A look back at historical Creative Edge posts
Originally posted in 1996 (Newsletter #25)
by Donald Mathews
I (recently) found myself looking for clues for personal life direction—my soul’s longing and my salvation. From experience as an artist, I know if I follow what catches my attention as I process a question or project, I will be attracted to what holds the secret answer or direction. Interpreting the mystery of what my attention has found is my difficult work—just as it is in my dreams. Then, with new consciousness, I must experience the essence of what has been discovered in my life.
In this case I was attracted to Robert Bly’s new anthology of sacred poems. It was the title that caught my eye! Later it was this one Kabir poem that resonated most deeply with the attraction. This poem by Kabir brought to mind Joseph Campbell’s famous line: “Follow your bliss!” And, I know to follow one’s bliss usually takes risk and work – hard work! It is always the hard work of self-discovery and change where salvation is hidden. And, often our bliss and blessings are hidden in a neglected aspect in our life where longing is deeply buried.
THE TIME BEFORE DEATH
Friend? hope for the Guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive!
Think… and think… while you are alive.
What you call “salvation” belongs to the time before death.
If you don’t break your ropes while you’re alive,
do you think ghosts will do it after?
The idea that the soul will join with the ecstatic
just because the body is rotten—that is all fantasy.
What is found now is found then.
If you find nothing now, you will simply end up with an
apartment in the City of Death.
If you make love with the divine now, in the next life you
will have the face of satisfied desire.
So plunge into the truth, find out who the Teacher is,
Believe in the Great Sound!
Kabir says this: When the Guest is being searched for,
it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest
that does all the work.
Look at me, and you will see a slave of that intensity.
(From: The Soul Is Here For Its Own Joy
Sacred Poems From Many Cultures—Robert Bly)
For me it was the realization that I have been neglecting play, missing good strong physical exercise. Since my back surgery a few years ago, daily walking replaced rigorous games of squash as my only physical exercise. Although very meaningful to me, I was sitting many long hours at the computer making excursions into cyberspace to develop the Creative Edge Web pages. (There is both good news and bad news to be reckoned with in everything!) Then, I remembered how much I used to enjoy golf, but was always jealous of the time required for it. Well, now I could selfishly chose to make the time for myself. Somehow, this choice felt right!
At first there was instruction from books. Then, excursions to the driving range. Without a companion, I discovered I was holding back, shy about starting. I invited old friends to come with me. Finally I plunged in by myself! like life, nothing happens until you set a starting time and show up on the first tee! Now, I am finding room for more joyful play—specifically playing golf for the pure pleasure of the experience. It is simply releasing my busy mind to momentarily enter the wonder of my body and feel its physical presence again. In this sense, golf clearly is not productive. It is a risky challenge where I can easily make a fool of myself in front of others as I begin again to re-master the craft. It requires work on the driving range and putting green. It requires a healthy relationship with myself when difficulties arise—and they do! Golf, like any other endeavor, always has its frustrations. But for me it is a spiritual practice because it pleases my soul! I don’t expect it to rule my life or lead me to neglect my other important involvements. I know this is the right path for me now because I feel the powerful energies of life behind my commitment. I feel renewed and redeemed as I follow this exciting pleasure. I have also found new companions. I know it does not help the world around me, rather it lights up the world within me! Thus I feel able to be more present in my relationships and other activities.
As we uncover and release the many complex layers hiding our true passions, the energies of life and soul, bliss floods our being and radiates to the world and others around us in a profound way. I think all of us are inspired when we encounter this kind of radiant person. Passions of the soul are spontaneous and fluid, not to be fixed or held tightly, for they frequently change quickly when they are allowed to live. However, we often get caught, unconsciously fixed, in outdated life patterns or stories that no longer serve. We easily can succumb to their seductive power, rather than being vulnerable in transition to new possibilities. We are often blind to ecstatic soul’s greater potential—a potential of joyful play and highly creative relationship with both self and others. So risk your life and “plunge into the truth” of who you really are! “Follow your bliss” and know it can be a wonderful creative teacher. The intensity of your longing will lead you to your divine nature and the Guest we call God (Essentially meaning “to be!”).