Saturday, March 28, 2009

Not Yet Ready, If You Meet Him On The Road

Here are two poems about human nature. The Taoist vision is of Man between Heaven and Earth. Man looks to heaven with feet planted firmly. That is his ideal state, and so this Taoist trinity is the first, most fundamental one. Divinity (Yin) beneath and divinity (Yang) above. In the middle, in balance within the forces, man rides the ebb and flow of things.

It is said, even when they soar heavenward, the highest birds still look back to Earth from which they come, to which they return. Only Man looks to Heaven in the Divine Way that he does.

Not to rise, nor to descend, but to remain poised in the balance, because it is necessary, that is the fulfillment of the triune nature of the cosmos. Hence the Chinese called their land the Middle Kingdom. That our position betwixt and between is actually in itself divine is a very strong draw for me to the Taoist world view. It would be a reply to the Christian world view of the journey of the elect to another kingdom, the Kingdom of God, except that this Taoist view is so much older than the Christian view. In both views there is much to do and a balky human nature to deal with in the doing.

Notice, I said the position we best fit in is Divine. Man in His true place is Divine. I did not say that we here now are Divine.

In this context, I offer

Not Yet Ready

Sometimes I look at
The wide blue sky and feel my
Toes curl, grow long claws.
I know I must sink
My claws into the prairie earth
So deep, lock so tight
That this whirling world
Will not throw me off headlong
Into some unplanned
Future. My soul knows me well.
I am not ready to go.

-written Dec 17-

I have a little problem with authority. The bumper sticker, years old, was made for me: Question Authority

There is an old Buddhist saying that comes from the heart of the teaching. Most of that saying is the title of this poem and the poem is a story that describes the last two words of the title. This also I like very much. Buddhism insists that in the most basic analysis, I am to be my own authority even to this point, that before I actually achieve my highest potential, I will have to kill all residual forms of devotion to any master or any belief, any dogma and any rule, because they will at the last be hindrances. They will stand in my way.

Thus, even though I must accept guidance and community along my way, because there is utterly no hope of my journey's success without that, and even though because I must accept guidance and community, there must be authorities, I am called also to remember that these are all TEMPORARY and they cannot take dogmatic position in my life if my journey is truly spiritual. If I meet the Buddha on the road, at the last I must kill him.

This is the spiritualizing of a human shortcoming. The shortcoming is a failure in the maturation of the adolescent in us all. It is natural for adolescents to rebel against authority. In the spirit life this rebelliousness transforms rather than disappears. That is the point. To outgrow adolescent rebelliousness as most societies prefer is to lose something divine. But to stay in that rebellion is to fall far short of the divine. To transform adolescent rebelliousness first into self-actualized but other centered living, and then to lift that into the spirit realms is the purpose of all true religion. If that path is lacking, if the religion cannot act as the mother does letting the adolescent go into adulthood, letting the child truly go, letting the spiritual traveler move beyond the childhood home, then it cannot be a true religion.

We tend to not understand.

If You Meet Him On The Road

Why is it like this?
I see some serious man
Have his earnest say,
Speak as deeply as
He knows, perhaps deeper than
I ever would go,
Demonstrate his grace,
His position in God's world
If not in my own,
And what do I do?
Sling snowballs, or mud
Right between his hazel eyes,
Down his gray suede coat.

-this poem was written in the fifteen minutes following the last poem-


  1. If i knew the language of my soul, and how to write it down like you.
    I could have written those poems today.
    My claws deep into the frozen soil.
    Only barely hanging on.

  2. The days when I am most at peace are those when I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be, regardless of the 'rung' I have achieved.

    The days I am in despair are the days I have forgotten this.

    I love your writings Mr.C

  3. 'I take it personally that time passes. I know I am not the only one to do so. '

    'To outgrow adolescent rebelliousness as most societies prefer is to lose something divine. But to stay in that rebellion is to fall far short of the divine.'

    You make me smile and smile again. I knew these things but didn't know I knew them. Happens time and again.

    I made myself read back on feeds today so I wasn't tempted to read all your comment threads too. If I do that I never get finished!

  4. I agree with Michelle- you certainly have a way with words xx

  5. "I know I must sink
    My claws into the prairie earth
    So deep, lock so tight
    That this whirling world
    Will not throw me off headlong"

    You say it so eloquently, that need to hold on.

  6. I loved reading your words. The only thing that spoilt such for me though,was the use of 'caps' at the beginning of each line. Kinda stopped the lovely flow through.But as I say, your words are beautiful; you.

  7. You must do what you do and feel comfortable with, in your own skin. It is just a pet peeve of mine, like 'i' instead of 'I' in Poetry. Ha! I bet you are regreting me walking across your page now!

  8. Oh my goodness, Christopher, that second poem describes my son so perfectly! He too has a huge problem with authority. And he is an incorrigible mud-slinger, rock-slinger, snowball-slinger. Damn...

  9. Haha! Sarah, I have just fixed the 'i's in the poem I brought forward today. Funny you said that. I have an ambivalence about it, but not an outright dislike.

    Caps at the beginning of each line I don't even notice, unless it's in my own work, and then it bugs me because it's the word processor putting those caps there not me! Control issue I think... ;)

  10. j-I think you do know the language of your soul, it's that you have picked up so many other words that the noise is high.

    M-Of course, and remembering not to forget :) is one of the trickier tasks. I have such a good forgetter.

    Lu-I talk and write far too much. But my friends help :)

    Li-I have been raping the language for a while now :)

    K-I wonder if that is a good trait. The best directions my life has taken came from letting go and letting the world fling me.

    S-I don't mind a bit. You will never catch me with a lowercase i referring to anyone. All my personalities agree with that. What people think of my forms is none of my business. What people think of my beliefs is even less. But its true, oh Lord, I do love a well thought out compliment.

  11. Rachel, I hope that I have changed the way you look at all that with your son. Your son is very close to divinity to be in that spot. Root for coming of age in some way that embraces all that spunk. God does. It is risky business though, not the safe track at all. So pray yer ass off! That possibly could help him, and it will certainly get you through the night after night after night. :)

  12. Christopher, I don't think you've changed the way I look at it at all. I appreciate him for who he is, and I'm glad he has a skeptical mind, especially when it comes to power and authority. From the beginning, I've tried to teach him to communicate that skepticism as respectfully as possible, and only when necessary. Some thoughts are for thinking, but not for speaking out loud, at least not in the moment. We'll see how it all plays out, in the end... he's only in grade 5 now!

  13. "Toes curl, grow long claws.
    I know I must sink
    My claws into the prairie earth
    So deep, lock so tight
    That this whirling world
    Will not throw me off headlong....."

    it's exactly the same for me with the "claws" thing only different.  it isn't the earth causing the dizzying momentum..... i'm sure my precarious quasi-existential condition produces only a minor variation on your theme however.

  14. Ghost, of course you of all people would get the almost not here thing, the if I don't keep a sort of simple discipline about all this then I would be headed off who knows where sort of thing. Oh yes my fine quasi-ectoplasmic friend, I expect without knowing it I wrote those lines just for you. Because I love you.

  15. I love both of these poems, but the first packs a powerful punch.

  16. Jonnia, Welcome and thank you for saying so.


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

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