Parables: Cosmology

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Part of "The Kingdom in Parables: New Testament, Cosmology and Contemporary Poetry"

3. Parables: Cosmology

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But we need a poem or two first. I found some Walt Whitman solar things. I've been collecting solar poets, OK? My list so far includes Blake and Whitman and before Whitman, Emerson, not so much as a poet but as a philosopher, as a theorist of what the human person is, Emerson. He writes about the conception of the poet or of the human person which Whitman then realizes. He writes about the poet that Whitman tries to become but Emerson's own poetry doesn't have that, doesn't have that energy in it. D.H. Lawrence was greatly influenced by Whitman. And then we come down to Wallace Stevens. There are a lot more but Wallace Stevens is a very explicit solar poet. He likes to write about the sun. And now Mary Oliver adds herself to the list. So it needed a woman and she seems to be the one, very explicitly.


Now in that, there's not only the using of a theme, not only the using of a particular symbol but there's a sense of a particular energy that's in the human person. In other words, a particular way of conceiving human creativity and the connection of human creativity to what the human person is. In other words, to the emergent human person. I'm not saying that all these people are philosophizing in that way but I think implicit in their work and implicit in the way the symbol of the sun emerges within them. You've got other poets who are solar poets but not explicitly. They don't write about the sun. They just, Dylan Thomas is an example. The energy in him is a kind of solar energy it seems to me. Like a pure extroversion or a pure kind of efflux of creativity which is very little limited by form. This is Whitman, In Song of Myself, number 25. Dazzling and tremendous, how quick the sunrise would kill me, if I could not now and always


send sunrise out of me. We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the sun. We found our own, O my soul, in the calm and cool of the daybreak. So he's realizing his own identity somehow as a solar identity, as the sun. He's very much like Stevens in this that he's got two suns. One is the sun that illuminates the world outside. The other one is the sun that's inside. And the two sometimes exude a pressure against one another. Stevens is that way. So with the sun of the imagination inside, he resists the pressure of reality on the outside. And the two, as it were, interacting, colliding with one another, generates poetry. The inner sun is not just the mind, not just the psyche, not even the spiritual core of the person. It's the creative self, the creative imagination, or self as creative, self as imaginative, self realized as imagination. Which means as a power of newness, as a power of newness.


Then you can take that back, take that down, take that inward to the newness of the person, the renewal of the person. At that point it becomes theological. There's something else good in Whitman about this, probably a lot, but in that poem, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, where he talks about the fine centrifugal spokes of light that move out from the reflection of his head in the water, actually, in the sunlit water. He seems to say it going over and then he says it coming back. I, too, many and many a time crossed the river of old, saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, looked at the fine centrifugal spokes of light around the shape of my head in the sunlit water. And that's significant. It's not just an image, obviously. And later on, receive the summer sky, you water, and faithfully hold it until all downcast


eyes have time to take it from you. Downcast eyes are suggestive, too, and this vision somehow raises the eyes. Diverge, fine spokes of light, from the shape of my head or anyone's head in the sunlit water. It reminds you of the halos or the aureoles around the heads of saints, of course, around the head of Christ. And it's interesting that it does, because it is a kind of, what do you call it, a kind of modern parable of divinization, isn't it? This is Stephen's poem, number 19, which would be interesting, but let's save it until later, because we'd better get started with the physics. What I wanted to do is just read some things about the sun and stars, which seem to be in themselves parables. In other words, they don't even need any comment. In fact, too much comment would pin them down and would anchor them and ground them in a


way which drains the energy out of them. But just like the sun itself freestanding in the sky, unsupported as it were, these things exert an energy. These things attract us to something that resembles them inside ourselves, something that relates to them, resonates with them inside ourselves. It tends to bring that out, tends to evoke something within us, without your being able to draw a line around it or specify it exactly. I mentioned that before, that if you try to figure out analogies for these things, analogies for, let's say, the life of the sun or the life of a star, that nuclear fusion reaction, try to figure out the analogy between that and what goes on inside us, the analogy seems to break down at a certain point. And that was discouraging. And then I realised, well, it's not an analogy, it's a parable. So it needs to break down to allow that space, that emptiness of creativity, so that something can spark from within, so that the relationship becomes not something understood, cut and


dried and fixed, but something which is continually germinating, something which is continually being realised, not only in the mind but somehow in the being. So that we relate to the thing not as something that we've conquered, not as something that we've mastered with words or ideas, but as a separate reality to which we relate and which evokes something from within us. In the old days, reading Taylor's book, he says, well, in the Renaissance they made a lot about creative imagination, but it's different from the time of Romanticism and especially Modernism, because they still believed in a fixed order of the universe. So things were pretty well set out there, and the imagination would move from layer to layer in the great chain of being, something like that, move up and down the great chain of being, and finding these mysterious resonances between one dimension and another dimension, one level and another level, the spiritual and the material and so on. But since the time of Romanticism, it's not that way anymore.


Why? Because we don't believe any longer in that fixed order. You can say that the space of freedom has opened up within the universe in a space of creativity, of newness, and that's centred in the human person. So the creative imagination itself is, as it were, the site, the locus, the wellspring where that comes forth, where that's discovered. Even though it's a lot deeper and a lot more important than art or poetry. But that's where we see it. That's like the parable of this which is in the human person, which is emerging at that point. The fixed order becomes deconstructed, and we realise that the thing is somehow in our hands and in our hearts, that the universe is becoming, and we're at the centre of that becoming, we're the conscious point, the conscious edge of that becoming, as Teilhard might say. So there's that difficulty of the failing analogy which turns out to be an asset. There's also the other issue that when we read physics or astronomy, it seems to be


a very masculine, left-brain kind of thing, doesn't it? In a way. Where is the feminine in this? And it occurred to me that both of those questions point us in the same direction. The question of the analogy that is the rational grid, the rational framework which breaks down, and the question of the one-sidedness of the scientific point of view itself. It has a kind of masculine look to it also in this, that as we study the sun and the stars, they're individualists, aren't they? We discover that the sun is autonomous, that it's burning from within itself. Everything comes out from inside. It's like a contemplative view. The sun is like a monk in that sense, that it seems to burn from inside, and the eastern type monk in a sense, and doesn't need to be social, doesn't need to be relational in some way. So what's missing? Is it our own vision? Is it our own consciousness somehow that is seeing it this way?


And is it from our own consciousness that we must bring forth the complement, the other side? That is, whatever it is, the society of the cosmos, or the resonance between the stars, or, say, the energy field, actually, which is invisible, but within which all these luminous beings dwell and shine. And that, once again, I think, is the feminine dimension. Remember that dualism of physics, of quantum physics, the particle for the solid body and the wave for the energy field. It's equivalent to the difference between the distinction and contrast of prose and poetry, or in a sense, of masculine and feminine, in the sense of left brain and right brain. And it's as if, having read physics, we have to supply the other side. What supplies the other side? Well, maybe we could say poetry, in part. The psyche, the creative psyche, which demands to know things as one. So there is something that holds all of this together, and we know it.


It's invisible. We are part of it. We resonate with it. We participate in it. And we have to bring it into the picture. It has a lot to do with this creativity issue. Science and art and spirituality form a kind of constellation, I think. Back to our mottos from the last few years. Because science is over here. Science is over—our left brain is over here. The cognitive side is over here. The masculine and rational mind is over here. Art is over here. And therefore, on the scale of language, we move from prose over here, from scientific prose, that kind of precise, almost mathematical prose of art and science, to poetry over here. And you are moving from the hard particle, as it were, from the solid, with its very distinct and precise shape, to the energy field. What poetry is about, really, is the energy field. And it's modernist poetry, contemporary poetry, which discovers that, and which goes


for the pure energy field. And that's why it's so difficult very often, okay? It's because the poet is not trying to communicate information, knowledge, a distinct kind of concept that will pull the whole poem together. Rather, it's trying to bring you into participation in the energy field, which is the poem that—which is a wonderful thing when it works. So, prose over here, poetry over here, science over here, art over here. What's up here? Well, you can say religion, but religion is also expressing itself, okay, in words and in rituals and things. Up here, somehow, I think, is contemplation, where the unitive core is in person. All right. Now, that's something that both art and science often reflect and express in part, which they don't quite reach. It's as if they require this in order to find their unity, in order to fulfill themselves.


And they're continually expressing it. It's like the—in a way, the sun that illuminates both of these efforts, both of these expressions. But just like the sun above us, it's too bright to look at it, so that we find it in its expressions. So, science, art, and then the third. The third. And the same thing holds for ourselves. The same thing holds for our structure. The rational side of ourselves, which I call the master, the more—what do you call it?—the more free or poetic or psyche side, you might say, and the holistic side, which we can refer to in a general way as feminine. And then that center, the source from which they both spring, from which they're both continually emanating, and which, in a sense, has no name. It has no name. It shouldn't have a name. It's before the name. And it corresponds to the image of the invisible God, an image which remains itself in this, okay? That source of energy. Now, Justin talked about that in terms of memory, but he's bringing it kind of far


out into conceptual language. If you ask what's down here, what I say, it's world, it's life, and it's action that's down here. So, this is the most important part. These are the too many mediations, just like words and spirits, are the mediations that guide the world. This is the world itself. There's a book called Art and Physics. Some of you probably know it. Leonard Schlein wrote it. I forget, maybe 10 years ago, 15 years ago. And he says that art anticipates science, and that artists, especially modern artists from the beginning of the 20th century and so on, tend in their—he's talking about visual arts—in their paintings, they tend to anticipate the discoveries of physics. I don't think his argument is always convincing. I think in a general way, it's probably true. And what it expresses is the same human consciousness moving forward along a wide front.


And so it expresses itself in a new artistic vision over here, and then in a new vision in physics, like Einstein's relativity or quantum mechanics over here. It's the same consciousness moving forward. So it's not just that the artist has an intuition that has validity in physics, but it's something deeper and broader that's happening. And you can say that both of those, in some way, anticipate theology today, that our understanding of God, our understanding of ourselves, of the human spirit, of human life, is prodded, goaded, catalyzed, extended, both by contemporary art—and I think particularly poetry, because that's what we're dealing with mostly—and by contemporary science. Look at the way that science presents the universe to us in a stunning way, which forces us to drop our mental grids. It simply overpowers our frameworks of consciousness, just as these realities overpowered the mental


framework of science itself, of Newtonian science at the beginning of the century, the relativity and the quantum mechanics. So we're moving around a little bit between poetry and physics here, and with that third always in the background. Let me just, first of all, a few things that have obvious resonances. Before, I mentioned some points which just can be left by themselves, just facts of physics which seem to have resonance for us. A few of the more obvious ones, one of them is that quantum duality that I talked about before, the particle in the wave or the particle in the energy field. Now, there's something that's objective, it's out there, it's discovered by physics, and it also seems to have immediate resonances in our own life, immediate parallels in our own experience. I mentioned prose and poetry, masculine and feminine.


The rational mind, with its focus, like a solid body, and the psyche, the way the psyche emerges, say, in Jungian psychology or in contemporary literature, as a kind of whole which lives, as it were, through image and through intuition and through energy and movement rather than through ideas and concepts. Those dualities seem to permeate all of our life, all of our experience. Another one is the Big Bang, and I've said this before, some of you probably remember, but I came across a passage in a popular science book about the reason why they build these particle accelerators is to generate more and more energy and give particles higher and higher velocities so that they can get back closer and closer to the initial moment of the universe, which they picture as a moment of maximum energy and maximum simplicity.


Somebody was mentioning at lunch today that there's this image of the time of the Big Bang where the whole universe is being contained with a single particle of energy, a single photon, as it were, utterly simple and with a kind of infinite energy inside itself. Well, that's a powerful image. I think it has a nearly exact parallel in the way that we picture the New Testament or the resurrection of Jesus. And I think we may be used to thinking of it in terms of maximum energy, but do we often think of it also in terms of maximum simplicity, that is, from a wisdom perspective, that all truth, all knowledge, all consciousness somehow simplifies itself and becomes transparent, as it were, disappearing into pure light at that initial moment in Jesus himself? That's what you find in John's Gospel, I think. The way that Jesus talks, the way that he comes across in John's Gospel is that initial moment of infinite simplicity from which the whole of Christianity flows forth, from which


you can say, if that's the kind of faith you have, that the universe begins to be created for the second time. So the analogy between the first Big Bang and the second Big Bang is fairly precise. It's only a theory. There's a Big Bang and I hope it holds up. Another one is the redshift. You know, when a train's moving away from you, the sound, the whistle sound, falls in some frequency. Or when a star is moving away, its light changes from white to red as it moves away from you, or changes from red to blue as it moves forward or towards you. Now, that is a lot of analogies in our own life. I think it has analogies in the movement from east to west, in the evolution of Christianity, in the movement from faith to love, in the growth of the individual human person and so on. I don't want to insist on it too much, particularly because that's something that's not just out there in nature that involves us, doesn't it? We're talking about a perception now. The redshift is not something that happens out there in space, out there in the universe,


but happens between us and the universe. And finally, there's the Copernican Revolution, which also involves us. Now, some of you have probably read Rick Tarnas's book, The Passion of the Western Mind. It became kind of an intellectual bestseller. He found it in airports. And the center of his book is the central idea, the central image of his book, it seems to me, is the Copernican Revolution in which we move from the universe centered in the earth, the universe which somehow rotates around ourselves, and a closed universe, that is, a kind of cosmic womb, a cosmic egg, to an open universe in which we rotate around the sun, and also in which everything is known as the same as we are, that is, the sun itself is made out of the same kind of matter that earth is and that we are. Let me read what he says about this. This is towards the end of his book. In a narrow sense, the Copernican Revolution can be understood as simply a paradigm shift


in modern astronomy and cosmology, initiated by Copernicus, established by Kepler and Galileo, and completed by Newton. That's just the fact of the earth rotating around the sun. Yet the Copernican Revolution can also be understood in a much wider and more significant sense. For when Copernicus recognized that the earth was not the absolute fixed center of the universe, and equally important, when he recognized that the movement of the heavens could be explained in terms of the movement of the observer, that is, common human factors, he brought forth what was perhaps the pivotal insight of the modern mind. The Copernican shift of perspective can be seen as a fundamental metaphor for the entire modern worldview, the profound deconstruction of the naive understanding, the naive understanding of the cosmic womb, which is a fixed order where everything is where it should be and a kind of internal divinity of the cosmic bodies and the sun within the universe. The critical recognition that the apparent condition of the objective world is unconsciously


determined by the condition of the subject. That's the whole deconstruction realization, insight of the modern West. The consequent liberation from the ancient and medieval cosmic womb. The radical displacement of the human being to a relative and peripheral position in a vast and impersonal universe. That's the alienation, as it were, of the secular modern world. The ensuing disenchantment of the natural world. That is, everything is brought down to the same level that we're on. And it goes on and on and on. He sees the cosmic realization, our shift in the universe as we perceive it there. Once again, that's not something that's happening out there, it's happening between us and the universe. But he sees that as somehow having its parallels on every level of our consciousness, every level of our life. So that our whole modern understanding, our whole modern worldview follows in that direction. Okay, I'm just going to read a few points about the cosmos, especially sun and stars,


which seem to me to have this kind of resonance. The sun glides weightlessly in its blue heaven. There's a Panikkar in that great big book of his, The Vedic Experience, has a verse from the Rig Veda about this already. This must be, what, 3,500 years ago or something like that. How strange the sun, untethered, unsupported, he hangs in space. Why does he never fall? What inner power propels him? Who can observe it? He guards heaven's wall, the sky's pillar. And that hanging of the sun in the universe is not just that, but it's also what you call the autonomous self, as it were, the seeming self-creating and luminous quality of the sun, an energy, a power which comes from nowhere. The exerting of a power which comes from within itself and only from within itself, with no relation apparently to anything else, no obvious source, no obvious ground or background for that. That's something that you can wonder about for a long time.


Its heat is our life, its light is our consciousness and knowledge. The sun illuminates everything that we do, therefore it is the master, the lord, as it were, of our perception, of our knowledge. And its energy is the source of our life, so that we are, in a sense, vital satellites of the sun in some way. The source is too bright to be looked at directly, and yet it illuminates everything. See, each of these things has not so much a parallel, not so much an analogy, but has like waves of resonance, like a series of ripples or a series of waves of resonance that come out from it and that move through our own life. But the special character of the light of a star that has for me the deepest resonance is this matter of the interior burning, the fusion reaction that happens inside the sun, inside the star, and that is called the life of the sun or the life of a star.


Once it's ignited, it's autonomous, it just goes on for millions of years, sometimes billions of years, from within itself. But there's a point of ignition, just as we seem to have a point of ignition. In fact, I think what we want most is to be ignited in some way. We know something about what should be happening inside us, or we have intuitions of what it is to be truly alive, and we want to be ignited. From a Christian point of view, or a spiritual point of view, initiation is ignition, okay? So baptism would correspond to that, or any of the initiation rites that you have in the other religions, whether it be Asian ones or Native American or whatever. That inner ignition of the human person. Energy concentrates itself into matter, matter concentrates itself into bodies, bodies concentrate themselves into stars, into suns, and when matter, when it reaches the critical density,


it ignites and becomes a sun. Now that's a kind of stunning fact, that as matter concentrates, intensifies, densifies, you might say, it reaches an intensity, a density at which it bursts into flame, at which it begins to burn from within itself. Now most of the burning that we know, the burning that we know is burning of something in air, burning of something at a place of contact between it and something else, but this is an autonomous interior burning, okay? That happens from within itself when it becomes concentrated enough. That has strong resonances somehow, you know, it has resonances for, what do you call it, for the spiritual journey, it has resonances also, I think, for the creative journey, for the pressure, the temperature, the densification and intensification that's needed to bring anything new forth, for the creative ignition to happen. This life process in a star and the sun is a progressive fusion in which hydrogen joins


to become helium and then carbon and then up to iron, concludes in iron. If everything went all the way, it would turn into iron, apparently. From our earthly perspective, the sun rises in the morning and it sets in the evening, thus founding each day. Sun rises in the morning, sets in the evening, nothing could be more obvious. If you think about the life of Jesus in the New Testament, there's a rising and there's a setting to it. The rising of the sun, of Jesus, is not so much his birth, it's his baptism. The sunrise, the white sunrise of baptism, the moment of illumination, when his divinity, as it were, ignites, when his inner being ignites and when he realizes himself as he is, when that flash is within him, when the light of God is realized within him as his own life,


as his own self. That's the point of morning. Now, that's the east of Jesus' life and that's the morning, the dawn of Jesus' life. It's also the dawn, as far as we're concerned, of a new creation, but it has a parallel in our own life. A parallel in our own life. So that white dawn light of awakening, of illumination, of initiation, of ignition, and then, which is baptismal, and then at the end of the day, the setting sun and the sunset of Jesus' life, which is his death, when he disappears into the earth, just as the sun does, just as we do. It's also another sacramental expression, isn't it? It's the Eucharist. It's the Last Supper. Picture the Last Supper in John's Gospel. You can almost see the room reddening, as it were, as Jesus speaks, as he's about to shed his blood, as he shares himself in a way which is becoming now physical. We talked about a redshift before, but the redshift, like from faith to love or from


water to blood, which happens as the sun rises, moves through the day, moves through the working day as it moves through the sky. It's as if the sun labors its way through the day as it sends its energy down upon a working earth and upon the people that work the earth, until the time of sunset, when the sun, as it were, yields itself to the earth, the sun, as it were, gives itself up to the earth, dies into the earth until it's reborn the next morning. Now, this is what Jesus is doing at the Last Supper, is sharing himself in this way, sharing himself in John's Gospel as wisdom, as the bread of life, which is knowledge, which is light. But at the same time, the wisdom is becoming very simple and is becoming, joining itself with the gift which is his own body and blood, which is to be consummated on the cross. Now, I think the same thing is somehow the law of human life. I think we move between that morning and we move to that sunset, to that evening, whether we're Christian or not, whether we're spiritual or not.


We can do it willingly or unwillingly. You can say that maybe some people never ignite, maybe they never have that ignition, have that dawn, but I think somehow everybody has intimations of it, everybody has glimpses of it. And even if not on a spiritual level, life itself is already that dawn, is already that day, as it moves from its inception, from childhood, from awakening, from the beginning of self-realization as a person to the final sunset and the yielding of ourselves, the surrender of ourselves back to the universe. The surrender of ourselves back to the earth, in a way. Jesus, I think, enters into the earth, yields himself to the earth on three levels at the end of his life. One level is the obvious one. If he was baptized in water at the beginning, he's baptized in the earth at the end of his life, at the end of his earthly life. He's put into the tomb. And that tomb is very important in the New Testament. It's very emphatic that he has to go into the ground. Remember he talks in John 12 about the seed falling into the ground, otherwise it remains


alone. The only way it becomes larger than itself, more than itself, is by entering into the ground. But for the seed to fall into the ground is for the seed to become Eucharist, for the individual grain to become the loaf. So the second earth is the earth of humanity. That Jesus descends into, that he dies into. And that's how he becomes Eucharist. But they're both the same. That is, dying into the earth, dying into the earth of matter, as it were, and dying into the earth of humanity, both make Eucharist. But the third ground that Jesus dies into is the Father. He returns to the Father. And that's beneath these other two grounds. I speak of the ground of humanity as the common humanity, our common humanity, which in a way Jesus recreates, because we've lost it, we've dispersed it, we've fractured it, we've become scattered like those people at the tower in Babylon. So what I'm doing is just developing a little bit that analogy of the sun, the drama that the sun plays out every day as it moves through our life, as it moves through our sky, and


which in some way is a lesson for us. In some way, the sun is our teacher, in some way. As Jesus is our teacher, when he rises in the world, rises in our world, when we first become aware of him, he becomes our teacher. So the sun, mute there in the heavens, is a teacher for us. And if we talk about a solar exegesis of the scripture, of the parables, we can say that the sun is our teacher there because the sun has within itself and expresses the law of our own being, which is to what? To ignite, to radiate, to give, to pour out. You can say that the igniting and the radiating, the shining, is most clear in John's gospel, but the outpouring is most clear in Luke's gospel. That's what Luke's gospel is about, and that's what his parables are about. Remember once again the prodigal son, or the good Samaritan. There are a number of other parables in Luke where you see that. The nucleus of the atom and the nucleus of a star, too, are the sun because what's happening


there, the nuclear fusion, happens in the middle of the sun, at the heart of the sun, the heart of the star. The temperatures are a lot hotter there. The nucleus involves changes of a higher order and energies of a higher order. It's very strange that there should be a nucleus in the sun or the star, the nucleus in an atom, and the two somehow correspond with one another. What happens when the sun ignites, when a piece of matter, a body, becomes a sun, becomes a star, is that the nuclear fusion ignites. That is, before maybe there's been a chemistry of another order. This is, we have a chemistry of ordinary life, and then we have an inner chemistry of the heart. See, the Christian tradition would speak about that as what goes on within the heart, on the level of the heart, of the awakened spirit. And think of the nucleus of a cell for a moment, where the genetic things take place, where the DNA, the genes, the chromosomes are, where real fundamental changes take place. Not more superficial transactions and interrelations, but something fundamental is happening.


That's what quantum mechanics is about. You have another kind of mathematics at that level, where identities are actually concerned, and where a whole thing interacts with a whole thing, or simply changes within itself. Real changes of the order of being take place at that level. Now that really teases our own self-awareness, doesn't it? Because we're aware of a level, of an order like that within ourselves. Even though we may rarely fully live within it, we may not be anything like fully conscious of it, but there it is. Within us there is an order of superior energies and of superior illumination, and of simply another order, a higher order. We call it the spiritual order. We speak of the spiritual life and so on. But we can sort of get out of touch with it and stay out of touch with it for a long time. But the initiation, the baptismal initiation in the early Church, was the ignition of that inner order, of that order of the nucleus, as it were, or of the heart, as the Fathers would say.


So the analogy for the spiritual life becomes very strong there. But the nucleus doesn't exist separately from the whole body, separately from the whole star, the whole sun, the whole cell. It is simply the interior of that which it is, of that which it is not only part of, but one with. Just like head and body, or heart and body, heart in totality. The nuclear order involves these genetic transmutations. When you get to that point, when you get to that level, in the heart of an atom, one element can change into another. And matter and energy become exchangeable in some way, so that matter can be changed into energy, energy can be changed into matter. A strange thing. See, that was the, remember Einstein's equation, E equals mc squared, that under certain conditions, matter can be released, as it were, released from imprisonment, released from its particularity,


and attain the freedom of energy. The analogies there are kind of haunting too. When you hear Paul talking about the spiritual body, or talking in Galatians about being released from our servitude to the poor and simple elements of this world, into the life of God, into the life of the Spirit. Somehow, the analogy is written into us somehow, but never quite concludes. So this is the baseline or boundary line between matter and energy, just as Paul will talk about a boundary line between matter and spirit, between body and spirit. I think maybe that's about enough of these statements from physics. They can become kind of satiating after a while, and one of them is enough to sit with for a long while. But what I'd like to suggest with this is that the universe itself is continually,


in some way, speaking to us, silently teaching us in some way, and that contemporary science spells this teaching out for us, and that what we need to do is not so much figure it out as allow the energy that is within these facts, the energy that is within these principles, to interact with what is within ourselves, until we have a fuller realization, I think, of our own being. And that fuller realization of our own being necessarily, I think, involves realizing our divinity, realizing what early Christianity calls divinization, but realizing it in our time in a different way. And not only as union with God, but also as ourselves being a creative energy within the universe. And this is evident already, in some way, in the science itself,


which begins to change the world, not always for the better, but I think all of this lurches along towards a real regeneration of the world, in which each of us has a part. Time for another poem, I think. Maybe two poems. Towards the end of the Wallace-Stevens poem. Any volunteers? Number 18 and number 19. Maybe 19 first, maybe, and then 18.


Any volunteers for 19? Good, thanks. Number 19, The Planet on the Table. By the way, as I read it, planet here, we think of planets as being the bodies that rotate around the sun, right? But I think by planet here, he means the sun itself. That's one of the legitimate meanings of planet, if you're from Western, by the way, and it's one that the Stevens has used before. Thank you. The Planet on the Table. Ariel was glad he had written this poem. They were a remembered time, or something seen at once. Other makings of the sun were ways to the world's earth, and the right of it to its life. The self of the sun were one and imperatives of the making of itself, the lowest makings of the sun. It was not important that they survive, what mattered was that they should bear some limit or character.


So therefore, it would only help to see in the quality of their work of the planet on which they were taught. This is very late in the canon of Stevens' poetry, and he's looking back on his own life. So Ariel, remember that figure from Shakespeare's The Tempest, is Stevens himself. And he's identifying himself here with the sun, isn't he? He's identifying himself as a creator, as a poet, with the sun. His self and the sun were one, and his poems, although makings of the self, were no less makings of the sun. Now, what is the sun that he's talking about here? Is it the sun out there in the universe? Well, it is in some way, on one level it is, but I think somehow it's more than that, too. He's talking about an interior sun that she identifies with.


What mattered was that they should bear some linear character, some affluence. That word affluence is very important for Stevens, and it expresses the sunness, I think, of his poetry itself, of his self. What it is, is an outpouring. What it is, is a kind of demonstration of the abundance of the inexhaustible creative energy, as it were, of the human heart, of the human spirit. And that, for him, is the affluence of the sun. In the poverty of their words, of the planet of which they were born. Now, maybe planet there has a double meaning, both earth and sun, but I think the principal meaning is the sun. And what he wants to do is witness to what is highest for him in the world, and that is this abundance which he will identify with God. If Stevens resisted becoming a Christian, becoming a Catholic, actually, until the end of his life, I think it was because he felt he had to remain to keep that creative freedom.


He felt, I think, that if he surrendered to an established religion, if he surrendered to the, what would you call it, the structure of religion, that it would in some way have cut his creative freedom at the root. The problem for Christianity, obviously, is to discover its own creativity so that instead of being a structure which stifles the plant, it becomes recognized as the very ground or the very root of the plant. Okay, and finally, as a kind of transition to your next thing here, would somebody like to read number 18? Yes. Silent telegraphy of the interior paranormal. Like the first light of the evening, as in a room in which we rest, and for small reasons think, the world imagined is often split. That is, therefore, the intended relevance of its rendezvous


and is, in that thought, that we collect ourselves out of all these differences into one thing, within a single thing, a single shawl, wrapped tightly around us, since we are poor, a warmth, a light, a power, the miraculous influence. Here, now, we forget each other and ourselves. We feel the obscurity of an order, a home, a knowledge, that which arranged the rendezvous. Within this vital boundary in the mind, we say God and the imagination are one. How high that highest candle lights the dark. Out of the same light, out of the same whole mind, we make a dwelling in the evening air, in which being there together is enough.


Thank you. That poem is mysterious and clear at the same time. It's about the interior of the feminine presence which Stevens associates with creativity. A kind of Sophia figure in Stevens' poetry, which this is the place where it comes out most clearly. We say God and the imagination are one. That was his way of realizing God, the way that he was given to realize God, and to bring something new into the universe. And it appears to have been the only way in which he could do that in an expansive way, rather than a contractive way. And he had to do it that way. He had to do it in an expansive way. And so he wedded himself to his expansiveness in some way, wedded himself to his imagination. There's a lot of difference between two kinds of imaginative literature,


of what would you call it, radically imaginative. The absolute maximum, to the point that poetry becomes something in itself, pure poetry, totally detached poetry. But without the affirmation somehow, it turns negative, it turns self-destructive in some way. The secret of Stevens' greatness, I think, is the affirmation that's inside his poetic talent, that's inside his poetry itself. When he speaks of the affluence of that planet, the affluence of the sun, which he wants to express in his own poetry, that's what he's talking about. At the base of it all is a yes, is an affirmation. You can say there's a love of everything that exists. And that's what he's trying to express. Okay, excuse me for keeping us alone again, but I think everybody needs a break. The restrooms are to be found, there's one or two over in the guest house, there's one behind the library,


you know that little recreation room back there? There's a restroom in there. And then there will be the journey to the factory which where the drawing will take place, right? Materials will be provided. That, of course, is optional, but we urge everybody to take part in it.