Tag Archives: knowledge

This is the oyster

This is the oyster; why seek for the pearl?
There’s no escape plan for leaving this world
in my religion: no hereafter gold,
no burning embers, no cold of Sheol.

This is the medicine; why seek a pill
to flee reality, thinking you will
by any action change the universe,
except, perhaps, to make it a bit worse
with senseless struggle against so-called fate,
hedging your bets hoping it’s not too late.

This is the path you’re on; why second guess?
No point in leaving this life in a mess,
hoping salvation will come undeserved,
praying the universe doesn’t throw curves.

There is just oyster; that one grain of sand
turned to a pearl in the palm of your hand
is just some excrement to soothe the pain
of the endless ocean. Time and again
it waits at the shoreline to carry us out,
waits while we ponder, apostize and doubt.

This is the world that is; why seek one more?
Who knows what waits beyond the tide’s great roar?
This is your heaven, or this is your hell.
It too will pass away, after a spell.

24 APR 2006

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Confucious

The words that rend my soul’s speech are my own;
they are not borrowed from another’s lines.
From someone else’s field, of their seeds sown,
come not the fruits due me at harvest time.

To posit otherwise is to admit
my life only an actor’s walk-on role,
with no responsibility or wit
of my own — no true joy, love or control.

So, each new moment becomes mine to make,
immersed in self-wrought ecstacy or hell.
How then, to keep from making more mistakes,
or at least, to recover from them well?

The secret: admit what you do not know.
From that small bit of knowledge, all things flow.

21 MAR 2006

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Socrates

Each grain of sand that populates
the endless span of shore
seems to be some small answer,
yet implies that there is more
to knowing than to learn by rote
some formulas or rules;
and when compared to the wide ocean
leaves wise men as fools
who would describe their world without
first knowing who describes,
gathering in wild opinions
like a thief collecting bribes.

To grasp the edge of the unknown,
and feel its sharp lip’s rasp
leaves only scars on seeking hands
that would some great truth grasp.
And truth? What sage would dare to dream
their vision broad enough
to take in what has breadth and depth
beyond man’s feeble bluff?
What theories we may formulate,
imagining the range
of life to be within our limits
seems exceeding strange.

If time is our sole instrument
for judging deeds and such,
how sad that it be squandered
limping along on the crutch
of preconceived ideas, formed
in sterile beds of thought
assuming constancy the norm
that drives how we are taught.
What good a single grain of sand
if man is on the beach
and for the want of one small speck
thinks the sea out of reach?

2 JUN 2005

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Rabelais

I would un-Crowley Rabelais
to taste, unplagiarized
the simple, yet sarcastic truths
that Aleister disguised:

that man, if left the sole device
of acting with free will
would, after some adjustment,
neither harm, debase or kill

but would instead seek Beauty, Truth,
and other worthy aims
eschewing constant upmanship
and endless win-lose games,

learning to laugh, first, at one’s self,
to recognize, and know,
that wisdom’s parent is compassion
freed from the ego.

I wonder, sometimes, why so few
who hunger after power
spend all their time out of control
and memorize for hours

arcane instructions, complex spells,
and pompous, trumped up rites,
the rule of mankind, not themselves,
the target in their sights.

Oh, Rabelais, your rapier wit
so sadly has been turned
into a comedy for fools,
and nothing has been learned.

06 MAY 2005

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The Food (for Thought) of the Gods

Who decides what lives, what dies,
based on more than the needs of some,
but on what is best for the entire world
so balance can be maintained?

Who thinks they have the right to choose
that some should flourish while others fail,
that their kind is much more essential
and so deserves more space, more food?

The gods of course.

For only the gods act out of concern
for the whole; their own interests are not part
in any way of the actions made.

The point is this:

if you benefit in any way from a decision
to kill or not to kill today;
if you gain more ground, or food, or power
by taking others’ things away,
you’re not a god.

This is not your dominion.
You are not the most auspiciously born.
You are only a small part of the whole.

And if you act as if you’re a god,
without that knowledge,
you will only result in destroying everything.

You will fail.

And you will find excuses for your failure,
like “man is a fallen creature,
bound by sin to make mistakes”
because you don’t really think so —
you think man is a god,
and that the world just doesn’t work right.

Well, it just doesn’t work the way you think it does.

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Upon Being Invited to Study the Great Books Online

Thanks for the invitation. I must say, having looked into facilitating my own Great Books curriculum at several times in the past, that the concept is neither unfamiliar to me, nor uninviting. However, my reason for declining at present has little to do with the scope of the program, but more with the medium. I have participated in a number of online study groups, interest groups, etc., over the past ten years, and have found that while they do promote a degree of intellectual stimulation, and do foster a sense of camaraderie among participants, they by their very nature limit the exchange of ideas because they have as their foundation a sense of anonymity. It is very easy to expound one’s ideas, and wax philosophic, in the vacuum of not having to look another person in the eye. It is gratifying, particularly to one’s ego, to have the group linger on a thread of your own creation for endless iterations. However, too often it seems that is where it ends. Having a cluster of pen-pals, so to speak, does not improve my opportunity to have intellectual (or otherwise stimulating) conversations in real life, with people that I encounter in the flesh on a daily basis. Without that level of personal contact, having an exchange of ideas to me is stale and flat.

I don’t say that this particular curriculum or this forum will lead to that end. For me, however, particularly since my own meaning of an educated liberal extends FAR beyond the narrow, and one might even say, self-destructive, confines of Western culture, that at this point in my life, your group is not for me. It smacks too much of knowledge for the sake of knowledge alone, as some kind of barometer by which one can compare one’s education to others and somehow feel more justified in holding opinions, and grasping the illusory reins of control over a life that to be understood must be tasted in the flesh, rather than by sucking the aged marrow from its volumes of bones.

That’s a long way of saying, thanks, but no thanks.

However, I wish you success in this venture, and again, appreciate the invitation.

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A Different Kind of Shore

When one looks out past
the breaking waves at ocean’s end
those across the sea

seem much less remote
connected by this expanse
of constant movement.

Away from the sea
In a great endless valley,
peering at the edge

of the horizon
where the sky and land connect
the mountains rise

dark blue and somber;
they separate more clearly
expanse on both sides.

Yet the more finite
space of the wide sprawling plain
is not the desert

hugeness of the sea,
it does not shift and not shift
change without changing

it just dries to dust
and then turns again to green
is lost in deep snow

and each spring flowers;
the ocean’s chameleon
greens, grays, blacks and blues

breed deeper hungers,
suckle darker fears and dreams
and know their own gods.

religions are born
of the deserts and the seas —
seeking to fathom

the underlying
pulse that moves without travel
swallows with no trace.

14 JUN 2004

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