Category Archives: Statements

Quotations, seed thoughts, and individual components of the bigger picture.

Treating the Symptoms, Not the Cause

Something to think about in the context of today’s America and unrest around the world (emphases mine):

Hitler was able to enslave his own people because he seemed to give them something that even the traditional religions could no longer provide; the belief in a meaning to existence beyond the narrowest self-interest.

The real degradation began when people realized that they were in league with the Devil, but felt that even the Devil was preferable to the emptiness of an existence which lacked a larger significance.

The problem today is to give that larger significance and dignity to a life that has been dwarfed by the world of material things. Until that problem is solved, the annihilation of Naziism will be no more than the removal of one symptom of the world’s unrest.

— Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer, 1944

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Give and Take

From Swami Satchidananda’s translation and commentary on the Bhagavad Gita:

Cherished by your spirit of sacrifice, the gods give you everything you want. (But remember) whoever receives gifts from the gods without offering anything back is a thief.

To take one hundred percent and give nothing in return is to be a thief.
To take one hundred percent and give only fifty percent is to be a debtor.
To take one hundred percent and give one hundred percent is to be a good business person.
To give one hundred percent and take only fifty percent is to be a righteous person.
To give one hundred percent and take nothing in return is to be a saint or a yogi.

We should always examine our transactions and discover in which category we put ourselves.

— Bhagavad Gita, Chapter Three, Verse Twelve

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Top Advice from Patanjali

Paraphrased from The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Sutra 33:

If someone is happy, offer them friendship (share their happiness)
If someone is unhappy, offer them compassion (lighten their suffering)
If someone is virtuous, offer them delight (celebrate their goodness)
If someone is wicked, offer them disregard (give them no reward)

In this way, you can yourself be calm and untroubled.

Or something like that …

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Season’s Crossroads

Wouldn’t know it from the weather,
but the summer’s almost gone.
Those lazy early days have faded,
though the swelter lingers on;
and the memory of the schoolyard
has begun to slip away
as if lessons barely ended
prove you know something today

Wouldn’t know it, ‘cept the calendar
is near another page.
Each checkmark by a number
signifies another stage,
and another blue sky faded
slowly into dappled gray.
All the colors run together;
only darkness will remain.

At the crossroads of the seasons
you can only stand so long
before something calls you onward:
something yearning, something strong;
there is nothing left a body here to do,
except believe in a miracle or two.

Wouldn’t know it from the weatherman,
but autumn’s closing in.
Though the dog days are still coming,
they will grow weary and thin;
and the sunny joys of summer
that you thought were here to stay
will be covered in the green leaves
that you sit under today.

At the crossroads of the seasons
you pick your point of return;
and pretend your new direction shows
you things you need to learn.
But there is nothing much to do beyond just ride,
and believe you’ll come out on the other side.

21 JUN 2005

for Pete Ham

If you’ve ever listened to much Badfinger, you know who Pete Ham was – lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter for the group who wrote, among other things, Without You, which was much more successfully recorded by Harry Nilsson and recently again by Mariah Carey. He committed suicide in 1975.

My favorite song of his is called “Perfection”:

There is no real perfection
There’ll be no perfect day
Just love is our connection
The truth in what we say

There’s no good revolution
Just power changing hands
There is no straight solution
Except to understand

So listen to my song, of life
You don’t need a gun, or a knife
Successful conversation,
will take you very far

There is no real perfection
There’ll be no perfect man
Just peace is our connection
For giving all you can

There’s no good kind of killing
Just power taking life
It’s all good blood that’s spilling
To make a bigger knife

So listen to my song, of life
You don’t need a gun, or a knife
Successful conversation,
can take you very far

(c) 1971 Pete Ham

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Thought for the Day

Grantland Rice (1880-1954) was a sportswriter for the New York Herald-Tribune. He was really one of the first, if not the first, famous sportscasters, immortalizing Knute Rockne’s Notre Dame squad as the “Four Horsemen” of the apocalypse, among other things, and coining many a pithy stanza along the way (e.g., “There’s no dearth of kindness in this world of ours; Only in our blindness we gather thorns for flowers.”). I imagine that his colorful commentary was often repeated by those growing up in the first part of the 20th century, particularly by boys like my father (born in 1928, the same year as Mickey Mouse). Such things leave great impressions. My father, for example, until his death often repeated something of Rice’s every now and again:

“When the one Great Scorer comes to score and writes against your name, He marks not whether you won or lost, but how you played the game.”

In other words, it’s the means that matter. Never the ends. That’s a good thing to bear in mind.

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Cummings on Poetry

A tag line on a message from a discussion group included part of a quote from e.e. cummings that I have tacked on my wall to remind me of what I’m supposed to be doing as a poet.

I first encountered it, strangely enough, in the foreward to Critical Path written by R. Buckminster Fuller. He found inspiration in this simple set of instructions, and so do I.

A Poet’s Advice

A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words. This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel — but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling — not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people; but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — menas to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn’t a poet can possibly imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time — and whenever we do it, we are not poets.

If at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you’ve written one line of one poem, you’ll be very lucky indeed.

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do something easy, like learning how to blow up the world — unless you’re not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.

Does this sound dismal? It isn’t. It’s the most wonderful life on earth.

Or so I feel.

— e.e. cummings

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Thought for the Day: On the Arts

From the wonderful book The Maiden King: The Reunion of Masculine and Feminine by Robert Bly and Marion Woodman. This bit from Marion:

…the arts are becoming frills in the eyes not only of the government but of many citizens as well. As budgets are being balanced, the arts suffer because so many tutors [status quo protectors] are so far away from the soul they simply don’t care…Their head is separated from their heart. What these pathetic tutors who pass these laws do not realize is that young people do start out with imagination, with enthusiasm. Take away their disciplined outlets and they are birds without wings. Moreover, their frustration at not being able to soar results in rage, which they have no idea how to contain. Any one of the arts can give them a container strong enough to hold their natural frustrations until it distills into paint, or dance, or song. Any teacher knows how much energy is required to teach a student how to hold the container solid enough until the emotion has time to resolve itself into an art form. That is what culture is. Our tutors are passing laws that will destroy what has taken centuries to build — a civilization that can contain its own vision. Without the arts, the principal is shot in his office instead of Julius Caesar being massacred with yardsticks in the classroom. Raw instinct runs rampant in the streets, imagination is ciphered into primitive behavior, spiritual and moral values cease to exist, and the millions that are saved are spent in building boot camps to try to contain thugs.

We are building a nation of reactionary soldiers, who are so repressed and angry that they are willing to kill, whose emotional maturity and self-awareness is such that they will kill as instructed, as their heart-strings, no longer attached to viable, meaningful relationship with the world, are jerked at the bidding of those who wish the killing done, but at the same time wish to lament such violent acts while washing their own hands clean of the blood.

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