Thursday, November 10, 2011

Open Wider - Reprise

Material first posted November 25, 2008, edited for posting tonight.

Each moment is new. There is a real sense in which the entire whole (holy) thing is created entirely in each instant. This is true of experience in the way the brain works (there are intervals of duration which are too fast, can't be experienced, and so our apprehension of things is literally more like movie frames than we think) with the smooth flow of things a filling in of the gaps. I happen to believe that this is merely a mirror of the cosmic process, though the gapping is very small and quick. I believe that quantum mechanics basically forces this view. It makes a kind of quantum "sense" to know that I am brand new this moment.

Open Wider

Where am I? Empty.
Stripped of form in the holy,
What is left can't hold.

I shall not shut down, not now.
Open wider if I can - yes.

When I return, I'll sing.
I'll step easy in gardens,
And I'll remember.

This poem deals with a notion of spiritual life that is actually echoed in at least some of the martial arts. If life is too big, the spirit too warm, the light too bright, the adversary too severe, the pain too intense, then open wider. If I have opened myself wider I have given somewhere for the encounter to go. So don't hold back. This is counter-intuitive in general, though perhaps not to experienced mothers in the middle of giving birth.


  1. it speaks to acceptance, doesn't it, christopher, and when we let go, when we open, the tension dissolves. it is the tension that causes pain.


  2. Erin, there are several images that work on this point and they all make nuanced sense. It is the tension you say. It is the rebellion or the refusal. It is the resistance. It is the ignorance of the situation. It is the willfulness. It is the self-centeredness. It is our illusions in particular, illusion in general. It is sin.

    There are surely more ways to say it and all have the other source of our pain involved - that we are genuinely in charge of steering our way through things whether we like it or not, whether we are qualified or not, whether we would choose our fate or not. It is in fact doubtful that we ever can be qualified to choose well because we cannot usefully predict the future well enough.

    It is probably dangerous to insist on one word answers, to insist on anything when there are at least three points of order to our situation, where we are in the scheme of things, how we see or don't see, and how we form opinions. There are simply too many points to consider, always at least one more than we can hold simultaneously at any moment.

    Letting go cannot seriously involve willfully refusing to consider things as best we can but must involve avoiding our tendency to over confidence when our condition is so complex beyond our capacity to understand.


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

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