all alone on this beach
I too am
but a grain of sand
Something worth remembering in an age if nihilism, angst, and turmoil, is the potential of the individual. It’s only that which attracts and draws the wisdom of the ages and becomes the rich soil for its propagation and perpetuation. The inherent nature of a human being has promise far beyond what is commonly esteemed in the world. From his unique viewpoint, Nikola Tesla wrote of this in a small article that was printed in the San Antonio Sunday Light, on July 20, 1930. His article was the inspiration for the image above as it was for the larger piece which the newspaper printed as a setting for Tesla’s article, which was entitled, “Man’s Greatest Achievement.”
While Tesla was speaking of the power of the mind over matter and energy, the implication of his drift is that the inherent nature, the soul, of a human being is for complete control over the order of the universe. What tends to be the shadow of this observation is the desire to shape the world to the temporary and narrow views of an individual mind. This mental predisposition is the origin of all the “Frankenstein” stories of the first two thirds of the last century, those stories in which science goes afoul of the harmony of nature. The implication of the boundlessness of human potential, that’s so often missed in the boisterous attraction of greater material control, is that this “human potential” is meant for something more than mere artifice as a means to control. As is said in the San Antonio paper, “Love can hope, where reason would despair.” Love itself is the ultimate potential of the human being. It opens all doors, including those of nature. But love doesn’t exploit, it transcends. Love’s the great weighty power, the gravitas, that tips the scales towards a human being when he or she is weighed against the works of human industry and the ponderous philosophical chords of the mind; for a person without love is as light as a shadow.
The human potential is what’s at the heart of that which great individuals have emanated from their deeper perceptions. It’s the fundamental insight beyond all temporal insight. But it’s so easy to confuse the finger that points for the thing to which it’s pointing. The being of the individual is great beyond the comprehension of the mind. It’s greatness is also that it is simple, real and immediate. Just waiting to be born within.
The following is a contemplation on something I’ve come to appreciate after some years on a spiritual path. I began as a philosophy student in college and studied for years, seeking to sift the nuggets of truth from the vast “tailings” of baffling experience and the bewildering speculations of so many pundits, scholars, scientists, writers, and experts of all kinds. This is what I’ve come to see and am yet learning to realize. I share it here for those who, like me, are on a similar path.
Reason can rarely steer one right because it cannot see the road upon which one is driving. It merely infers its existence and its contours from the observations of the senses (which everyone knows can be deceived), and through the inculcation of experience and the pronouncements of others. The basic principle here is that logic can only be as sound as the substance on which it feeds. Without true premises, there can only be false conclusions. How does one evaluate a truth?
Reason cannot originate truth. It produces only analysis, which is more likely to be false, at least in some measure, than true. Even if reason stumbled upon a truth, the knowingness that it was a truth would escape one. The only hope of truth is in knowing Truth, directly, without such intermediaries as reason, or a teacher, or a book, or some other external source. Knowing truth is a condition of conscious being, not of thinking. This is the great conundrum of philosophy, science, thought, and the source of human struggle.
The bridge from one’s current state of not-knowing-truth to the truth, is Consciousness. But this faculty, this beingness, must be awakened. That is the real challenge of life, the missing Philosopher’s Stone that can turn the perpetual struggle in darkness into a rewarding discovery of endless gold. It can only be awakened by associating with another whose consciousness is already fully awakened. Nothing else will do.
It appears that the answer to the woe and ill of earthly travail may be quite simple, so plain and evident that it escapes notice. Attached to the intricate machinations of thought, we may be overlooking the obvious truth. An awakened consciousness. We’re told by great ones of the past and present that that can only be achieved through associating with another who is awakened. Such a soul, like a tuning fork, will set one’s own consciousness resonating inwardly. That inward “sound” attracts one to it and becomes a center of discovery and action. Then, as one lives in that state, consciousness expands to embrace all of one’s life. After this, they say, one is free, for truth is simply one’s own true nature, which is immortal, conscious, loving, and free.
reading won’t save us from death
and reading won’t free us from want
then why do we like to be literate
the literate lord it over others
if a grown man can’t read
where can he live in peace
squeeze garlic juice in your crowfoot*
and you’ll forget it’s bitter
-#204, The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain,
tr. Red Pine
*Chinese medicinal herb
the rivers are by these storms
made mud red — gashes
at the feet of mountains
raging westward —
the life of the land bled into the sea.
I awoke in the Nectar Hours
before dawn. Outside
the bright face of the moon
gazed down —
just below it Jupiter dangled
like a diamond earing
lambent flames in winter dun —
tears of Diogenes
I realize this isn’t the best reading anyone’s ever heard. I did it awhile ago, I was a little ill, and there was no one around listening. When there is someone to listen, it helps greatly to keep things rolling naturally. I’ll try again before long to do better… but I think for now, it isn’t all that bad, is it?
long blond grasses in canyon fog
strung with crystal pearls
smoke from the stovepipe —
whisked hungrily away
by a greedy wind
Why I think Gathered Rain is good medicine…
… As the political climate has grown more turbulent, interest in self-care has risen. Google searches for the term reached a five-year high immediately after the election last November.
… if an activity (or inactivity) makes you feel better, in body or mind, then it’s self-care…
While self-care may sound like a wishy-washy idea recently coined by a holistic therapist in LA, it actually has a Platonic pedigree and a very pointed political purpose. The French philosopher Michel Foucault argued that the ancient Greeks saw it as integral to democracy: self-care was a necessary part of care for others. It made you a better, more honest citizen…
“…[W]ith the world’s capacity to produce endless and growing moral challenges, there comes an outcry for the morally minded to act, swiftly and vigorously, to counter the perceived negativity of worldly events and circumstances. In the chaos and urgency of these challenges, the less outwardly dramatic, private inner life is frequently overlooked altogether, or else discounted as ineffective and self-indulgent. And yet, from where comes the strength, clarity, and resolve to act ethically if not from deep, empowering and calming pools of inner reflection and gifted insight? There’s nothing more precious or priceless than that. Love, the most transformative force, can come forth only from within the individual who is at peace with one’s self and familiar with the inner worlds of one’s own awareness…
[Gathered Rain]’s simple message, cloaked in nature’s imagery, is that happily, if unexpectedly, the substance of … virtues and the simplicity of happiness itself already exist in every moment within one’s own consciousness and simply await discovery.”
The author of the article referenced wishes to make sure that no one is consumed by a private inner life and that the public life must be a priority (she says: “For those of us buffered by socioeconomic privilege, internal emigration justified as “self-care” is becoming increasingly tempting. It’s certainly more convenient than moving to Canada. But we need to stay vigilant”). Caveats of this nature tend often to batter the delicate soul with moral injunctions and cause more tension and disturbance than wholeness and peace. Far more healthful is it to remember that in all things balance is the rule. But balance is difficult to realize just by following moral imperatives. However, it comes naturally from a solidity of inner peace and the invigoration of insight and self-confidence. These are the things that can only be cultivated in the quietude of a relaxed mind and emotional body. Engaging in activities that enable that are much more important than any outer activity, for they provide the well spring of nourishment and inspiration that imbue any activity with purpose and meaning.
a poet is one who
welcomes even demons
in truth’s name alone
I’ve dropped the first edition of Gathered Rain to the lowest price Amazon will allow. It’d be great if I could offer it free of charge, but Amazon will not permit a price any lower that it is now ($5.38). Please read the earlier article I wrote explaining that I’d reduced the Kindle version to $0.99, since it contains further info on the book and my purpose in reducing the price.
Though it’s a modest bit of work, I’m happy to have had a haiku published this week on the Haiku Foundation web site.
This month they’ve been doing a playful series on work place haiku, with weekly topics. The subject for this week was “The Office Flirt.”
Let dreams be dreams but through their windows see
Vistas over wondrous landscapes of soul
Where you in all your native glory are free —
Then let the image be a growing seed invincible.
There is a blog on Goodreads built as a forum for authors to introduce their work. It appears to be frequented by writers who publish their own work, a choice I also made with Gathered Rain. Here’s the link to it and my entry, if you’d like to check it out.
I know that everyone reading this has had the experience of the relaxation and good feelings that thrive in the glow of a good book. For some, that might be Shakespeare sonnets, or the poetry of Rumi. Or it might be a Romance one particularly enjoys. Or a good mystery that has an immersive story, action, and good characters. We enter the world of the book and, in some wonderful way, we find deeper parts of ourselves not often touched by daily experience.
Over the past few years, I’ve repeatedly received feedback from readers that my book, Gathered Rain, provides that kind of experience. This is not to brag or buff up my ego in some way, not at all. I personally get the same experience from reading the book, and I often turn to it when I want to find a quiet, introspective moment of calming and inspiration.
In saying this, I hasten to add, that I can’t express adequately where the writing of this book truly came from. I wouldn’t say it’s “me” that wrote it, though I did the work. I’d say more that I was the instrument that was played by the force that created it. I sat quietly observing and opening to that power, whether it expressed itself through the shimmering of autumn leaves in the tulip tree in our yard, or in the sound and sight of water rushing over ancient cedar boles fallen across a stream in an old growth forest. These things have voices and it was my intent to allow them to express what they had to offer through me as an instrument of language. Because this is the nature of Gathered Rain, my experience, and that of others, has been that reading it is like entering the forest, or sitting quietly in a spring garden. One can go to such places through its pages. And in such oases one may find one’s own self more confidently emerging in peace and ease.
So, because I feel so strongly about the book, and because I feel that its full audience awaits yet to discover it, I’m going to offer the Kindle version of the book for the lowest price that Amazon will permit. Gathered Rain, the Kindle version, is now available for $0.99. If I could give it for free, I would do so.
Please consider Gathered Rain for yourself, or for loved ones, while shopping this Christmas Season. If you enjoy being in the natural world and breathing its refreshing scents, or lingering by the rush of a forest stream, but don’t often get that experience for yourself, Gathered Rain is the next best thing. If you spend a lot of time in such wonderful places, it can be a great companion in the experience.
If you wish to visit my book’s page on Goodreads, please do so and read or make comments, and if you’d like, please participate in my “Ask the Author” section because the subject matter in this book is near and dear to me and I think we could have a good time talking about it.