Monday, October 31, 2011


KINDNESS

What greater compliment is there than “kind”?
How else can one’s true goodness be defined?
That you are gentle, generous and mild
Shows your good nature has been undefiled,
Or that you’ve been from sinfulness redeemed,
Or what was thought ungentle only seemed:
When dealing with the evilly inclined,
Sometimes one must be cruel to be kind.







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Saturday, October 29, 2011


DESTINED TO BE YOU

for Parker J. Palmer

No, you’re no blank slate when you’re born but own
A code like your genetic code, unique
To your own soul: that fate towards which you’re prone,
That self you must devote your life to seek.

Although this self’s implicit in your being,
It never will be fully realized
Until attended to—just that is freeing
For what, until you do, remains disguised.

This hidden wholeness is your being’s mold,
The form it must assume for you to thrive;
Unless you do, you’ll be like buried gold
And fail to shine or flourish, just survive.

     To be the whole of who you truly are
     Turn inward and not toward some distant star.






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Friday, October 28, 2011


BIG QUESTION:  IS THERE MORE?

The Big Question, the Enduring Question, the Ultimate Question for me is: “Is There More?” 

Is there more than meets the eye and the instruments and methodologies of science?  Is Truth confined to physics—to the empirical, evidential, measurable world that our amazing sciences investigate and theorize about? 

Or is there a realm of “reality” beyond the reach of physical sciences—a meta-physical realm that some call spiritual but skeptics call imaginary, fantastical or delusional—a realm of personal intimation but not of public confirmation in the objective way of science? 

And if there is, what can we know of it, and how can we share such insights with each other in beneficial ways, and not, as rival religions do, foment factions?




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Tuesday, October 25, 2011


FAUSTUS’ FALL

Though Marlowe’s mighty lines make Faustus soar
In speculation of what magick powers
He might command, though heavens above deplore,
When reckoning comes, see how he skulks and 
     cowers:
No towering rhetoric can save him then
From proving in his pride most curst of men.








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Monday, October 24, 2011


GNOLEDGE

While astro-scientists today infer
The likelihood of life elsewhere is strong,
And human hope and fantasy concur,
The chances of our finding it are long.

For though our powerful instruments can probe
The cosmic depths to distant galaxies
In search of such another Earth-like globe,
Our knowledge will remain hypotheses.

We’re destined at our best to speculate
Unless we conquer not just space but time,
Learning how with our minds to penetrate
Infinitude and enter the Sublime.

     For only there what physics must conceal
     May Gnosis, in our ecstasy, reveal.









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MORAL AMBIGUITY

          The man who shot Gaddafi is a hero,
          And yet a murderer as well, whose chance
          Of being brought to trial is next to zero,
          Considering the ambiguous circumstance.








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Sunday, October 23, 2011


HUMAN ADVANCEMENT

Where is our species headed as a race?
It’s true we’re gaining power to chart our course
And have already entered outer space
As if by seeking we might find our source.

But maybe that’s not how we should advance,
And progress doesn’t mean that kind of move,
But rather we must learn how to enhance
Our consciousness, and intellects improve.

Though nature may be “red in tooth and claw,”
That nature in our past can be out-grown,
Since we have come to know a higher law
Adapted for the human race alone.

     Of all those creatures that we stand above,
     We are the ones who can progress in love.









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Saturday, October 22, 2011


THE FICTIONEER

          When memory and imagination blend,
          Another world emerges into view,
          A world that I can hope to comprehend
          Since I invented it and made it true.

          The fictions I devise become more real
          Than what we take as actuality,
          For what in life is hidden, I reveal,
          And nothing’s left to errant fantasy.

          If you seek deeper meaning, crave more sense,
          Then turn to fiction for its true pretense.








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Friday, October 21, 2011


TRUE ILLUSIONS

We live in true illusions all our lives,
A world that active fantasy contrives
To make sense of events befalling us
And view as wonderful or ominous,
Taking our fate as hell- or heaven-sent,
According to our disposition’s bent.

Though we may fancy otherwise and think
All’s real, we can eclipse it with a wink
And, as we sleep, dream up another world,
For in our minds infinity lies furled.

It’s only custom keeps us as we are,
But over there—you see that door ajar?—
The costumes in that wardrobe wait for you:
Just try one on, walk through, and see what’s true.







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Thursday, October 20, 2011


CANIS AMORETTIS

Our dogs are little loves, our amoretti,
On whom we shower affections, grand and petty.
They’ve stolen our wan hearts with winsomeness
Yet given them back enlarged with each caress,
Which fills us with such tenderness and care
That everywhere we go love’s ours to share,
And thus do dogs enhance humanity
By mitigating our insanity.







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Wednesday, October 19, 2011


HEAVEN AND EARTH

One day—may it come soon—we’ll have a pill
For every malady that makes us ill
And causes all disease, both physical
And moral, so we’ll then be sensible
And whole, in all ways healthy, sane and well,
Living in bliss, no longer knowing Hell,
For what we once called Heaven will be here
On Earth, where love prevails and none knows fear.

“But wait!” you say, “Is that indeed what we
Desire: just bliss and calm serenity?
What of the risks and challenges that made
Our fragile lives adventurous and displayed
Some of our grandest traits: courage and love?
No—let’s keep Hell on Earth and Heaven above.”





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Monday, October 17, 2011


MESSAGE IN A SPACE CAPSULE

Listen—you Earthlings have become too dangerous to remain so foolish.

Therefore, we must finally intervene, despite our own Prime Directive commanding us not to intrude in the affairs of intelligent life systems on any planets in our galaxy.

In your dire case, however, we justify our exception because you have come so very close to achieving a state of planetary prosperity and of attaining the higher level of consciousness necessary to become a truly cosmic species—Homo transcendens—that it would be unconscionable for us to allow you to destroy Earth’s ecosystems, as you are about to do at worst, or at least to set back the development of intelligent life on Earth by eons.

Therefore, in the spirit of minimalism, we now only issue this directive letting you know you are being kindly observed by well-wishers from afar, solicitous of the success of your vital enterprise on Earth.  Let this knowledge encourage you to transcend the short-sightedness that presently prompts you to degrade and destroy the viability of your precious planet and to thwart the infinitely promising prospects of your continually evolving species.

We leave it to you to discover your own way to transcendence, comforted now by knowing you are not alone in the Cosmos, and knowing that purpose inheres in the very fabric of our universe.  That purpose is to foster intelligent life that grows toward wisdom.

Therefore, chart your course accordingly, assured that benevolent guidance will inspire you to find your way if you go astray.

Now, Earthlings, ask yourselves: What are your most imperative priorities?  Make a list.







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Sunday, October 16, 2011


WHY STUDY ENGLISH?
  • Because you want to gain mastery of the English language in its full range of employments: exposition, description, argumentation and artistry.
     
  • While you may explicitly study the craft of writing so as to develop your own skills of composition in many modes, most of the mastery you attain will come vicariously through your perusal of excellent literature in English, from ancient to contemporary masterpieces.
     
  • Only as you saturate yourself in great writing of all kinds can you assimilate the means for writing and speaking artfully yourself.
     
  • Appreciation (that is, comprehension and evaluation) of great writing is the aim of literary study, which pays tribute to the marvelous and various mentalities of poets, song writers, playwrights, story tellers, essayists and other wordsmiths whose medium is the English language, whether originally or in translation.
     
  • And as appreciation leads to imitation, adaptation and invention—perhaps in you—then the tradition of English expands.

Join the fun!

   





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Saturday, October 15, 2011


LOST DREAMS

My dreams are evanescent when I wake
And disappear like mists in morning’s dawn—
I briefly glimpse their coattails as they make
Their exits from the stage and then are gone.

Yet it’s enough for me to clearly know
That, moments past, my mind was occupied
By an elaborate and entrancing show,
Which somehow wakefulness cannot abide.

Although I vainly struggle to reclaim
Some vestiges of what’s gone vaporous,
I know tonight there’ll be another game
Of hide and seek.  My mind’s voluminous
And houses countless scripts it can produce.

Too bad my memory plays fast and loose.








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Friday, October 14, 2011


BECOMING WHO I AM

I haven’t always been who I am now—
Or is that only partly true, in that
I was the twig that’s grown to be a bough?
But still I hear a wary caveat
That urges I’ve been shaped by circumstance,
Compounded of what fate has chanced to throw
Into my path, the seeds that fortune plants—
No other destiny than that can grow.
Yet something in me argues otherwise
That senses an essential character
Inscribed within my soul that still implies
What’s destined to unfold as things occur.
     Becoming who I am has been my goal,
     The destiny implicit in my soul.






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Thursday, October 13, 2011


A GENTLE KNIGHT

Sir Edmund Spenser dreampt of knights in arms
   Of ladies in distress and monsters vile,
   Of sorcerers who conjured potent charms
   Unwary wights to capture and beguile;
   For every Christian soul must stand the trial
   Of evil and seek out salvation’s way,
   Defeating forces that would him defile
   And proving by his victory more than clay
But spirit, shining bright with virtue’s glorious ray.









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Wednesday, October 12, 2011


PARADOX

Where give and take are both the same is where
          Another being is in need of care:
Caretaker and caregiver are but one,
          For giving is rewarding when love’s done.








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Tuesday, October 11, 2011


THE HAPPIEST ATTITUDE

What is the happiest attitude a person can walk about in the world with?

That every other person and every other creature needs to be loved and deserves to be loved.

That, I suppose, is how Jesus walked about and other saintly and benevolent souls who spread warmth and comfort by their radiant presence.

Love, care, compassion—that is the attitude.

Not fear.  Not envy.  Not malice.  Not indifference.  Not neglect.

But tidings of great joy.







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Monday, October 10, 2011


DREAM THINGS TRUE

My dreams are evanescent, and I wake
To watch them dissipate and disappear,
Wishing that in my memory I might make
A place to save them, permanent and clear.

I have the vaguest notion that I’ve seen
In dreamscapes wondrous possibilities,
That alternate realities have been
Revealed which daylight consciousness can’t seize.

Or are they merely fantasies, absurd
Concoctions of deranged mentality,
The Siren singing of some mythic bird,
Not intimations of what’s yet to be?

     Still all that we have made began in dreams:
     Imagination feeds on what first seems.






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Sunday, October 9, 2011

THE IMPROVEMENT OF HUMANITY

QUESTION:  Can human beings be improved and, if so, by what means?

Of course, “the human condition” can be and has been improved over time so that many people now live more healthily and prosperously, with far greater opportunities for varied experiences and personal development than in former eras.  And as knowledge and sciences of all kinds advance, the prospects for the improving of our circumstances and opportunities expand even further.  A greater proportion of people will live healthier, be better educated, and enjoy greater opportunities for contributing to the general welfare of the world, leading useful, meaningful lives.

But besides improving the conditions in which human beings live, can the human species itself improve?  Analogously to computer systems and programs, can we be “upgraded”?  Can our very consciousness be raised to higher levels of cognizance and functioning?  Can we evolve into a higher order of humanity—say Homo sapiens sapiens sapiens?  Our predecessor, Homo sapiens, like other animals, was conscious.  We, Homo sapiens sapiens, are self-conscious as well, or conscious of being conscious.  But what higher order of being conscious might yet be manifested in our successor species, Homo sapiens3?

The answer proposed by ancient gurus is Enlightenment or Nirvana or Christ Consciousness.  The answer of Richard Maurice Bucke, a Canadian physician, in 1901, was Cosmic Consciousness, which he found exemplified by many harbingers throughout history, from the Buddha to Jesus to Walt Whitman.  Bucke’s premise is that human consciousness has further reaches of illumination to attain and has already done so in certain favored forerunners who demonstrate the course of general human development still to come.

Is such a proposition worth exploring?  Or must we assume the innate fallibility and deficiency of our species—that we are born broken, naturally self-serving and sinful, and unable to elevate ourselves above our tragic malady?

I opt for the potentials for human consciousness’ evolving to higher, clearer, even holier states than are common now, which are evident in exemplary persons alive today, often honored for their humanitarian acts—such as South Africa’s Bishop Desmond Tutu, Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, and Tibet’s Dalai Lama.  Whether such exalted consciousness be called “God consciousness” or “unity consciousness” or “cosmic consciousness” or “evolutionary enlightenment,” such a transcendental state has been reported throughout history and is not the exclusive property of any particular religion or belief system. 

Whether it be called a “shift or elevation of consciousness” or a “spiritual transformation,” if the improvements in a person are growth in compassion, love and charitable behavior, then such a state is worth cultivating, and the methods for fostering it should be taught universally.






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Saturday, October 8, 2011


COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS REDUX

That there is, here is, anything at all
And, more amazing still, that we are here
To marvel at all creatures, great and small,
And know the world as perilous and dear
Is wondrous, awful and mysterious.

Yet only for a moment will I think
A thought like this, till frivolous
Distractions let the stunning wonder sink.

Why is it that the world becomes mundane,
And the glory of creation dims until
I focus only on our loss and pain,
Oblivious to my former cosmic thrill?

No matter why.  My job’s to cultivate
A mind field that can generate this state.








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Friday, October 7, 2011

A GOOD DEATH

Most of us fear death, and rightly so.  Our instinct is to live and to continue living and to defend ourselves from harm and death.  That’s healthy.  Yet to be obsessed with the specter of death or to be in denial about one’s own death is unhealthy, neurotic, and needs to be rectified for sanity’s sake.

Putting the prospect of one’s own death into a proper perspective is one of life’s great challenges.  Only by directly acknowledging and confronting our mortality can we be moved to make wise decisions respecting the opportunities we may have for living fully and living well and for not meeting death with regret.

One of the great clich├ęs of philosophy is Socrates’ declaration: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”     If that is true, then we know what human life is for and what makes it worthwhile and gratifying: our wide and deep examination of our unique capacities as human beings.

Therefore, the deepest fear we may feel as human beings is to discover, when we come to die, that we have not lived, not lived as fully as we might have done (to paraphrase Thoreau in Walden). 

A good death rewards a good life.







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Thursday, October 6, 2011




IN PRAISE OF VERSE

Though mathematics is no strength of mine,
I still prefer to write this kind of line,
A line in numbers neatly measured out.
Where others let their language gush and spout,
My tempered metrics make my thoughts proceed
Apace when thought and sound have well agreed,
And greater ingenuity ensues
When rhyme restricts my choice, yet proffers cues.
The freedom of Free Verse is chaos’ course,
Erratic babbling without meter’s force
Or rhyming’s chime that makes a poem song,
For in a lyric such effects belong.
What makes a line of verse know where to turn
Should be the poet’s first and last concern.







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Sunday, October 2, 2011

 
TALKING VS. WRITING

When you’re talking, you’re just conversing; but when you’re writing, you’re performing.  You are employing language at a higher level, with more consideration, care and craft. 

While talking happens in real time and usually addresses an auditor or more, writing happens in dream time and may be addressed to an imaginary reader or only to yourself. 

In between sentences or phrases, seconds or minutes may pass because writing is atemporal and discontinuous—it is off the clock—which allows it to be more deliberate and consciously designed even as it first emerges, but also as it is revised.

Writing is a performance to the extent that it strives to give form to the composition: to compose it, rather than blurt it, to shape and reshape its carefully deployed components, until wholeness is achieved, with all its parts in harmony. 

It does not just stop; it is finished.








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Saturday, October 1, 2011


IDENTITY

for Jonathan Miller

Why is it that we’re This and not That way
Inclined?  A natural disposition bends
Us toward distinct behaviors we display,
A quintessential force that shapes our ends.

Call it our Character or call it Soul
And see it evident from early on,
As if innate, proposing what our role
In life will be, the habits we shall don.

Though “one man in his time plays many parts,”
As circumstance and fortune may dispose,
A singular identity in hearts
Will manifest and temperament disclose.

     The happy news is we’re innately soulful,
     Denying which will only make you doleful.







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