Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another Perspective

On one of the blogs that I visit, people were recently discussing the topic of religious/spiritual beliefs and "faith." One person said that he envied people who had faith . . .
What I envy, I think, is the idea that the universe is being personally benevolent to them. The universe is clearly benevolent to a degree: we exist, after all. But it isn't benevolent to any of us in particular.
Now, "the fact that we exist proves the universe is benevolent" pretty much sums up my spiritual philosophy. But the idea that the universe is supposed to care about any of us personally . . . I can't get behind that and I don't understand why anybody would want to. (I mean, I do understand it. We all hope that nothing bad will ever happen to us and we won't have to die. But it doesn't work that way.)

Moreover, it seems to me that the only way to believe the universe cares about you personally is to assume that it cares about other people less. If the universe cares about you personally, then whenever you want a particular job or a particular lover, they're yours, and everybody else is out of luck. If the universe cares about you personally, then no one would ever cut you off in traffic, and every red light turns green when you approach it. Right? Because when things don't go your way, that's a sign that the universe doesn't care about you personally. But in the real world, it frequently happens that one person's loss is someone else's gain. So whose side is the universe supposed to be on?

Maybe it drops a little benevolence on each person and then moves along to the next. But it's not going to take care of you all the time. (And you can't blame the universe if it happens to turn its attention elsewhere.)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Poetry Roundup #2

(cross-posted on Facebook)

elephant lore

the elephant sleeps and dreams of home
awakens to find to find itself captive and
often dies of homesickness

therefore the elephant drivers keep their elephants awake

therefore, says the poet,
live in fear
that someday your heart will awaken
and remember its home

(from Wilberforce-Clarke's notes on the 359th ghazal of Hafiz)

a misconception

Love is not a reward for good behavior.

It's a function of the universe:

Like sunlight, like rain,
it falls on everyone




I said recently, "We are all hyphenated Americans."
We all came from elsewhere (so they say.)

And when we arrived here, the earth said "Welcome!"
It didn't say, "No, go home!"
It couldn't say, "If you're staying, at least don't kill anyone."

It could only say:

"Whatever you put into me will come back to you.
If you sow poison, you will reap poison.
If you shed blood, someday blood will come looking for you."