Thursday, October 24, 2013

Come into Animal Presence

Come into animal presence
No man is so guileless as
the serpent. The lonely white
rabbit on the roof is a star
twitching its ears at the rain.
The llama intricately
folding its hind legs to be seated
not disdains but mildly
disregards human approval.
What joy when the insouciant
armadillo glances at us and doesn't
quicken his trotting
across the track and into the palm brush.
What is this joy? That no animal
falters, but knows what it must do?
That the snake has no blemish,
that the rabbit inspects his strange surroundings
in white star-silence? The llama
rests in dignity, the armadillo
has some intention to pursue in the palm-forest.
Those who were sacred have remained so,
holiness does not dissolve, it is a presence
of bronze, only the sight that saw it
faltered and turned from it.
An old joy returns in holy presence. 

"Come into animal presence" by Denise Levertov, from Poems: 1960-1967.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Farthest Shore

I think in some works of fiction there are nuggets of priceless wisdom and some of them really strike a cord with my own personal truth.  The Wizard of Earth Sea Series has really impressed me in that light.

Here is one such recent example from the book The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. LeGuin:


You see Aaron, how an act is not as young men think: Like a rock that one picks up and throws, and it hits or misses, and that's the end of it.  

When that rock is lifted, the earth is lighter.  The hand that bears it, heavier.  When it is thrown, the circuits of the stars respond.  And where it strikes or falls, the universe is changed.  On every act the balance depends.  The winds and seas, the powers of water, earth and light.  All that these do, and all that beasts and green things do is well done, and rightly done.  

All these act within the equilibrium.  From the hurricane and the great whales sounding, to the fall of a dry leaf and the gnats flight.  All they do is within the balance of the whole.  

But we, in so far as we have power over the world and over one another, we must learn to do what the leaf and whale and wind do of their own nature.  We must learn to keep the balance.  

Having intelligence, we must not act in ignorance.  Having choice, we must not act without responsibility.  

Who am I, though I have the power to do it?  To punish and reward, playing with men's destinies.

Aaron: But the is the balance kept by doing nothing?  Surely a man must act, even not knowing all the consequences of his acts.  If anything is to be done at all.


Never fear.  It is much easier for men to act, than to refrain from acting.  We will continue to do good and to do evil.  But if their were a king over us all again, and he sought council of a mage, as in the days of old and I were that mage, I would say to him, "My lord, do nothing because it is righteous or praise worthy or noble to do so.  Do nothing because it seems good to do so.  Do that which you must do and which you can not do in any other way."