Saturday, September 16, 2006

Mysticism and Scholarship

Part of my task as a writer has been to integrate my inclination toward the sacred, toward mysticism, with my scholarly pursuits. I've always felt a little off kilter in academic environments which are more than a little left-brained and practical. It leaves me feeling a bit like a "flake," sometimes, and I don't like feeling that way. Like the novelist Edith Wharton, who was born the same day of the month that I was, I've always had the need to be taken seriously by my peers and especially my colleagues at the university. My reputation, my very future at the university, is dependant on their respect for what I do.

This search for integration has led me to a book written at the turn of the century by a mystic and scholar, Rudolf Steiner. In Mystics After Modernism, Steiner discusses Meister Eckhart, Johannes Tauler, Heinrich Suso, Jan Van Ruysbroeck, Nicholas of Cusa, Agrippa of Nettesheim, Paracelsus, Valentin Weigel, Jacob Boehme, Giordano Bruno, and Angelus Silesius.

The foreword, by Christopher Bamford, is enlightening. Bamford discusses how a certain kind of listening can lead us to "become what we know." This knowledge, this becoming, according to Bamford, "is not a little self, but a self that is ultimately one with the universe."

For some, the contemplative seems shut off from the world, yet Steiner says that "What takes place in our inner life is not a mere [private] mental repetition, but a real part of the universal process."

For the mystic, the divine isn't something external to be repeated within; it is "something real in them to be awakened," says Bamford.

Angelus Silesius put it this way: "I know without me God cannot live for a moment; if I were to come to naught, God would have to give up the ghost. ... God cannot make a single worm without me; if I do not preserve it with God, it would fall apart immediately."

Bamford ends with the statement: "In fact, the world is falling apart, and it is up to us to preserve it."

Two things present themselves from this present exploration:

1) Silesius is talking about a kind of reciprocity not unlike Lao Tzu's.
2) My writing life is my vehicle of awakening and my mode of reciprocity. If the world is falling apart, as Bamford suggests, maybe it's through writing that I do my part to preserve it.
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Dreaming

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Northwest Ohio, United States
"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken

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Fave Painting: Eden

Fave Painting:  Eden

Fave Painting: The Three Ages of Man and Death

Fave Painting:  The Three Ages of Man and Death
by Albrecht Dürer

From the First Chapter

The Secret of Hurricanes : That article in the Waterville Scout said it was Shake- spearean, all that fatalism that guides the Kennedys' lives. The likelihood of untimely death. Recently, another one died in his prime, John-John in an airplane. Not long before that, Bobby's boy. While playing football at high speeds on snow skis. Those Kennedys take some crazy chances. I prefer my own easy ways. Which isn't to say my life hasn't been Shake-spearean. By the time I was sixteen, my life was like the darkened stage at the end of Hamlet or Macbeth. All littered with corpses and treachery.

My Original Artwork: Triptych

My Original Artwork:  Triptych

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