Posts Tagged ‘Self’

The traces of thoughts

The traces of thoughts

To the roots of mountains ;
to the utmost heights of streams ;
to Sun and Moon ;
to the very womb of Cosmos…
Seek thee the source of all things good.

Hark the music of the Spheres
And be glad.

Watch the paths of shooting stars,
Feel the breath of world’s first wind,
In Ithilien fair scent first blooms
That touched the tastes of angels,
And recall.

Thine infinity is not thine own,
Sweet soul,
Nor yet thine personhood.

Your I you love and all admire
Is a universe indeed ;
Touched by angels it surely is,
But yet by something more.

Seek it with impressive drive ;
And strive to know it as ne’er before ;
And think the thoughts that from it come.

A worthy search, a worthy find.
A loveliness of other kind.

But pause …. and first recall your words …
And question boldly – then –
Find a thought that comes from I?

But ask not, “Whence comes I?”

Jamie MacNab 10/2011

After Atoms of Stars …  http://atomsofstars.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/the-inward-eye/


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The Middle Ages were interesting times.  They were times when we invested a deal of energy and ingenuity trying to civilise ourselves more.  Trying to break away from the violent conduct that came so naturally with us out of the Darker Ages.

It comes as no surprise, then, to find a preoccupation with thinking, debating, and legislating for moral conduct.  Of course, the Greeks and Romans got there before us (not to mention the Babylonians, Hebrews, Egyptians, Hindus et al).  But it was the Middle Ages in Europe that arguably produced some the finest thinkers, who built their ideas on ancient writings and refined them.

Thomas Aquinas wrote an essay on each of the major emotions that we commonly have.  And, when he came to Anger, he had to say that it was the unique emotion, unlike all the others.  For anger is not an emotion that itself impels us to action ; it is the emotion that we have when we wish to take some action but find that something is preventing us.

Some more thinking and reflection on this reveals that it is not often some ‘thing’ that is standing in our way ; it more often some person.  And what is even more of a revelation is that the ‘person’ is ultimately none other than oneself.

And anger is a destructive emotion.  Because anger cannot act outwardly on the world, it always turns inward and acts on the one who is angry.  Anger is not the same thing as rage ; rage acts outwardly and seeks to destroy that which obstructs us.  If the rage is successful and the obstruction is removed, then the rage abates ; but if it is unsuccessful, it turns into anger and stays.

There are two broad ways of dealing with anger : we can remove the obstruction : or we can ignore the obstruction – we can change the object of our desires so that the old obstruction becomes irrelevant.  Either way is equally effective.

So … If you’re crying for the moon, those tears are the tears of anger.  Those tears do nothing for or against the moon, but what are they doing to you?  If you are angry with your friend, your anger does nothing for or against him ; but what is it doing to your friendship?

William Blake’s understanding of anger is subtle, as his poem here shows.

A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

William Blake

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It is not fashionable nowadays to speak of the Zeitgeist, that something that affects first the collective unconscious and then the collective conscious.  But, nevertheless, it does happen that periods occur when a particular idea seems to be infectious ; when the idea emerges from several people who seem to have no contact with each other.  The problem for Zeitgeist theorists is that it is tricky to establish whether or not the various people with the idea have indeed had contact.

The years from the lateish nineteenth century to about the mid-twentieth were interesting from many points of view.  Were Einstein’s opinions on Time entirely due to his own cogitations?  Or was he influenced (directly or indirectly) by such writers as Henry James and JM Barrie? or by such physicists as AN Whitehead?  Or the eighteenth century writer, Jean d’Alembert.  It is probably idle to speculate, though maybe somebody has already done the research.

There seems little doubt that Tolkien was influenced by other writers in his inspiration for his rivetting tales.  For the relation between Self and Space and Time is the key to his understanding of Middle Earth and those even older realms discovered (or revealed) in his various adventures.  And this understanding seems to have come, not exclusively, but principally from JW Dunne.  But, with Tolkien, we must be careful in our attributions, for he was a formidable scholar and he might well have derived his ideas first from the Old English literature.

At any rate, all these authors and others gave many people pause for thought on the natures of, and relations between, Self, Space and Time.  There was one nineteenth century author (not terribly well-known) who set up a nice little experiment to demonstrate our common ability to see through time – both backwards and forwards.  And what was most important about his experiment was its method rather than the results ; for this seems to have triggered the ideas of the later (and perhaps more sophisticated) thinkers on the subject.

The experiment requires a choice of location but no equipment ; and it can be done as a thought-experiment quite easily because it is so simple.  No precognitive dreams are needed, no mystics, no darkened rooms with incense.

And no deep meditations are needed, either ;  that comes later.

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