Wow! Thank you, David, for quoting that most wonderful passage
from the Four Quartets. O, it gives a most musical expression to
the moment where the temporal and the eternal, the human and the divine,
intersect -- a moment that transcends both pleasure and pain. In Indian
thought we call it the moment of "yogic" union with the divine --
the mystic moment that William Wordsworth said brought
that blessed mood
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened:--that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,--
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and
become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
You'll kindly permit me to quote in this context a passage from
Lyndon Gordon's book Eliot's Early Years that recounts such an
experience of Eliot:
"About the same time that Eliot graduated from Harvard College,
while walking one day in Boston, he saw the streets suddenly
shrink and divide. His everyday preoccupations, his past, all the
claims of the future fell away and he was enfolded in a great silence.
In June 1910 he wrote a
poem he never published called 'Silence',
his first and perhaps most lucid description of the timeless moment.
Eliot's intuition in the noisy street is similar to Emerson's on the
common when he felt 'glad to the brink of fear.' At the age of
twenty-one Eliot had one of those experiences which, he said,
many have had once or twice in their lives and been unable to put
into words. 'You may call it communion with the Divine or you may
call it temporary crystallization of the mind', he said on another
occasion. For some, such a moment is part of an orthodox religious
life, for others -- like Emerson -- it is terminal, sufficient in itself,
and gratefully received."
Such moments, however, have also been part of the human
experience reached in the course of their selfless identification
or a complete devotion to duty, to righteous action (in India we call it
"dharma" -- Buddha wrote 'Dhammapada', the path of dharma,
the path of righteous action. It is during such moments of passionate
absorption that "Labour is blossoming or dancing", as Yeats said,
where one becomes one with one's act -- the dancer becomes
It is thus as well that "samsaara" (the phenomenal world) is
transcended even while one is within it. It becomes identical with
"nirvaana" (liberation from suffering) -- the field of action
becomes the field of freedom.
Thanks again, and with my grateful regards.
This is just to share my reflection on your "one is the other
(the act being different from the "fact").
"action" alone that this identity becomes one --
the "fact" is imperfect. As WB Yeats wrote 'Among
Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul.
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?
Or as Eliot remarked in the Four Quartets:
"but you are the music / While the music lasts."
The "samsaara" becomes "nirvaana" in the course of
righteous action. The aspect of "samsaara" undergoes
a sea change.
to encounter another fan of that truly magnificent piece of Yeats -
this also chimes perhaps with the following from 'Burnt Norton' [sorry if I'm missing any points here, but haven't been closely following the thread. ]
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
Check out the all-new Yahoo! Mail beta - Fire up a more powerful email and get things done faster.