I notice in myself a great desire for utterance—to be a mouth of utterance, a mouth of the universal.
Of course, we can’t expect this to happen without making great efforts to bring our lives into harmony with deep spiritual values.
Furthermore, in my spiritual tradition—and it’s hard to imagine anything much different, given the dynamics of the psyche and the ease with which grandiosity can lead all the way to psychosis—we can never take credit for whatever comes through us. Poetic utterance is an expression not of the crass ego-mind, but at the very least of more refined layers of personality, and at best of a voice of pure intuition that can come from such depths it may even seem like “someone else,” a Wise One within.
To become such voices, it seems necessary to treat our lives as crucibles for universal processes that include the entire spectrum of human possibility: birth, death, re-birth, internal riches and poverty. Our lives become experimental grounds. We experience joys and sufferings but at least uphold the ideal of not taking them too personally.
Everyone, Robert Bly wrote once, wants to be a “flaming fragment.” Everyone, he meant, wants to be the one who leaves society for the spiritual frontier and brings fire, in all that symbol’s great depth, back to humankind.
This proposition, this desire, even for the poetically inspired, is complicated by the fact that besides, hopefully, fulfilling this role in self-forgetfulness at times—we, or at least I, are also human egos falling on our faces like Humpty Dumpty and picking ourselves up again and again.
There is ample time in life for both of these activities. Most of us, if we observe ourselves closely, will notice that we simultaneously live several roles, several kinds of lives. Like the wizard Golux in a certain James Thurber story, half of what we say may be prophetic, at least in some artistic sense, and half utter nonsense. Also, similar to that wizard, we don’t always know which is which.
image: Squire of Cydonia (Creative Commons BY-SA)