Wait without thought • 22 May 2011

O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,

The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,

The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters…

And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.

And we all go with them, into the silent funeral,

Nobody's funeral, for there is no one to bury.

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you

Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,

The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed

With a hollow rumble of wings,

with a movement of darkness on darkness,

And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama

And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled awayщ۬

Or as, when an underground train, in the tube,

stops too long between stations

And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence

And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen

Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;

Or when, under ether,

the mind is conscious but conscious of nothingщ۬

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope

For hope would be hope for the wrong thing;

wait without love,

For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith

But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.

Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancingɉ۬


You say I am repeating

Something I have said before. I shall say it again.

Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,

To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,

You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.

In order to arrive at what you do not know

You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.

In order to possess what you do not possess

You must go by the way of dispossession.

In order to arrive at what you are not

You must go through the way in which you are not.

And what you do not know is the only thing you know

And what you own is what you do not own

And where you are is where you are not.


As read after group meditation today, by Shinzen, on a scratchy conference call, to 30 of us all over the world on headsets and mute phone lines. It’s the third section of T.S. Eliot’s second quartet.



  • Posted 23 May 2011 at 1:02 am | #

    Phew. Wow. Holy S*#@.

    I just watched black swan— O.K., much of it with my hand over my eyes, which is to say, I watched my hands. Oddly, it has a resonance with that poem. Don’t ask me to defend that analogy.

    The most incredible thing about the Eliot poem above is that if you read it as one must a poem— line by line— you really have no idea what the next line is going to hold. And that, maybe, is the point.

  • Posted 23 May 2011 at 5:21 pm | #

    Owl! When I saw your title at the top of my feed, I couldn’t believe. It is one of my favorites of all time, this line, this section:


  • rebecca
    Posted 25 May 2011 at 9:52 pm | #

    LOLOL Owlio, I was reading and thinking “her voice sounds so much like TS Eliot’s right now”.

  • Posted 25 May 2011 at 10:38 pm | #

    This is beautiful. Thank you.

  • Posted 28 May 2011 at 11:56 am | #

    Sara, yes, and where you are is where you are not? Really? It’s in meter and theme and rhyme, but every time I get there, it’s still a huge smack upside my daydreaming head.

    Rebecca, love it.

    I’m in Chicago, incidentally. Same as last Memorial Day. Recommended are espresso at Streets, a boutique called Penelope’s, the room of a thousand Buddhas at the Art Institute, crim Saturday morning Mysore at CYC, cafes called Lula and Big Star, taxicabs, architecture tourism.

    Not so highly recommended are driving behind a bulldozer half the way home from Oak Park, and having the temperature be 41 degrees. But back in Ann Arbor, there were giant snow drifts on our block of Main Street outside AY:A2 after Mysore practice on Thursday. Something involving a movie starring “that guy from The Office”? There were sentinels posted to guard the drifts against vandalism. Surreal. Then I came to Chicago and it was 41 degrees.

    En route, I read about Swami Vivekananda at the 1893 Worlds Fair. He gave a speech about the horrors of fundamentalism and about how yoga is a universalizing, not divisive, belief system. After his opening line, “Sisters and Brothers,” he received a 7-minute ovation. Pretty subversive to put sisters before brothers in 1893. The day was September 11. His visit to the US for the event is seen as the first meeting of East and West on the subject of yoga; and I love that it happened in Chicago.

    A few hours after reading all this stuff, we walk in to the Art Institute – the main west entrance from Michigan Avenue. On the “Grand Staircase” ascending from the atrium, there’s a new installation piece – a rainbow of little LEDs forming words along the base of each stair. The words are… the entire text of the Vivekananda speech. Like this.

    Off now to practice…

  • Posted 8 June 2011 at 2:55 pm | #

    It’s the season of light, light, light without end. Just sayin’.

    JDL telling a story about an old monk dying: “And my groans of pain are no different from my laughter”—

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