Literature Philosophy Web

Meditation I.

A collection of short texts, sometimes poetry, that give you cause for pause to wonder upon their meaning.

‘–Night is drawing nigh–‘

For all that has been–Thanks!

To all that shall be–Yes!

Dag Hammarskjöld, Markings

This text is from a book I have yet to finish. Markings is certainly is not light reading but its verses are often enlightening. I find Mr. Hammarskjöld to be a bit severe at times but I appreciate his stern morality. His dedication to self-reflection and self-discipline are inspiring. Markings is Nietzschean in its formatting and it makes for a quick read in that aspect. Small verses and proportional maxims are pleasant to the reading eyes which yearn for some stopping point.

Verse 8 The Highest Good

The highest good is like water,

nourishing life effortlessly,

flowing without prejudice

to the lowliest places.

It springs from all

who nourish their community

with a benevolent heart as deep as an abyss

who are incapable of lies and injustices,

who are rooted in the earth,

and whose natural rhythms of action

play midwife to the highest good

of each pregnant moment.

Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching, Translated with commentary by Ralph Alan Dale

The Tao is hands-down one of my favorite texts of all. I turn to it when my life feels uncontrollable. I turn to it when I am fulfilled. It has wisdom for every stage and every emotion of life. I’m not good at meditation at all– it takes practice and concentration, but I’ve found that meditating on The Tao comes naturally.

As goofy as it sounds I like to meditate in the bathtub. Close yourself in and draw a warm bath. Use candlelight or an indirect light source to create some calmness in your room. Let the water wash over you and clear your mind. Read your verse slowly out loud. Concentrate on your breathing. Let everything else melt away. All that is left is you and the text.

Heike’s Window at Nightfall, from Versailles Cemetery

Perhaps the dead can see in Heike’s window

and, after dark at dinnertime, sit

upon their stones in rows mesmerized

as at a picture show, watching

through the narrow glass, slivers

of lives: Irwin’s arm reaching

a jug of tea; Harck’s boy arm extending

a cup that water fills; Heike

capping berries at the sink, then lifting out

the bread the toaster raises. These gestures

fascinate the dead who watch that glass

as unforgiving and as hard as molten sands

they’ve crossed. On my own path

falls the light from Heike’s window,

a flattened, grave-shaped shining

I step into.

Jane Gentry Vance, A Garden in Kentucky collection

Reading this poem I can hear her voice. I don’t know how to explain it. When she speaks it’s like I’m home. You can learn more about her life and listen to her read another one of her poems, Night Beasts in the Backyard.

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