Sunday, February 15, 2009

Elevated Position, House Of Slaughter

I come from arrogant stock. I was given that directly by a boss many years ago who reviewed me, told me I was pissing his crew off even though I was qualified to say the things I said. I was a design group leader and had earned my position by my experience. But I was getting the team close to rebelling against me and my boss pointed out I wasn't so well placed as all that. He called me arrogant. It was true but so foreign a concept to me that I could hardly understand. I was just crushed, almost quit over it. I do shame really well and work hard to never put myself into a shameful position undefended, but this time I had stepped in it unconsciously.

I know through and through that I suffer from the delusion that if only I know it all I can save myself. I also know that self knowledge is virtually useless in most cases of salvation. There is a big difference between delusion and actual power. Knowledge is power, it is said, and that is true but if there are delusions present the chances of dismay and disaster rise to intolerable levels.

Humility is essential. Humility means being right sized, someone said that. Here is a poem about resentment.

Elevated Position

How can you be so?
Rude is what you are to me!
You give me answers
As if I asked those questions!
As if I don't know what's what!
As if I'm not king
And you're not a commoner.
As if I'm still lost.


Life eats life. There is no getting past this. Not at our place in the food chain. There are critters on the planet, really small and hugely numerous that feed on raw materials that are not alive as we normally think of alive, or nearly so, but they are at a distant place in the web of life. I am radical about this. Where I see life I also see sentience. I suspect the whole universe of being alive in some sense that we haven't seen yet, that there is a within or center to things that lies very deep along a hidden line, that the difference between living matter and inert matter is a kind of emergence of sentience along this line. Just my opinion. But I am indeed committed to a spiritual life that includes that kind of thinking. In that case life even eats the deep life potential found deep within an inert material.

Notice please that I tried to avoid hierarchical words about the food chain, and I am serious about that too, ever since I read the ethologists like Loren Eisely and Lewis Thomas who have been careful to point out that the human viewpoint on things may contain delusion in it, what my dad was fond of calling the illusion of central position. In many living systems hierarchy and levels of control are strategies. This is far from actually calling the web of life itself hierarchical and better trained people than me question the assumption natural to us that we are at the top. Instead perhaps we are off to the side ;) Hmmmm. Arrogance again. Who wears the crown of creation?

This House Of Slaughter

It's in the middle
Of nowhere, reeking of death
After all these years.
Cruelty feeds us all, yes.
Make peace here, now if you can.
This house of slaughter
Made the best beef steaks nearby
Juicy, full flavored.

The herds remember.
I was driven to slaughter
In a former life,
So I remember.


  1. Thanks for the insights, Christopher.
    For me, knowledge will eventually reveal that everything is inherent in everything.

  2. I hold similar beliefs about the sentience of everything and our place in the order of things.

    If you're a sci-fi fan, Sherri S. Tepper has some good stories that reflect the same. Great ethical questions she asks.

  3. Karen it is a question for me of getting along in the web of life, not so much an ethic, or at least for me if it is ethical then it doesn't lead to anything pious or any measure of goodness so much as it makes possible a maintenance of an open heart.

    I have noticed that I will die of my heart closing off.

    It is a matter of spiritual survival.

    I take my direction in some sense from the variety of cultures that know this about the planet: I have to eat. Life feeds on life. This burdens my soul. I am then called to redress that imbalance by how I live. There is no release from this burden but a daily maintenance.

    I am aware that this is complete bullshit from certain perspectives. I am sorry that I do not please everyone, have learned I cannot. I have to answer for myself before God as I understand God.

  4. I am very intrigued by your thoughts on sentience, similar to things I've pondered. If I wasn't so exhausted right now I might have something intelligible to say on the matter. I echo Karen's recommendation of Sheri S. Tepper; she is fabulous.

  5. For me, at least, spiritual survival -- the maintenance of an open heart, as you name it -- is a daily act of the will, a conscious act of trying to be better than my human nature makes me, kinder than I naturally feel, and more appreciative of this world than I have been. Reminding myself that the worth of other beings, no matter where they fall in the "chain" is as much or more than my own helps me find the divine in the world. You're right -- may sound like BS, but it's how I feel.

  6. It is indeed one day at a time and it is not that natural. In Christian terms it is the act of turning the other cheek, okay if it is a kiss, not so okay if it is a blow. But as a recovering alcoholic opening to kiss or blow is the difference between staying in a healthy place or not.

    We learn the hard way in AA and this is what we learn, when the world gets grim it is a matter of opening even more fully. That is because the other more usual defensive strategies lead to disaster for us. That is why I don't feel so much like I am a better person just because I behave better. It all happens under the threat and the lash of alcoholism.

    But I do hunger for the spirit, and I have memories of being in the lap of God, where he once loaned me His eyes. This is the lodestone in my heart.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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