Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre,
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center 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.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: Somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with a lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again, but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
- William Butler Yeats
Yeats' famous poem aroused much shock and confusion when it was first published, and even now baffles many readers. He is, of course, using the familiar theme of the Second Coming of Christ, with references to the nativity itself, to reveal an approaching world Apocalypse. He turns the symbology on its head, so to speak, and so depicts the coming age as one of horror, not love, an era of terror, not peace. Today, his premonition seems to be coming true.
Here is a poem I wrote in response:
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
W. B. Yeats
Yes, I know.
This is the time
of the second coming.
The great beast lurking,
the savage heart
beating once again.
Somewhere in the desert, yes,
that blank and pitiless stare.
The haunches moving.
The stealthy advamce.
Shall we watch in horror and dismay?
Do we turn away
or witness in silence and despair?.
The vision falters,
the image fades again.
That distant struggle
in the clouds of dust--
is this the specter
we ourselves have made,
created from our inner dreamscape
of grasping and desire?
Are we ourselves
the approaching shape
of darkness drawing near?
October 12, 2008
In this poem I am pointing out that the "beast" (the frightening image drawing close) may in fact be in part our own creation. The world challenge is real, but what is its origin? When we contemplate such issues as global warming and its disastrous effects on climate, the near collapse of the financial systems of the world, and even the terrible wars now being waged in various parts of the globe, we must--if we are honest and brave enough to face the facts--admit that these great threats have not come from some outside source, but are the result of human actions, and that these to a great extent have a common source--rampant greed and lust for power.
I think this is not an oversimplification. The earth is exploited for its resources, the banks run on uncontrolled desire for profit, and wars of invasion are motivated by desire to seize the riches (in this case, oil) of the victim state. The newspapers carry the latest baseball scores, but seldom mention the price paid by ourselves and our victims for our wanton actions--how many know how much American blood has now been "traded for oil," how many tens of thousands of Iraqis have died, or how many forced into exile from their homeland? (Well over a million Iraqi refugees are now living abroad, at a conservative estimate.) Worldwide, there are now over four million such refugees from various countries displaced by conflicts in their region.
On a more positive note, we are--as a nation and as a global community--finally beginning to wake up to our misguided actions and taking some steps to revise our policies. We are at last admitting the reality of global warming and attempting to correct our mistakes. The current financial crisis is making clear how disastrous a "free market" economy which operates with virtually no restraints can become. And the people are finally beginning to understand that we are involved in a war which was begun under false pretenses and continued with the help of cheap slogans and flag waving.
What does all of this have to do with kundalini? Just this. No matter what happens in the "external world," no matter how the outer structures crumble and fall, kundalini will remain. It will be there, to remind us that divine connection is eternally present, to be realized by all who are prepared to attend. Kundalini, meditation, prayer--these carry no price tag. The worth of the human spirit cannot be measured in terms of cost benefit or bottom line. Even if we suffer massive chaos and disarray as social structures erode or implode, the shamans will appear among us, the energy healers will practice their arts, and the mystics and the poets and artists and musicians will continue to inspire. In fact, they are already present, doing their essential work all around.
Perhaps this is indeed a period of universal cleansing, a time of stepping back, taking stock, confronting our mistakes, and rebuilding our world on a firmer basis of universal care and concern rather than profit for the few at the expense of the many. There is in fact a growing spiritual awakening across the globe, for the world appears to be collapsing (externally) and reconstructing itself (internally) all at the same time. Kundalini and other spiritual approaches are bringing more and more into a higher level of consciousness in a process which some term "global initiation." Yeats held a view of history which affirmed that as each era ended, the next was already coming to birth. Who knows what a wondrous future awaits?