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.

20 responses to “Within Our Reach, Even Now”

  1. Soror Mystica says :

    Thanks. Beautiful.

  2. Steve says :

    Wow, that is some letter. I love that. May I turn everyone on to a most wonderful writer I just discovered a great writer and polymath Iris Murdoch.
    “Existentialists and Mystics: Writings on Philosophy and Literature,” with an
    introduction by the one and only George Steiner. My god, both these writers are almost to much to handle. The great learning and beautiful writing. I must
    study this women. Blown away. I hope everyone is doing well. Strange times
    indeed. I must say that I’m a little conspiratorial on all that’s happening. Or I can understand how conspiracies get started. Something smells rotten to me but I could be wrong.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      I’m a little conspiratorial on all that’s happening. Or I can understand how conspiracies get started. Something smells rotten to me but I could be wrong.

      Doubtful. Something is always “rotten in Denmark.” 😉 It’s usually “subconsciously” rotten, though….

    • Scott Preston says :

      A conspiracy of the Earth, perhaps — a.k.a, Gebser’s “Law of the Earth” being fulfilled.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    Cognisant that we are now Nietzsche’s tight-rope walker over an abyss, I’m more concerned now that we might fall into a kind of “Mad Max” scenario rather than make a successful transition to a less predatory kind of society.


  4. Scott Preston says :

    Quite lengthy article on the fate of civilisation and the coronavirus. but very thorough. Worth taking the time to read through

    View at Medium.com

  5. Steve says :

    For all you Rudolf Steiner lovers, a wonderful book by Dennis Klocek.
    ” Esoteric Physiology: Consciousness and Disease.” Dennis is a very interesting man. Many video’s of him lecturing on youtube.

  6. Steve says :

    Youtube…Yanis Varoufakis on the economic and political impact of Coronavirus.

  7. Scott Preston says :

    Contemplative piece on the meaning of the current crisis. Very good.


  8. Scott Preston says :

    Your mind isn’t confined to your brain, or even your body


    lends credence to Sheldrakes morphic fields

  9. Charles says :

    Jean Houston’s book Life Force is an articulate book (one of many) about the transition from the medieval to a modern consciousness. She asks the pertinent question (the sane one we are asking today)

    She writes,
    What were the alien conceptions that shattered the medieval and Renaissance confidence in rational order and cosmic harmony?

    The Black Death that “ravaged Europe for some three hundred years” served as the background from which new conceptions could more easily emerge.

    • Steve says :

      The human heart can go the lengths of God.
      Dark and cold we may be, but this
      Is no winter now. The frozen misery
      Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;
      The thunder is the thunder of the floes,
      The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.
      Thank God our Time is now when wrong
      Comes up to face us everywhere,
      Never to leave us till we take
      The longest stride of soul men ever took.
      Affairs are now soul size.
      The enterprise
      Is exploration into God.
      What are you waiting for? It takes
      So many thousand years to wake
      But will you wake for pit’s sake?

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
        Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomond,
        Where me and my true love were ever wont to gae,
        On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.


        O ye’ll tak’ the high road, and I’ll tak’ the low road,
        And I’ll be in Scotland a’fore ye,
        But me and my true love will never meet again,
        On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond.

        ‘Twas there that we parted, in yon shady glen,
        On the steep, steep side o’ Ben Lomond,
        Where in soft purple hue, the highland hills we view,
        And the moon coming out in the gloaming.


        O braw Charlie Stewart, dear true, true heart,
        Wha could refuse thee protection,
        Like the weeping birk on the wild hillside,
        How graceful he looked in dejection[5]


        The wee birdies sing and the wildflowers spring,
        And in sunshine the waters are sleeping.
        But the broken heart it kens nae second spring again,
        Though the waeful may cease frae their grieving.


        [The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond]

        • Steve says :

          Rilke’s friend, Frau Knoop, wrote him of her daughter’s last words shortly before she died: “Now I shall dance!”

          • InfiniteWarrior says :

            That’s sad. Here’s hoping she actually danced and sang and was joyous and grateful, etc. (and/or the opposite, which is quite unavoidable) at various times before she died. Too many of us think we have to wait until we die to experience the states of being, Heaven and Hell. We don’t. They’re here and now.

            Rilke’s work is among my favorites. Thanks for sharing. For those who wonder, the poem shared by Steve above is from Christopher Fry’s poetic play, A Sleep of Prisoners.

  10. Scott Preston says :

    Important article, I think about the co-determinants in what makes for susceptibility and the virulence of the coronavirus (I’m particularly vulnerable to it, of course also, given my “underlying condition” of kidney disease).

    It’s your milieu as much as anything, and you may think you’re keeping healthy and fit, but within a miieu that is not healthy and fit? So, the issues are systemic as the author points out — factors of nutrition, pollution, stress, physical inactivity — also make for “pre-existing conditions” or “underlying conditions”, and these are socio-economic or socio-cultural


  11. Scott Preston says :

    Seems we are now in the cocoon stage — quite literally.

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