Virgin and Child in a Niche
Netherlandish, circa 1500
Metropolitan Museum, NYMay 25.
Late afternoon; golden light coming from across the creek, through the branches of the maple tree into my second-floor office.
A few impressions and thoughts from today.
I have finished a book by a friend; it is oddly dissatisfying, anecdotal, not well organized, quite intellectual. Surprisingly so, given the emotional depths this man is capable of tapping. Talks about a number of things, but not the inflow — not the energy. Not, in any event, in a way that can be meaningful for the reader.
Another impression from about the same moment. Another friend, a woman who I met at the All and Everything conference— asks, what is the Holy Spirit?
There is a great deal of talk about inner work, but — with the lone exception of Jeanne de Salzmann's work — very little discussion about receiving the energy, whereas, this is the only thing that matters.
One can philosophize in ten thousand directions, and either reach conclusions—or refuse to do so.
We will all continue to be consumed by this outward and ordinary life, no matter what we do; yet there is sustenance from a different level available to us, and it repeatedly calls us back through our organic relationship to it, if we form an intimate connection to it.
It would be foolish to say that we can rely on this alone; and it would be certain to say that we will betray it again and again; but it is real, and it is necessary. This receiving of the Holy Spirit is the only foundation on which the rest of a real inner work can be based; and all of the outward phenomena which it engenders— the experiences, the insights, what have you — are ephemeral and unimportant relative to what it teaches about relationship.
I am required by circumstances to live with who and what I am. I'm not required to be aware of it — that is a choice available to me, if I come into relationship with an energy. Why don't people discuss this critical point more? It seems to me that individuals and spiritual work would rather talk about almost anything than making an effort to come into a real relationship with the energy. Is this because no one understands what this means? Is it because everyone wants to avoid seeing what we lack? I don't know. The only thing I am sure of is that without this energy, no work is meaningful or even possible.
Something new needs to be born in us. It is not of the mind. Go away from this thing and seek within; seek with sensation, seek with intimacy, use anything but thought for this search.
There ought to be a poetry in inner work;
And it always ought to come from elsewhere.
Think of a poem that is written,
Then all the words removed, so that nothing but commas remain:
The poem pauses...
And pauses before the next pause.
The essence of every poem is in the pauses,
So this is perhaps the most essential poem, which can be employed anywhere, at any time,
To describe anything.
You are welcome to claim it as your own;
but use it mindfully.
Another way of looking at it:
Everything in a poem that matters
Comes between the lines,
So take all the lines out,
Leaving only punctuation.
Everything you need to know about the poem
Will still be there,