spiritual knowingness become absorbed, added into this non-material Process of Reality beyond infinity that never dies. Reality seeks, but does not seek body, brain or mind it seems.

After MER, humans have no need of the anthropmorphic falsehoods of faith, hope or belief – after MER they KNOW. They are one with the Process, no longer needing gods or “God”. The experiences are fulfilling and keep being fulfilling after they’ve gone.

I was never given to believe humanity or individuals can invoke or influence this Process of Reality, either. In fact, being only human might be the reason so many humans have not yet had the experience of MER. Human attachment and egos are two strong deterrents among the many human attributes that come between us and this fulfillment.

The experiences were fulfilling beyond all ordinary human experience, imagining or knowledge. Reality seems to be the alpha and omega of everything, all knowing, a fundamental existential of being that just is, a given that can be taken for granted, does not need to be named. In Reality there are no names: everything just is and all is well. And I was and am that.

Between these experiences I toiled privately at the agony of being partly human despite the experiences’ development and continued effect on me – the continuingly joyous but alienating illumination of Reality and my true nature.

The stress of this growing alienation from “manmukh” – all things human – affected me severely.

The energy of the world, of the human spirit, is not compatible with the development of the spirituality of the ultimate reality of the Mystical Experience of Reality, (MER), in my experiences.

This struggle ruined my life, thankfully …

Now if I’m asked what I have especially taken away from my experiences I would say: Reality is a process. It is in charge. It never fails and is utterly benign …

Neverthless, at times the process got so desperate I developed and finalised the following secret plea to be rescued.

(At the time, I didn’t know how serious the act of writing can be, I just thought I was writing a poem. Later, the answer to this plea came by writing too and is also recorded here):

MAROONED

Divinity’s insouciant servants of the Light

Fly beneath my fears, over my plight,

Indifferent to my day as to my night.

Marooned in the humanity of my time,

Tired by glimpses of the divine,

Save me soon Lord, make me thine.

THE REPLY:

Marooned to solitude is your story;

Its contemplation leads you to my glory.

Love, understanding and compassion

Are the lessons of your life, your grace, your passion.

From the other side of Night,

I am your glory, your rescue Light …

1985.

(Nowadays I wouldn’t use the words “God”, “divine”, “faith”, “Divinity” or “Lord”. And I would call “the light” Reality, such a Light being a unique part of Reality.

(PS: The word “faith” has been bothering me. It signifies lack of real spiritual experience. So as I returned to this poem with my doubt about the rightness of the word the real word arrived. So I have deleted “faith” and as you will see, have inserted the more meaningful word “grace”).

Mysticexperiences.net

REALITY – A MYSTIC’S EXPERIENCE of Psalm 23

 

Reality designed me,

Nourishes me,

Creates me, body and soul,

Reveals Its purpose.

 

Though my humanity is impermanent,

It guards, guides and comforts me.

 

Despite my human lust, anger, greed, attachments and ego,

It claims me for Itself.

It dissolves me in Its alpha and omega,

It fulfils me; “My cup runneth over.”

 

Slowly but surely, It returns me to Itself

And I am in Reality for ever …

 

Keith Hancock, La Penita, 2016

“THE BURIED LIFE” by Matthew Arnold

 

(Excerpt)

 

Fate, which foresaw

How frivolous a baby man would be—

By what distractions he would be possess’d,

How he would pour himself in every strife,

And well-nigh change his own identity—

That it might keep from his capricious play

His genuine self, and force him to obey

Even in his own despite his being’s law,

Bade through the deep recesses of our breast

The unregarded river of our life

Pursue with indiscernible flow its way;

And that we should not see

The buried stream, and seem to be

Eddying at large in blind uncertainty,

Though driving on with it eternally.

 

But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,

But often, in the din of strife,

There rises an unspeakable desire

After the knowledge of our buried life;

A thirst to spend our fire and restless force

In tracking out our true, original course;

A longing to inquire

Into the mystery of this heart which beats

So wild, so deep in us—to know

Whence our lives come and where they go.

 

And many a man in his own breast then delves,

But deep enough, alas! none ever mines.

And we have been on many thousand lines,

And we have shown, on each, spirit and power;

But hardly have we, for one little hour,

Been on our own line, have we been ourselves—

Hardly had skill to utter one of all

The nameless feelings that course through our breast,

But they course on for ever unexpress’d.

 

And long we try in vain to speak and act

Our hidden self, and what we say and do

Is eloquent, is well—but ‘t is not true!

And then we will no more be rack’d

With inward striving, and demand

Of all the thousand nothings of the hour

Their stupefying power;

Ah yes, and they benumb us at our call!

 

Yet still, from time to time, vague and forlorn,

From the soul’s subterranean depth upborne

As from an infinitely distant land,

Come airs, and floating echoes, and convey

A melancholy into all our day.

Only—but this is rare—

When a belovèd hand is laid in ours,

When, jaded with the rush and glare

Of the interminable hours,

Our eyes can in another’s eyes read clear,

When our world-deafen’d ear

Is by the tones of a loved voice caress’d—

A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,

And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.

The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,

And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.

A man becomes aware of his life’s flow,

And hears its winding murmur; and he sees

The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.

 

(Excerpted).