Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Suns of Poetry

For some, poetry aims highly at several things. As an art form it uses language in new and creative ways to express ideas and emotions; it creates its own vocabulary for expression of some of our deepest thoughts and feelings. The poet is, in the words of Indian teacher and mystic, Sri Aurobindo, the result of the harmonizing of
"five perennial powers: truth, beauty, joy, life and spirit." The one he terms, the "poet-seer" is someone who "sees differently, who thinks in another way... the poet shows us truth within its power of beauty, in its symbol or image, reveals it to us..."

Poets seek to illumine, to amplify or lift up in words, images and symbols in the way the visual artist does with his drawings or designs. For Aurobindo the term life carries further meaning than its base, scientific sense. In its use, Aurobindo means to signify "the life of feelings and passions. The inner life, which is infinite." Poets as seers and sages are gifted with the ability to perceive and elucidate upon those facets of living which many feel but can derive no words for meaning. The poet is much loved for the giving of words to otherwise unexpressed longings of ones' heart. Poetry then is the heart of the heart. Sri Aurobindo makes this clear when he writes about matters of truth, beauty and joy:

 Because Thou Art

Because Thou art All-beauty and All-bliss,
My soul blind and enamored yearns for Thee; 
It bears Thy mystic touch in all that is 
And thrills with the burden of that ecstasy. 
Behind all eyes I meet Thy secret gaze 
And in each voice I hear Thy magic tune: 
Thy sweetness haunts my heart through Nature's ways;
 Nowhere it beats now from Thy snare immune. 
It loves Thy body in all living things; 
Thy joy is there in every leaf and stone: 
The moments bring Thee on their fiery wings; 
Sight's endless artistry is Thou alone
Time voyages with Thee upon its prow
And all the future's passionate hope is Thou.

--Sri Aurobindo

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Working to See More Clearly

"Take up the way of meeting others on equal ground." --Buddhist precept as discussed by Diane Rizzetto in her book, Waking Up to What You Do.

In her book, Waking Up to What You Do, Abbess Diane Rizzetto writes on the precept of meeting others on equal ground. She quotes the writer Dag Hammarskjold, Markings

"To be humble is not to make comparisons. Secure in
its reality, the self is neither better nor worse, bigger nor smaller, 
than any thing else in the universe. It is nothing; at the same time, 
one with the universe." 

What are the obvious and not so obvious ways that we regard ourselves in light of others? Do we gain self-worth in measuring ourselves against others? Do we consider our own thoughts, our own way? Do we praise ourselves at the expense of others? Or while not praising ourselves, abuse others?

What keeps us from meeting others, from meeting the stranger on equal ground? What about competition--are there winners and losers in the world? How does anger, insecurity, fear, shame and blame block the way of meeting others on equal ground? 
Why must we meet equally? Despite our sometimes fearful and anxious experiences of meeting others with pounding heart and cold hand, adrenaline flowing making us feel like ice, meeting others on equal ground is important.

Even so, there are many ways we either subtly or overtly avoid our feelings and perceptions of unease with ourselves; we measure, we criticize, blame and shame our way through life. Putting others down will pull us up, it seems--maybe. By learning more about the reality of inter-being we come to find that this isn't so.
 Making you dirty, makes me dirty; disrespect to you is disrespect to myself. I am the doing, the making of it all, the dream of self. Considering this perception, we find it isn't limited to speech. Behavior is also a means of competition and measuring ourselves to others.

We may ignore, exclude or avoid others in our activities with the intention to demonstrate a perception of superiority. Sometimes we even think we are more sophisticated, more enlightened than the others. 
In history we learn that the Buddha was enlightened in a simple way, under a tree, no posh hotel or vacation spot for him. The Christ was hung ultimately on a cross, no limousine or finely dressed mourners at his death. 
Gandhi was shot to death, there were no bowing supplicants before him; rather, it was the end of a gun. So too for Martin Luther King. 
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta had no exemplary education beyond courage and will. These figures are burned into our consciousness; they were both humble and great, simple and wise.

Do not admire them; be more like them. Diane Rizzetto writes, "When we speak or act in these [other] ways, clarity, discovery and true dialog [understanding] are lost. 
Even if we don't consciously place ourselves above others...if we're in the game of competition by watching our reactions when we make a mistake... Do we blame... find excuses... jump in defense?"   
Do we say what it is; that is, do we say, "I forgot, I lost it, I didn't understand?" In being humble, speaking truthfully, we are neither better nor worse.

However, when our focus is to maintain ourselves in a perception of better than others, above them, then we close ourselves, we cut ourselves off; separation from the world and others occurs. We then choose to live in division. 
There is now just the dream, that dream of self. Working to see more clearly, vispayana, the ways we judge others, and the ways we place so much of our energy in covering up ourselves due to fear, anxiety, shame-- the same energy is always available to help us to see more clearly and compassionately our own, true selves. Neither better nor worse than others. 

"Whether we place ourselves above or below others, we are substituting an idea about who we are, or who others are, or should be for the simple truth that as human beings we are good at some things and not so good at other things. We fail and succeed; we know and we don't know; we accomplish some useful things in our day, and we mess up some other things. This is what it means to be human..." to be humble, to be neither better nor worse, to be oneself." paraphrased

"Take your practiced powers and stretch them out until they span the chasm between contradictions... for the god wants to know himself in you."
-- Poet Maria Rilke