Thursday, May 30, 2013


      The dawn is growing lighter as I sit      
      Waiting for the Spirit to enthuse       
      My torpid mind with something meet and fit      
      For verse—my invocation to the Muse. 
      Soon syllables and sounds begin to flow,     
      A line of thought takes shape across the page,       
      Then ending with a resonance I know       
      Must echo down below at the next stage. 
      Sometimes, as now, I simply marvel at       
      The mystery of this process I invoke       
      That turns my mind into an acrobat       
      Or a magician pulling from his cloak
          Exactly the right word to end a line 
          That makes you think I followed a design.



    He came to understand he had a gift,
    Though not for narrative and not for song;
    His readiness to turn a verse was swift,
    His sonnet done before the hour’s gong.

    It said its say more than it sang,
    Discoursing and explaining as it went,
    Midway between a whimper and a bang,
    Clever at times, but never heaven sent.

    At best a rumination versified,
    His fourteen lines displayed an agile mind,
    And yet no sonnet destined to abide
    Emerged: the Muse and he were not allied.

         This then must be his mournful epitaph:
         “He aimed for praise; at best he got a laugh.”


Tuesday, May 28, 2013


 It cannot be throughout our galaxy,
 Much less in all the Cosmos we can see,
 That we on Earth are all that is of life,
 Which surely through infinity is rife.
 Though yet we see no evidence to claim
 That elsewhere the conditions are the same
 And likewise life has happened to arise
 That’s just like ours, or in some other guise,
 The odds ordain it surely must be so:
 Life is no accident, and we should know
 We’re here to grow in cosmic consciousness,
 Aware that with such knowledge our success
 Will be secure because we understand
 That Mind by which the whole shebang was planned.


Monday, May 27, 2013


for Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber

    Though sitting in a meditative pose
    While uttering your mantra may disclose
    Some wonders of the transcendental kind
    And nudge you toward a more enlightened mind,
    Making you feel more sapient and whole,
    Enlightenment in action is your goal.

    It’s not enough to feel profound and sage
    When there are worldly perils to engage.
    When those in power rule in the dark,
    Your mission then is to transmit the spark
    That now illumines you and bring to light
    An elevated vision of what’s right.

         If our aberrant species can reform,
         The transcendental way must be the norm.


Saturday, May 25, 2013


What then does every human being need
To be complete and satisfied in life,
For unlike beasts who simply sleep and feed
And live contented with avoiding strife,

We sapiens are prompted to aspire
As quenchless curiosity compels
Us to seek goals and summits ever higher,
A lust that no adventure finally quells.

Perhaps it’s only death that ends one’s quest,
Though wondering to the last what lies beyond,
And maybe then each soul is finally blessed
And rescued from the slough once named Despond.

     Yet till that final moment we shall seek—
     Still mounting toward some cloud-enveloped peak.


Friday, May 24, 2013


        That out of chaos order comes is wrong—
        As if a hurricane might sing a song,
        Or if in a tornado’s furious path
        Up sprang a house of mortar, brick and lath.

        Mere randomness and accident can’t make
        A cube of ice or even a snowflake
        Without some laws of nature implicate
        That fashion their components meet and fit.

        Just so it is this poem takes its form
        Because within the elements that storm
        About within the poet’s beating brain
        Is something formative that shapes a train
        Of thought by which the poem is designed:
        Implicit in all matter there lies mind.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013


  Whatever wisdom is, it’s what we need
  To lead us past the selfishness and greed
  Long chronicled in human history,
  The cause of universal misery.
  Whatever wisdom is—the opposite
  Of folly and a brain that’s dimly lit—
  Enlightenment and insight that reveals
  What egocentric ignorance conceals—

  Such wisdom is the aim of history’s quest,
  The end toward which the Cosmos has progressed,
  The guide of cosmic evolution’s course,
  The plan devised by some mysterious Source.
       Our task is then to fully realize,
       To comprehend and implement what’s wise.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Yes, occasions come when it’s better to avoid telling the truth and even, sometimes, to lie.

“Thou shalt not lie” cannot always be a categorical moral imperative, since the consequences would be too costly, the harm done worse than if the truth were told outright—or outwrong.  Hence “white lies,” as opposed to black lies, or lies in shades of gray.  Distinctions must be made, circumstances reckoned and consequences anticipated.

One danger of deciding to lie is that of lowering the barrier thereafter against further prevarications.  Having once compromised the truth, you may find it easier to do when next tempted down the slippery slope.  While strict judiciousness must be practiced, with truth-telling held as normal and rightful behavior, a requisite for trust and confidence among people—even so, upon a rare occasion, a well-devised lie may save the day.


Monday, May 20, 2013


        “As every day I open to the call
        Of some mysterious source, the Vatic Voice,
        Which can both liberate me and enthrall,
        I find a hopeful reason to rejoice—
        Not only for the verse that then may flow
        But for the prospect that this very Voice
        Will set the kindling in my heart aglow
        To show a vision of a higher choice,
        Revealing then a calling to pursue,
        Engaging my whole scope of aptitudes
        So when I face my end-of-life review,
        I may regale in how it all concludes.
             When my vocation is at last revealed,
             Imagine all the talents I shall wield.”


Sunday, May 19, 2013


        Without ingesting nutrients that nourish,
        No creature owns the vital means to flourish,
        Yet we, above all other species, need
        The nurturing of love on which to feed:
        It’s care, solicitude and kindness that
        Provisions best a humane habitat.

        The destiny for which we seem designed—
        The efflorescence of the human mind,
        Our blossoming into a species who
        Can hope to comprehend a cosmic view—
        Cannot succeed until we first impart
        The higher wisdom of the human heart
        To any enterprise we undertake
        For Heaven's first and then the future’s sake.


Friday, May 17, 2013

  2030 CE

By the time a child born today grows to become a student in my Writing about Human Frontiers course at Rollins College, many things my students now speculate upon will have come about.

The centerpiece of our imagineering is the development of a Global Wisdom Culture we’ve dubbed “Paragonia”—not a fantastic Utopia, but a model society embodying the wisest values by which human beings may thrive on this thriving planet.  Here is my Paragonia in 2030.

The most revolutionary change underlying the transformative era in the next half century is the rise of Spirituality and the demise of Religion—the rise of elevating practices of psycho-spiritual development, once called “consciousness raising,” and the outgrowing of doctrinaire belief systems accepted on traditional “faith” and inculcated by authoritarian intimidation.

By 2030, via the pervasive power of communication systems accessible worldwide, human beings collectively will have achieved a higher level of common sense, informed by advanced sciences (physical, social and spiritual) that make the world of 2013 seem neo-Medieval.

We will have stabilized our population sustainably, with our natural fostering urges being satisfied in ways besides excessive propagation.  Our previous penchant for exploitation and domination will have been sanitized by education informed by humane values promoting cooperation and collaboration on common interests and mutual benefits.  Aggressive, acquisitive, exploitative behaviors are deemed pathological and regressive, even primitive.

Most distinctive in 2030 is the pervasive kindness and civility of human behavior.  Only a generation earlier it would have been ludicrous to suppose that the outrageous violence of the 9/11 era could ever be transcended: ethnic cleansing, terrorism, financial exploitation, plutocracy.  But the Big One finally brought inhumane humanity to its knees and its senses, waking us collectively to our radical sense of kinship and kindness.

And in 2030, I’ll be 90 and still teaching.


Sunday, May 12, 2013


   The measured way in which this verse proceeds
   Reflects my calm, incantatory plan
   To follow where the Muse’s calling leads,
   Discovering as I go all that I can.

   With such a methodology as this,
   I find I’m paradoxically more free
   Than free-verse makers with their hit-and-miss
   Inventing-as-they-go can ever be.

   For there’s implicit inspiration in
   The ancient rigmarole of beat and rhyme
   Pressing us into zones we’ve never been
   Even occasionally to the sublime.

        Though much of what I make may be hum-drum,
        In time, I think, a masterpiece will come.


Saturday, May 11, 2013


   What else is spirit than the very breath
   That animates our hearts and keeps from death
   The body that sustains our consciousness?
   If any more than that, we can but guess.

   Our sciences do not admit of mind,
   Some nothingness by which we are designed,
   For only what is physical is real,
   Say bland materialists, devoid of zeal.

   Yet can we not infer some principle,
   Some premise that is more than figural
   Declaring there is something that transcends
   The physical and points to higher ends?

        Whence comes this very verse if not from mind,
        By which ideas and meters are aligned?


Friday, May 10, 2013


for Copthorne Macdonald

    What human goal is higher than to grow
    Toward wisdom and in every instance know
    Which choice to make, which road or path to take
    Most likely to proceed for goodness’ sake?

    Discerning what’s of value to pursue
    And finding how to do what you must do
    To make your careful way toward that end
    Is what philosophers must comprehend.

    As “wisdom lovers” they should show the way
    And keep all wanderers from going astray,
    Which means avoiding harm and seeking health,
    Then finding kindness is the greatest wealth.

         Philosophers should strive to bring to light
         And put in practice only what is right.


Thursday, May 9, 2013


The faith most imperative for human beings to develop is the belief in our own potential to live wisely, in ways that enhance the viability of prolific life on Earth. 

This is not faith in a Divinity, a transcendent deity to be worshipped, petitioned, revered and feared.  Rather, this is a faith in our own potential to divine wiser and wiser ways to conduct ourselves in concord with the thriving of life on Earth far into the future. 

As brilliant as our sciences and as astounding as our technologies may become, we must cultivate the sagacity to employ such learning most beneficially. 

If one’s belief in a guiding and supportive God helps to cultivate such wisdom in thought and deed, then that is well and good.  However one finds a way to live wisely is a service to the flourishing of life on Earth—and beyond. 

True faith promotes wise behavior.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013


    Spontaneously transported to a height
    Or depth of consciousness, my mind alight
    With mystic radiance unseen before,
    I seemed to pass beyond perception’s door
    Into a sacred sphere transcending all
    I’d ever known, yet now cannot recall,
    Though then it seemed that I could see the frame 
    Of everything, the end at which we aim.
    The morning after, though, that mystic glow
    Began to fade.  No longer could I know
    The essence of all things I then could see
    As plainly as the apples on a tree.
         Such knowledge I feel bidden still to seek,
         So climb I will till I regain that peak.


Monday, May 6, 2013


   Is there a purpose to the universe?
   Does it proceed by an intentioned plan,
   Our Cosmic Mother, caretaker and nurse,
   The foremost fruit of whom is man?

   Or is it merely randomness that’s made
   Our fruitful biosphere evolving us,
   No higher law than physics being obeyed,
   Simply mechanically industrious?

   That lower could give rise to higher things
   Spontaneously, without design in mind,
   As if a bird without the use of wings
   Could fly, seems not how nature is inclined.

        Though how the Cosmos came about remains
        Obscure, it’s what some Purposer ordains.


Sunday, May 5, 2013


    The given is we’re here and know we are,
    And know we know, which makes us doubly wise:
    We know we’re dust from some exploded star
    And somehow sense we’ve yet to realize
    The full potential of our latent being,
    Arriving at some wisdom still unknown,
    Some cognizance that’s ultimately freeing
    When finally we come into our own.
    What that may be, we can but speculate,
    Imagining some lofty paragon
    Perfected in what makes a person great,
    The mantle that all sages then will don.
         What other could that be than being kind
         And toward the care of all to be inclined?


Saturday, May 4, 2013

       I do not judge you on what you believe,
       But just on how your faith makes you behave;
       It matters not the creed to which you cleave,
       So long as you are loving, wise and brave.


Thursday, May 2, 2013


 The Samurai are gone: the last one killed—
 Good riddance I, a pacifist, would say,
 Remembering all the blood their swords have spilled
 Despite the fabled glory of their Way.

 How can a path of violence be praised,
 No matter all the discipline it shows?
 There’s something in that temperament that’s crazed,
 And it’s a road humanity must close.

 Though honor, glory, valor were esteemed
 In cultures we now reckon primitive,
 From such pursuits our race must be redeemed
 And learn not how to die but how to live.

      The art of war recedes; the arts of peace
      Prevail, while love and harmony increase.