Sunday, June 5, 2011

Eating Prayers - Reprise

"The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust in them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing."

"If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

What utterly true statements. Throughout my high school years, and really before that, the best science fiction and fantasy did precisely this, and so strongly I could not deny my longing. I would look for signs in my life and on my body that I really belonged somewhere else. The conviction I am not from here remains with me today, originally fired by the longing that came from books and my imagination, which "proved" to me that there was an elsewhere to be from, a place where much that plagued me in my life dropped away. I was never so naive as to believe in utopia but at least the challenges elsewhere would be more colorful and meaningful.

Wiki says:
"Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was an Irish-born British novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist. He is well known for his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy.

"Lewis was a close friend of J. R. R. Tolkien, and both authors were leading figures in the English faculty at Oxford University and in the informal Oxford literary group known as the "Inklings". According to his memoir Surprised by Joy, Lewis had been baptised in the Church of Ireland at birth, but fell away from his faith during his adolescence. Owing to the influence of Tolkien and other friends, at the age of 32 Lewis returned to Christianity, becoming "a very ordinary layman of the Church of England". His conversion had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.

"In 1956 he married the American writer Joy Gresham, 17 years his junior, who died four years later of cancer at the age of 45.

"Lewis died three years after his wife, as the result of renal failure. His death came one week before his 65th birthday. Media coverage of his death was minimal, as he died on 22 November 1963 – the same day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the same day another famous author, Aldous Huxley, died."
While I cannot speak for "Jack's" return to Christianity, I can say that one of his visions is arresting for me and I carry it still as one serious description of the human condition. He claimed in his fictional work that planet Earth is under quarantine and placed so by the rest of the cosmos as a planet that is spiritually sick. He said that elsewhere, even as close as Mars, the rebellion fundamental to the human spirit did not take place and so the rest of the cosmos was at peace and reconciled to the real in ways incomprehensible here. We are under quarantine because we would behave as a virulent plague in the larger universe, much as we are doing on the planet. The keepers of the quarantine are containing our self destruction and waiting to see if we survive and then recover sanity enough to be let free.

Doesn't that feel right to you? It does to me. Please understand I don't claim this is "real", just that it really fits well with my experience of the planet.

Eating Prayers

Embodied knowledge-
Never less than two wide views,
Colored vistas, skew.

I swim very well
Among the rocks, wade the bars
Seeking shells of life.

Then I return home,
Brush away the gritty sand
And eat my prayers.

Written October 14, 2008 1:39 PM
First Posted December 29, 2008


  1. someone told me onetime that not all that is "of the spirit" is "of God". humans swim in a spiritual ether so invisible and taken for granted it is often forgotten.... yin and yang... not all Good, but all somehow attractive and beautiful... maybe necessary... probably necessary. it's necessary; paradoxically all "of God".

  2. There is ample room in the spirit realms in my belief for much to not be "of God". In my view, however, this is not a matter of rebellion, opposition, nor of confrontation but rather of contrast as colors or musical tones contrast and harmonize. I do not mean to say that rebellion, opposition and confrontation are not present. They are. They are not primary, nor even secondary, and they are a matter of distress by their nature, a condition that seeks healing in that distress, a condition that persists however long it does by investment in it.

    The basic spiritual conditions can very nearly coast, much as rivers can on the way to the sea under right conditions. Spirit rebellions must be attended and encouraged and fed more or less constantly and thus are in turmoil as long as they remain in place.

  3. we might be pointing to the same thing in different languages. i would simply say the tension is the reality... the totality includes the tension.... God, the concept of oneness, omniscience, the creator of All is at once the totality itself and the intention toward that totality. contradictions collapse. the contradiction itself is required for the figure to emerge from ground, and the ground is revealed in the figure. that which is perceived from perspective implies other perspectives, and points toward totalities that must transcend existence itself for existence itself to emerge. mortality suggests the possibility of immortality, though that possibility cannot be comprehended from within our existential bounds. infinity? Christ whatever... it's right over there somewhere, and in here.. that's projecting outward. inward reflections yield the same apparent tensions.... and like de Salzmann's buddy Gurdjieff suggests, we spend a good deal of everyday life in a daze... that might be the most empirically-based new age theosophy around. i was wondering where all the antimatter hangs out. "...Observe without preconceptions, accepting for a time this idea of lying. And if you observe in this way, paying with yourself, without self-pity, giving up all your supposed riches for a moment of reality, perhaps you will suddenly see something you have never before seen in yourself until this day. You will see that you are different from what you think you are. You will see that you are two. One who is not, but takes the place and plays the role of the other. And one who is, yet so weak, so insubstantial, that he no sooner appears than he immediately disappears. He cannot endure lies. The least lie makes him faint away. He does not struggle, he does not resist, he is defeated in advance. Learn to look until you have seen the difference between your two natures, until you have seen the lies, the deception in yourself. When you have seen your two natures, that day, in yourself, the truth will be born." Jeanne de Salzmann bracket the lies we tell ourselves and the truth will certainly appear. bracket judgement, and appears the hand of God even in a demon manifest. We've all got wheels.

  4. Ghost I have felt you and I are not far apart in the really essential ways. I am not surprised to find that we use different words, also not surprised that we point to the same spirit realm.

    I should say that I would not go all the way to "lie" as Gurdjieff did. He liked to shock and offend much like some zen masters like to strike their charges. This because the act of waking up is for him more important than the truth itself.

    Science says that if there is antimatter in any appreciable amount it is a long way away or else has been annihilated long ago. The thing about antimatter, viewed from a distance in large galactic clumps, it would be indistinguishable from regular matter. We might be looking at it in current photos of the furthest galaxies and not be able to tell it. However it is more likely that all large accumulations were long ago destroyed. I believe that is the consensus among the main stream science guys.

  5. so maybe their was a battle in heaven and the antimatter was exiled or vanquished by God's Angels to protect creation, and they still stand guard at the gates of hell to contain Satan's power. Red Dirt Girl

  6. christopher, i love your poem. it feels naked to me.

    i'm not sure about the other planets but it does feel as though we are in some sort of quarantine but rather than waiting for the perfect end, solution, or remedy, i think that this sickness is the point of life. i think this sickness is the denseness of all expanded outward, as though it might be impossible for us to live within the denseness and so instead we become an open field of all. so open we become disparate. this is where our sickness lives. good is too far from evil, light from dark, even though it is only minutely away. i can see it almost now, not two dimensional, but mulit-dimensional, like a metal sphere opened up and torqued upon itself.

    i often look at this body and wonder at the marriage of me and it, feel i wasn't quite given the right one, or perhaps i am used to another, not to suggest reincarnation of me, this ego, but that my energy has resided in something quite different for a much longer time. and so i wonder why is it that i do not play music. perhaps at one time i was a solitary note from a trumpet sung deep beneath the earth. the note moved up and out like a flower. it didn't need plucking. it had no roots.


  7. "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."

    — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

    love this one


  8. Thanks for Emmy Lou, Ghost. The Guardians have figured in my vision of the spirit lands ever since I read the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and much in that same manner. They are however within me far more than they are out in the world somewhere, inner beings, holders of the quarantine in my soul who keep me at home because I am so not ready to roam.

  9. I don't even think, Erin, that CS Lewis actually believed his story of quarantine except as a good story. He was very deeply Christian and spent much of his writing life as an apologist for the mainstream Christian story. He was more interested in explaining how Christian mythology takes precedence over all others. In service to that he would tell all kinds of helpful stories like this one trying to explain why humans are in the Christian soup, as creatures of rebellion, why they are excluded from the garden of their birthright.

    I am far more like you. I say there is a sour note like rebellion or something in the heart but that heart is the heart of everything and this state of things is essential, providing the imbalance, the energy of imbalance, that drives the whole of creation. Thus feelings of bewilderment, disappointment and grief rise and descend along the whole line of things along with rapture and joy. It is to this effect that artists will do homage at times by deliberately leaving flaws in their work as I am told is a feature of Navaho rugs.

    Thus in the largest view I can never really be Christian because the core need for salvation is removed in any unique way from the human soul and placed in the heart of the world (if it is anywhere) and my salvific view is more like the Bodhisattva view of Mahayana Buddhism.

    Erin, I love it when you bite down with a good strong jaws like this. I often wonder what it would be like to have an evening in your house and get going on one of these dances of the mind and heart.

    If you were ever to disappear from the blog world I would miss you most of all I think.

  10. i like erin too christopher. you should keep her here with more kewl poetry and stuff. i wish i had a body. not much of a spirit either. more like a stray electron, or some other strangely modulating radioactivity of some sort. well, we all work with whatever we turned up with...fujiyama mama

  11. I like you too Ghost. My problem though, it is tough to be at all erotic with a ghost and without the erotic my love is crippled severely. I allow you to be the pale modulated radioactivity you claim and I am devoted to you as best I can be but as a stray electron, I am sure you recognize the conundrum. Certain trained quantum mechanics claim there is only one electron based on the simple fact there is no way to prove that there is more than one electron. We just assume the countless number of them.

    However now that electrons are thought to be formed of a pair of quarks, their individuality is slightly less fuzzy.

    There is hope for you yet. Come in, lay back, let me serve you lemonade. I have lots of lemonade around lately.

  12. You guys have put me over the top today. The gratitude in my heart is beyond my capacity to contain. I am leaking, leaking.

    What wonderful friends. What an amazing thing this internet is.


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