Friday, June 29, 2012


     Why do I write—to please posterity,
     In hopes my little artifacts will last?
     Though I may wish that such a fate might be
     And therefore mean to keep them safely stashed,
     That’s not what moves me to indite a line
     Then write another with a matching beat;
     It’s rather the allure of the design,
     Discovering how to measure out the feet
     In ways that correspond with flowing thought,
     Which finds out as it goes where it is bound
     As if what it discovers had been sought,
     Implicit in the mystery of sound.
          The reason for my writing is this rhyme
          That leads me to discover the sublime.


      There’s nothing in the universe that’s not
      Alive, nothing inanimate, inert,
      Though seeming so to those who haven’t got
      The means to see what molecules exert,

      How even atoms bind strange energy
      And then, still deeper down, dark forces play
      Unknown roles and enigmatically
      Control the cosmos with their covert sway.

      All this is life, in fundamental form,
      For nothing is inanimate that moves:
      These elemental energies that swarm
      Do so as some dark mystery behooves.

           It’s all alive—the whole cosmic shebang:
           Though you see only yin, there’s also yang.


Thursday, June 28, 2012


for Duane Elgin

   “The glory, jest and riddle of the world”—
   So Alexander Pope defined mankind,
   Aware that through the universe we’re swirled,
   Yet of our species’ end or aim quite blind.

   Though conscious of our consciousness, we grope
   To grasp and comprehend the mind
   That we possess and find its farthest scope,
   While wondering how it came to be designed.

   Or was mind first, a spirit that gave birth
   To all materiality throughout
   The universe, including this, our Earth?
   We theorize but still remain in doubt—

        Though maybe now at last it’s growing clear
        Just why and how and wherefore we are here.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012


As much a mystery as how we came
To be as conscious as we are, and know
Ourselves as knowers, is the very flame
Of life itself, how it may come and go:

And when it goes, does it go darkly out
Or elsewhere, where it lives eternally?
Is there some way to settle all such doubt
And come to existential certainty?

The gnosis of such knowing would transcend
What’s physical and secular and clear,
The ordinary ways we comprehend,
And take us to where miracles appear:

     Call it the twilight zone of consciousness,
     Where rhyme meets reason with astute success.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


       There is a luminance I’ve briefly tasted,
       A synesthetic glory in my brain,
       Informing me a sleeping life is wasted
       And only cosmic consciousness is sane.

       Though we are made for lofty sapience
       And even call ourselves the “doubly wise,”
       We’re often lacking so-called common sense,
       Much less ascending to ethereal skies.

       What will it take to wake us up in time
       To realize the wisdom in our core
       And manifest what’s hidden and sublime,
       Awaiting us behind perception’s door?

            A miracle that dire necessity
            Provokes at last to show true sanity.


Sunday, June 24, 2012


for Ray Bradbury

   A teenager, I doted on S-F,
   Which meant both Speculative Fantasy
   And Science Fiction, two fun ways to ef-
   What seemed ineffable, a mystery:

   What is it that lies out beyond our ken
   Toward the stars, or here in inner space?
   It’s in our deepest consciousness, the yen
   To meet this dim Enigma face to face:

   The Source of everything, the Meaning of
   The universe of our experience—
   Why is there consciousness, why hate, why love,
   And why are we so brilliant and so dense?

        Now, as an elder, has this all come clear?
        I’m seeking still for Meaning to appear.


Saturday, June 23, 2012


for Christian de Quincey  

   Our human consciousness will be transformed,
   The chill of hard and selfish egos warmed,
   And Higher Consciousness at last attained
   When our intelligence has grown right-brained.
   Yet in this dangerous age, the left has ruled
   That now, for safety’s sake must be retooled
   And scientism’s sway give way to wise
   Imperatives, with which the heart complies.
   What other wonders may in time be found
   By listening to the right brain’s subtle sound,
   Which comes in dreams and mystic reverie,
   May yet reveal the deepest mystery
   When we unearth the Source, the Ground of Being,
   A cosmic force that’s ultimately freeing.


Friday, June 22, 2012


for Nicholas Maxwell

      However it arrived, we have a mind,
      Perhaps derived from matter turned organic,
      Perhaps the source of everything designed—
      A local pond or something oceanic.

      The larger question now is what to do
      With our mentality, no matter whence
      It came, to widen and refine its view,
      To lift and lighten up what now is dense.

      The transformation of our consciousness
      Is the imperative confronting us,
      Whose sciences have made a wretched mess
      Unleashing forces truly monstrous.

           Intelligence itself is not our end;
           But wisdom, on which all of us depend.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012


From a humanistic, rather than a utilitarian perspective, the aim of education is to develop the full range of our various kinds of intelligence, as well as to cultivate our consciousness by expanding, refining, clarifying and elevating it.  Therefore, a liberal, rather than a pragmatic, education works to help students realize the full potential of their human mentality—the endeavor of a lifetime.

All courses and programs in a college of liberal education should justify themselves primarily in terms of how they develop intelligence and cultivate consciousness.


Sunday, June 17, 2012


   So, what then is a perfect human being,
   One who is fully realized and whole,
   Complete, accomplished, nothing disagreeing,
   Achieving our grand species’ destined goal?

   We’ve long imagined such a grand ideal
   And celebrated some who’ve neared that peak,
   Worshiping one whose sanctity seemed real,
   Defining by his actions what we seek.

   But what we’ve learned and learn again each day
   Is that perfection cannot be our lot;
   At best we’ll find the route and go that way,
   But hope of our arriving’s best forgot.

        The same goes for this sonnet, which may hope
        To realize perfection—but nope.


Saturday, June 16, 2012


Rather than a “war” of worldviews, a contest of opposites as the title implies, the subject of this book is a fascinating exploration of the complementary perspectives of reason and imagination, two ways we humans have developed for comprehending what we know and name reality.

Reason is our left brain hemisphere’s empirical procedure for dealing with the tangible, measurable aspects of our experience; whereas imagination is our right brain’s holistic mode of knowing via imagery.  From the left brain’s perspective, the world is physical; from the right’s it is mental: body/soul.  This is not either/or but both/and. 

It’s not that one of the contending authors is right and the other wrong, but rather that Deepak is right and Leonard is left.



As a human being you “have a mind” (unless you have “lost your mind”).  But what is this intangible entity— mind?  A word, first of all: a linguistic symbol for a concept of something intangible, invisible, but which seems essential to our being human.

“Mind” or “mentality” is our conscious awareness of the world we inhabit, extending to the cosmos at large.  As our mentality is expanded and developed, we become more keenly and precisely aware of our circumstances in all respects—to the extent that the limits of our intelligence allow.  We can only assume that much of reality extends beyond human ken and may never be comprehended by our sciences or intuitions.

But since there is wondrous much that human minds can grow to experience and understand, then aiming to do so to the fullest seems to be the implicit imperative of our mentality: minds must grow.  And cultivating such growth, in all ways possible, is the mission of education, a word that etymologically implies both nourishing and drawing forth: the care and feeding of our human potentials latent and waiting to emerge.

“Higher education” would then intend to cultivate the higher reaches of human mentality.  Why go to college?  To grow your mind.


Friday, June 15, 2012


          As basic as our consciousness or mind
          May be, more fundamental still are words:
          The fabric of our language undergirds
          Ideas by which reality’s defined.


Thursday, June 14, 2012


     I’m sorry that your loved one's passed away,
     Passed on, or simply passed, as some will say,
     Which seems the proper parlance to be said
     To keep from plainly mentioning he’s dead.



     We have two brains that view things differently:
     One is the Scientist, empirical,
     Confined to matter and to energy;
     The other, Mystic, sees a miracle.
     The first finds mind emerging from mere stuff;
     The second says mind matters—that’s enough.



          In the fertile field of my mind,
          When all its pregnant furrows are aligned,
          Conceptions grow, and I can always find
          Ideas that seem mystically designed.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012


As a long-time affiliate of the Human Potentials Movement (a now-faded term), I have regarded our species as a glass half full, with plenty of unrealized potentials for development and maturation.  This hopeful view of our human condition opposes the Judeo-Christian premise that humankind is fundamentally flawed, evil by nature, and destined for damnation—unless redeemed by Supernatural Grace.

Perhaps, though, that latter, glummer view of human nature is more credible, given our collective intractability and general failure over the centuries to wise up appreciably.  Even so, we have grown far smarter.  Our knowledge, our sciences, have advanced marvelously as we probe both the planet and the universe, physically and theoretically.  But are we now better people?

What would that mean?  That, I believe, is our most essential, urgent question to examine: What is a good human being—as fully developed and realized as possible—and how is such growth to be cultivated?

The best beginning, I think, is to present examples of highly-accomplished human beings and to examine and promote their routes to achievement: what defines them as well-developed, and how they grew into that condition.

While such procedures have been used effectively with respect to particular talents, skills and aptitudes (as for music, math or mechanics), what’s imperative now is facing the holistic challenge of cultivating ethical discernment and discretion to produce autonomously well-behaving people.

The human potential most necessary to realize is that of acting wisely.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012


The aim of a liberal education is to develop the latent capabilities of your mind, thereby liberating you to enjoy and employ skills of contemplation and of action that serve the well-being of the world.

Your mentality is like ore in a mine until it is discovered and refined by the processes of education through both formal schooling and autodidactic endeavors.

The motive force of liberal education is your curiosity—an eager, tenacious hunger to find out and discover what is unknown and important to know, especially that for which you have natural talents to pursue.

The best that institutional education can do is to urge and encourage you on a multi-directional course of continual study, of lifelong learning.

Yet beyond that schooling, your responsibility to your talents and potentialities should urge you to continue cultivating the flourishing and fruitful garden of your mind for as long as you might.


Monday, June 11, 2012


   The struggle to go on in such a way
   Through the indignities of failing age
   Grew ever harder with each onerous day,
   While life itself seemed like a narrowing cage.

   At times he wished his spirit would just fly
   Away while he was sleeping in his bed,
   Dead to the world, to that Great By-and-By
   He’d heard of, yet feared another fate instead,

   One worse: he feared the thought of nothingness,
   That when he went, he’d vanish totally,
   His consciousness engulfed in an abyss—
   A sailor swallowed by the roiling sea.

        Yet he, imbued with grace on his last day,
        Allowed himself to simply slip away.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Above all else, we’re programmed to survive
And struggle mightily to stay alive:
This is the chief imperative of life,
And fundamental cause of all our strife.

An enemy is anyone we fear
May take from us whatever we hold dear,
And something in us is inclined to fight
For what we need, believing it’s our right.

How then can we promote tranquility
Unless we all achieve sufficiency,
Discovering what it is to have enough
Of what is more imperative than stuff?

     What reigns supreme in Earth and Heaven above,
     Yet innocently rules, is Love, is Love.


Saturday, June 9, 2012


       The wisest, most enlightened way I know
       To make decisions that are best for all
       Is opening my mind to winds that blow
       As if they are a blissful, gracious call
       From somewhere in the void of mystery,
       A secret source of guidance from beyond
       That summons one to see with clarity,
       With which an ardent soul may correspond.
       Yet how to know this source is genuine
       And not the prompting of a wayward voice
       Persuading me from virtue into sin
       Is the serenity of my good choice:
           The peace I feel in choosing right from wrong
           Is like the melody of a sweet song.



      We live in the cocoon of our beliefs,
      Encompassed by the worldview we assume,
      The teeming matrix of our joys and griefs,
      The seedbed wherein our conceptions bloom.

      “As you believe, so shall you see” may seem
      Exaggerated if not plain absurd,
      As if the world we live in were a dream,
      Or actuality were just a word,

      And yet “In the beginning,” it is said,
      There was “the Word,” the primal source of all,
      The Universal Book where may be read
      Stories that inspire and appall.

          What we believe is clearly our own choice,
          And as we choose, we’ll suffer or rejoice.


Friday, June 8, 2012


        On my last day, when there’s no more to do,
        I aim to look on all that I have done
        With satisfaction, pride, and not with rue,
        Proud of my race, exultant that I’ve won.


Thursday, June 7, 2012


How sad it were, approaching my last day,
To recognize how little of my power
I had employed, how much was left to say—
Unrealized, unsaid at my last hour.

Though my mortality is closing in—
Three score and twelve years have already passed—
I see more clearly it would be a sin
Not to have striven to the very last.

     So let my final age be gold, not lead,
     Nor peter out, like this, before I’m dead.



     Though I have gained some mastery in this art
     Of sonnetry, by sticking to my last
     And turning verses out, day after day,
     Sometimes I’ll put the horse behind the cart
     If only, now and then, to flabbergast
     Your expectations and show another way
     This supple form can metamorphose to
     Adapt, as if it were organic and
     Alive, inventing ventures never planned
     While doing what no other form could do,
     Such as, as if to get another view,
     So you might then more clearly understand,
     Invert itself, flip over on command,
     A trick contrived just for impressing you.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012


        I’ve heard it said, “We do the best we can,”
        Although that best is sometimes very bad;
        Had we’d in mind a more enlightened plan,
        The consequences might have been less sad.

        Unfortunately, our insufficiency
        Of intellect, a cause that can’t be blamed,
        Discharges our responsibility,
        Despite what our accusers may have claimed.

        Though we regret the harm that has occurred
        And hope all injured parties find relief,
        The thought of retribution is absurd
        Since that would merely add more woe to grief.

             But still, I think to let clear malice be
             Excused commits a moral fallacy.


                    If you speak out of turn,
                    You’ll lose others’ concern.

                    If you gamble your wealth,
                    You’ll soon pay with your health.

                    When you hoard all you have,
                    You’re a cow who won’t calve.
                    When your heart’s out of tune,
                    Then your life will end soon.

                    If you cultivate friends,
                    You’ll find joy never ends.

                    Give up hate and discord:
                    Give your soul to the Lord.

                    At the end of the day, 
                    There’s the piper to pay.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012


A program of liberal education aims to liberate you from the bondage of ignorance and ineptitude that is your natural, untutored condition at birth.

Your primary and secondary schooling should lay down a platform of fundamental knowledge and skills upon which will be erected an edifice of higher learning—not so much a building as a spacecraft, built for a lifetime adventure of exploration and discovery, designed for gaining perspective and a comprehensive view of what humanity can know and do.

A collegiate undergraduate program of liberal education concludes aptly with a commencement: the beginning of a course of self-directed, lifelong learning, exploring further the full reaches of human mentality, developing more and yet more capacities, competencies and curiosities.

You should leave such a college ready, willing and ardent to continue  educating yourself, drawing out and nourishing your activated initiatives for discovery and mastery of what needs to be known.

If your life is not an amazing adventure in knowing and growing, it is not fully human, and you are not liberated but enslaved.



     What quality is it that marks a man
     Distinct from any other animal?
     Above all rivals, he’s an artisan
     Who consciously creates what’s beautiful:

     None other has such tactics and such tact
     As to invent a cunning artifact.
     That Beauty, Truth and Goodness were all made
     By him earns praise—though nowadays decayed.


Monday, June 4, 2012


There’s so much wrong with us, so many ways,
That Homo aberrans seems doomed and soon
To bring upon the Earth the End of Days
Through crazed intelligence, so out of tune.

We may have been designed for harmony,
And at our best have sung in unison,
But nowadays a crass cacophony
Of clashing voices signals we are done.

Though some still claim that Wisdom will prevail,
That we have untapped sapience in reserve
And such a noble species cannot fail,
The Bible says we cannot help but swerve,

     And since our numbers have so much mushroomed,
     It’s clear and evident our race is doomed.



     The metaphor for wisdom that’s most apt
     Is one implicit in the term “dope-slapped”:
     A brusque adjustment someone wise must make,
     Since none of us sleep-walkers is awake.


Sunday, June 3, 2012


         Who knows if I’ll be like him, by and by?
         May I be spared that loss of memory,
         The torpor and the tedium that he
         Sums up each hour with a sigh—“Oh, my!”
         Alzheimer’s and dementia make him cry
         Sad silent tears of longing to be free
         From his now cabined, cribbed mentality,
         And yet his only exit is to die.

         What lesson can I draw from such a case
         Besides the obvious carpe diem theme,
         Or the inexorability of fate?
         Mortality is destined for our race;
         To hope for otherwise is but a dream—
         What may remain is what I might create.



      As good as are the teachings in your Book,
      Exalting love, compassion, piety
      And faith, too often zealots have mistook
      Your holy gospel, wreaking misery,
      Their righteous zeal enflaming holy war,
      Crusades against unsaved barbarians
      Benighted by the totems they adore,
      Beguiled by some perverse Satanic trance.
      The seamy underside of such belief
      Reveals the truth of your duality,
      The buried root of your perennial grief—
      Your innate penchant for hypocrisy:
           Above all other woes, you’re self-deceived
           Believing others’ ways are ill conceived.


Saturday, June 2, 2012


 Fishing in my mental pond, I sit
 Serenely on the bank, my line cast out
 Into the murky mystery dimly lit
 By moonlight, with my attitude devout,
 Assured that providence provides for those
 Whose confidence is firm and patience long—
 And yet, despite this affect of repose,
 Within my brain competing notions throng.
 My metaphor is now about to shift:
 This poem is not found, fished from the deep,
 But fabricated, piece by piece, then spiffed
 Up neatly so its nifty insights keep.
      Perhaps, though, rightly said, it’s found and made:
      The astute collusion of both light and shade.