Even in the Heart of the Heart of Darkest Darkness

'Hide & Seek': photo by Marian Hilditch, on Flickr

[Image: “Hide & Seek,” a photo by Marian Hilditch on Flickr. (Used here under a Creative Commons license.) The only information provided by the photographer: “I don’t know who those four looking over Dozy Tony are, but I always think of them as The Residents.  A mr clement exhibition at Pyrus/The Basement Gallery, London – 2/12/2010 – 20/1/2011.” I did locate this “mr clement’s” own page about the exhibition.]

From whiskey river:

There is a difficulty with only one person changing. People call that person a great saint or a great mystic or a great leader, and they say, “Well, he’s different from me—I could never do it.” What’s wrong with most people is that they have this block—they feel they could never make a difference, and therefore, they never face the possibility, because it is too disturbing, too frightening.

(David Bohm [source])


The Old Age of Nostalgia

Those hours given over to basking in the glow of an imagined future, of being carried away in streams of promise by a love or a passion so strong that one felt altered forever and convinced that even the smallest particle of the surrounding world was charged with purpose of impossible grandeur; ah, yes, and one would look up into the trees and be thrilled by the wind-loosened river of pale, gold foliage cascading down and by the high, melodious singing of countless birds; those moments, so many and so long ago, still come back, but briefly, like fireflies in the perfumed heat of summer night.

(Mark Strand [source])


It seems that a profound, impartial, and absolutely just opinion of our fellow-creatures is utterly unknown. Either we are men, or we are women. Either we are cold, or we are sentimental. Either we are young, or growing old. In any case life is but a procession of shadows, and God knows why it is that we embrace them so eagerly, and see them depart with such anguish, being shadows. And why, if this — and much more than this is true — why are we yet surprised in the window corner by a sudden vision that the young man in the chair is of all things in the world the most real, the most solid, the best known to us — why indeed? For the moment after we know nothing about him.

Such is the manner of our seeing. Such the conditions of our love.

(Virginia Woolf [source])

Not from whiskey river:

Myth, then, is the form in which I try to answer when children ask me those fundamental metaphysical questions which come so readily to their minds: “Where did the world come from?” “Why did God make the world?” “Where was I before I was born?” “Where do people go when they die?” Again and again I have found that they seem to be satisfied with a simple and very ancient story, which goes something like this:

…there are times when the world is, and times when it isn’t, for if the world went on and on without rest for ever and ever, it would get horribly tired of itself. It comes and it goes. Now you see it; now you don’t. So because it doesn’t get tired of itself, it always comes back again after it disappears. It’s like your breath: it goes in and out, in and out, and if you try to hold it in all the time you feel terrible. It’s also like  the  game  of  hide-and-seek,  because  it’s  always  fun  to  find  new ways of hiding, and to seek for someone who doesn’t always hide in the same place.

“God  also  likes  to  play  hide-and-seek,  but  because  there  is  nothing outside  God,  he  has  no  one  but  himself  to  play  with.  But  he  gets  over this  difficulty  by  pretending  that  he  is  not  himself.  This  is  his  way  of hiding from himself. He pretends that he is you and I and all the people in  the  world,  all  the  animals,  all  the  plants,  all  the  rocks,  and  all  the stars.  In  this  way  he  has  strange  and  wonderful  adventures,  some  of which  are  terrible  and  frightening.  But  these  are  just  like  bad  dreams, for when he wakes up they will disappear.

“Now when God plays hide and pretends that he is you and I, he does it so well that it takes him a long time to remember where and how he hid  himself.  But  that’s  the  whole  fun  of  it—just  what  he  wanted  to  do. He  doesn’t  want  to  find  himself  too  quickly,  for  that  would  spoil  the game.  That  is  why  it  is  so  difficult  for  you  and  me  to  find  out  that  we are  God  in  disguise,  pretending  not  to  be  himself.  But  when  the  game has  gone  on  long  enough,  all  of  us  will  wake  up,  stop  pretending,  and remember that we are all one single Self—the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever.

“Of  course,  you  must  remember  that  God  isn’t  shaped  like  a  person. People  have  skins  and  there  is  always  something  outside  our  skins.  If there  weren’t,  we  wouldn’t  know  the  difference  between  what  is  inside and outside our bodies. But God has no skin and no shape because there isn’t any outside to him. [With a sufficiently intelligent child, I illustrate this  with  a  Möbius  strip—a  ring  of  paper  tape  twisted  once  in  such  a way that it has only one side and one edge.] The inside and the outside of God are the same. And though I have been talking about God as ‘he’ and  not  ‘she,’  God  isn’t  a  man  or  a  woman.  I  didn’t  say  ‘it’  because  we usually say ‘it’ for things that aren’t alive.

“God  is  the  Self  of  the  world,  but  you  can’t  see  God  for  the  same reason  that,  without  a  mirror,  you  can’t  see  your  own  eyes,  and  you certainly can’t bite your own teeth or look inside your head. Your self is that cleverly hidden because it is God hiding.

“You  may  ask  why  God  sometimes  hides  in  the  form  of  horrible people,  or  pretends  to  be  people  who  suffer  great  disease  and  pain. Remember,  first,  that  he  isn’t  really  doing  this  to  anyone  but  himself. Remember, too, that in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out how the good people will get the better of the bad. It’s the same as when we play cards. At the beginning of the game we shuffle them all into a mess,  which  is  like  the  bad  things  in  the  world,  but  the  point  of  the game is to put the mess into good order, and the one who does it best is the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so it goes with the world.”

(Alan Watts [source])

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