"among prominent philosophers, there are two distinct viewpoints on time. one view is that time is part of the fundamental structure of the universe, a dimension in which events occur in sequence. the opposing view is that time does not refer to any kind of "container" that events and objects "move through", nor to any entity that "flows", but that it is instead part of a fundamental intellectual structure (together with space and number) within which humans sequence and compare events."
carl sandburg wrote:
in the cool of the night time the clocks pick off the points and the mainsprings loosen. they will need winding. one of these days they will need winding.
with time measuring the unmeasurable. with space defining the undefinable.
here we are.
what a strange place to call home. what a strange way to define the sacred space we know as home. if, as teilhard de chardin says, "we are not so much human beings on a spiritual journey, as spiritual beings on a human journey", then what can we make about this agreed upon artifice - time and space? what purpose does it serve?
"raptly as one who would divine the perilous eyes of sleep, and the dreams and mysteries which lurk therein, i sought to fathom the gulf-enclosing orb of the crystal: void for a time, and hollow with light it was, and transpicuous like the orient sky that is made clear for the colours of the dawn. but soon the light was centered to a star, and the crystal itself, as if pregnant with the Infinite, became a tenebrous and profound abysm, through which a teeming myriad of shadows, vague as incipient dreams, or luminous with a glimpse of vision not prefigurable, fled in an ever-changing phantasmagoric succession about the star: from out those vortical and swirling glooms, where only the central star was constant, i saw the pallor of innominable faces emerge-faces that broke like bubbles; and forms that were strange as conceptions of an alien sun, with the eidolons of things which were imageless before, swam for a little in that phantasmic wave. but all the multifold mysteries which were manifest therein, i knew for the hidden thoughts and occluse, reluctant dreams of mine under-soul — thoughts and dreams now shadow-shown in the gulf-revealing orb of the hollow crystal...
thus, in the crystal of time and space, whose gulfs contain all that we call the infinite, may God behold the manifestation of all the multiform mysteries, and all the secret thoughts and dreams which abide in the centermost sanctuary of his being. and naught may appear to him but these - his thoughts and dreams forever shadow - shown in the immeasurable orb of the hollow crystal of time and space."
if i lived my life full in the knowledge that each moment might be my last, how different would i appear? to others - to myself.
i was brought to that thought after reading al purdy's poem "lu yu (ad 1125-1209)". reading it brought to mind the parable from the mahabharata relating the plight of the man who has fallen into a pit.
al's poem reads . . . .
on the day of lu yu's last sickness a thin coffin was ready, and two quilts to cover him, and the gravediggers paid their work done. then he started to write another poem a short time before death, about drinking wine again in the village - he was working on the poem when they buried him, so that half a line protruded from the earth in wind and weather's hearing - with sunlight touching the first young syllables, the last ones flowering from a dark coffin: "marketplace the in/drink more one" the first three words above ground the last ones wine in the red dust. near the village of shanyang in chekiang province…
the man in the wilderness - a parable from mahabharata from stree parva (the book of women). from the translation by kisari mohan ganguli
"a certain brahmana, living in the great world found himself on one occasion in a large inaccessible forest teaming with beasts of prey. it abounded on every side with lions and other animals looking like elephants, all of which were engaged in roaring aloud. such was the aspect of that forest that yama himself would take fright at it.
beholding the forest, the heart of the brahmana became exceedingly agitated. his hair stood on end, and other signs of fear manifested themselves, o scorcher of foes! entering it, he began to run hither and thither, casting his eyes on every point of the compass for finding out somebody whose shelter he might seek. wishing to avoid those terrible creatures, he ran in fright. he could not succeed, however, in distancing them or freeing himself from their presence.
he then saw that the terrible forest was surrounded by a net, and that a frightful woman stood there stretching her arms. that large forest was also encompassed by many five-headed snakes of dreadful forms, tall as cliffs and touching the very heavens.
within it was a pit whose mouth was covered with many hard and unyielding creepers and herbs. the brahmana, in course of his wanderings fell into that invisible pit. he became entangled in those clusters of creepers that were interwoven with one another, like the large fruit of a jack tree hanging by its stalk. he continued to hang there, feet upwards and head downwards while he was in that posture, diverse other calamities overtook him.
he beheld a large and mighty snake within the pit. he also saw a gigantic elephant near its mouth. that elephant, dark in complexion, had six faces and twelve feet. and the animal gradually approached that pit covered with creepers and trees.
about the twigs of the tree (that stood at the mouth of the pit), rowed many bees of frightful forms, employed from before in drinking the honey gathered in their comb about which they swarmed in large numbers. repeatedly they desired, o bull of the bharatha's race, to taste that honey which though sweet to all creatures, however attracts children only. the honey (collected in the comb) fell in many jets below. the person who was hanging in the pit continually drank those jets. employed, in such a distressful situation, in drinking that honey, his thirst, however, could not be appeased.
o king, he did not become indifferent to life. even there, the man continued to hope for existence.
a number of black and white rats were eating away the roots of that tree. there was fear from the beasts of prey, from that fierce woman on the outskirts of the forest, from that snake at the bottom of the well, from that elephant near its tip, from the fall of the tree through the action of the rats and lastly from the bees flying about for tasting the honey. In that plight he continued to dwell, deprived of his senses, in that wilderness, never losing at any time the hope of prolonging his life."
if i lived my life full in the knowledge that each moment might be my last, how different would i appear? to others - to myself. how would the quality of my life change? how would the quality of the lives of those around me change? how could i live my life that way and not live without consideration for myself and others?
there are moments of such blinding clarity that i wonder how i've made my way through life - with my eyes closed? sometimes my eyes open wide and then i see what i wish i could see all the time.
"what you are you do not see, what you see is your shadow." rabindranath tagore
"arise the other" karen stefano.
a.g.e. blake expresses a moment of seeing unfolding:
"coming across gurdjieff was a wondrous moment in my life when in deep unease at being alive, indulging in existentialism, seeking answers in physics and being visited by feelings and thoughts that just could not fit into the worldview that seemed to be governing the world, he had the appearance of someone who had been through all of it and come out the other side. he belonged with many others such as krishnamurti – and I would add today, bernadette roberts – who were speaking from another place. yet he also had appeal because he offered ways of experimenting with experience itself that one could do here and now in the midst of life. he raised a new awareness of what it was to breathe, move, think and pay attention so that one could experience something of that zen-like quality of ordinary life two inches of the ground. he brought into question the most ordinary and everyday things we take for granted."
"dectesuque" karen stefano further writings of anthony blake that introduce the ideas of gudjieff can be read here . . . . gurdjieff and now
my soul is sick to-day; my soul is sick with absence; my soul has the sickness of silence; and my eyes light it with tedium. i catch sight of hunts at a standstill, under the blue lashes of my memories; and the hidden hounds of my desires follow the outworn scents. i see the packs of my dreams threading the warm forests, and the yellow arrows of regret seeking the white deer of lies. ah, God! my breathless longings, the warm longings of my eyes, have clouded with breaths too blue the moon which fills my soul.