Monday, May 30, 2011


What the most fully realized human beings realize most fully is that loving kindness performed toward all others is what human beings must do in order to be happy and to promote peaceful well-being in the world.

Such loving kindness is the one true source of happiness and light; without it comes darkness and despair, resentment and revenge.

One learns loving kindness by receiving it as a gift from others, from parents and early caregivers in particular, a gift one learns in turn to give happily to others.


Sunday, May 29, 2011


To think that life is not felicitous,
Infused, that is, with happy accidents,
But random or, what’s worse, is ominous,
Is to ignore compelling evidence:

For instances of synchronicity
Occur in every human life, although
Unless you’re properly prepared to see
The evidence, it coyly will not show.

The requisite is trust, if not belief,
A willingness to transcend skeptic doubt
And recognize a meaningful motif
Revealing what your life is all about.

     Just as in reading fiction you suspend
     Your disbelief, so shall you know your end.


Saturday, May 28, 2011


I never have, in decades now since when
I felt that sacred light, known it again
Except as faded afterglow, still warm,
Though then, a kind of mystic lightning storm
Sweeping me to a transcendental peak
I would from then forever after seek.

It was a light of knowing, not of sight:
I gained no perfect view of wrong or right,
But yet a visionary ecstasy
Revealed that Cosmic Love was certainty.

I felt exalted in that knowledge, calm
And clear, enraptured in a holy balm,
The vestiges of which even now endure,
Enticing me to seek, a holy lure.


Friday, May 27, 2011


A minor poet he was doomed to be,
Who never rose to ode or elegy,
And even less assayed the epic mode
But meekly minced about while great ones strode.

Some trifling lines he’d knock off when the mood
Befell him in a careless attitude,
But longer than a sonnet proved a strain
More than his feeble musing could sustain.

Too easily distracted, scatter-brained,
He blamed his fate on others and complained
That life intruded on his art too much,
Making him lose his focus and his touch.

     Now what became of him we’ll never know,
     For only those who rise stay here below.


Thursday, May 26, 2011


A phrase like that—“making up one’s mind”—suggests many activities, from the cosmetic (putting on make-up) to the structural (building it tall), as well as the fictive (something made up, contrived, imagined).  But it also suggests deliberation and deciding among alternative possibilities.

We use the word mind in many ways, such as:

•    “I’m of a mind to go to the bookstore” (intention)
•    “Do you mind if I go along with you?” (objection)
•    “Why don’t you mind your own business?” (attention)
•    “Oh, never mind!” (consternation)

What, then, is this mind that can be depicted so variously?

Let’s look at it this way: the human mind, or human mentality, is unique to our species and is our most distinguishing feature: our kind and degree of consciousness and self-consciousness.  No other earthly creature shares our scope and facility of thought, and our collective mental capacities have evolved throughout our history enhanced by our technologies, from languages to implements, including mathematics and computers.

Since growing mentally seems to be our destiny, how then should we go about that business most effectively?  How do we make our minds, individually and generically, into all that they might become?  As the slogan goes: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” 

Implicitly, schools, colleges and universities are devised to develop growing minds by imparting knowledge, developing skills and refining mental functionality.  Ideally, at the end of such a process one will have developed a beautiful mind: capacious, varied, flexible, discerning, nimble and noble, among other excellent qualities—and one will be set upon a life-long course of mental self-enhancement, since the refinement of mind never ends, and nothing is more important.

Perhaps a capstone course for college undergraduates should be called “Great Minds.”  It would present a gallery of exemplars of the most refined mental accomplishments of all kinds, taught with particular emphasis on discerning what new mental functioning or capacity each of these Greats has introduced into the world.  The main aim of such a course would be to urge students to recognize that they have malleable minds of their own, which it will be their life-long duty to continue developing and refining, an obligation entailed by the privilege they’ve enjoyed of pursuing a liberal education—one meant to liberate their minds to become the most they can make of them.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011


An exercise in synchronicity,
A sonnet is fortuitous in form,
Allowing me to pick judiciously
From sundry thoughts and notions all a-swarm.

The dither in my brain aligns somehow
When disciplined by an iambic beat,
And words, like bricks cemented with a trowel,
Lie in a row of neatly measured feet.

When nothing further comes to mind, a turn
Demanded by the pattern prompts new thought,
Another vantage from which I discern
The destined end I hadn’t known I’d sought.

     There’s magic in the web of such a verse
     That charms the randomness of Chaos’ curse.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The only one I know who’s absolute
About what’s what and what the future brings
And whom I have no power to refute
Is patient with my clueless wanderings.

She cuts my hair, so every month or so
She has my ear and shares her firm belief
In how Jehovah rules all here below
Saving the faithful from eternal grief.

Agnostic questioning and rational doubt
Cannot compete with perfect certainty
In knowing what Divinity’s about:
Our life in Paradise eternally.

     With time I’ve learned it’s futile to debate
     A story with an ending that’s so great.


Monday, May 23, 2011


Two modes I know are Pressing On Ahead
Or Flying Off to somewhere else instead.

The one’s a trudge that duty binds me to;
The other’s what my soul would rather do—
Take flight in fancy to imagined skies
In hopes to grow elated, bright and wise.

This must be why we have two brains per head:
Without the prudent one we’d soon be dead;
And yet without the other we’d not rise
To find what heights a soul can realize.


Sunday, May 22, 2011


The Rapture didn’t happen after all.
Its long-awaited date’s now come and gone,
And nothing happened that might so appall
The world as that—and here again comes dawn.

Oblivious birds are summoning the sun;
Their varied songs and chitters fill the air
Pronouncing there’s been no Oblivion—
Let sleeping life come forth from nest and lair,
Enraptured by vitality, not death.

In time perhaps the vital spark will fade
On Earth, with air no longer fit for breath,
But our experience has now displayed
The Universe makes life and consciousness,
A feat transcending merely Earth’s success.


Saturday, May 21, 2011


And you thought motiveless malignity
Was Shakespeare’s turf, Iago above all:
“I look down at his feet . . . but that’s a fable”;
Now: “What did you expect to see here—horns?”
Pure psychopath, and able to recruit
Like-minded dupes to carry out his schemes
With such finesse that Nietzsche would approve
Them all beyond the pale of good and evil.
Not even dead Osama fit the mold
Of Red John’s clever, cold atrocities,
Performed with wry delight, malicious wit,
For reasons no one now will ever know.
The mystery of iniquity remains
Locked in the crypt of psychopathic brains.


Friday, May 20, 2011


I’d need a better memory than I own
To sum up my accounts of bygone days,
Yet it’s not deeds I’ve done but how I’ve grown,
What I’ve become, that I should now appraise.

The metaphor of taking stock is too
Material; I’m no commodity
For measuring and weighing, so in lieu
Of that, I’ll estimate my quality.

Or, more appropriately, I’ll leave to you
And others who have seen the evidence,
Observing how I live and what I do,
To chasten me or come to my defense.

     How certain can you be that my next choice
     Will cause you to despair or to rejoice?


Monday, May 16, 2011


Because of our unique capacity among species to conceive of ideals of behavior and to set aspirational goals for ourselves, we are also the only culpable species, able to fall short of what we aspire to be, inevitably.

Hence, no other species can feel guilt and remorse, the stings of conscience, the consequence of our self-consciousness as Homo sapiens sapiens, aware of our own awareness and thus of our fallability.


Sunday, May 15, 2011


Integrity means wholeness, and the etymology of whole takes us to a root shared by the words well, heal, health, and holy.

Integrity therefore implies a supreme quality in well-functioning human beings, living with inward and outward harmony, in accord with themselves and with all others.

To Christians the paragon of human integrity is Jesus.  To ancient Athenians, Socrates.  To Buddhists, the Buddha.  To Taoists, Lao-tse.  They are saints, sages, holy ones—wholly themselves, fully realized exemplars of integrity.  There are others from all cultures, many of them women, less prominent only because of prejudice in homocentric societies.

The Latin motto, “Mens sana in corpore sano”—a sound mind in a sound body—sums up the notion of integrity as sanity in the largest sense, which might serve as a definition of wisdom.

We are born to grow wise, to transcend fragmentation and disharmony, to grow whole, healthy and well functioning at the highest levels.  To make this so is the aim of education.



By our name, Homo sapiens sapiens, the terrestrial species distinguished by our level and kind of consciousness, we have recognized that our inherent purpose is to cultivate our consciousness, to grow ever more conscious, and to elevate our consciousness transcendentally.

Homo transcendens
might be a better name for us, an upwardly mobile species destined to extend our awareness throughout the universe.

The highest aim of higher education should therefore be the nurturing of such transcendental consciousness in those capable of elevating their minds to the further reaches of cognition and of living their earthly lives in accord with that beatitude.


Thursday, May 12, 2011


A poem’s an accretion round a bit
Of irritant abrading to the brain,
A cause of consternation, grief or pain,
Transmogrified into its opposite.



When you’re in grief or sorrow or feel pain,
I’ll sympathize but not commiserate;
For sinking to your misery is insane;
The better way’s to elevate your state.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Just as, when walking with my dogs around
Our neighborhood, I carry close at hand
A camera to capture what I’ve found
That takes my eye and makes my sight expand;
Likewise, each morning before dawn I sit
To scan my mindscape for those latent scenes
That memory harbors in its darksome pit
And rapt, relaxed attention picks and gleans.

The difference, though, lies in each vision’s scope,
The optical or visionary range,
Since one is bound by physics, one by trope;
One factual, the other rich and strange
Because imagination’s further reach
Transcends what mere reality can teach.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Who knew your life would come to this today,
No longer filled with opportunities
But regimented by necessities
That give you much to do yet little say?
Now every sunny sky has turned to gray,
Obscured by those whose whims you need to please,
Remembering now those days you failed to seize,
Regretting you’ve no choice but to obey.

What turn of fortune or of attitude
Might spare you from this daily misery
And nights of woeful sorrow and regret
Before your tortured psyche comes unglued?
Either resign yourself to what must be,
Or find a way to slip this closing net.


Monday, May 9, 2011


Liberal studies are not vocational studies, except as they may help students discover their “callings” in the world, their ways to fulfill their deeply-felt purposes and to serve others.

Liberal studies aim to liberate students from ignorance of what human endeavor has discovered to be important in such areas as the humanities, the arts, the sciences and the social sciences—divided into the various academic fields and departments.  The world of inquiry and learning is large, and it behooves students of the liberal arts and sciences to comprehend the scope of it, if only superficially.

While pursuing the ideal of “knowing something about everything and everything about something,” students of liberal studies select areas of special interest in accord with their intellectual talents, in which to major or minor, studying those subjects more comprehensively and in greater depth.

Such a liberal education, begun in college and ideally continued autodidactically throughout life, does not explicitly train students for employment in particular careers and professions; rather, it trains minds to think widely and well, and to esteem the enterprise of critical inquiry and scholarship in our continuing search for truth and value.

The traditional four-year period of college is little time in which to launch the life-long endeavor of a liberal education, and it should not be curtailed by the inclusion of narrowly pre-professional or job-specific training programs better performed by industries and business enterprises themselves, post graduation.

Liberal studies, then, should remain pre-professional and not become co-professional.


Friday, May 6, 2011


Obama downs Osama: rat-tat-tat—
Would all our woes were over just like that,
But violence breeds violence and more
Of war and retribution lies in store.

* * *


It’s true, I shot bin Laden—it was me.
I shot him in the chest and in the eye,
But now I’m sworn to perfect secrecy,
So if you tell, you’ll be the next to die.


Thursday, May 5, 2011


By following the strictest rules of form,
I discipline my wayward brain to seek
From all the myriad sentiments that swarm
A thought that’s aptly fitting and unique.

Though one might think this method limiting
And free-form writing the ideal way,
Both rhyme and meter make a poem sing,
For poetry must play as well as say.

Right here, you know, a sonnet takes a turn
(The form demands predictable surprise,
So let another scheme of rhyme arise)
Then see what the last couplet can discern:

     While rhyme and meter better serve a lover,
     Their highest use is clearly to discover.