Monday, September 27, 2010

It Passes So Quickly

"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.

I shan't look beyond.

July 20, 2009 12:40 PM


  1. This reminds me of Shakespeare's Sonnet 73: "That time of year thou may'st in me behold".

    Of course, that's a meditation on love - "this thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong..."

    Indeed, as he said, we shall "leave ere long."

    You have great structure here, Christopher - movement and time.

  2. As The Sun Rises

    I am never far,
    not from love, nor from the heat
    of it, not from you
    nor your very truth
    as I found it once and laid
    hold of my blessing -
    all rapt as I am
    in the meaning of your gaze
    as you touch my heart.

    This is my call, love,
    my unfolding in your song,
    your song of this day.

  3. Are you saying you are only concerned with the enlightened? Those older, further along their journey? I'm not sure. I might be reading wrong.

    The other day a young girl told me of her frustration with life and death. On the one hand, it made me antsy. On the other hand, she reminded me of a younger me. On yet another hand, it was a like a small bolt of electricity that moved me three steps back without seeing the movement take place at all. I got to see myself a little more clearly.

    I have to keep telling myself to look around me, lessons come in the most peculiar of packages.


  4. Erin you are not reading wrong. That is what the words say, and what they mean is precisely that I am concerned with matters that concern awake people. However, you may remember that within that concern is something I call the Bodhisattva ideal which basically states that we either all go or we don't. My path could mean that I choose to aspire to the Theravada excellence in which case I would be very close to how you call it, me being only interested in what betters my walk along the path. But most of Buddhism is Mahayana and I am too in this sense.

    It is like AA teaches, "you can't keep it unless you give it away". On pain of my own falling short, I must remain in the trenches and practice generosity, kindness and compassion as much as I have the courage for it.

    So I am interested in many people, most of whom teach me little of my path but alter me much in so many other terms, including generosity, kindness and compassion. And these turn about and apply to my path even though they are not lessons.

    Do not make the mistake of thinking everything is a teaching. If that stays true, it is one clear signal of not much progress. In the end, most of the worldly things are tempering devices, not teaching devices. The world is still essential but your actual learning takes place in a different venue.

  5. hum....thinking and considering. of course, always questioning. I'll mull this over some more. My gut reaction is that can't everything be a teaching device if you accept it that way, but perhaps they deflect me from my purpose? thinking. considering. listening.

    ha! Am I learning?


  6. "you can't keep it unless you give it away"

    And love is the one area where this applies more than any other...

  7. Erin, you presume that there is always more to learn along certain lines and that is not always true. However, there is no end to the variety of lines. In this sense there is always more to learn.

    The ten thousandth time you do the dishes, you will be, I hope, simply doing the dishes. If there is still something to learn in the dishes, there is something damaged in you. The duration of the practice in washing dishes is the tempering of it. The lessons if there be any will be inside of you and possible to reach in other ways.

    You will be doing dishes in spite of there being no lesson inherent in them.

  8. Jinsky, you are right about that. This is a phrase used in AA and we mean that about staying sober. And we say, there is no greater love than the love of one drunk for another. Without that, there is usually no sobriety possible.


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

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