Dancing with Mystery

“Why did I ever try to catch you? Of course every net that I threw in the ocean, every web that I spun like a spider, every box of words I imagined into existence—of course none of them ever had a chance. You danced out of them, laughing joyfully, jesting at me, wondering when I would start laughing, too.

“But you didn’t even have to dance. You did that because it’s so beautiful and heartful to take a form, and sway, and jive, and fall into the rhythm.

“You didn’t have to dance because you couldn’t be caught to begin with. The White Stag merely imitates the elusiveness you embody. Elusive but ever-available—how do you do that, again?

“. . . I saw you shining in the eyes of my lover, peering forth behind batting eyelashes. Playing innocent; playing infatuated.

“I saw you shining in the eyes of the man with schizophrenia, too. He was hurting, he was confused; and yet, you were there underneath the confusion.

“Once I was looking at the pond in the springtime, when the frost was melting in the ground and things were crawling in the soil. The sunshine caressed my skin.  It was quiet inside; peaceful. You were there shining out of my eyes, too. That was when I knew—when I was quiet.

“In all things I feel you without knowing how. Looking too hard, I can’t find you. Making no effort, I am lost. Seeing from silence, seeing from sincerity—the light returns from mere memory. . . .

“A man says to me, ‘Knock and the door will be opened.’

“Then why do I look in all the wrong places?—and spend all my time futilely?

“What is this mess we continue to make, so ignorant and hypocritical?

“What is this love so fierce and forgiving that makes rulers bow and hardened souls melt at its touch?

“And you dance; and you dance my answers away. ‘Come and dance with me!’ you say.

“I wear a mask of seriousness that you peel from my face. You wear no mask; you playfully dance!—but do not say who you are.

“I see in your face the sun and the moon; the tides and the grasses growing. I see in your face the Radiance dawning, eternally, on everything, everywhere.

“Dancing, not knowing—that’s how you have been dancing.

“So I dance; and I dance my answers away.”

“Homecoming”

These poems are inspired by life, by the spiritual journey.

 

“Who will catch you when you fall?”

Who will catch you,

when you fall?

Yesterday’s freedom

is today’s prison wall

By letting go,

and letting go,

you’ll come to know

how deep is your faith

that ‘this is The Place’

and something will catch you

when you fall

 

“Gratitude”

I kneel by the water’s side,

whisper to the still tide,

this my soul confides

in life:

“Thank you”

 

And this stream of memory,

this flow, where we inter-be,

through an act of alchemy,

is revealed as “Life Divine”

—no more will I call it “mine”

 

“Silence”

Before any word

is spoken, it shines

right out of your eyes;

Cease to talk and be

bright as a star!

 

“Rooftops”

I was dancing on the rooftops,

laughing,

my heart restored to joy,

Knowing it was all around me

and always would be

 

“Homecoming”

In the beginning I could not see you

in the end I could

in the middle I doubted

whether I ever would

But you were there from the start,

seeing me blind,

There in the middle,

watching my mind,

Here at the end,

happy it’s time,

I come home

“Affirmation”

“Disagreements”

Nothing saves the ungrateful king,

on his throne,

full of righteousness,

No words can reach him

beyond the veils he put

over his eyes

 

Yet beneath his robes

of lavish color, and crown

of bright jewels, a child

cowers, frightened

and alone

(it’s why his scepter’s gripped

so fiercely)

 

In seeing the hidden one,

the façade collapses,

the kingdom is liberated

from tyranny, and

the dark age gives way

to joy and play

 

“Attachment to Knowledge”

Insights come

like birdsong in blue sky:

clear and beautiful.

You can’t keep them,

but you can listen.

 

“False Seeking”

He fled in haste

the shadows seen

in the corner of his eye

To find the Love

he seemed to lose

his life’s pathway gone awry

The dark ones wait,

anticipate,

the day he’ll embrace their cries

 

“Affirmation” (first)

Sunlight sweeps over plains

and mountains, at dawn,

Awakening the hearts

of the ten thousands

 

In a village

a little girl is born

to embark on a journey

all her own

 

The planets spin,

Galaxies fly

through space, and when

will you say Yes?

Paradox and Poetry

Feeling

There is one I,

Listening

There are many,

Looking

There is no one,

Confusion dawns

As wisdom

The definition of a paradox is, “a seemingly absurd or contradictory statement which, when investigated, may prove to be well founded or true.”

When we think long enough we arrive at paradoxes. They make us want to check our premises again. They baffle us. When I arrive at a paradox I want to make a distinction that lessens the ‘contradictoriness.’ And being able to, I often do. The newly made division provides some assurance that logic hasn’t failed me. However, I go back “into the mind,” back into thinking.

But what if the point of a paradox isn’t to go back into thinking, but to be broken by absurdity, and opened to the unknown? There is a certain way that it feels to think you have everything “figured out,” to have everything “put in its place.” Yet it comes with a form of closed-mindedness. You’ve filled the room with furniture and haven’t left space for any new stuff to come in.

A good question or an inquiry ‘opens’ the mind, because attention begins looking for something that it doesn’t already have. It turns us to experience, not just to what we’ve stored in memory. In that moment of questioning there can be an inner silence and receptiveness to novelty. In a similar way, a paradox invites the mind to a natural, quiet stopping, as if the ground you were running on was hard pavement, and it suddenly turned to soft sand.

If we look at life from the perspective of where our attention is, then in thinking, attention is absorbed in the movements of mind. This has physical consequences in terms of forming neural pathways in the brain, and emotional consequences, as well. So when a paradox confronts us, and there are two roads, so to speak—one leading to more thinking, the other not—then the choice is substantial. Really, it’s a choice between the comfort of the known and journeying into the unknown, between two realms of experience.

One thing that puzzled me from the Harry Potter series was the inscription written on the Golden Snitch that Harry catches in his first Quidditch game. It was a paradox: “I open at the close.” Leaving aside what that means at the end of the series, it’s a statement that can describe how the mind works. It comes to the close of a line of reasoning, is faced with a paradox, and then has the opportunity to open to something new, to what is not known.

Another great text that makes use of paradox (in a slightly different league than Harry Potter) is the Tao te Ching. If what is truly awesome about the Tao te Ching can be explained, then it is some combination of mind-bending paradox and soul-nourishing poetry. The words were penned by someone who intimately knew the “quiet aliveness” in things. Thus, when you read it, attuned to that, the words become “bright.” In such a light we begin to find ourselves:

There are some things

that feed the soul of man

Things that are incredible

Indescribable

and

without impurity

But they are the kinds of things that vanish

with too much learning

When I arrive at paradox my mind can be filled with fear, anxiety, and dis-ease. It no longer believes that it “knows.” The poetry of the Tao is an antidote, in that it makes paradox seem like a place to rest rather than something to struggle with, as in martial arts when your sparring partner moves a joint to a sharp angle of pain, in one moment, and in the next moment relieves the pain through transition to a more natural position. It’s actually one seamless happening. Or it’s like the life of a wave of water as it forms a crest and “peaks,” and then collapses back into the ocean. The Tao reads like water moves.

…Paradox and poetry—two tickets to the “amazing show;” the music, magic and mystery of existence.

In everything

Mystery roars

like great flames

* * *

(Second block quote by D.R. Streeter, from his translation of the Tao te Ching. First and third blocks are the author’s… These ideas inspired by Adyashanti’s “Wholeness Beyond Belief.”)