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The Essence of Soul ...

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message 1: by Kristjan (new)

Kristjan (booktroll) The soul appears to be a touchstone in many religious and philosophical traditions. Our theologians and philosophers have discussed the nature of the soul at great length, yet we still don’t have a clear cut consensus of what the soul really is … In fact, this divergence understanding was illustrated in another thread: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show_g...

Robin said: … when in the evolutionary process Soul was granted and to what creature(s), what about the beginnings of a new life? I don't want to get into a discussion of abortion, necessarily. But at what point is a human a human, and at what point is a dog a dog, and at what point is a tree a tree, and how to we know?

rgb said: I think of soul as being a personal experience, a self-intuition. It's fairly easy to empathetically extend it to other humans, at least within certain boundaries (I agree with Robin that there are human boundaries where it isn't easy to find a clear answer, including fetuses, brain-dead humans, severely brain damaged but not dead humans, the severely retarded, and for that matter APD person on the extreme end of things.

So … What do YOU think?

What is the Soul? What does it do for us? Why is it important?
Is the soul real or more of an abstract concept?
Do you see a difference between a soul and a spirit?
When and how do we receive our soul?
Are souls tied to a physical or a spiritual existence?
Are there different types of souls (aka Aquinas’ vegetable, animal & rational souls)
Are there biological requirements for soul materialization (aka ensoulment)?
Does the soul define the individual or does the individual [personality] define the soul?
Is your soul the 'real you?' How do we get to know it?
Do all [living] things have a soul? Are all souls unique?
Are souls immortal and/or immutable (unchanging)?
Does the soul grow/die with us? Can a soul be created/destroy? If so … When/How?

And just for fun:
http://www.quizilla.com/quizzes/29576...



message 2: by Kristjan (new)

Kristjan (booktroll) To start the debate, I thought it might be helpful to review how our common definition of the word ‘Soul’ developed. We can take the term back to Latin and Greek which have long standing philosophical traditions exploring the nature of the human soul. Next post I will explore what the Greeks have to say about the soul.

Definition of Soul:
1: the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life
2 a: the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe b capitalized Christian Science: GOD 1b
3: a person's total self
4 a: an active or essential part b: a moving spirit : LEADER
5 a: the moral and emotional nature of human beings b: the quality that arouses emotion and sentiment c: spiritual or moral force : FERVOR
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictio...

Etymology of Soul: The attested usage comes from Old English (circa 971 CE) meaning the spirit of a deceased person. There is speculation that 4th Century Christian missionaries to the Goths mapped the word saiwala to the Greek psykhe and the Hebrew nephesh. The Gothic term transforms to Old English sawol and appears to come from Germanic word sailian, meaning binding. Note: there is also a common suggestion that the term comes from a connection with the sea, though the etymology supporting this is very uncertain.

Etymology of Spirit: The original usage in English from the Latin Vulgate which translated the Greek pneuma and the Hebrew ruah as spiritus which shares a root with spirare which means to breathe. This term is generally defined as the animating or vital principle in Man *and* Animals. A distinction rose within Christian terminology between soul and spirit as the ‘seat of emotions’ (e.g. Gk. psykhe vs. pneuma, L. anima vs. spiritus). Current non-theological usage includes a representation of the essential principle (or defining characteristic) of something (e.g The Spirit of 76 … the Spirit of St. Louis … etc.)



message 3: by Robin (new)

Robin (therobinreardon) | 48 comments Binding.

That word got stuck (no pun intended) in my brain above everything else Kristjan entered about the origins of the word Soul.

Binding. “…Germanic word sailian, meaning binding.”

I’m a writer. I love words, I love words so much I’m a very bad Scrabble player, because to me words exist in context, in relationship to each other, and when I have to pull them out of what feels to me like thin air and fit them into an irrelevant pattern of squares, I can’t do it. So I appreciate the trouble Kristjan has gone to, supplying the references above.

But I think the important question is what does this mean to me? (It’s all about me, after all…)

The references, and the word “binding,” have helped me get a little closer to a topic I fully expect never to understand while I live. I’m now thinking along the lines of this:
“Spirit” is the Eternal, the Life Force, the essence that many people worship as God. It is without beginning or end, and its nature is so much bigger than my comprehension that I have difficulty even fathoming it. It is “the great I AM.” It is everything and no thing.
“Soul” is the aspect (I say “aspect” because “fragment” and “piece” imply a divisive quality that is, I believe, anathema to Spirit) of Spirit that I bind to me while I live, bound by virtue of perceiving myself to be myself and not someone or something else. Soul, therefore, has to do with a finite identity and is reliant for its definition on the corporeal existence of – something. Of me, of a cat, of a rock. I can’t say where Soul can or cannot be found. But I don’t believe that the Soul I bind to myself is in any way separate from Spirit, except in my own limited perception. Therefore I don’t see it living on after me in any discrete way. The only thing that makes sense to me is that upon my death, what I perceived as my Soul will be allowed to return to Spirit.

Words help me clarify my thoughts, my feelings, my beliefs. They are not the answer; they are tools. In another post I said that I see words as helping us to see the edge of the feather that is Truth.

Maybe at some point I’ll be ready to talk about the purpose, if there is one, of this flowing in and out of perceived unity.



message 4: by Robin (new)

Robin (therobinreardon) | 48 comments Here's an interesting Op Ed piece from the 5/13 NY Times that discusses Soul in an interesting way:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/13/opi...



message 5: by Kristjan (last edited May 22, 2008 06:35AM) (new)

Kristjan (booktroll) Robin said: Here's an interesting Op Ed piece from the 5/13 NY Times that discusses Soul in an interesting way:

Very interesting ... almost like the de-evolution of religion through science. Thanks for the link.

Okay ... where is rgb in this discussion? I know he has something to say about this :) since he offers a lot ideas about the soul in his book The Book of Lilith by Robert G. Brown (Many thanks for the opportunity by the way Robert). One concept I though particularly intriguing was the idea that it is because of our soul that we are actually conscious (fear) of sin? Another is the idea that external rules (according to Adam) are needed for the soul to navigate between good and evil ... At least I think those were in the book. Perhaps rgb could further elaborate on his thinking here?


message 6: by Robert (new)

Robert (rgbatduke) | 253 comments Sorry, sorry, been very busy, son graduating from high school this weekend, big party, it's worth my soul to not work on it and be ready as my wife would kill me in my apostasis...;-)

In TBOL, the idea (and remember, this is a work of FICTION, I'm not asserting that this is Truth, merely something to think about as you seek truth;-) is that "Creation" occurs through a purely mechanical process that in fact is precisely what we observe in the fossil record and via science. Big bang, second generation sun, genetics, pure mechanism.

However, it is a soulless mechanism. Just as a plant "bends towards the sun" through a mechanical tropism that we can fully understand, all animal "actions" are purely mechanical tropisms, of a sort. The environment stimulates them, and they act in response with no self-awareness, no freedom. They aren't really "alive", they are elementary particle based machines.

This includes humans, who exist and have evolved up to the point where the story begins. In a sense, no time at all has elapsed up to this point, as there has been no awareness (but God's) watching. In the story, I portray Soul as literally the opening of an inner eye that is the eye of God. Self-awareness, soul, Atman is the Eye of God open within. It is that by which Lilith, newly awakened, sees. It is that which is horribly absent when she reviews the entire past history of her Universe and watches all the births and deaths, the blood and the pain -- it is all empty, meaningless, transient, pointless, as if the television has been left on in an empty room.

Her newly awakened soul, however, lives in a very much human, earthbound body. And here is an interesting paradox -- Lilith is (by construction) a remarkably evolved human -- selected by God as being the most evolved human, the one who has emerged with the greatest capacity for good (and one, we can imagine, that God knows has the capacity to do God's work and spark the growth of Soul throughout all of this particular Creation). She is momentarily disturbed by the vision of death, but she is shown the truth by God Itself in her very first minutes of independent existence -- death is a state of timeless bliss, union with God, but because it is timeless it is close, so close, to non-existence that blissful or not it becomes a kind of "nothing", one that she needs flee even as she takes joy in God's company and vice versa.

God is in the same boat -- only apart does time happen for the two of them, only apart is there "plot" and not just the TV playing to the empty room, or God looking at God looking at God as in between a pair of mirrors, forever.

Yet Lilith's animal, human form is bound to the world. It comes pre-programmed to fear death (animals that don't fear death die young and don't reproduce). She, and she alone, is capable of rising above this fear of bodily death and trusting God, at least at first, and as the plot emerges we see quite clearly that she has her own struggles with this and other aspects of being human. For one, she has a very hard time understanding that everybody else who is not as blessed with ability and Soul is far more bound to the earth, to animal lusts, to fear of death, than she ever is. She is "born" innocent, shameless, free from sin, and the one sin of her life that she ultimately has to face is her lack of compassion for those less fortunate than she was, her own lack of patience in an existence bound to time in a glorious random and chaotic and evolving world.

Lilith is given the power not to create soul (which is not born and cannot die) but to awaken it, to transfer it, to pass it on. She does so by means of a sort of "quantum theory". As she measures anything in her world by giving it her full attention in a state of compassionate awareness she makes it real, forces it out of its TV in empty roomness and by watching the TV show and emoting with it, she makes it real, "gives it a soul", makes it in turn something that can "watch" its own surroundings in a similar way. She gives souls in this sense to not just animals, not just Adam, but to anything at all. The stars may have shown down on the world for thirteen billion years, but until Lilith lifted her eyes to them and saw them, they didn't really exist, they didn't dance with joy in God's eye, they were merely an unread book. Afterwards, the book starts to read itself.

Then there is Adam. Adam, of course is deliberately second, partly as an act of sheer redress to make amends for thousands of years where it was always Eve's fault, woman's fault that humans fell from grace into sin and death. In my own little myth/midrash, Adam is a poor second to Lilith in terms of his state of natural evolution, but he is right for God's purpose. And just what is that purpose?

God knows that most of the humans alive on the planet on that day are horribly imperfect, not because they have no souls, but because they are vessels that are barely evolved enough to be able to truly open the inner eye. A rock may be given a soul, but a rock's soul isn't very outward, a rock has little perception, a rock cannot reason. It is a very "being", passive kind of soul. The soul of every animal is similar -- it becomes one and partakes of God, but only according to the measure of its evolution-granted abilities. Some humans of the day are basically animals with little potential. Some are potentially quite compassionate and enlightened. Up to now, evolution has not favored compassion or enlightenment except as a side effect. For evolution to make progress, there has to be a new criterion that drives survival, that of "goodness" and "compassion". But how to awaken these abstract ideas in human hearts with little room in them?

Adam is closer to the animal than Lilith; he is filled with fear, fear of death in particular. He is also far more selfish -- the reptile is louder within him. The reptile needs rules -- things that tie in survival benefit, punishment, pain, reward, status -- to justify behavior, where Lilith just uses her neocortical common sense (reinforced with preternatural knowledge and, of course, a personal relationship with God that quietens her inner reptile). Adam sees the future with his preternatural knowledge, sees his own death, sees the potential death of everything, all his children, of the entire world, and where Lilith is accepting, he fears it and tries to invent rules that will channel all those reptile-brained humans out there into non-destructive pathways until humans have a chance to evolve into a higher state both physically and spiritually, memetically. The rules themselves will create an evolutionary landscape that tips humankind into a state where being good is a survival advantage relative to being selfish and "evil", although as God makes clear, "evil" is what he defines it to be as it isn't "real", merely a tool God uses on itself as it shapes the only story that can while away an eternity for God Itself, a story of eternal birth and rebirth, evolution from mechanism into Soul, a process of forever becoming Itself.

This is Lilith's personal, book-long revelation. Her story is just one such tale that God tells Itself in the long night (that is also a long brightness). Every Self-aware entity is God's eyes and ears, living Its own tale. All death, all pain, are but an illusion, part of the story, needed to define life and joy. Only at the end does Lilith learn to permit suffering in a state of compassion, knowing that in the fullness of time that suffering is just part of the plot and that the One awareness will bubble up elsewhere to experience a balancing Joy.

rgb


message 7: by Robert (last edited May 22, 2008 11:26AM) (new)

Robert (rgbatduke) | 253 comments As I said, this isn't what I think really happened, but I do think it is a nice little bit of magical realism, replete with message and all that. It is a Moral Tale of sorts. And one part of it I do endorse -- if God exists, God exists within each one of us at precisely the point where we watch ourselves watching the world, the nubbin of our awareness, the kernel that differentiates us and our lives from the silent babble of the television in the empty room. Perhaps it seems trite, but I am God. You are God. My dog is God. It is said that God sees the humblest sparrow that falls, because (after all) God is that sparrow. God is that which sees, that by which seeing occurs. Without this vision, reality may well exist as pure mechanism, but it is an unread book and even if this direct experience of God is an illusion, it is an illusion more "real" than sightless mechanism alone, to those of us that See.

So, you want my definition of Soul? There it is. As I sit there, typing this, I do my best to live in a continuing state of Self-awareness that reaches beyond "just" my animal, mechanical reaction to my environment, that is more than "just" my pulling these words out of God knows where (just who is typing them, I often wonder, as I watch myself type them, as they arise within me, but as I cannot watch them arise and make them arise at the same time, as they are born from a marvelous spark.

This is the state that some humans, perhaps, call prayer. Utter, continuous awareness of God at the point of Self. Even as I dance in and out of this state (for it is difficult to remain within it at all times in a body bound to the wheel) I sense that the dance itself, the being bound to the wheel, is what it is all about. I do not long for "immortality", I am immortal. If I die in the next five minutes and blink out of existence for a billion billion lifetimes of the Universe, every Eye that opens onto any of those Universes will be my Eye, and all the time that this Eye is closed will be less than an eye's blink, no time at all. Time only exists when an Eye is there to see, however marvelous the mechanism of the DVD player than plays Universes and forms eyes one at the same time, however wondrous and miraculous the storyteller that fills the infinite night with its ever varying display of light and at the same time is the Watcher than insures that the TV is never, ever, playing to an empty room.

rgb

P.S. -- if it isn't obvious, I think that Soul is much more a suitable matter for poetry and experience than for logic or scripture, better captured in a song or story than in an algorithm, and that above all is the desperately savored moments of experiencing that is at the heart of all light and beauty (and darkness and pain) perceived in the Universe.

O body swayed to music,
O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?




message 8: by Robin (new)

Robin (therobinreardon) | 48 comments Oh, good; we're all here now. I hope others will join as well.

rgb, your description of self-awareness and soul, your attitude that you are God, I am god, my cat is God -- this all jives so totally with how I view the cosmos.

I refer to it as the cosmic push-me, pull-you. God can know God (Self) only when there exists something/someone to perceive God (where rbg says time happens; perfect). So if I may be allowed a little anthropomorphism for a moment, God Is. God wants to know God but can do so only of God manifests. So there is Lillith (yeah, I stole that). And Lillith spreads the seed of awareness so that God can have infinite potential for understanding God. God needs diversity to get to the deepest level of self-awareness, self-knowledge, but diverstiy longs for Oneness again. And here we get to that place rgb describes as "so close, to non-existence, that blissful or not it becomes a kind of nothing..."

It is no thing. Because all things are now one, or are perceived that way from within the union. And Atman becomes Brahman (with a nod to the Upanishads thread).


message 9: by Robert (new)

Robert (rgbatduke) | 253 comments Yeah, Robin, basically that's pretty much it. Although it misses the description of joy associated with being.

You see, I'm a very bad Buddhist. In fact, I'm probably not a Buddhist. I think that the point of the whole thing is to be bound to the wheel. Yes, it is heaven and hell and everything in between. But in the unified state, in the state of Brahman, there is no richness, no "life".

However, life is better if one is "enlightened". Pain sucks, but it sucks less if one has perspective. That's why I think reason is important, and understanding the relation of humans to God is important. It isn't about "eternal life in heaven" where heaven is a place where there is no pain. It is about the experience of Lilith at the end of her life as Lilith.

Her death wasn't a transition to some sort of bizarre state of eternal "life" in a state of some sort of wish-fullfillment. It was a mix of unity with God and rebirth into the world of pain and joy, forever, with the pain always passing and the joy enduring, timeless. Her "falling into the eye of God" was a series of small births and deaths, but she was only "herself" when she was separate.

rgb



message 10: by Kristjan (last edited May 25, 2008 04:47AM) (new)

Kristjan (booktroll) rgb said: You see, I'm a very bad Buddhist. In fact, I'm probably not a Buddhist. I think that the point of the whole thing is to be bound to the wheel. Yes, it is heaven and hell and everything in between. But in the unified state, in the state of Brahman, there is no richness, no "life".

Yeah ... that part of Buddhism has always escape me as well. I am pretty much a 'regardless of how much life sucks, it is still better then the alternative' kinda guy. Of course ... I have been quite blessed in this life, so my perspective might be a bit off :)



message 11: by Robin (new)

Robin (therobinreardon) | 48 comments LOL! Kristjan, I know what you mean. I feel pretty blessed as well. And a huge part of this blessing comes from encountering people like you and rgb, because even though my understanding of the cosmos is what it is, the joy deepens and feels warmer when others share it and offer their own perspective.

rgb, sorry if I left out the joy; guess it seems implicit to me. But thanks for calling it out. And the wheel is what it's all about, I agree; otherwise, what would be the point? And why would God bother to manifest? I'm going to repeat here a poem (of sorts) that I posted in some other thread -- I forget which, now -- because it sums things up for me so nicely.

Knowing Paradise
-- Robin Reardon

What is Paradise
If you never leave it?
If you never leave it,
Can you perceive it?
If you never perceive it,
How can you know it?

Enter the serpent.
The Great Divider.
He tempts you with knowing.
You taste.
You perceive.
You learn.
You leave.
You know what you’ve lost.

Do you know what you’ve gained?

What is Music without
Tension and exquisite resolution?
What is Story without
climax and dénouement?
What is Life without
awareness of sobering Death?

In this tension,
On this earth
Between heaven and hell,
In this place of knowing,
Here,
We dance.




message 12: by Robert (new)

Robert (rgbatduke) | 253 comments Dear K:

Exactly. To me the Boddhisatva is the ideal, not the hermit-like Buddha sitting alone on the mountain. Leaving aside the silly issue of just what (or rather who) has "Buddha-nature" and who (or rather what) doesn't, I am drawn to the idea that all things with Buddha nature but who are Unawakened benefit from being Awakened (where the caps are deliberate if perhaps excessively florid:-). All sentient beings are the Buddha, but most of them are asleep, as it were, and need the hand of a kindly Buddha who remains here bound to the wheel when they could be off gallivanting around with the unified monadic All in a state of timeless Nirvana to "give them a friendly shake" and awaken.

This is the common tragedy of Siddhartha whom we know as the Buddha and the man we know as Jesus (but whose actual given name was almost certainly something else, something lost in myth and legend, as Jesus basically is a title meaning savior of God, just as the title of Nazarene very likely means something other than "person of Nazareth" as Nazareth wasn't even a named community if it was there at all at the time of Jesus's birth).

Siddhartha never, ever claimed to be God. To the extent that he spoke of God and his words were recorded, he instructed his followers not to argue over God -- it wasn't important, and wasn't the point. The point was (and is today) to live in a way that minimizes suffering and maximizes personal peace and acceptance of the slings and arrows of an outrageous and often cruel fortune (while doing one's best to take up arms against the sea of troubles and by action end them, albeit a bit less violently than Hamlet had in mind:-). It was after his death that the established religion of Hinduism took a look at this new philosopher that basically said "priests are unimportant, caste is unimportant, sacrifice is unimportant, the cycle of rebirth can be broken by anyone of any caste who awakens their inner Self" and promptly crowned him God Incarnate, an avatar of Vishnu, the one who would begin and end a yuga.

The common people, ones who are unready for Enlightenment, who are filled with fear of death, were then and remain today ripe for exploitation by the priest-class. The established religion grasps firmly a golden key that they claim opens the gates to heaven and immortality and that they alone possess, they provide rituals for birth and death and marriage, they provide soothing magic that gives the illusion of control over the uncontrollable. The people ever turn away from philosophy and try to purchase the use of the golden key by tithing, by participating, by belonging, by praying, by worshiping, but alas, Brahman is not the being that is worshiped of men and the only key to His being is not made of gold, rituals, or worship. In a trice "Buddhism" becomes a "religion" and Buddha himself a brass idol to whom men pray! How silly is that!

So it was for the man who may or may not have been from Galilee (hard to say as his history was even more rewritten and mythologized by those intent on making his words into a religion thirty to seventy years after his death). To me it is really amazing that they New Testament is utterly dominated not by the Apostles but by Paul. Paul never actually knew Jesus, but he damn well knew religion (as an ex-Pharisee, after all). He knew what the people wanted and expected, and was utterly shameless about invoking private sightings of and meetings with Jesus whenever they would serve his purpose. He saw, perhaps better than any other, the potential for a new political religion, one that could stand up to Rome where Judaism had utterly failed.

Thus we go from the man who wasn't named Jesus's words, as recorded by Thomas who might well have been his twin brother since Didymus and Thomas both mean twin, a man who was clearly given a separate charge from most of the other apostles, words that are echo'd quite accurately in the other gospels, to an enormous and elaborate religion with one of the most powerful political structures ever built by mankind. 1700 years of unbroken political power; even the great dynasties of history rarely lasted more than 1000.

We go from words that seem to me even today to be not only philosophy, but in many cases to echo Buddha's philosophy (lending credence to the idea that Buddhism, which had certainly made its way west by that that time, and the Greek philosophers, whose words had doubtless been carried south to the literate Jews by the literate Romans, both influenced the philosophy taught by Jesus) to an already potent power-structure set up by Paul, to a set of scribes charged with recording in Greek an oral life-history that has been told and retold for at least thirty years, long after the nominal authors were dead, long after the needs of the political body of the nascent religion are clearly defined. It is evolution in action -- all the politically weaker variants of Jesus's teachings and story are eliminated and literally eaten by the victorious superorganism. Jesus's actual teachings are literally subordinated to Paul's doctrines and the apostles' post-death revelations and prophecies, to the needs of a powerful central authority that literally conquers Rome by accommodating the needs of the Roman emperors, by being an ideal religion for an enslaved and repressed population that promises them a rewarding afterlife for being an obedient serf or slave today. Jesus himself ceases to be a teacher, a Boddhisatva, and becomes a brass idol of a suffering figure on a cross, a golden key to heaven, one that can be possessed even by the most foolish and venal for a bit of coin and sincere repentance (no need for actual thought or understanding -- indeed, one is rapidly taught that the mystery is beyond understanding so don't bother trying, just "let Jesus into your heart" and he'll do the heavy lifting for you).

The Jefferson Bible is an interesting redaction of the gospels, a lovely attempt to strip away the smoke and mirrors, the miracles that were doubtless added to "prove" that Jesus was deity or that were explained by the placebo-hysteria that accompanies "holy men" even today as they wander through any primitive culture among people who are both ignorant and trapped in a kind of hopeless hell. Hope is a powerful medicine, and belief can cure many ailments, just as it can cause them. We've already seen in the Upanishads thread how they could use the same sort of "house-cleaning" -- stripping away all the miracles and talk of "immortality" -- bait for the masses -- and focus on the simple message itself.

To me the really interesting thing about the Gnostic gospels, particularly the Book of Thomas (which absolutely should have been in the NT and should be restored there today) is the way they in at least some cases focus back on the actual words, the actual teachings of Jesus. Not of Paul. Not even of the apostles, "interpreting" those teachings in letters or preserved sermons. Thomas doesn't bother to interpret -- he just preserves his (brother's?) words. And in Thomas (to bring this long ramble back on topic:-) we hear Jesus' words on Soul:

He who blasphemes against the Father will be forgiven. He who blasphemes against the Son will be forgiven. He who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either on earth or in heaven.

This is almost identical to passages in the synoptics, but the difference is so crucial one can understand why the descendants of Pauline Christianity had to purge it. In this one passage, Jesus essentially notes that "the Father" is an anthropomorphized invention, that he himself is not divine, but that there is something -- the Holy Spirit, or dare I say Atman/Brahman -- that is real, and a key to earthly peace, not just "heaven".

Right on, Jesus! Boddhi me, baby!

rgb


message 13: by Robert (last edited May 27, 2008 07:04AM) (new)

Robert (rgbatduke) | 253 comments Beloved R:

Nice poem! Here are a couple or three of mine:

Koan: The Buddha's Tragedy


Buddha's tragedy:
He died a philosopher;
They made him a god.


==============================

Koan: The Buddha


Who is the Buddha?
This is the cry
of young children in the wilderness
of time
of old men at the ragged edge
of time
of mothers struggling with the warp and woof
of time.

Who is the Buddha,
and where does he sit
beneath the Banyan with a Mona Lisa smile
playing on his lips long before Leonardo?

Who is the Buddha,
and when will he come
to wrestle the angels of antique religions
on pinheads or razors that split the hairshirts
so fashionable for the flesh to mortify?

Who is the Buddha,
and what does he say,
what does he Know about life today and the pale
that lies beyond the utmost bound of human thought?

The Buddha lies within the lotus
that unfolds at the center of self
and embraces with awareness
the All. Ulysses understood.

You are the Buddha.

=============================

Koan: Maya

Tiger stalks by night,
by day, it hunts bloody and red,
feeds on steaming flesh.
Sated, it sleeps to purr its dreams:
four feet like jungle drums,
wide ears to fan the flies,
nose that grasps the skies.

Tiger turns, its dreams
run real. Tiger is no more.


Elephant walks by night,
by day, it loafs muddy and wet,
feeds on gleaming leaves.
Sated, it sleeps to snort its dreams:
feet with fingers, hands with thumbs,
eyes aware and quizzical,
tail so long and physical.

Elephant stamps, its dreams
run real. Elephant is no more.


Monkey climbs by night,
by day, it sits grooming its mate,
feeds by gleaning fruit.
Sated, it sleeps to grunt its dreams:
feet like clubs, skin gone smooth,
eyes that promise and betray,
words of laughter and dismay.

Monkey stirs, its dreams
run real. Monkey is no more.



Man lies by night,
by day, he follows unknown fate,
feeds on all the world.
Sated, he sleeps to seek his dreams:
the jewel in the heart of the lotus,
transfinite reflections of peace,
where even dreaming can cease.

Man sighs, his dreams
run real. Man is no more.


Buddha is by night,
by day, all one and the same to him,
feeds on songs of stars.
Sated, he sits. Aware, he sees:
the jewel in the heart of the lotus,
the Eye in time's stream.

The Buddha does not dream.



message 14: by Robin (new)

Robin (therobinreardon) | 48 comments rgb: Love the poems!


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