Sunday, February 15, 2015

A fool's errand, part I

Female Red-winged blackbird, Sparkill, NY

Taxes have one season; but death owns them all.

I find myself once again in Shanghai, as of this writing, February 5. While on the plane, I pondered the sense and aim of my existence, and — as is so often the case — find myself lacking, in the outward sense.

 I am, from what I can see, a fool— an idiot.

The fool used to have a special meaning; a fool has always, in the world of symbols and meanings, been more than a fool. A fool is, in those worlds, a mirror; a reflection of what we ourselves are, a metaphor for the egoistic dross we drape ourselves in; a wry analysis of the absurdities that life delivers. The gay dress symbolizes an emotional naivete; the attitude, an ignorance; the bells are the noise we make, the cap our shameless vanity.

The list could go on.

No wonder this figure, a true anachronism (today’s fools chiefly find their place in the vulgar buffoonery of mainstream media) has all but faded from sight. A society whose self-importance knows no limits has no shame; and the fool reminds us of it. No wonder we have banished him.

My grandfather told my mother, before he died, that he had been a fool; and my father, in the months leading up to his death, said much the same thing to me. I think they spoke, these two men from my life, for all of us; we’re all fools, and perhaps in a more tragic way than we can usually appreciate.

Our failure to sense our own mortality, a task Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub said was the one thing that might save our mortal (yes, mortal) souls from the death of oblivion—never having earned the right to suffer further—is forgotten. 

This sense of our mortality, of course, can only come from a new kind of awareness; our ordinary mind is too much in love with itself to consider its own logical end. Only the feeling and the body can sense this; and yet we are generally numb to these minds within ourselves. It takes an unusual courage to lay claim to our inner weakness; but we must own the inevitability of our death first, more than anything else, if we want to see what we are.

There is a place in a rightly formed soul that ties its roots not only to the foundation of its being, but into deep time; that is, the deep time of the life itself, which is composed of many lives. First it roots in the impressions of Being which date to childhood and before; and within that lies what we are in our essence, if we sense enough of it to feel the gratitude that it deserves. Second, it roots itself in what has gone before; and by this I mean before this life, which every human being is irrevocably linked and rooted to through ties of body and blood, as well as the deep waters of the psyche, which well up from history itself, and only appear to be gone, forgotten, and dead. In reality, everything lives at the same time in the mind of God; and we are thus all things in all times, even though we sense ourselves over and over again as single entities.

It is, paradoxically, this three-brained ability to sense ourselves beyond the limits of our individuality that leads us to the sense of our own nothingness; if we acquire it, we see what fools we are. Nothing is so certain as death to bring a person closer to this question; and the death that lives within us with each breath, through sensation, is the only three-mindful Being that can remind us of what we ought to be.


1 comment:

  1. It's an odd thing that The Fool, who was the only person in court who could tell the King the truth and keep his head, and is always the one who receives the treasure in fairy tales, because of his sheer naivete, is so dishonored in today's world.

    And The Idiot, whom it is said that in the Old Greek meant Id -I -Ot = ONE WHO IS HIMSELF WITH NO ADMIXTURE, which seems to me to something devoutly to be wished for, has also come to take on a pejorative meaning.,

    I consider myself both a fool and an idiot, but not completely, because my mother warned me that as i had been and was, the world would tear me to shreds, which it has been doing ever since the doctor at my birth turned me upside down and slapped me -- the first and perhaps only true Christian confirmation (though he doesn't know it) for it's meaning of "WELCOME TO "THE WORLD"; THIS IS WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM IT!"

    But who in their "right mind" expects that to be utterly true?

    None but the True Man - The Id-I-Ot and the FOOL who braves the brink as a risk for his soul, Lee, you may look at your outer life and see shreds and waste, but I see in you a shining soul who plays too hard on himself.

    Saints do that -- they feel every tiny sin or error to be damnation itself, while the fool falls off the cliff in delight.

    I am no Saint, and I decided that could not be my way when I was 5, in deep contemplation of my route in and through life. I AM other things, but mostly a wounded healer, with the deepest wound of all, braving my paltry self against the world.

    I don't expect to win, and prefer to lose for that one gem of loving the other. Not I. I love not I, but the other. The "stranger" so full of fear and suspicion. I CAN and I AM, and for that I live in gratitude everlasting, because once upon a time, the fool/id-i-ot in me made a wish, and it has come true. Hosanna Boomerang.


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