Sunday, March 16, 2003
Gems from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj's Conversations
"Whenever love is withheld and suffering allowed to spread, war becomes
inevitable. Our indifference to our neighbor's sorrow brings suffering to
our door."HIGHLIGHTS Issue #1373Sunday, March 16, 2003Editor: Gloria Lee
THE MAN WATCHING
I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
So many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
That a storm is coming,
And I hear the far-off fields say things
I can't bear without a friend,
I can't love without a sister.
The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on
Across the woods and across time,
And the world looks as if it had no age;
The landscape, like a line in the psalm book,
Is seriousness and weight and eternity.
What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights with us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
As things do by some immense storm,
We would become strong too, and not need names.
When we win it's with small things,
And the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
Does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
To the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
When the wrestlers' sinews
Grew long like metal strings,
He felt them under his fingers
Like chords of deep music.
Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
Went away proud and strengthened
And great from that harsh hand,
That kneaded him as if to changes his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
By constantly greater beings.
--Rilke (trans by Robert Bly)
William Blake's "Elohim Creating Adam"
Long life—--The wild pines want it too.
Passion's red thread is infinite
like the earth,
always under me.
Now I'm 70.
Looking up every night,
and snapping my fingers at time and the promise of love.
Listen! I'd like to give you something.
But what would help?
Self, other, right, wrong,
wasting your life arguing with it.
Face it! You're happy!
How many times do I have to say it?
There is no way not to be who you are, and where.
Thanks to Mazie Lane
But obviously what Blake meant by art is something far more inclusive and humanly significant than what even the most rabid aesthete in our present culture would mean. In Blake's work art is not merely the embellishment of the things of life but the very energy of life itself. Everything that is life-enhancing, life-furthering, and life-expanding partakes of art, and man's primary duty is to nourish this basic life force. In fact, it could be said that the life force is by nature aesthetic, that is, life-enhancing, whereas that which opposes it is anesthetic, inhibitory and promising of death.
Furthermore, when a society fails to appreciate the full importance of fostering and nourishing the essentially aesthetic life force, it is only because the anesthetic forces of death have taken over the social imagination.
Death occurs when fear accelerates the drive for power and control, cutting off the self-renewing life forces.
"Art degraded, Imagination denied
War govern'd the Nations."
Or, as Blake wrote in the introduction to "Jerusalem,"
Poetry fetter'd Fetters the Human Race
Nations are Destroy'd or Flourish in proportion as
Their Poetry, Painting and Music are Destroy'd or Flourish:
The primeval state of Man was Wisdom, Art and Science."
Wisdom precedes art as art precedes science. Wisdom is consciousness of being itself; it cannot be qualified, conditioned, or defined, for it is intrinsic to being itself. Art is the reflexive state of wisdom; it is the natural and spontaneous expression of being. Science is the way of materially implementing the reflexive state of wisdom. In awakened human consciousness these three form a unified whole. But in our own time science precedes art, and the practice of art precedes the realization of wisdom; and the three are no longer related as a unified system of knowledge. By Blake's terms, the state we live in is the utter reversal of man's natural state...Image from William Blake's "Jerusalem"~~~~~~~
Final Part, Interview of Whitman Eliot Blake,
Qutb of the Blaketashi Darwishes
Qutb: The Blaketashis are a Sufic expression appropriate to the West. It is not meant to supplant Sufic expressions in the East.
Noor: I hardly think you need worry about that.
Qutb: Exactly my point. A fundamental realization of the Blaketashi is that, first, spiritually-worthy works of other languages lose their effectiveness in translation. And second, that the English and other Western languages contain gems of spiritual instruction, not usually recognized as such.
Noor: Works like the Mathnavi or Attar’s Conference of the Birds lose their effect in translation?
Qutb: Have you ever read The Conference of the Birds in translation? My goodness, I hope the poetry value of the original was a significant improvement on the translation I read! The translation reads like it was assembled by committee, written by some Junior high-school class. Idries Shah talks about how any Arabic word has the same root values as forty-seven other words, and the nest of meaning proceeds through this similarity of root value. All this meaning is lost in translation. Now, talented translators such as Barks and the Helminskis manage to stuff some of the light back into their translations, but is it the same light as the author intended? One wonders.
Noor: But how can this situation be rectified?
Qutb: It is rectified by turning one’s attention from one foot to the other. English contains the equal to the Arab and Persian poets. And it is poetry which is as it was when it left the voice of the poet, without veil.
Noor: Poetry then is important?
Qutb: Poetry operates in the space between mind and spirit, in the dark place which connects us to God. The best poetry is like a Zen koan, and tugs at us in ways we do not understand. The spiritual men and women of all ages have expressed their realization in poetry, because only poetry as overt language has the capacity to convey and even amplify this realization. This is why it is important that the poetry be good poetry, and not simply an adequate translation.
Noor: Who are important Blaketashi poets?
Qutb: Well, of course Blake, who in his Marriage of Heaven and Hell forms the spiritual underpinnings of the entire Blaketashi mode of thought. Then there is Whitman. Ah, Whitman! If they ever do open his grave, he will be found to be incorrupt. TS Eliot. Wordsworth. Emerson. Coleridge on a good day.
Noor: But these are poets. They do not provide spiritual direction.
Qutb: Of course they do. You have never looked at the materials without preconception.
Noor: Can you give me an example?
Qutb: If I might quote from TS Eliot’s Four Quartets
" Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not."
Imagine trying to translate that into Turkish! Do you not see spiritual instruction therein? In truth, an understanding of those lines is adequate to enlightenment.
see http://www.blaketashi.com for other interviews
Thanks to Marcos on SufiMystic for this website
"Unfortunately, although we are in the 21st century, we still have not
been able to get rid of the habit of our older generations. I am talking
about the belief or confidence that we can solve our problems with
arms. It is because of this notion that the world continues to be
dogged by all kinds of problems.
But what can we do? What can we do when big powers have already
made up their minds? All we can do is to pray for a gradual end to the
tradition of wars. Of course, the militaristic tradition may not end
easily. But, let us think of this. If there were bloodshed, people in
positions of power, or those who are responsible, will find safe places;
they will escape the consequent hardship. They will find safety for
themselves, one way or the other. But what about the poor people, the
defenseless people, the children, the old and infirm. They are the ones
who will have to bear the brunt of devastation. When weapons are
fired, the result will be death and destruction. Weapons will not
discriminate between the innocent and guilty. A missile, once fired, will
show no respect to the innocent, poor, defenseless, or those worthy of
compassion. Therefore, the real losers will be the poor and
defenseless, ones who are completely innocent, and those who lead a
On the positive side, we now have people volunteer medical care, aid,
and other humanitarian assistance in war-torn regions. This is a
heart-winning development of the modern age.
Okay, now, let us pray that there be no war at all, if possible. However,
if a war does break out, let us pray that there be a minimum
bloodshed and hardship. I don't know whether our prayers will be of
any practical help. But this is all we can do for the moment."
~His Holiness the Dali Lama
From the website http://www.snowlionpub.com
"The above is part of the English translation of His
Holiness the Dalai Lama's statement to the
Buddhist devotees on the first day of the Great
Prayer Festival ,11 March 2003, in Dharamsala".
"It is the knowledge of truth we experience, not the ignorance of
it, that makes us joyful and happy. Experiencing the truth of life
is not accidental, but an occurrence taking place every moment in
our life, although we may never be ready to accept it. As our wisdom
is not sharp enough to welcome the truth of life, we rather look
other way or try to pretend that it does not exist or try to run
away from it. However, it catches us up by surprise. No matter how
hard we try to escape, most certainly, it follows us reminding us of
its presence in us all the time. The wise would be delighted knowing
it and reflecting on it. The knowledge of the truth that all
conditioned things are in a state of flux generates such a deep and
profound experience in him that he equates it with nibbanic
~Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
*An Awkward Comparison*
The physical world has no two things alike,
Every comparison is awkwardly rough.
You can place a lion next to a man,
but the placing is hazardous to both.
Say the body is like this lamp.
It has to have a wick and oil. Sleep and food.
If it doesn't get those, it will die,
and it's always burning those up, trying to die.
But where is the sun in this comparison?
It rises, and the lamp's light
mixes with the day.
which is the reality, cannot be understood
with lamp and sun images. The blurring
of a plural into a unity is wrong.
No image can describe
what of our fathers and mothers,
our grandfathers and grandmothers, remains.
Language does not touch the one
who lives in each of us.
from "Essential Rumi" trans Barks
Thanks to Terry Murphy on SufiMystic