"Of course, even when you see the world as a trap and posit a fundamental separation between liberation of self and transformation of society, you can still feel a compassionate impulse to help its suffering beings. In that case you tend to view the personal and the political in a sequential fashion. "I'll get enlightened first, and then I'll engage in social action." Those who are not engaged in spiritual pursuits put it differently: "I'll get my head straight first, I'll get psychoanalyzed, I'll overcome my inhibitions or neuroses or my hang-ups (whatever description you give to samsara) and then I'll wade into the fray." Presupposing that world and self are essentially separate, they imagine they can heal one before healing the other. This stance conveys the impression that human consciousness inhabits some haven, or locker-room, independent of the collective situation - and then trots onto the playing field when it is geared up and ready.
It is my experience that the world itself has a role to play in our liberation. Its very pressures, pains, and risks can wake us up - release us from the bonds of ego and guide us home to our vast, true nature. For some of us, our love of the world is so passionate that we cannot ask it to wait until we are enlightened." - Joanna Macy World as Lover, World as Self
I dove in at the end of the sixties, after an exile of two years to get my head straight. When I came back I became a dope dealer, among other things, and I was conscious that doing that was a revolutionary act that stressed the system as it stood in more than one way. That is how we thought in those days, and though it is no longer true mainly because the money was too good and attracted the wrong folk, it was true enough then. That is not only what I did, nor what others close to me did. We really were subversive. In the end we were our own enemy though, and the best of us got out and did other things of note, like Stewart Brand did and so many others, and like some of the musicians did too.
Through changes beyond my control, this thing slipped through my fingers. I tried one more time here in Oregon, coming at it from a radically different direction but I was drinking too much and other obstructions were involved. In the end, I just kept going further away from that energy, in acceptance that it was no longer my path if it ever was. This is one of the heartbreaks of my life.
Now I am only interested in those matters that concern people who are old but awake. It is what I do here.
It Passes So Quickly
I can't help thinking how spring is gone now, summer's half over, my life more than half over. Fall is my season these days.
Spring vitality, such grand bright tensions, like birds on lookout, this fades to white summer heat and from there to dry fall colors, the reds and golds, with a hint of cold.
Some years ago my poetry took on a mythic flavor and I became a character in my own poems, a mage, "the man of the Northern Wall". This apellation is not completely fictional. My middle name is Noordwal, a Dutch term for north wall, though in current Dutch it mainly means north bank as in riverbank. I was told that an ancestor, a Portugese Jew escaping the Inquisition, settled in a small Dutch town and took this name from where he settled, near the north wall of the town. I have thought for a long time that -wal meant wall, think my mother told me that. A linguist might say that my usage is no longer common, is an older usage, but then the Inquisition happened in Portugal a few centuries ago, right around the time the Moors lost control of the Iberian Peninsula and the Jews lost the modest protection given them by Islam. Now I write as this mage, my poetry persona.