Excerpt from Divine Dynamite

Such Raw Beauty

February 13th, 2013
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There's a heart-aching so sharp, so sweet and so bottomless, that both shatters and reassembles us. Such terrible beauty accompanies it, such fathomless yearning, such exquisitely painful gratitude. Endless is this beauty. Upon its shores we break and spill, emptied of the familiarity that self-centers our days and ways.

So very soon we are gone, like dreams vanishing before morning's habits. Did we leave a mark? Only wingprints in endless sky, tracing evaporating goodbyes. Tombstones soon but stardust. Life is our signature, scrawled by the infinitely varied shape-takings of the Real. Such raw beauty, beauty to die for, beauty both to bow to and to be, beauty that simultaneously outlives and is us.

Death makes Life worth living. Death makes beauty unspeakably obvious. Death makes Love unsurpassably important. Death wakes us up. What better ally could we have than Death? Death gives all the same opportunity. Death leaves no one out.

Life is, among other things, a Near-Death Experience. The passing of all things breaks our heart open to what matters most of all. Only through intimacy with Death do we find intimacy with the Deathless.

Gazing into soft blue sky, dissolving in its boundless embrace, cradling each of its clouds, whether weeping or thundering or dancing. Beauty beyond beauty coupling with undisturbable peace, through their succulent embrace revealing — not explaining, but revealing — that each moment contains all moments. This the deep lovers cannot help but recognize, as they die into joy, surrendering their all to the Beloved until they are but clearings for that One. Naked openness, owned by none and belonging to all.

Avoiding Death kills us. Are we not, when we truly tire of doing time and redecorating our cells, dying to live? Dying to really live, to fully live? Dying to stop pretending we are not pretending? Dying to at last enter and fully, fully embody the Life we were born to live?

Such dying is but birth, a labor of love, a making room for a deeper Life. The tenderest upstart green cracks and splits open the concrete sea upon which we are shipwrecked. The messy ecstasy of birth unravels our straitjacketed identity. We bleed and soar, waves breaking on ever-virgin shore, dying into the Undying.

Silence is our witness. Silence has seen it all. Silence cradles our pain until its ache wakes us.

Death doesn't happen to Life. Death serves Life. The beauty of it all, the hyperbole-transcending majesty and wonder of it all, both brings us to our knees and wings us. We go from survival to living, and from living to being lived, and from being lived to Being, losing everything along the way except what most matters.

Loss breaks open the heart, dissolving its armoring. Loss gives beauty its true depth. Death is the mother of loss.

The blue fire of the dying poet's eyes makes ruggedly transparent art of his ravaged face. He cries out, his hoarsely impassioned words the last sigh of a vagabond wave, seafoam dying on some midnight beach. His freedom is in having no choice. His love empties his mind and leaves his body see-through. His final poem is an infinitely sadhappy smile as he freefalls into Death.

And what is his message for us? Let go, let your heart break, let your life be beauty made visible, let all things awaken you, let your life be Poetry, the music of Truth, the epiphanously idiosyncratic soulsong of significance.

And all the words die so, so soon in an avalanche of Silence, their sound and meaning and audience gone. But how they danced in their bright sliver of a moment! And how we danced and loved and wept and blazed in our brief time!

The door is, as always, already open. Openness awaiting openness. The Invitation that will not go away. We are dying to live. Let us not wait any longer. Let us do what it takes. There are not higher stakes.

Excerpt from Divine Dynamite: Entering Awakening's Heartland [+purchase on Amazon]
Image by David Frank [+view gallery]

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Too much.

I prefer the genius, subtly and compassion of William Cullen Bryant.

 

Thanatopsis

 
by William Cullen Bryant
 
   To him who in the love of Nature holds 
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks 
A various language; for his gayer hours 
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile 
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides 
Into his darker musings, with a mild 
And healing sympathy, that steals away 
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts 
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight 
Over thy spirit, and sad images 
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall, 
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house, 
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;— 
Go forth, under the open sky, and list 
To Nature's teachings, while from all around— 
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air,— 
Comes a still voice—Yet a few days, and thee 
The all-beholding sun shall see no more 
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground, 
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears, 
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist 
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim 
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again; 
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up 
Thine individual being, shalt thou go 
To mix forever with the elements, 
To be a brother to the insensible rock 
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain 
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak 
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
 
   Yet not to thy eternal resting place 
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish 
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings, 
The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good, 
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past, 
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills 
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,—the vales 
Stretching in pensive quietness between; 
The venerable woods—rivers that move 
In majesty, and the complaining brooks 
That make the meadows green; and poured round all, 
Old ocean's grey and melancholy waste,— 
Are but the solemn decorations all 
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun, 
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven, 
Are shining on the sad abodes of death, 
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread 
The globe are but a handful to the tribes 
That slumber in its bosom.—Take the wings 
Of morning—and the Barcan wilderness, 
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods 
Where rolls the Oregan, and hears no sound, 
Save his own dashings—yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first 
The flight of years began, have laid them down 
In their last sleep—the dead reign there alone.— 
So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw 
In silence from the living, and no friend 
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe 
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh 
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care 
Plod on, and each one as before will chase 
His favourite phantom; yet all these shall leave 
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come, 
And make their bed with thee. As the long train 
Of ages glides away, the sons of men, 
The youth in life's fresh spring, and he who goes 
In the full strength of years, matron, and maid, 
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man,—  
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side, 
By those, who in their turn shall follow them. 

   So live, that when thy summons comes to join 
The innumerable caravan, that moves 
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take 
His chamber in the silent halls of death, 
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night, 
Scourged to his dungeon, but sustained and soothed 
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave, 
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch 
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

 

Great reminder. Thank you once again for your uplifting words, Robert.

I do not see the poet free-falling into death, but rather ascending into a new life.  This essay is a bit like the skull that accompanies it: nicely decorated, but not a metaphor for our higher aspirations.

What is beautiful about a skull?  How does it make us aspire to our loftier ideals?

You can put a diamond on its forehead, and it will have all the transforming power as lipstick on a pig.

I'm for cremation -- no skulls left behind.... 

Absolutely Beautiful!