Participative Knowledge in Religion and in Poetry

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Part of "Spirituality in a Secular World: Poetry and Wisdom"

1. Participative Knowledge in Religion and in Poetry

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We have some free material here. I hope there's enough of it. If not, let me know and I'll make a couple of more copies. These are poems that were used rather irregularly. That is not systematically. You have to avoid being systematic. Did anybody miss getting one of those programs that tells you what the four sessions are about? In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Heavenly Father, lend us your Spirit, that we may know the life of your Word within us and among us. That schedule looks very complicated. In fact, the word participatory has got six syllables. I counted them. The best way to remember that word is by putting something at the end, like participatory police, or something like that. In fact, I have a poem for you. The one who can supply the best last line gets the Ogden Nash Bronze Medal for this year. Participatory police keep the people completely at peace. It's easier to remember that one. With the gentlest control they watch over each soul, except for the young Japanese. See, there's a problem with the last line. And actually, what we're talking about is very simple. We start out from a position of complexity, of complication, of dualism, as people often like to say.


Especially people from the East. And I'm convinced that life is, in a way, simpler than we think it is. Or let us say that our relationship to the world, to nature, to the cosmos, even to our own bodies, is simpler than we think it is. A participatory relationship, a participative relationship. And I apologize for the long word, but that word is extremely important. Also theologically, philosophically, the idea of participation. In fact, I like to use it as a transitive word. To participate something, rather than participating in something. It's a kind of intensive sense of the word. To participate something. It means a kind of fusion of being, or it means the smaller living from the greater, or vice versa. A kind of overlapping, or merging, or some kind of conjunction of life, which goes counter to our normal ways of thinking today. So I'll be talking about that. And this evening I want to take it easy with the theory part, so I won't load you with a lot of ideas.


But try just to kind of explore, walk around this idea of participative knowledge. And contrast it with a couple of other things. You may have noticed that the title of the retreat drifted a little bit, or grew a little bit, from its first version. And the addition is Poetry and Wisdom. So what I'd like to do is explore this question of Christian tradition and the contemporary world. And the tension that there is between the gap, as it were. The polarization that there is between the two. And do it by means of modern poetry, and a look at the old wisdom tradition. Because I'm convinced that between those two, something very important is happening. To put it briefly, I believe that modern poetry is one example of the emergence of a new wisdom. And wisdom means participation.


Wisdom means a kind of knowledge in which you're not totally distinct from the object. In fact, the word object begins to look a bit absurd. It looks a bit like a sore thumb, because reality just isn't that way. So, wisdom is some kind of knowing that knows something about the unity of reality. And therefore, whatever you're talking about, you're talking about everything. Now, poetry tends to do that. Let me read a poem first. By the way, the poems that we'll use do not necessarily illustrate a point. That's kind of what I think I've passed out one too many. Oh, we've got a few left. Good, thanks. There's one that's tacked together there. I'll trade that one for a better one if somebody turns up. The poems are not always going to illustrate a point. And that's very important, because if a poem is just an illustration, then it's not a poem. There's got to be a sideways motion, a kind of lateral movement of the poetry.


So, lots of times, what the poem will do is something quite aside from the point that we're making. But it's doing its work, and that's what we're about too. So it's as if we have two tracks. One is a little more abstract and straight ahead, and the other one is sideways. And that's what the poems will be doing. So this first one especially, by Dylan Thomas, it's Fern Hill. It's got a number five on it in your Xerox copies there. I'll just read and then see what it does. Now, as I was young and easy under the apple boughs, About the lilting house, and happy as the grass was green, The night above the dingle starry, Time let me hail and climb golden in the hay days of his eyes. And honoured among wagons, I was prince of the apple towns, And once below a time, I lordly had the trees and leaves Trail with daisies and barleys down the rivers of the windfall light. And I had been carefree, famous among the barns,


About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home. In the sun that is young once only, Time let me play and be golden in the mercy of his means. And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, The calves sang to my horn, The foxes on the hills barked clear and cold, And the sabbath rang slowly in the pebbles of the holy streams. All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, The hay fields high as the house, The tombs from the chimneys, it was air and playing, Lovely and watery and fire green as grass. And nightly under the thimble, as I rode to sleep, The owls were bearing the farm away. All the moon long, I heard, Blessed among stables, the night jars, Flying with the ricks, and the horses flashing into the dark. And then to awake in the farm, Like a wanderer awake with the dew, Come back, the cock on his shoulder. It was all shining, it was Adam and maiden, The sky gathered again, And the sun grew round that very day. So it must have been, After the birth of the simple light


In the first spinning place, The spellbound horses walking warm Out of the whinnying green stable On to the fields of praise. And honoured among foxes and pheasants By the gay house, under the new-made clouds, And happy as the heart was long, In the sun borne over and over I ran my heedless ways. My wishes raced through the house-high hay, And nothing I cared at my sky-blue trades That time allows In all his tuneful turning, So few in such morning songs, Before the children, green and golden, Followed him out of grace. Nothing I cared in the lamb-white days That time would take me up To the swallow-thong brought By the shadow of my hand In the moon that is always rising, Nor that riding to sleep I should hear him fly with the high fields And wake to the farm forever fled From the childless land. As I was young and easy In the mercy of his means, Time held me green and dying, Though I sang in my chains like the sea. I think poetry is resonant speech,


is speech that goes beyond its definition. It's words that, instead of following the track of clarity, as it were, instead of defining themselves, instead of outlining themselves and characterizing themselves sharply, which they may do in the course of the poem, they expand and they merge into one another and they become something else. An image which is very useful is a modern one. You know that kind of option you have in physics between the particle and the wave? The particle and the wave function. It's a little like prose and poetry, or a little like the two aspects of a word. The sharp definitive outline of a word its precise meaning, and then its resonance. And then its resonance, which is like an energy field, and which is another option. It's very difficult to do both, to follow both at the same time. It can't be both at the same time, but it is both. And it depends on how you move towards it. It depends on how you relate to it. Either you relate to it in a distinct way and you see it clearly and you know what it is by definition, but from the outside. And it's somehow a knowledge from the inside.


It's a knowledge by contact, a knowledge by fusion, or something like that. And this is actually, I think, what happens as far as the combinations of atoms and molecules are concerned. That is, it's their wave functions or their energy fields or those electrons that are orbiting around that are both particle and wave. That's what interacts, that's their combining, that's their relational aspect. So, I make them back to that image again and again because I think it's a useful one. Prose and poetry, it's useful to contrast. And it's a very funny thing that there happen to be those two things, just like male and female. We've got prose and we've got poetry and what the heck are they? It doesn't immediately appear. And especially it doesn't appear by definition exactly. If I'm trying to define poetry in prose, I'm likely to have a problem. I'm likely sort of to be known in another way, its own way, very much like music. Music is not the score, it's not what's on the paper.


A little about the contemporary situation, and this is going to have to do with this whole business of participative knowledge, of wisdom, and of poetry. We have a bunch of splits in our modern world, and especially, too, when we look around at Christianity. We often write between two views of the church, two views of religion, really, of faith, of what it means to follow Christ, to be a Christian or a Catholic. Between, also, the tradition and the modern world, there's a lot of tension. It's like you can stay inside the tradition, or you can go outside it and into the world and speak the language of the world and then you forget what the tradition was all about. It's very difficult to communicate this whole Catholic tradition and this world that we live in, the secular world. Also, between the human person and the world. I've just been looking again


at that book of Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind, and he talks about a kind of double bind of the human being and the modern world, where what we know about the world puts us in a kind of position of isolation in a material array that has nothing to do with us at all. That is, the infinite spaces of astronomy and what we know about the history of the galaxy and the solar system and the earth and so on. And here we are, these little dots. There's that world out there with all of this knowledge about it, which is very cold knowledge in a sense. It may be beautiful, but it's cold. And then we have our feelings and then we have this heart that's beating inside of ourselves. And the whole life of experience, our interior life, if you want to put it that way, has nothing to do with that world outside. It has nothing to do with that way of looking at reality. That's quite a split. Also, I think there's


a kind of paradox in this, that we find ourselves at a point of great enrichment and great impoverishment at the same time. And you have the sensation that everything is emerging to the surface and spreading out, and the concrete symbols of that are many. But for instance, just the media, the newspapers, which have to fill square yards of paper every day with news. And sometimes I think that they commission little wars and things just in order to fill all that space. You have that, and you have the world of the computer and the multiplication of data and information. You can know so much about so much information and databanks and things like that. You know, there's no end. And at the same time, somehow, that tends to draw us out. It wants to pull us out into itself. It wants to be interesting and to kind of glue us to it, as the TV screen does.


That's another surface, a very thin surface, which seems to have infinite expanse to it. And we realize at the same time that as we move out we haven't got a grip on it, we don't know what it is. It's as if whatever it is comes out into visibility, out into the surface, it ceases to be what it was. There's another pair of expressions, you know, the implicate order and the explicate order, which is another good analogy for that, I think. That which was somehow all, what would you say, compressed and intensely involved with itself, then opens and exposes itself, turns itself completely into surface. You see? Now we can just let ourselves be carried along with that or we can wonder about it and we can possibly try to orient ourselves with respect to it. And that has to do also


with this question of wisdom and this question of mystery and the question of whether something really has to remain hidden. Is there something really that isn't going to become surface? We've done our part to find it and to possess it or to become aware of it because nobody's going to make us do it. Nobody's going to tell us that anymore. Most people have forgotten it. It's becoming forgotten. The surface is dominating. Just another aspect, another view. Poetry tries to be undiminished speech, I think. It tries to be language which doesn't restrict itself to that surface which resists any limit which tries to break through whatever barrier, whatever limitation is imposed. So as soon as it recognizes a wall it tries to bore through it. It may also grow on it like ivy but it's going to try to penetrate it.


It's going to try to see what's on the other side. It's never satisfied with the limit. If we look at the polarization in Christian theology it's kind of interesting because there's a shape to it, I think. The extreme forms. Look at biblical studies. One extreme form is the exaggeration of the historical critical method where you kind of analyze everything and try to find what the actual historical fact was not worrying too much about the question of inspiration or what message there may be from God for you there but actually what the historical reality was what the flat chronological history was. That's one extreme. The other extreme is fundamentalism where you, in reaction to that perhaps you go completely in the opposite direction and refuse to fiddle with the word at all but take it just as it stands. Those are two extremes. But the two extremes have something in common


and what they have in common is that they're both kind of materializing the dimensions of the word. They're both taking the word taking it literally in some way. They're both reducing it to surface. They're both excluding the dimension of depth. They're both excluding the wisdom dimension which is what I'm trying to get at. Whether you materialize the word by interpreting it strictly with a scientific method in which case you kind of squeeze the supernatural, you squeeze the revelation out of it. Or whether you do it by taking it as an absolutely supernatural thing and not allowing yourself to go beneath the surface. In other words, you freeze it, you sclerotize it by considering it to be an immovable, impenetrable piece of supernatural revelation. In either case, you literalize it, you materialize it. And I think you missed the point initially. So that's where we're at.


We're in that problem, that position of literalizing everything somehow. Somehow what's inside has been stolen from us. We've still got it but we don't know it. And this question of participation comes right into that, as you can see. Because there's one kind of knowledge that knows things from the outside which is typified by positive scientific knowledge, typified by daylight. We know things from the outside in the daylight. But that's not participatory knowledge. There's another kind which knows things somehow by con-naturality from the inside. And that's what wisdom is about and that's what poetry is about. And I would contend also that that's what at one time Christianity was understood to be about and what we need to recover. We've had a lot of disasters in our theological tradition, I think. I want to mention a couple of them One of them is when we began to consider


our Christian salvation from a strictly juridical point of view as if we owe a debt to God which has to be repaid and therefore an infinite being, an infinite person had to pay that infinite satisfaction and that's the reason why Christ died and paid the debt and so on. Now, there's some truth in that that's extremely dangerous because it takes the what would you call it? It takes the fact of grace it takes the very excess, the outpouring it takes the miracle of the bestowal of divinity and turns it into some kind of a feudal transaction turns it into some kind of a legal business which was the problem, I remember that Jesus found with the Old Testament with the Judaism of his time. Another tragedy is that loss of the sense of the church as koinonia the church as communion because it seems like what happens is that there's an exteriorization and first that sense of communion being, what would you call it?


A fragile thing in a way it's the strongest thing in the world it transforms the world in another sense it's very fragile and very easy to lose sight of especially in your thinking and especially in your government and your administration the sense of unity which is not only personal interior, individual but also in some way participative in a community among people the Acts of the Apostles is full of that in the letters of St. Paul that gets turned into a kind of structure a kind of administrative structure a necessary thing it's necessary but if it sort of what would you call it? The body substitutes itself for the interior unity then you've got a problem so what happens first is that center comes up as it were out of the ground out of the body and becomes over the body


first there's a hardening and then there's a shattering first you get this disposition this dislocation of the center which is koinonia the reality, the actual stuff of Christianity that becomes too heavy that becomes an impossible bond and so it's shattered and you get a whole bunch of communities which really don't understand their community from another community they're almost separate individuals in an individualistic modern world a third little tragedy not a little at all is the movement from a Christianity understood as a new creation to a Christianity understood as keeping things in order from new creation to a kind of fortress of truth a kind of custodian position a kind of holding position from the explosion of new life


and new being with the coming of the divine being the divine unit of being into the world to a position of holding on and therefore being content with a minimum and protecting what you have against somebody else but when you get in that defensive position look out because you're going to start giving up part of the truth the expansiveness of Christianity is what gets lost there and with that, as it were the fullness of Christianity at the same time there's been a progression from wisdom to science in our theology in our thinking about Christianity which has been necessary since the early 13th century talking about theology as science scientia rather than sapientia and it was quite necessary to bring in that dimension of hard reason but at the same time it has not stopped


going in that direction and therefore all of that fullness all of that resonance all of that participative fullness that was there with the earlier wisdom tradition has just about evaporated just about disappeared it's as if you can talk about three ages in the history of the church this is very crude an oversimplification but there's a patristic age in which your reading of the bible is symbolic and typically you may apply some platonic categories and so on it would be symbolic reading with various levels they had four levels in the eastern the greek and russian tradition and then you have the middle ages which are typically roman catholic in a sense where scholasticism becomes your way of interpreting scripture and that becomes quite abstract and the other senses begin to give way to the literal sense and then you have a modern age which is predominantly protestant


in which the scientific exegesis finally takes over and during the past 150 or 200 years the real turning point seems to be in the middle where you move from a scholasticism which could still embrace wisdom to a nominalist position let me read something this is from Tarnas's book once again he's talking about Occam the famous razor wielder the english thinker who was the strongest spokesman for nominalism the question, the issue is are universals real? that is something like a truth or beauty does that have an existence in itself or does it only exist in the individual and up to that time of course with a strong influence of platonism especially to support it catholicism had always said christian theology had always said those things are real those things are real like archetypes in the mind of god


but it's not only those things it's the church itself that's in question and it's the mystery itself see the mystery is going to disappear there's a shell game here in which the mystery gets somehow swindled away from you and you end up with just whatever will fit under that little shell that's what happens with this turnover to nominalism this is the description of that turning point the central principle of Occam's thought and the most consequential was the denial of the reality of universals that is the big words beauty and also really in the end church and also really in the end humanity or the human person as a spiritual being as a spiritual being and something like the soul is going to go out the window I don't mean soul as the immortal thing but psyche is going to disappear the denial of the reality of universals


outside of the human mind and human language Occam put a lot of stress on the ontological primacy of particulars over platonic forms to which logical extreme excuse the technical language Occam argued that nothing existed except individual beings that only concrete existence could serve as a basis for knowledge and that universals existed not as entities external to the mind but only as mental concepts see the idea was always before that the individual thing participated in something greater than itself in communion with great things beyond it so for instance in astrology you believe that your life is continually interacting with the life of the cosmos with the movements of the planets and the stars that's just one example but the whole conviction was like that you were always in contact with something outside yourself and greater than yourself and this comes along and cuts it right off so that you're just yourself that's the big revolution


that's when participation just drains away, just disappears in the last analysis what was real was the particular thing outside the mind not the mind's concept since all knowledge had to be based on the real and since all real existence was that of individual beings then knowledge must be of particulars human concepts possess no metaphysical foundation beyond concrete particulars there's no precorrespondence between words and things so words are just kind of algebraic symbols for things, indicators yeah sorry, could you say that that transformation happened in one of these particular times yeah, it's in the middle ages this is about just after Aquinas just about the beginning of the 14th century it seems to me William Blockham and I've gone into this a little more but it's not a one-sided


it's not only a tragedy that thing because that business of particulars is very important, isn't it I mean, we are particulars we are concrete individuals and up to that time there's been too much ignoring of that fact the individual person really didn't capture enough it's the modern world in which the individual person has become of supreme importance in the West it's very important it's a two-sided deal let me read a little poem of Wallace Stevens which I really like it's in here it's got a number 40 on it it's called On the Road Home there it is it was when I said nothing is the truth that the grapes seemed fatter the fox ran out of his hole


you, you said there are many truths but they are not parts of a truth then the tree at night began to change smoking through green and smoking blue we were two figures in a wood we said we stood alone it was when I said words are not forms of a single word in the sum of the parts there are only the parts the world must be measured by eye it was when you said nothing is the truth it was at that time that the silence was largest and longest the night was roundest the fragrance of the autumn warmest closest and strongest the world with all its fullness and all its fragrance has been liberated from a prison of ideas a prison of abstract universal ideas and we're still living from that liberation so it's very important the other side of it is that if you lose the sense of participation you're in trouble and that's where we stand at a kind of acute vanishing point of participation so here's a poet who


I think is saying this out of one side of his mouth and out of the other side of his mouth he'll be talking participation this is Wallace Stevens a tricky character we have a lot of poetry of the particular now times in our time a kind of ruthless refusal to accept any domination of thought get back to the real thing William Carlos Williams is probably the great apostle of that the best known with his famous adage no ideas but in things don't let your poetry be determined by ideas here's Mary Richards recalling Barfield's vision I'll be talking a lot about Owen Barfield especially tomorrow very interesting


in other words it's as if we reverse history by using language in such a way that words begin instead of spreading the explosive, the big bang and the expansion of the universe words move apart too we find a way to have these words associate with one another and to use them in such a way that we move with them back up the stream to the origin to the original unity as it were of consciousness or being original unity of the word because Barfield believes in the Logos believes that out of the word comes everything there's a kind of sacred quality to language in that sense not religions of the word not religions of the book so much as religions of the word especially in Christianity the word is the key term the ultimate theological term for the New Testament I believe that Logos of John's Gospel in the beginning is the word and from the word come all things


and then the word comes into the world and somehow lights up all those things from inside themselves comes into us lights up our being and that brings attention to poetry Christianity needs poetry because somehow the word has become too sharp has become too hard has become too rigid has gone too far over on one side of the pendulum and now it needs to come back and poetry is what's over here to pull it back in the beginning she said words are poetry as perception is participation this is very condensed in the nature of language that is that one thing is used for another but when you do that when you use the name of one thing for another you're implicitly saying that everything is one that there's a kind of brotherhood among being or sisterhood among being so that you move from one thing to another and it's all one family


it's all one family in the word so the audacity of metaphor is the assertion that it's all one and therefore I can move from here to there freely this is like Francis saying brother son sister moon it's the same audacity that movement of the child of God within the cosmos created in the world and therefore all one and we have that word in the beginning words are poetry as perception is participation when you see something you're being one with it in that very seeing probably not that you're becoming one with it but that you're becoming conscious of your oneness with it but something's opening up in that pre-existing oneness as perception is participation


and words are poetry it's the equivalent expression moving over to words so poetry corresponds to participation and perception historically language has moved toward prose and the separations of kinds of meanings perception has tended to separate subject and object and that's the way we usually talk about this dualism this loss of participation Northrop Frye has an interesting way of talking about poetry and prose he says that the characteristic of poetry for him is centrifugal they refer to something outside themselves like you read a historical text and it's telling you about something happens it's referring back to those actual events that happened and its reference therefore is outside itself that's the prose dynamic the dynamic of poetry


he says is centripetal which means that the words are having something to do the participation even extends therefore to something that's happening between the words themselves and then it catches over to us and from us to something else that the poem is talking about so it's like it creates a kind of theater, a kind of forum of participation almost a kind of sacramental thing, almost a liturgical thing poetry as well as music it has a kind of as I say it has a sacred thing and the participation especially in a group of people among people has a liturgical and sacred character to it okay I was going to talk about different kinds of knowledge I should say something about it but first of all we distinguish


this dualistic knowledge which is objective, rational analytical, defining, linear logical and in a sense masculine it's the knowledge of the head and another kind of knowledge which is non-dualistic participative, art-related unitive, synthetic in a sense it doesn't mean artificial it means pulling things together or finding things together rather than distinguishing them and in that sense feminine pardon me if I use this language of masculine and feminine I'm not referring to them I have to forego them because of our contemporary difficulties with gender distinction and discrimination and so on so pardon me if I use it let me just put these four kinds of knowledge down so that we can refer back to them later some of you will have seen this diagram first sense knowledge perception


the first time I tried this it's not very good the second kind is rational dualistic subjectivity third kind I'm going to call participative and it also may be called poetic but it's got a bunch of other ways of appearing too and the fourth I'm going to call unitive now sometimes I've used participative and unitive to mean the same thing but here I want to distinguish the two sense knowledge of is what we put in a rational way and we kind of focus on it and try to define


it and if we want to describe it to somebody perhaps in a very objective newspaper-like way then we'll use this kind of knowledge and this kind of expression scientifically as far as the refinement of that if we want to make somebody experience it we'll probably use this but I wanted to distinguish that from what I call unitive because this is the experience of unity itself the unitive experience as the pure contemplative experience which you find I think in all of the ancient religious traditions of the world there's a fellow who wrote a book called non-duality which is a very useful book about three and he finds an experience of non-duality which is really very close to what it is despite the


different expressions in the other traditions. There's a universal experience I believe of the unitive, of this reality. Call it the center in the language of Ramana Upanika. Now that's an experience of pure contemplation not of the things around you and there you're perceiving the unity and experiencing the unity with something around you and of all the things around you perhaps of the universe by participation in something deeper which is experienced directly and purely here. So I think that at the center of all this there's one unitive reality which we can call God, if we wish, which is expressing itself and being perceived through all these different ways of knowledge. Some of them more unitive or participative some of them more dualistic.


But as I said the participation is there all the time. It's only that we perceive it now and then and sometimes we have to shut it out because we have to do this or that. If I have to solve a mathematical problem I cannot very well be aware of participation or unity at the same time. If my threes and my sevens are participating with one another I'm in trouble. I was going to talk about... I habitually prepare a lot of unnecessary material, perhaps nice but not going to be used. Part of what I was going to tell you about is just a kind of inventory of these ways of participation that we become aware of. And if you think about it there are a lot of them. In fact it almost may begin to close around you so that you become convinced, well it is all participative, reality is participative. If you look back for instance, anthropologists they find this participation mystique pardon my French


in primitive peoples where... And also I think this is true in childhood. That really we don't distinguish very much in the beginning. Or if we distinguish it's within a unity and so on and then gradually we separate and gradually forget the original unity. That's a kind of myth but I think the myth has a certain truth to it. So this is true both in the individual case and also in the racial case I think. If you look within religious... within the religious world look at the idea of sacrifice and participation in the sacrifice. Look at the... look at tribalism you know where the individual hardly distinguishes himself or herself from the group. And when you see somebody else he's either your friend or he's your enemy depending on which tribe he belongs to. It's still going on


in the Middle East and in other places. Think of... think of music in which you really begin to vibrate with what's going on and everybody in the room begins to vibrate with the same... with the same movement with the same rhythm. And this is not just on the level of rhythm itself you know the drummer and the jazz band but the whole thing is somehow a common vibration. Think of our Christian theology and the sacraments. Now the sacraments I think it's been very unfortunate the way the sacraments got pared down especially in the past 400 years or so. Vatican II for us Catholics has been a great liberation in that sense. Because they were almost unrecognizable as participative events. But think of both baptism and the Eucharist. Now baptism is a participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus as someone who died and rose 2000 years ago.


And it also incorporates us into a body. Think especially of the Eucharist. The Eucharist in a sense is the center of the church. I forget what language the Vatican II document uses. But that's pure participation pure participation in the strongest symbolic terms of eating and drinking. This is my body this is my blood. And unfortunately very often in our tradition it's been shaved down so that people have just seen like communion between Jesus and myself. But actually it's a communion among the believers. It's a communion among all humanity in some way. And in some way it's a cosmic communion as well. So that's the most intense point perhaps of our participation in our Catholic religion our Catholic tradition. I'm going to talk tomorrow morning about the disappearance


of participation and the signs of rebirth. So I don't want to say a lot about that now. But I think as we look around we see on all sides especially perhaps in California the sense of participative thought and experience coming back once again. Just the new paradigm idea you know. Or the Eastern religions with meditation the importance of meditation. Meditation? What is meditation Meditation I think is a kind of opening of oneself to the center to the unitive core of being or the unitive context of being whichever you prefer which is pure participation without necessarily thinking of this or that without being connected in detail or in particularity to this or that but as it were opening yourself to the center of participation. So I'll talk more about that a little later.


I'd like to read a few more poems especially some by a lady called Mary Carolyn Richards I already read a little thing of hers who is a kind of a fiend of participation. She's a little like a cosmic force of some kind which she seems to participate. She's a disciple of Rudolf Steiner and so she her poems are examples of participation in several ways. One way because that's the way she thinks and experiences but the other way because that's what she's writing about very often. In other words that's her point. Her gospel is a gospel of participation. So they're pretty powerful testimonies to that particular reality very often. Let's see. Oh there's a beauty here number 11. This is from a book called Centering which is a classic which also has a wonderful chapter on poetry in it.


It's called Poem. In the new edition of that book she uses a phrase from the poem as its title called That Supreme Point. It comes down towards the end. Why is everything called by another name? Water is smoky pearl this first bright morning of spring in the Minnesonga at a depth of 14 inches over Granite. Birds are flutes. Grass is having its hair streaked. Last week's sleds are beached in the field. It's all a big double take. A dédualment as the French say a haunting. The world is full of phantoms walking around in bodies. The primal stuffing is leaking out all over the place. It's bound to get mixed up by their outside or inside man speech. What's the difference? The sages spend a lifetime trying to get to that supreme point where everything is everything else and here it is happening down here on my level. I think she really said it well there.


Notice, she talks about the sages, you know, that supreme point. The supreme point is up there number four. That's where, that's the pure unit of experience of what samadhi, satori, whatever you call it. The experience of non-duality. And here it is happening down here on my level. It's happening with the sleds, it's happening with the birds, it's happening with the grass and everything else, you see. That's the participative knowledge through things which is poetic knowledge. It's very interesting that poetry and this unitive experience go together in some way, are mated together in some way. So there's a book called Beneath a Single Moon which is by contemporary Buddhist poets in the United States. Now the two things that these people are doing are meditating and writing poetry. It's very interesting that those two things go together in some way. And they're two experiences of participation. Two in a way parallel or at least conjoined. Maybe in a sense opposite. They go in different directions. But they're twins and they complement and feed one another in some way. Especially when


meditation seems to feed the poetry. There's something in poetry that is not only participative, unitive, but it's also creative. And there's something about the unitive experience and the creative experience that go together. And that's very exciting. That is very exciting. Why do the unitive experience and the creative experience have a kind of inseparability about them? What is it about the human person that when you get to the point in yourself where it's all one, you get to the point in yourself where it begins to generate. It begins to somehow freely propagate itself. It begins to become all new as well as all one. What's in there? What's in there in that place where that happens? Coleridge. Richard frequently quotes Coleridge because he's another participation freak. And he's got a piece in his Biographical Literary which she quotes with great devotion and it goes like this. It's this


language which is not exactly our speed so it takes a little care to listen to it. The poet, he's describing his ideal of the poet. Now remember these people are obsessed with imagination. Imagination for them is the central faculty of the human person. That's where it's at. That's what every human person is basically is imagination and the ideal of these romantic writers and philosophers of whom Coleridge is probably the most I've already called it the most powerfully speculative. The poet described in ideal perfection brings the whole soul of man pardon his non-inclusive 18th century 19th century into activity with the subordination of its faculties to each other according to their relative worth and dignity. He diffuses a tone and spirit of unity that blends and as it were fuses each into each as a unitive center around the human person by that synthetic and magical power to which I would exclusively appropriate the name of imagination with a capital I.


This power first put in action by the will and understanding and retained under their irreversible gentle and unnoticed control reveals itself in the balance or reconcilement of opposites opposite or discordant qualities that's the property of the center that's where the opposites come together of sameness with difference of the general with the concrete the idea with the image the individual with the representative the sense of novelty and freshness with old and familiar objects a more than usual state of emotion with more than usual order judgment ever awake and steady self-possession with enthusiasm and feeling specific, profound or vehement and while it blends and harmonizes the natural and the artificial still subordinates heart to nature the manner to the matter and our admiration of the poet to our sympathy with the poetry So somehow it's a unitive faculty for him and we'll get back to that again and I'll be asking what that has to do with Christianity again. If you believe that Christianity is a new creation then it has a lot to do with it. If you believe


that Jesus is the unitive word of God and the creative word of God who comes into this world in order to create the world anew in union and that he plants that in the center of the human person then you begin to see the connection between these things. So we'll come back to that tomorrow talking about Barfield's scheme of history where you start out with a kind of first participation he calls it the original participation which gradually gets eliminated until we get to an almost non-participative subject-object dualized universe and we've been through it that's where we're just coming out of that and then you begin to discover participation again but in a new way and what characterizes that new way of participation is freedom and creativity no longer is it something you inherit it's something you make it's something you invent it's something you discover it's something you create so it gives a slant on Christianity which I think is both


exciting and authentic so we'll talk about that tomorrow excuse me for taking so much time if there are any questions or comments you're welcome yes I was just wondering exactly where that second paragraph in the writing is found here okay I may be able to I think I can track it down but I don't have the reference with me yeah yeah there's a nice one


number seven there by Richard Wilbur I just got on to Richard Wilbur this year and he's really great I hardly find any of his poems that don't seem to don't seem to seem to poplar sycamore there's about two trees poplar absolute danseuse wind-wed and faithless to wind troweling air tinily everywhere faster than air can fill here whitely rising there winding there fainting to earth with a greener spill never be still whose pure mobility can hold up crowding heaven with a tree sycamore trolled by the tilt sun still scrawl your trunk with tattered lights and keep the spotted toad upon your patchy bark baffle the sight to sleep be such a deep rapids of lacing light and dark my eye will never know the dry disease of thinking things no more than what he sees


thinking things no more than what we see is our modern disease and the poets are trying to help us out they're trying to cure us okay, thank you very much we'll continue tomorrow morning at 9.30 then and notice that the the final talk on Sunday is earlier and that's because we'll run into the people that come in here for choir practice if we don't start earlier so it's at 9 on Sunday morning 9.30 tomorrow morning thank you