It has shown me that everything is illuminated in the light of the past. It is always along the side of us...on the inside, looking out.
We awaken by asking the right questions. We awaken when we see knowledge being spread that goes against our own personal experiences. We awaken when we see popular opinion being wrong but accepted as being right, and what is right being pushed as being wrong. We awaken by seeking answers in corners that are not popular. And we awaken by turning on the light inside when everything outside feels dark.
I have been finding treasures in places I did not want to search. I have been hearing wisdom from tongues I did not want to listen. I have been finding beauty where I did not want to look. And I have learned so much from journeys I did not want to take. Forgive me, O Gracious One; for I have been closing my ears and eyes for too long. I have learned that miracles are only called miracles because they are often witnessed by only those who can can see through all of life's illusions. I am ready to see what really exists on other side, what exists behind the blinds, and taste all the ugly fruit instead of all that looks right, plump and ripe.
If the Creator stood before a million men with the light of a million lamps, only a few would truly see him because truth is already alive in their hearts. Truth can only be seen by those with truth in them. He who does not have Truth in his heart, will always be blind to it.
Most people live their lives laying prostrate before a false god, waiting for a cue to rise. There are no cues, only decisions. Shall I have dessert? Shall I have the best of the wine? Shall I love the person next to me? They can all be brought to your table. Rise, I say, rise and look within to the truth, to the light, and tell it your decision.
I’m barely human. I’m more like a creature; to me, everything gives off a scent! Thoughts, moments, feelings, movements, words left unsaid, words barely spoken; they all have a distinct sense, distinct fragrances! Both a smell and a touch! To inhale is to capture, to experience! I can perceive and I can “touch” in so many odd ways! And so I am made up of all these scents, all these feelings! An illumination of nerve endings!
Find the light within you through meditation and introspection, and you will illuminate your life from within.
IN THE HANDS OF MANHe who creates a poison, also has the cure.He who creates a virus, also has the antidote.He who creates chaos, also has the ability to create peace.He who sparks hate, also has the ability to transform it to love.He who creates misery, also has the ability to destroy it with kindness.He who creates sadness, also has the ability to to covert it to happiness.He who creates darkness, can also be awakened to produce illumination.He who spreads fear, can also be shaken to spread comfort.Any problems created by the left hand of man,Can also be solved with the right,For he who manifests anything,Also has the ability toDestroy it.
Darkness should never be an excuse to quit, for with God, darkness is the exact stuff that light was built for.
It's where we're nearest to our humanness. Useless knowledge for its own sake. Useful knowledge is good, too, but it's for the faint-hearted, an elaboration of the real thing, which is only to shine some light, it doesn't matter where on what, it's the light itself, against the darkness, it's what's left of God's purpose when you take away God.
If you are really angry, then you must be willing to pay the price of being alone or be remanded for someone else to have their freedom, illumination and justice.
Knowledge without Truth is information without illumination and its all like icing without cake, can be sweet, but it ends up making you sick.
When we illuminate the road back to our ancestors, they have a way of reaching out, of manifesting themselves...sometimes even physically.
As I stumbled into confusion about what was real and what was not, the strangest thing happened: The world disintegrated. Reality collapsed, or my perception of it. It ripped apart like a dry skin under pressure, giving way to something I can only describe as ineffable dimensions, depths upon depths.
Spirituality wants to know and experience higher states of mind and being. It wants to wrestle with angels and look the Creator in the eye.
The idea that I could work wonders as the Lord flutters through my mind like a glamorous butterfly. I hasten to catch it, but it escapes into the depths of my mind.
A kind of northing is what I wish to accomplish, a single-minded trek towards that place where any shutter left open to the zenith at night will record the wheeling of all the sky’s stars as a pattern of perfect, concentric circles. I seek a reduction, a shedding, a sloughing off. At the seashore you often see a shell, or fragment of a shell, that sharp sands and surf have thinned to a wisp. There is no way you can tell what kind of shell it had been, what creature it had housed; it could have been a whelk or a scallop, a cowrie, limpet, or conch. The animal is long since dissolved, and its blood spread and thinned in the general sea. All you hold in your hand is a cool shred of shell, an inch long, pared so thin that it passes a faint pink light. It is an essence, a smooth condensation of the air, a curve. I long for the North where unimpeded winds would hone me to such a pure slip of bone. But I’ll not go northing this year. I’ll stalk that floating pole and frigid air by waiting here. I wait on bridges; I wait, struck, on forest paths and meadow’s fringes, hilltops and banksides, day in and day out, and I receive a southing as a gift. The North washes down the mountains like a waterfall, like a tidal wave, and pours across the valley; it comes to me. It sweetens the persimmons and numbs the last of the crickets and hornets; it fans the flames of the forest maples, bows the meadow’s seeded grasses and pokes it chilling fingers under the leaf litter, thrusting the springtails and the earthworms deeper into the earth. The sun heaves to the south by day, and at night wild Orion emerges looming like the Specter over Dead Man Mountain. Something is already here, and more is coming.
I have often noticed that these things, which obsess me, neither bother nor impress other people even slightly. I am horribly apt to approach some innocent at a gathering, and like the ancient mariner, fix him with a wild, glitt’ring eye and say, “Do you know that in the head of the caterpillar of the ordinary goat moth there are two hundred twenty-eight separate muscles?” The poor wretch flees. I am not making chatter; I mean to change his life.
All at once, something wonderful happened, although at first, it seemed perfectly ordinary. A female goldfinch suddenly hove into view. She lighted weightlessly on the head of a bankside purple thistle and began emptying the seedcase, sowing the air with down. The lighted frame of my window filled. The down rose and spread in all directions, wafting over the dam’s waterfall and wavering between the tulip trunks and into the meadow. It vaulted towards the orchard in a puff; it hovered over the ripening pawpaw fruit and staggered up the steep faced terrace. It jerked, floated, rolled, veered, swayed. The thistle down faltered down toward the cottage and gusted clear to the woods; it rose and entered the shaggy arms of pecans. At last it strayed like snow, blind and sweet, into the pool of the creek upstream, and into the race of the creek over rocks down. It shuddered onto the tips of growing grasses, where it poised, light, still wracked by errant quivers. I was holding my breath. Is this where we live, I thought, in this place in this moment, with the air so light and wild? The same fixity that collapses stars and drives the mantis to devour her mate eased these creatures together before my eyes: the thick adept bill of the goldfinch, and the feathery coded down. How could anything be amiss? If I myself were lighter and frayed, I could ride these small winds, too, taking my chances, for the pleasure of being so purely played. The thistle is part of Adam’s curse. “Cursed is the ground for thy sake, in sorrow shalt thou eat of it; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee.” A terrible curse: But does the goldfinch eat thorny sorrow with the thistle or do I? If this furling air is fallen, then the fall was happy indeed. If this creekside garden is sorrow, then I seek martyrdom. I was weightless; my bones were taut skins blown with buoyant gas; it seemed that if I inhaled too deeply, my shoulders and head would waft off. Alleluia.
Today is the winter solstice. The planet tilts just so to its star, lists and holds circling in a fixed tension between veering and longing, and spins helpless, exalted, in and out of that fleet blazing touch. Last night Orion vaulted and spread all over the sky, pagan and lunatic, his shoulder and knee on fire, his sword three suns at the ready-for what? I won’t see this year again, not again so innocent; and longing wrapped round my throat like a scarf. “For the Heavenly Father desires that we should see,” says Ruysbroeck, “and that is why He is ever saying to our inmost spirit one deep unfathomable word and nothing else.” But what is the word? Is this mystery or coyness? A cast-iron bell hung from the arch of my rib cage; when I stirred, it rang, or it tolled, a long syllable pulsing ripples up my lungs and down the gritty sap inside my bones, and I couldn’t make it out; I felt the voiced vowel like a sigh or a note but I couldn’t catch the consonant that shaped it into sense.
In the forty minutes I watched the muskrat, he never saw me, smelled me, or heard me at all. When he was in full view of course I never moved except to breathe. My eyes would move, too, following his, but he never noticed. Only once, when he was feeding from the opposite bank about eight feet away did he suddenly rise upright, all alert- and then he immediately resumed foraging. But he never knew I was there.I never knew I was there, either. For that forty minutes last night I was as purely sensitive and mute as a photographic plate; I received impressions, but I did not print out captions. My own self-awareness had disappeared; it seems now almost as though, had I been wired to electrodes, my EEG would have been flat. I have done this sort of thing so often that I have lost self-consciousness about moving slowly and halting suddenly. And I have often noticed that even a few minutes of this self-forgetfulness is tremendously invigorating. I wonder if we do not waste most of our energy just by spending every waking minute saying hello to ourselves. Martin Buber quotes an old Hasid master who said, “When you walk across the field with your mind pure and holy, then from all the stones, and all growing things, and all animals, the sparks of their souls come out and cling to you, and then they are purified and become a holy fire in you.
The color-patches of vision part, shift, and reform as I move through space in time. The present is the object of vision, and what I see before me at any given second is a full field of color patches scattered just so. The configuration will never be repeated. Living is moving; time is a live creek bearing changing lights. As I move, or as the world moves around me, the fullness of what I see shatters. “Last forever!” Who hasn’t prayed that prayer? You were lucky to get it in the first place. The present is a freely given canvas. That it is constantly being ripped apart and washed downstream goes without saying; it is a canvas, nevertheless. But there is more to the present than a series of snapshots. We are not merely sensitized film; we have feelings, a memory for information and an eidetic memory for the imagery of our pasts. Our layered consciousness is a tiered track for an unmatched assortment of concentrically wound reels. Each one plays out for all of life its dazzle and blur of translucent shadow-pictures; each one hums at every moment its own secret melody in its own unique key. We tune in and out. But moments are not lost. Time out of mind is time nevertheless, cumulative, informing the present. From even the deepest slumber you wake with a jolt- older, closer to death, and wiser, grateful for breath. But time is the one thing we have been given, and we have been given to time. Time gives us a whirl. We keep waking from a dream we can’t recall, looking around in surprise, and lapsing back, for years on end. All I want to do is stay awake, keep my head up, prop my eyes open, with toothpicks, with trees.
Xerxes, I read, ‘halted his unwieldy army for days that he might contemplate to his satisfaction’ the beauty of a single sycamore. You are Xerxes in Persia. Your army spreads on a vast and arid peneplain…you call to you all your sad captains, and give the order to halt. You have seen the tree with the lights in it, haven’t you? You must have. Xerxes buffeted on a plain, ambition drained in a puff. Your men are bewildered…there is nothing to catch the eye in this flatness, nothing but a hollow, hammering sky, a waste of sedge in the lee of windblown rocks, a meager ribbon of scrub willow tracing a slumbering watercourse…and that sycamore. You saw it; you will stand rapt and mute, exalted, remembering or not remembering over a period of days to shade your head with your robe. “He had its form wrought upon a medal of gold to help him remember it the rest of his life.” We all ought to have a goldsmith following us around. But it goes without saying, doesn’t it, Xerxes, that no gold medal worn around your neck will bring back the glad hour, keep those lights kindled so long as you live, forever present? Pascal saw it; he grabbed pen and paper and scrawled the one word, and wore it sewn in his shirt the rest of his life. I don’t know what Pascal saw. I saw a cedar. Xerxes saw a sycamore.
And under the cicadas, deeper down that the longest taproot, between and beneath the rounded black rocks and slanting slabs of sandstone in the earth, ground water is creeping. Ground water seeps and slides, across and down, across and down, leaking from here to there, minutely at a rate of a mile a year. What a tug of waters goes on! There are flings and pulls in every direction at every moment. The world is a wild wrestle under the grass; earth shall be moved. What else is going on right this minute while ground water creeps under my feet? The galaxy is careening in a slow, muffled widening. If a million solar systems are born every hour, then surely hundreds burst into being as I shift my weight to the other elbow. The sun’s surface is now exploding; other stars implode and vanish, heavy and black, out of sight. Meteorites are arcing to earth invisibly all day long. On the planet, the winds are blowing: the polar easterlies, the westerlies, the northeast and southeast trades. Somewhere, someone under full sail is becalmed, in the horse latitudes, in the doldrums; in the northland, a trapper is maddened, crazed, by the eerie scent of the chinook, the sweater, a wind that can melt two feet of snow in a day. The pampero blows, and the tramontane, and the Boro, sirocco, levanter, mistral. Lick a finger; feel the now. Spring is seeping north, towards me and away from me, at sixteen miles a day. Along estuary banks of tidal rivers all over the world, snails in black clusters like currants are gliding up and down the stems of reed and sedge, migrating every moment with the dip and swing of tides. Behind me, Tinker Mountain is eroding one thousandth of an inch a year. The sharks I saw are roving up and down the coast. If the sharks cease roving, if they still their twist and rest for a moment, they die. They need new water pushed into their gills; they need dance. Somewhere east of me, on another continent, it is sunset, and starlings in breathtaking bands are winding high in the sky to their evening roost. The mantis egg cases are tied to the mock-orange hedge; within each case, within each egg, cells elongate, narrow, and split; cells bubble and curve inward, align, harden or hollow or stretch. And where are you now?
I want to think about trees. Trees have a curious relationship to the subject of the present moment. There are many created things in the universe that outlive us, that outlive the sun, even, but I can’t think about them. I live with trees. There are creatures under our feet, creatures that live over our heads, but trees live quite convincingly in the same filament of air we inhabit, and in addition, they extend impressively in both directions, up and down, shearing rock and fanning air, doing their real business just out of reach.
You are God. You want to make a forest, something to hold the soil, lock up energy, and give off oxygen. Wouldn’t it be simpler just to rough in a slab of chemicals, a green acre of goo? You are a man, a retired railroad worker who makes replicas as a hobby. You decide to make a replica of one tree, the longleaf pine your great-grandfather planted- just a replica- it doesn’t have to work. How are you going to do it? How long do you think you might live, how good is your glue? For one thing, you are going to have to dig a hole and stick your replica trunk halfway to China if you want the thing to stand up. Because you will have to work fairly big; if your replica is too small, you’ll be unable to handle the slender, three-sided needles, affix them in clusters of three in fascicles, and attach those laden fascicles to flexible twigs. The twigs themselves must be covered by “many silvery-white, fringed, long-spreading scales.” Are your pine cones’ scales “thin, flat, rounded at the apex?” When you loose the lashed copper wire trussing the limbs to the trunk, the whole tree collapses like an umbrella. You are a sculptor. You climb a great ladder; you pour grease all over a growing longleaf pine. Next, you build a hollow cylinder around the entire pine…and pour wet plaster over and inside the pine. Now open the walls, split the plaster, saw down the tree, remove it, discard, and your intricate sculpture is ready: this is the shape of part of the air. You are a chloroplast moving in water heaved one hundred feet above ground. Hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen in a ring around magnesium…you are evolution; you have only begun to make trees. You are god- are you tired? Finished?
Shadow is the blue patch where the light doesn’t hit. It is mystery itself, and mystery is the ancients’ ultima Thule, the modern explorer’s Point of Relative Inaccessibility, that boreal point most distant from all known lands. There the twin oceans of beauty and horror meet. The great glaciers are calving. Ice that sifted to earth as snow in the time of Christ shears from the pack with a roar and crumbles to water. It could be that our instruments have not looked deeply enough. The RNA deep in the mantis’s jaw is a beautiful ribbon. Did the crawling Polyphemus moth have in its watery heart one cell, and in that cell one special molecule, and that molecule one hydrogen atom, and round that atom’s nucleus one wild, distant electron that split showed a forest, swaying?
I was in no tent under leaves, sleepless and glad. There was no moon at all; along the world’s coasts the sea tides would be springing strong. The air itself also has lunar tides; I lay still. Could I feel in the air an invisible sweep and surge, and an answering knock in the lungs? Or could I feel the starlight? Every minute on a square mile of this land one ten thousandth of an ounce of starlight spatters to earth. What percentage of an ounce did that make on my eyes and cheeks and arms, tapping and nudging as particles, pulsing and stroking as waves?
It looked as though the leaves of the autumn forest had taken flight, and were pouring down the valley like a waterfall, like a tidal wave, all the leaves of the hardwoods from here to Hudson’s Bay. It was as if the season’s colors were draining away like lifeblood, as if the year were molting and shedding. The year was rolling down, and a vital curve had been reached, the tilt that gives way to headlong rush. And when the monarch butterflies had passed and were gone, the skies were vacant, the air poised. The dark night into which the year was plunging was not a sleep but an awakening, a new and necessary austerity, the sparer climate for which I longed. The shed trees were brittle and still, the creek light and cold, and my spirit holding its breath.
Those people who shoot endless time-lapse films of unfurling roses and tulips have the wrong idea. They should train their cameras instead on the melting of pack ice, the green filling of ponds, the tidal swings…They should film the glaciers of Greenland, some of which creak along at such a fast clip that even the dogs bark at them. They should film the invasion of the southernmost Canadian tundra by the northernmost spruce-fir forest, which is happening right now at the rate of a mile every 10 years. When the last ice sheet receded from the North American continent, the earth rebounded 10 feet. Wouldn’t that have been a sight to see?
Say you could view a time-lapse film of our planet: what would you see? Transparent images moving through light, “an infinite storm of beauty.”The beginning is swaddled in mists, blasted by random blinding flashes. Lava pours and cools; seas boil and flood. Clouds materialize and shift; now you can see the earth’s face through only random patches of clarity. The land shudders and splits, like pack ice rent by a widening lead. Mountains burst up, jutting and dull and soften before your eyes, clothed in forests like felt. The ice rolls up, grinding green land under water forever; the ice rolls back. Forests erupt and disappear like fairy rings. The ice rolls up-mountains are mowed into lakes, land rises wet from the sea like a surfacing whale- the ice rolls back.A blue-green streaks the highest ridges, a yellow-green spreads from the south like a wave up a strand. A red dye seems to leak from the north down the ridges and into the valleys, seeping south; a white follows the red, then yellow-green washes north, then red spreads again, then white, over and over, making patterns of color too swift and intricate to follow. Slow the film. You see dust storms, locusts, floods, in dizzying flash frames. Zero in on a well-watered shore and see smoke from fires drifting. Stone cities rise, spread, and then crumble, like patches of alpine blossoms that flourish for a day an inch above the permafrost, that iced earth no root can suck, and wither in a hour. New cities appear, and rivers sift silt onto their rooftops; more cities emerge and spread in lobes like lichen on rock. The great human figures of history, those intricate, spirited tissues that roamed the earth’s surface, are a wavering blur whose split second in the light was too brief an exposure to yield any images. The great herds of caribou pour into the valleys and trickle back, and pour, a brown fluid. Slow it down more, come closer still. A dot appears, like a flesh-flake. It swells like a balloon; it moves, circles, slows, and vanishes. This is your life.
Last year I had a very unusual experience. I was awake, with my eyes closed, when I had a dream. It was a small dream about time. I was dead, I guess, in deep blank space high up above many white stars. My own consciousness had been disclosed to me, and I was happy. Then I saw far below me a long, curved band of color. As I came closer, I saw that it stretched endlessly in either direction, and I understood that I was seeing all the time of the planet where I had lived. It looked like a woman’s tweed scarf; the longer I studied any one spot, the more dots of color I saw. There was no end to the deepness and variety of dots. At length I started to look for my time, but, although more and more specks of color and deeper and more intricate textures appeared in the fabric, I couldn’t find my time, or any time at all that I recognized as being near my time. I couldn’t make out so much as a pyramid. Yet as I looked at the band of time, all the individual people, I understood with special clarity, were living at that very moment with great emotion, in intricate, detail, in their individual times and places, and they were dying and being replaced by ever more people, one by one, like stitches in which wholly worlds of feeling and energy were wrapped in a never-ending cloth. I remembered suddenly the color and texture of our life as we knew it- these things had been utterly forgotten- and I thought as I searched for it on the limitless band, “that was a good time then, a good time to be living.” And I began to remember our time. I recalled green fields with carrots growing, one by one, in slender rows. Men and women in bright vests and scarves came and pulled the carrots out of the soil and carried them in baskets to shaded kitchens, where they scrubbed them with yellow brushes under running water. I saw white-faced cattle lowing and wading in creeks. I saw May apples in forests, erupting through leaf-strewn paths. Cells on the root hairs of sycamores split and divided, and apples grew spotted and striped in the fall. Mountains kept their cool caves and squirrels raced home to their nests through sunlight and shade. I remembered the ocean, and I seemed to be in the ocean myself, swimming over orange crabs that looked like coral, or off the deep Atlantic banks where whitefish school. Or again I saw the tops of poplars, and the whole sky brushed with clouds in pallid streaks, under which wild ducks flew with outstretched necks, and called, one by one, and flew on. All these things I saw. Scenes grew in depth and sunlit detail before my eyes, and were replaced by ever more scenes, as I remember the life of my time with increasing feeling. At last I saw the earth as a globe in space, and I recalled the ocean’s shape and the form of continents, saying to myself with surprise as I looked at the planet, “yes, that’s how it was then, that part there was called France.” I was filled with the deep affection of nostalgia- and then I opened my eyes. We all ought to be able to conjure up sights like these at will, so that we can keep in mind the scope of texture’s motion in time.
Were the earth as smooth as a ball bearing, it might be beautiful seen from another planet, as the rings of Saturn are. But here we live and move; we wander up and down the banks of the creek, we ride a railway through the Alps, and the landscape shifts and changes. Were the earth smooth, our brains would be smooth as well; we would wake, blink, walk two steps to get the whole picture and lapse into dreamless sleep. Because we are living people, and because we are on the receiving end of beauty, another element necessarily enters the question. The texture of space is a condition of time. Time is the warp and matter the weft of woven texture of beauty in space, and death is the hurtling shuttle… What I want to do, then, is add time to the texture, paint the landscape on an unrolling scroll, and set the giant relief globe spinning on it stand.
Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery. The surface of mystery is not smooth, any more than the planet is smooth; not even a single hydrogen atom is smooth, let alone a pine. Nor does it fit together; not even the chlorophyll and hemoglobin molecules are a perfect match, for, even after the atom of iron replaces the magnesium, long streamers of disparate atoms trail disjointedly from the rims of the molecule’s loops. Freedom cuts both ways. Mystery itself is as fringed and intricate at the shape of the air at times. Forays into mystery cut bays and fine fjords, but the forested mainland itself is implacable both in its bulk and in its most filigreed fringe of detail.
I am sitting here, you are sitting there. Say even that you are sitting across the kitchen table from me right now. Our eyes meet; a consciousness snaps back and forth. What we know, at least for starters, is: here we- so incontrovertibly- are. This is our life, these are our lighted seasons, and then we die. In the meantime, in between time, we can see. The scales are fallen from our eyes, the cataracts are cut away, and we can work at making sense of the color-patches we see in an effort to discover where we so incontrovertibly are. I am as passionately interested in where I am as is a lone sailor sans sextant in a ketch on an open ocean. I have at the moment a situation which allows me to devote considerable hunks of time to seeing what I can see, and trying to piece it together. I’ve learned the name of some color-patches, but not the meanings. I’ve read books; I’ve gathered statistics feverishly: the average temperature of our planet is 57 degrees F…The average size of all living animals, including man, is almost that of a housefly. The earth is mostly granite, which is mostly oxygen…In these Appalachians we have found a coal bed with 120 seams, meaning 120 forests that just happened to fall into water…I would like to see it all, to understand it, but I must start somewhere, so I try to deal with the giant water bug in Tinker Creek and the flight of three hundred redwings from an Osage orange and let those who dare worry about the birthrate and population explosion among solar systems. So I think about the valley. And it occurs to me more and more that everything I have seen is wholly gratuitous. The giant water bug’s predations, the frog’s croak, the tree with the lights in it are not in any real sense necessary per se to the world or its creator. Nor am I. The creation in the first place, being itself, is the only necessity for which I would die, and I shall. The point about that being, as I know it here and see it, is that as I think about it, it accumulates in my mind as an extravagance of minutiae. The sheer fringe and network of detail assumes primary importance. That there are so many details seems to be the most important and visible fact about creation. If you can’t see the forest for the trees, then look at the trees; when you’ve looked at enough trees, you’ve seen a forest, you’ve got it. If the world is gratuitous, then the fringe of a goldfish’s fin is a million times more so. The first question- the one crucial one- of the creation of the universe and the existence of something as a sign and an affront to nothing is a blank one…The old Kabbalistic phrase is “the Mystery of the Splintering of the Vessels.” The words refer to the shrinking or imprisonment of essences within the various husk-covered forms of emanation or time. The Vessels splintered and solar systems spun; ciliated rotifers whirled in still water, and newts laid tracks in the silt-bottomed creek. Not only did the Vessels splinter; they splintered exceeding fine. Intricacy then is the subject, the intricacy of the created world.