Monday, September 24, 2012

Silence is the Sister of the Divine

Artist: Michal Lukasiewicz

The 13th century German mystic Meister Eckhart said that there is nothing in the world that resembles God so much as silence. "The central silence is there where no creature can enter, nor a thought, where the soul does not think or act, and keeps herself occupied with ideas about herself or anything else."

Silence is a great friend of the soul; it unveils the riches of solitude. It is very difficult to reach that quality of inner silence. You need to make a space for it so that it may begin to work for you. 

One of the tasks of true friendship is to listen compassionately and creatively to hidden silences. Often secrets are not revealed in words, they lie concealed in the silence between the words or in the depth of what remains inexpressible between two people. In modern life there is a great drive towards self-expression, with emphasis upon the individual. Sometimes the quality of what is expressed is superficial and repetitive. A greater tolerance of silence is desirable, that fecund silence which is the source of our most resonant language. The depth and substance of a friendship mirrors itself, not in what is openly said, but in the quality of the silence between two people.

As you begin to befriend your inner silence, one of the first things you will notice is the superficial chatter on the surface level of your mind. Once you recognize this, the silence deepens. A distinction begins to emerge between the images which you have of yourself and your own deeper nature.

A Blessing of Solitude

May you recognize in your life the presence, power, and Light of your soul.
May you realize that you are never alone,
that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you
intimately with the rhythm of the universe.
May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique,
that you have a special destiny here,
that behind the facade of your life there is something beautiful, good and eternal happening.
May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride, and expectation 
with which God sees you in every moment.


Drawn from: "Silence is the Sister of the Divine" in Anam Cara, a Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O'Donohue; Harper Perennial publishers.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sophia - the Breath of Life

To approach Sophia is to approach that vital spark of the divine within ourselves, for Sophia is the essential spirit which infuses all things. She is the spark - the very life-force - without whom matter would remain inanimate. Her presence has been shrouded from view for some two millennia, hidden beneath an obscuring layer of doctrine, and treated as heresy. Her light endures, however, in texts, in symbols and secret teachings, and in our own most inner being. But who is Sophia?

The first condition of God permeates the cosmos. This first condition is unknowable, unfathomable, and unable to be experienced directly within human experience. This ultimate form of God is, as it were, removed from our vision for our own safety, for any direct perception or experience of God in this primal form would mean obliteration. The first manifestation of this ultimately unknowable God is the female manifestation, Sophia ('Wisdom'). Sophia is the spirit of grace which we feel when we allow ourselves to become open to it. All grace, all compassion which is beyond simple human compassion, emanates from Sophia. The third emanation, which is therefore twice removed from the original godhead, is the male creator God - 'God the father' - also known as the Demiurge. This is the God whom Christians think of as being the ultimate God, the male God who created the heavens and the earth. But the demiurge in his masculine ignorance forgets that he himself is an emanation from Sophia, and therefore imagines that his creative powers are his own, whereas these creative powers are derived from Sophia.

Before the manifested worlds came into existence, there was this source of oneness from which worlds of light, spirit and soul streamed. Humanity carries a primal image of these worlds of spirit and soul within itself. But Sophia is the primal force that, in union with the source, permeates - as female and life-giving principle - these unseen worlds. At the same time, she is the mother of the manifested world, the manifested cosmos.

Studying ancient books will not bring Sophia back into our consciousness and into our life. We have to search for her in our own inner self. Sophia reveals the knowledge of the heart, the primal knowledge which tells us that we own all the knowledge there is to know within the province of our own heart. Our heart of hearts knows that sacredness is not only outside of us, but also lives within us. But first we have to learn "inner silence".

The return of Sophia as the feminine aspect of creation is vital. Awareness needs to be raised of the importance of a male/female balance in every aspect of life, for if there really is a path towards peace both within ourselves and in our world, then the first step along that path is the realization of this Divine Oneness.

"The divine Sophia have I loved and sought from my youth,
I have desired her to be my spouse.
Ever have I loved her beauteous and radiant form.
Ever have I prayed that she might be sent to abide with me,
that she might work with me to the end
that I might know what I lacked
and what in me God would find acceptable.
And since she had ever known and understood,
had guided me in all my life's activity,
I am persuaded that even after death she
will ever keep me safe,
wrapped securely in her watchful, constant love."

- Giordano Bruno

image © David Bergen Studio

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Song of the Wave

Song of the Wave

The strong shore is my beloved
and I am his sweetheart.
We are at last united by love, 
and then the moon draws me from him.

I go to him in haste and depart
reluctantly, with many
little farewells.

I steal swiftly from behind the
blue horizon to cast the silver of
my foam upon the gold of his sand, 
and we blend in melted brilliance.

I quench his thirst and submerge his heart; 
he softens my voice and subdues my temper.
At dawn I whisper the rules of love to him,
and he embraces me longingly.

At eventide I sing to him the song of hope, 
and then print smooth kisses upon his face;
I am swift and fearful, but he
is quiet, patient, and thoughtful. 
His broad bosom soothes my restlessness.

As the tide comes we caress each other,
and when it withdraws, 
I drop to his feet in prayer.

Many times have I danced around mermaids
as they rose from the depths and rested
upon my crest to watch the stars.

Many times have I heard lovers lost
in the vastness, and I echoed their sighs.

Many times have I teased the great rocks
and fondled them with a smile, but never
have I received laughter from them.

Many times have I lifted drowning souls
And carried them tenderly to my beloved shore.
He gives them strength as in turn he takes mine.

Many times have I stolen gems from the
depths and presented them to my beloved shore.
He takes them in silence, but still I give,
for he welcomes me ever again.

In the heaviness of night, when all
creatures seek the ghost of slumber, 
I sit up, singing at one time
and sighing at another. 
I am awake always.

Alas! Sleeplessness has weakened me!
But I am a lover, and the truth of love is strong.
I may be weary, but I shall never die.

Khalil Gibran

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Echoes of Reality

'Narcissistic' is one of those myth-derived adjectives which has passed into our language. But who was Narcissus? We meet Narcissus in the myths of Ancient Greece, a handsome and vain youth whose self-absorption prevented him from truly loving anyone but himself. Alas for the beautiful nymph Echo, as the myth relates:

Echo had her own character fault: she was always chattering. Hera, the consort of haughty Zeus, tired of Echo's busy tongue, cursed the incessantly-chattering young girl: from that time on, her first and only words were to be the last words somebody else had spoken. People began to shun Echo, for no one likes to be parroted. They treated her unkindly and her friends did not want to be with her any longer. Lonely and bewildered, Echo fled into the forests. 

But then Narcissus appeared on the scene while out on a hunting party with his friends. As soon as Echo saw him, she lost her lonely heart and began to follow him. 

With the unfortunate Echo in mind Sappho, the 7th-century BCE Greek poet from Lesbos, writes:

Foolish child
why do you try
to touch a heart of stone?

Narcissus did indeed have a heart of stone, breaking many hearts of young women and men. Worshipped like a god for his looks, he only took, but never gave. Echo was just one of his many victims. When at last she plucked up enough courage to approach the handsome youth, Narcissus shunned her, angrily telling her to get out of his sight with as much revulsion as if she had been a venomous snake. Deeply hurt, Echo sought shelter far away from people, and found a remote cave in the high mountains where she gradually pined away until her voice was all that remained.  

Nemesis, the goddess of vengeful fate, took mercy upon the girl and decided in turn to punish Narcissus for his grotesque insensitivity and scornful manner. She knew that when he stared into the water of a brook pond, he would see only his own reflection. 

And so it was that he fell madly in love with himself. Countless times he tried to kiss himself, countless times he plunged his arms despairingly into the water seeking to embrace his own mirrored reflection. Then one day he found a deep pool, nearby the cave where Echo's voice still lived,  and stared into its silent depths in heartbreaking yearning for his beloved in the water.

"Why do you keep so utterly beyond reach, my love? Come, my beloved!"
And the voice of Echo repeated: "my beloved... my beloved."

Little by little, like water over a stone, love wore him away until Echo's voice repeated his last sigh: "Love..." and at last, he died. 

Falling in love with an image of oneself, or one's god(dess) often turns out to be a disastrous projection, for the reality is often quite different from the image of it. The reality is the initiation; the image, at best, is only the yearning for it. Narcissus literally drowned in his own image, driven by the desperate yearning to be united with it. For vain Narcissus, it was too late for him to understand that we mirror ourselves best, not in our own image, but in that of another.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Poet Song

Deep down inside of me
forces are rising up,
but like the waves 
high and sighing in the distance,
always they must surrender to the strand.

I laugh at my creations through a veil of tears
and feel in my beginning that I have yet to begin -
each time my thinking dives away,
stays with itself, alone -
as vowed to silence.

Inside me poems lie on undiscovered shores
waiting for my silent landfall
waiting for my crossing of those inner oceans
filled with shoals and sirens' calls
for I am heavy with more than I give birth to,
my heart knows songs that I will never sing.

I am music of which I do not know the chords,
I am a pause repeatedly disturbing itself.
I am more than I am.
I cannot release myself.
A paradise lost lies inside me.

Poet, do you keep on weighing sounds,
intangible as mirrors without smile or line?
Contemplate no more,
be warrior instead.
Rise up and stop this singing,
for the Spirit needs the silent ones.
Would She not otherwise have led the song?

Painting: The wanderer above the sea of fog by Caspar David Friedrich