Archive | March 2020

Within Our Reach, Even Now

I thought I would use the opportunity today to post a letter written on Christmas Eve, 1513 by the Renaissance Franciscan monk Fra Giovanni Giocondo (1435 – 1515) to Countess Allagia Aldobrandeschi. It is very much in the spirit of William Blake and Jean Gebser, too. It also brings to mind the ultimate Buddhist paradox: nirvana and samsara are the same; nirvana and samsara are not the same. So, you may read it in that understanding.

I salute you. I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.  There is nothing I can give you which you have not. But there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant.

Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in darkness, could we but see.  And to see, we have only to look. I beseech you to look!

Life is so generous a giver. But we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you.

Everything we call a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there. The gift is there and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Your joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.

Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.


A Meditation on Shiva: The Dance of the Nataraj

Well, things have turned pretty Topsy-Turvey (if not Helter Skelter) within the early weeks of the year 2020, no? It’s a very good reason for understanding the process called “enantiodromia” — or sudden (ironic) reversals at the extremity (or, what is sometimes called “the flip-flop”, somewhat like a fish that has been extracted from its familiar element).

Time to reflect again on “the crisis of paradox” and on Jean Gebser’s “double-movement”, and I find contemplating the symbolism of Shiva and Shiva’s Dance in this times very helpful and very appropriate.

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The Fifth Revolution: Health

“Then the tide rushes in
And washes my castles away.” — Moody Blues, “The Tide Rushes In”

In seems appropriate this morning to recall something Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy anticipated decades ago, gleaned from his study of the Age of Revolutions entitled Out of Revolution: Autobiography of Western Man. From his interpretation of the pattern of the four great revolutions, he concluded there would be yet a fifth, one that would seal and close the Modern Era, but also inaugurate a new era. The organising principle of this fifth revolution would be, he thought, “health”. It now seems quite prescient.

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