Six Metaphysical Miniatures
(0) The spring gives freely
of its water, but only in
freedom can we drink.
(1) Dialogue is a journey made together on foot through unknown terrain. Where
we do not move as one, we simply stop and start over again. It is the quality of the
movement of the journey itself which is primary, and not any particular content,
or predetermined destination or goal.
(2) In Art as well as Nature, there is a necessary complementarity between
the conservative tradition which embodies and safeguards the knowledge of the
past and the revolutionary insight which reveals the new. One is mechanical
in a subtle way, the other is creative. The dynamic balance between the two is
crucial. Too much stubborn repetition and the source of fresh meaning goes dry.
Too much of the new and we lose all the skill needed to make the new manifest.
A creative tradition is then at once both constant and changing, like the solid bed
of rock which allows the river to flow free.
(3) A potential danger of poetry is that we may develop the habit of giving
too much significance to words, to language, to thought. The poem which
has its source in words and not in deeply lived experience is much like
the water of any large city; it may seem perfectly clear, but we somehow
sense the drop of poison added to keep us from getting sick.
(4) We shape the world and the world shapes us. To degrade the world is
to degrade ourselves.After destroying the river and building the dam, we quickly
lose the sensitivity of ear that once heard the music which is now no longer there.
Children who grow up in a world of straightened and muted rivers will themselves
never know that no one ever taught them how to sing.
(5) The most insidious of all degradations is the loss of something
vitally important for which we do not yet have a name.
(6) Sometimes the shift in the usage of but a single word reveals a deeper,
unseen, yet potentially radical transformation of the way we perceive the world.
New words in this sense are not invented, but rather emerge out of a need --
sometimes an urgent one -- to manifest in clear form new meaning. The practice
of metaphysics is in this sense by no means merely an intellectual exercise, but
is, like a yoga we do every day, a space both public and private in which we
can step back from the pressures of the present moment and look at life as a living,
moving whole. That is why poetry, when we come to see it as the energy of insight --
or of new meaning or essence -- made manifest in the singing, speaking voice,
stands at the very center of this endeavor like a mountain of pure light.
(1) On Simplicity, Complexity and Human Design
(2) On Art, the Artist and Nature in Flowing Movement
(3) On the Twelve Primary Confusions
(4) On the Possibility of Change
(5) On Truth, Freedom and the Commercialization of Communal Time and Space
(6) On Love, Learning and the World-wide Tragedy of Public Schools
(Photo: Glacier Melt Water on Granite, fall, the European Alps)