I appreciate the warmth with which you receive the excerpt. I'm glad
it stirs new insights. We have a long way to go, though. It's like Dante
having lost his way in a dark forest in the opening canto of The Divine
Comedy. Well, my hope lies in the kindly light that leads us from
within. And it brings in coincidences as well that help.
Incidentally, "to be conscious is not to be in time" does not imply the state
of human soul without body -- it's an experience that saints have while living
this life in time -- they are both in time and out of time. That is why this mystic
moment is at the cross-section of time and eternity. TS Eliot recalls
a fleeting experience of this "timeless moment" which is available to saints
and sages at all times -- a state of detachment from
earthly joys and sorrows,
a state of detached action, and they enjoy all the attributes of this state while
physically alive. AND, it is possible for anyone to cultivate a way of life through
a recourse to, for instance, "Datta, Dayadhvam, Damyata", and reach that state.
TS Eliot too aspired to attain to that state all his life -- he persevered. It was
the goal of his life -- not that he attained it. [ According to Hindu philosophy,
it takes relentless efforts of many lives. Sometimes, this state is vouchedsafed
to you in consideration of your childlike purity of heart, mind and soul -- a gift
of Divine Grace.] The Four Quartets defines the moment and charts out the
course which we can take toward it.
Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes
stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.
Diana, let me again draw your attention to the passage on "the still point".
Let us mark the words I
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
Diana, we must contemplate these lines to get at their core.
Dear CR: This part of the excerpt you posted strikes me as pertinent to the 4 Qts passage that asserts that only in time is time conquered: "A new inflexion/emphasises Incarnation... "
Perhaps "to be conscious in not to be in time" is the state of the unincarnated soul or spirit. The rest of the passage could be
read as expressing Eliot's realization of the spiritual value of the Incarnation. Seen in this light, the very provocative passage from Wordsworth that Vishvesh posted would seem to be saying something quite different, describing a vision of the incarnation of spirit into flesh as "a death and a forgetting."
Many thanks CR -- I begin to see the meaning of the smoky church at nightfall and the rose-garden a bit more clearly! Diana
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