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I rode out to the lakeside

In turmoil of mind and soul

There, in time

I met again, with a long lost friend

Thanks to the Ancress of Lynn

Who pointed me straight

To the fountain

The Living Water

Which did not burst forth, strong, overfilling

As before

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My head bowed, eyes closed

He came

Like dew forming

Gently, gently

Gently rising

Cool refreshing, slowly soaking

Shadow moistening

The dry walls of my well

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And now, this place, this quiet

Gentle, light and floating bliss

Mystical oasis,

Surrounded yet

Untouched by cursed desert

Has not remained behind, by the lakeside

Fading

Soon after I rode away

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It has come with me

Within me

I feel, I see

A presence

Dissolving my compulsions

Anxieties, and hatreds

As though they were all

Ever so distant

Alien things

Those former companions now

Seem foreign to me

And true it is

So long as I continue

To hold my peace

And look in upon

The face of these Present Waters

They rise a little

A little

A little more

To meet my thankful gaze.

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“Thou shalt not please Me

so well as thou dost

when thou art in silence,

and suffrest Me to speak

in thy soul.”

 

“If thou wilt be

high with Me in heaven,

keep Me alway in thy mind

as much as thou mayst…”

 

“In nothing that thou dost

or sayest…

thou mayst

no better please God

than believe

that He loveth thee.”

 

— from A Short Treatyse Of Contemplation

Taught By

Our Lord Jesu Christ,

Or

Taken Out Of The Book

Of Margery Kempe,

Ancress Of Lynn

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These Present Waters

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On lonely road, I sit and stare,
Listening to my soul’s repair,
Listening to my soul’s repair,
Havening from the world of care.

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Depart from evil, and do good;
Seek peace, and pursue it.

— Psalm 34:14

 
Over the past 24 hours, the world commemorated the outbreak of “The War To End All Wars”.

I observed a holyday. In the quiet company of nature’s family.

To enjoy all the sacred sounds, you may wish to crank up the volume —

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When thou comest by thyself,
think not before what thou shalt do after,
but forsake as well good thoughts as evil thoughts,
and pray not with thy mouth
but list[en] thee right well.

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And then if thou aught shalt say,
look not how much nor how little that it be,
nor weigh not what it is nor what it bemeaneth …
and look that nothing live in thy working mind
but a naked intent stretching into God,
not clothed in any special thought of God in Himself … .

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This naked intent freely fastened and grounded in very belief
shall be nought else to thy thought and to thy feeling
but a naked thought and a blind feeling of thine own being:
as if thou saidest thus unto God, within in thy meaning,
“That what I am, Lord, I offer unto Thee,
without any looking to any quality of Thy Being,
but only that Thou art as Thou art, without any more.”

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That meek darkness be thy mirror, and thy whole remembrance.
Think no further of thyself than I bid thee do of thy God,
so that thou be one with Him in spirit,
as thus without departing and scattering,
for He is thy being, and in Him thou art that thou art;
not only by cause and by being, but also,
He is in thee both thy cause and thy being.

— Anonymous, Epistle of Privy Counsel.

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For silence is not God, nor speaking is not God;
fasting is not God, nor eating is not God;
loneliness is not God, nor company is not God;
nor yet any of all the other two such contraries.
He is hid between them, and may not be found
by any work of thy soul,
but all only by love of thine heart.

He may not be known by reason,
He may not be gotten by thought,
nor concluded by understanding;
but He may be loved and chosen
with the true lovely will of thine heart … .

— Anonymous, Epistle of Discretion.

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On the art of contemplative prayer; that is, of love meeting love.

Motorcycles, Mysticism

Naked stretching

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Mysticism

God is in the gaps

Take a moment. Breathe slowly.

Look carefully, at each of these waves.

These vibrations.

These “fluctuations in the quantum vacuum” some call “matter”.

Which one gives you the greatest feeling of Peace?

 

em_waves

 

Where do you think God — pure, perfect Peace — might be?

 

amplitude_frequency

 

God is in the gaps.

 

sound-wave-amplitude

 

He is the No-thing, in which All things appear.

Are you listening?

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An extraordinary gathering of angels

In recent weeks, I have experienced two unusual — extra ordinary — close encounters with birds. In recent days, I have discovered that these may signify close encounters with angels.

The first and most profound of these occurred at my favourite place of solitude in the mountains. Borne witness here, with the title ‘Strange days indeed’.

The second occurred a couple of weeks ago. On this occasion, at my favourite lakeside haven. Shortly after my arriving and nestling down on the grass with Kindle and camera, a Butcherbird — they of the glorious mellow carrolling voice — suddenly swooped down and landed right at my still-booted feet. For a moment it looked directly at me, cocking its head quizzically. Then, even more extraordinary — and unprecedented — with a small leap and brief flit of wings, it alighted fearlessly right on top of my knee.

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My left knee. The one ever prone to injury, in more youthful times.

The Butcherbird sat there happily for a few moments, looking at me. Only when I began to turn away, slowly to reach for my camera, did it swiftly fly away. I could not help but feel that this little bird had come to welcome me.

Or perhaps, to offer me a greater reason to stay. Because soon after, two vehicles rolled up the lonely dirt road, pulled over on the grass behind my motorcycle, and spilled their many occupants out. Whereupon these noisily began setting up chairs and tables for a BBQ. Such would usually signal me to politely beat a silent retreat, to some other, less trafficked locale. The hope of a return of the Butcherbird — after their departure — sufficed me to stay. And indeed, it — or rather, another of the same Family — did. Although as the photos here show, this other did not come at all so near, contenting itself to alight on my throttle hand grip instead.

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These visitations of the birds were vividly recalled to my mind two days ago, in a hospital emergency department, by my twin brother’s bedside, on reading a chapter in Symbols of Sacred Science entitled ‘The Language of the Birds’. It also recalled to mind my first poem; the subject of yesterday’s blog ‘Learning to fly’.

The following excerpt from ‘The Language of the Birds’ is worthy of deep contemplation for its own sake. However, I wish to cite it here for an additional reason. It prepares the way for another post to follow — perhaps tomorrow — on a closely related topic that is near to my heart, and to many themes in connection with the Psalmistice blog, including the symbolisms embedded in its “winged” logo, and my intuitions regarding the extraordinary, other-worldly effects induced by the spell of the silence discerned beneath the beat of a single crankpin 45° V-twin Harley-Davidson engine.

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That topic, is rhythm.

But first, on the ‘Language of the Birds’ —

Wa-ṣ-ṣāffāti ṣāffan,
Faz-zājirāti zajran,
Fat-tāliyāti dhikran …

By those ranged in ranks,
And who drive away, repulsing,
And who recite the invocation …

Qurʾān, XXXVII, 1-3

There is often mention, in diverse traditions, of a mysterious language called ‘the language of the birds’ — a designation that is clearly symbolic, for the very importance that is attributed to the knowledge of this language, as the prerogative of a high initiation, does not allow us to take it literally.  We read, for example, in the Qurʾān: ‘And Solomon was David’s heir.  And he said, O mankind!  Lo!  we have been taught the language of the birds (ullimnā manṭiq aṭ-ṭayr) and have been given abundance of all things …’. (XXVII, 16).  Elsewhere we read of heroes who, having vanquished the dragon, like Siegfried in the Nordic legend, instantly understand the language of the birds; and this makes it easy to interpret the symbolism in question.  Victory over the dragon has, as its immediate consequence, the conquest of immortality, which is represented by some object the approach to which is guarded by the dragon; and this conquest essentially implies the reintegration into the centre of the human state, that is, into the point where communication is established with the higher states of being.  It is this communication which is represented by the understanding of the language of the birds; and in fact birds are frequently taken as symbols of the angels, that is, precisely, of the higher states.  We have had occasion elsewhere1 to cite the Gospel parable that refers, in this very sense, to ‘the birds of the heavens’ which come and rest in the branches of the tree, the same tree that represents the axis which passes through the centre of each state of the being, and links all the states with each other.2

In the Qurʾānic text given above, the term aṣ-ṣāffāt is taken as meaning literally the birds, but as denoting symbolically the angels (al-malā’ikah); and thus the first verse signifies the constitution of the celestial or spiritual hierarchies.3  The second verse expresses the fight of the angels against the demons, the celestial powers against the infernal powers, that is, the opposition between higher and lower states.4  In the Hindu tradition this is the struggle of the Devas against the Asuras and also, according to a symbolism which comes very close to the symbolism of our theme, the combat of Garuda against the Nāga which is, moreover, none other than the above mentioned serpent or dragon.  The Garuda is the eagle, and elsewhere it is replaced by other birds such as the ibis, the stork, the heron, all enemies and destroyers of reptiles.5

Finally, in the third verse, the angels are said to be reciting the dhikr which is generally interpreted as meaning here the Qur’ān; not the Qur’ān that is expressed in human language, needless to say, but its eternal prototype inscribed on the ‘Guarded Tablet’ (al-lawḥ al-maḥfūẓ), which like Jacob’s ladder extends from the heavens to the earth, and therefore throughout all the degrees of universal existence.

 

1 Man and His Becoming according to the Vedānta, ch. 3.

2 In the Medieval symbol of the Peridexion (a corruption of the word Paradision), one sees the birds on the branches of the tree and the dragon at its foot (cf., The Symbolism of the Cross, ch. 9). In a study on the symbolism of the ‘bird of Paradise’ (Le Rayonnement intellectuel, May-June 1930)  Charbonneau-Lassay has reproduced a sculpture in which this bird is represented by only a head and wings, a form frequently used to depict the angels (cf., Le Bestiaire du Christ, ch. 46, p. 425)

3 The word ṣaff or ‘rank’, is one of those many words which have been suggested as the origin of the word ṣūfī and taṣawwuf; and although this derivation does not seem acceptable from a purely linguistic point of view, it is none the less true, as with many other derivations of the same kind, that it represents one of those ideas really contained in these terms; for the ‘spiritual hierarchies’ are essentially identical with the degrees of initiation.

4 This opposition is expressed in each being by the two tendencies, ascending and descending, called respectively sattwa and tamas by the Hindu doctrine. It is also that which Mazdeism symbolises by the antagonism between light and darkness, personified respectively by Ormuzd and Ahriman.

5 See on this subject the remarkable works of Louis Charbonneau-Lassay on the animal symbols of Christ (cf., Le Bestiaire du Christ). It is important to note that the symbolic opposition of bird and serpent does not apply except when the serpent is considered under its malefic aspect; on the contrary, under its benefic aspect it sometimes is united with the bird as in the case of Quetzalcohuatl of the ancient Meso-American traditions. Moreover, one also finds in Mexico the combat of the eagle with the serpent. As regards the association of bird and serpent, we can recall the Gospel text: ‘Be ye wise as serpents and guileless as doves’ (Mt. 10:16).

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