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Archive for January, 2010

Clean sheets, smelling of recent washing and the touch of cotton to sooth us,

Feet curling to get the full experience of being wrapped inside safe haven;

Skin and fabric kiss in recognition of right meeting and prepare for sleep,

No worries, no tears, no fears, waking soon into the deep;

Rise up great heart, my soul’s Odysseus, and vigilant commander,

I hear you in me, I feel your presence, and I know we are One;

There is nothing to lose, to loose, to miss, to secure, to nail down, or to hide,

All is moving on to someplace new, something different, ever greater,

yet  appearing always ordinary;

Too few songs are sung in praise of sheets and the loving work they surely do,

Embracing so that we too may embrace the great surround in the boldest tenderness.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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I am lonely without you,

I am unable to breath as if a great weight sits on my chest.

I fret at the dying of the light and the long shadows,

I tremble at the creaking boards under my feet and the cold.

When it ends will you be near me or away,

Will I whither unbeknownst to all who know me?

Or, will the time be gentle, a sweeter passage to the other side,

Where the ocean meets the sky and the invisible temple doors are swung open?

How I quiver and wonder and writhe under the spell of days I’ve come to treasure,

How plaintive I’ve become for solace and consolations.

My sweet lover, fair partner, true, and constant friend,

Excuse my melancholy dreaming, a rambling ignorance of an aging man.

For truly it is not so dramatic as emotions frame it,

In no measure so dark as this darkness I project.

It is the sickness, True beloved, the dis-ease of thinking to preserve,

Where the cure is letting go to wild, untamed adventure.

It is the sickness of pensive rumination, a fiery, fevered imagination, and

The great forgetting of where I’ve been, of who I am, and of where I am going!

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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The cold water in the clear glass
invites me to drink and be refreshed.

It asks for nothing and gives everything and exists to become me.

I lift the glass and my thirst is quenched
before reaching my lips.

This is fitting as I was once cold water and I was once clear glass.

( a poem inspired by the Persian poet, Hafiz).

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Liminal consciousness is that odd state when we emerge from sleep but not fully. In this state, we cannot be sure if our experience was dream or reality. In a real way, this is the truest state that we can experience. The answer to the question: Did it happen or did I dream, is yes. Such is the story of our lives. The liminal state of mind is a perfect rendering of our existential dilemma. We are and yet we are not.

Mind creates moments of compelling and credible theater that are indistinguishable from “real” events. For mind, they are certainly real. We have all the emotions we would in the scenario conjured in the dream state. My wife dreamt yesterday that she heard mens voices somewhere in the house as she slept in it alone while I traveled. She awoke and listened and wasnt sure if she had imagined the voices, or if she had heard them. She locked the door and couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night.

I dreamt some time ago that I was falsely arrested and awoke to fear that criminal charges hung over me. On another occasion, I heard the voice of my mother, now deceased, calling my name. It was audible; clear as a bell. I experienced it as coming into my ears from outside my room. Dreaming or real?

The character of Segismundo in the play, “Life is A Dream” ( La Vida es Sueno) by Pedro Calderon de la Barca, says, at the close of the play:

I dream that I am here
of these imprisonments charged,
and I dreamed that in another state
happier I saw myself.
What is life? A frenzy.
What is life? An illusion,
A shadow, a fiction,
And the greatest profit is small;
For all of life is a dream,
And dreams, are nothing but dreams.

Each day, I imagine what people are thinking. I hear their thoughts and those thoughts are mine. Are they thinking these thoughts too, imagining mine? I interact with people who share my language, yet do I know if they hear what I say as I hear it?

On holidays, the air is different. Saturdays are very different from Sundays and most certainly both are different from Mondays and Fridays. Of course, they are all just days. The day doesn’t know that it’s Saturday. The day is the day, and yet it isn’t.

The diurnal cycle defines so much of life. Night follows day but that isn’t real either. The Sun always shines somewhere. Night is always present somewhere. The sun’s rising and setting are not real, but a mere convention. I approach my next birthday. I am a year older. Right? Meaning what? We enter our forties and we think differently about our lives. We hit the fifties and we say “more han half of my life is behind me.” Says who?

We dream ourselves alive. We dream ourselves happy. We dream ourselves sad. We dream ourselves into states of  anxiety. We dream of endings. What we prophesy comes true.

When am I dreaming and when am I wake? Maybe I am awake AND dreaming now.

Oh my! I am confused.

Or am I?

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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He’s a real nowhere man,
Sitting in his Nowhere Land,
Making all his nowhere plans
for nobody.

Exactly! The Beatles’ have said it better than anyone to my knowledge so far!

This is a perfect illustration of the via negativa. The truth about all of us is that we wrap ourselves in fictions and become so enamored of them that we are nothing without them. We thrust about in search of purpose, meaning, identity. None of it matters. It’s all fine and means nothing. If we see through it, we see the game of humanity. We think ourselves into being this and not that when we are both and we are neither.

When I was a small child I didn’t need an expensive Hasbro toy to be content: a spoon was an aircraft, a large box was a hospital, and then, I just put them away or tossed them. On to the next exciting adventure. None of it was real anyway. It was just fun. It didn’t matter. There was no concept of failure. It was a perfectly meaningful pursuit.

We are all too serious. We don’t laugh enough. We are absurd and we fail to enjoy that fact. We seek after meaning 24/7. We even seek after not seeking. We sit on special pillows to meditate, burn incense, and wear robes and none of it really matters one iota. The only undeniable truth is we are here and we are all part of One thing. The mystery is precious. We are precious and nothing special. We are creatures. Let us love what that means. We imagine. Let us love what we imagine while knowing that none of it is real.

There was a time when I was not here. I was not conscious. I was non-existent. It didn’t matter. Then, I happened. So, now I am here and I want so desperately to hang on to that but I can’t. I will die and then I will be as I once was. So, I pass on through, but “I” don’t really exist at all. Just another fiction. So, what really matters? Loving and being until I am not.

What then? Who knows. What a rush this odd and bizarre life of running and seeking after what isn’t real when, in fact, we are already complete. Whole. Everything we need to be. Right here. Right now. Just as we are.

Let us laugh and weave our fictions together. Share them and smile and recognize that there is no enlightenment, no satori, no epiphany, no heaven later, no heaven now, which is enlightenment, satori, epiphany and heaven.

There is no next rung on the ladder to greatness. There is nothing to add. There is nothing we need to be. Let us delight in the garden of possibility, chance and happenstance. Oh, the heady mixture of thinking ourselves grander than we are while failing  to see that we are already quite grand.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Rousseau's Dream

So much of life is fantasy. We delude ourselves, collude with the self, and allude the Self. We play with existential dilemmas, anguish over them, turn ourselves inside-out, and hold ourselves too often incompetent in the face of life’s drama. This is the dark side of our imaginative capacities. We are creative spirits and we delight in the construction of new worlds including those in which we are hero and anti-hero. This is all thoroughly beautiful as long as we stay in touch with what we are doing.

So, where’s the problem? The biggest source of our suffering is rooted in forgetting that we made it all up. It was Plato who said: ” All is remembering.”

I am a novel full of intersecting plots and diverse characters ( from simple to complex, wise to foolish, grand to petty, beautiful to ugly, well-meaning and kind to selfish and misanthropic), places ( real, imagined, and an amalgam of the two), and times (the present, a distant future, or an, as-if remembered, past). This is the Kabuki theater of the mind and the manufacture of selves.

So, it’s no wonder that we love going to the theater and the movies, and enjoy the art of story-telling and having stories told to us. The state of play of our condition can be perhaps best assessed by watching the changing face of the Best Seller Lists, what makes it big at the box office, what thrives and what dies in dramatic television series. It is all the projected stuff of our nature externalized on paper, celluloid/ acetate, stage, or digital media.

So what do we then do when our own stories of self intersect with those of others, and the grand collective, interactive story that our cultures and world is ever actively weaving? What are we to do when we find ourselves caught up in challenges that we didn’t make, but that others and other forces seemingly conjure up for us?

  1. Think Less, Move More: It would be good to dance. If you are able, dance, free form or otherwise. Get lost in movement and let the cognitive circuits cool down. It can be as simple as a brisk walk, but a dance with more complex movement would be best. Tai chi or Yoga would also fit the bill.
  2. Leap To Faith: It is important to take a leap and put the logical machinery aside. Note that this is not a leap “OF” faith, or blind belief, but a leap “TO” faith, a choice to suspend analysis and go with gut instinct. If writing, switch to poetry. If not, vocalize what you feel, and know that you know what to do even if you think you don’t.
  3. Consult the Sacred Scribe Within: Many have discovered the virtues of “proprioceptive writing,’ automatic writing, or stream of consciousness writing and these are powerful tools. In addition, paying close attention to dreams, what Erich Fromm once referred to as the “forgotten language” in his book of the same name, is perfect practice. In doing the latter, watch the images. Remember, that the one who writes your dreams, the Divine Inner scribe, the Beloved, already knows all the secrets and wants to show them to you.
  4. Laugh: Find cause to really laugh because the only cure for the tragic in life, as Shakespeare knew so well, is high comedy.

American poet Walt Whitman sums it up beautifully in his “Song of Myself“:

51

The past and present wilt–I have fill’d them, emptied them.
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.

Listener up there! what have you to confide to me?
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening,
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.)

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab.

Who has done his day’s work? who will soonest be through with his supper?
Who wishes to walk with me?

Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late?

52

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab
and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow’d wilds,
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.

In telling the tale of ourselves, let us write the story forward with exuberance.  Embrace the grays and shadows as punctuating edges and frames for our colors. Let us abandon ourselves to the weaving we do on our looms of song and image and weave from the heart.

It is a great solace to know that the grand writer, song-maker, choreographer, and artist who resides in our souls, who is our soul, already knows how it all turns out. We pose the riddles for which we already have the answers but, as a matter of right order and creative decorum, it is a compromise with infinity that we feign ignorance of them ( forgetting) lest the Agatha Christie mystery of life lose its suspenseful and electrifying savor.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Colliding Galaxies

I was awakened this morning by the sound of a serious car crash on the road beyond the fence in our backyard. It was early and it was raining heavily. I startled awake and then ran to the window to see only one car with the passenger-side, front right, completely collapsed in toward the driver. There was an eerie silence.

I called 911 and reported what I could see. Then, I noticed my next door neighbour running toward his fence. He leapt over it and headed out toward the driver. Based on the commotion, I assumed there were injuries. I was heartsick at the thought; a knot in the pit of my stomach.

My thoughts ran quickly to the kind of car I was seeing and all those that I knew and the cars they drive. My niece was due to stop by, and so I immediately wanted to rule out that she was involved. Fortunately, she gad already arrived at school and was not due to travel to see us until later. Nonetheless, it was all terribly unnerving.

The sounds, the continuous horn from the severely damaged car, signaling a bad accident, and then the quiet, brought forward a flood of memories: one of losing my younger sister many years ago in an accident by which I just “happened to be passing by” on one of the many major highways here. All the horror of discovering that a loved one was involved, the trip to the hospital, the cold demeanor of the physician telling me that my sister was dead, and my mother, who was driving, and her inconsolable state.

Then, my thoughts ran to wondering about the age of the people involved and their condition, whether their families were quickly notified, and how all of this would work out for them.

So we see, in a single flash, how the world goes from quiet to horrifying, and back to quiet again. I thought of Haiti and the series of aftershocks and the terror of people buried under rubble and those searching for them. There is no time to waste. Life must be lived now.

The Beloved must be felt and seen both in bright light and in the darkest night. There can be no waiting, no delay, no putting off until a presumed tomorrow. Either we wake up now or we might never do so.

We need nothing more than we have. We are all that we have to be. All it takes is to open ourselves up totally in complete vulnerability to the Lover who calls out to us all day and all night. The Beloved is found both in the Heart, and in the wisdom of the poetic resonance in the mind, as we embrace words that point the way.

But, the words are just pointers. Consummation is not about words. We kiss. We embrace. We touch. We are one. We feel each other’s warmth.

That’s all. That’s everything.

We are as the flute, and the music in us is from thee;
we are as the mountain and the echo in us is from thee.

We are as pieces of chess engaged in victory and defeat:
our victory and defeat is from thee, O thou whose qualities are comely!

Who are we, O Thou soul of our souls,
that we should remain in being beside thee?

We and our existences are really non-existence;
thou art the absolute Being which manifests the perishable.

We all are lions, but lions on a banner:
because of the wind they are rushing onward from moment to moment.

Their onward rush is visible, and the wind is unseen:
may that which is unseen not fail from us!

Our wind whereby we are moved and our being are of thy gift;
our whole existence is from thy bringing into being.

Poems by Rumi, Masnavi Book I, 599-607

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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