Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Poems From a Poet's Soul 4


The Dalai Lama - one of the best known Buddhists
Buddha in Glory


Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet--
all this universe, to the furthest stars
all beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,


a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.


Rainer Maria Rilke

This time I have begun this post with another poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.  On this occasion the poem has at its very centre a Buddhist theme.  If meditation is anything it is about getting to the Still Point of Existence - to use an appropriate metaphor.  That Still Point is another word for the central point or hub about which the wheel of life spins.  Yeats informs us in one of his poems that when the "centre cannot hold" the world become a place of anarchy and chaos without any semblance of order:


TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.


(WB Yeats, The Second Coming)
If spirituality is about anything, it is about getting a centre of gravity for the Self, the Psyche or the Soul.  It is all about being centered, abound having an undisturbed and almost undisturbable equanimity.  Quite by chance as I was listening to some tracks from the late great and wonderful Jeff Buckley to relax before I wrote these lines here, I chanced to find his official site on the internet and also discovered this wonderful insight into his music and spirituality:

The truly centered one - The Buddha meditates!

"I don't have any allegiance to an organized religion; I have an allegiance to the gifts that I find for myself in those religions... I'd rather be non-denominational, except for music. I prefer to learn everything through music. If you want divinity, the music in every human being and their love for music is pretty much it. It's the big indication of their spirituality and their ability to love and make love, or feel pain or joy, and really manifest it, really be real. But I don't believe in a big guy with a beard on a throne, telling us that we're bad; I certainly don't believe in original sin. I believe in the opposite of that: you have an Eden immediately from the time you are born, but as you are conditioned by your caretakers and your surroundings, you may lose that original thing. Your task is to get back to it, to claim responsibility for your own perfection." (See this link here: jeffbuckley)

In my book Jeff Buckley's Eden is quite simply Rainer Maria Rilke's "centre of centres," and Yeats' centre that does not hold, the Still Point of our being which we may achieve through Buddhist meditation techniques.  If spirituality is about anything it is about connection and connectedness to that Still Point, to that Point of Equanimity, to that Centre of Centres.  It is also about the unity of things, the oneness of all reality about us, and the more one meditates the more the Ego disappears and the oneness of all things becomes foremost in the meditator's mind.  The Ego dies away and the Real Self comes to the fore, the Self as a conscious drop in the great ocean of consciousness or Truth.  And so, because the centre of centres or Still Point is so important for us, I repeat here  Rainer Maria Rilke's wonderful little Buddhist poem:

Buddha in Glory


Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet--
all this universe, to the furthest stars
all beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.



Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,



a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.

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