Faith is not a belief in a fixed state or ideal; it is an open ended question that transforms the believer through the grace of love. Faith attains no finalities nor does it attach itself to any absolute security; it is a state of becoming; its altar is the world; its medium is love.
What is an ideology?—it is a thing propelled by an absolute faith in its own prerogatives; in other words, its blind spot forbids it from seeing itself for what it is, and this is essential for it to go on preaching its faith.
Contemplation has always had to battle against the values of the market, but in no age did these values reign absolute as they do today. They are upheld religiously — and therefore, invisibly — and have sneaked in to transform every institution and discipline, including that of philosophy, from the ground up. In addition to having made the life of man uninteresting and small, they have also made him increasingly stupid. Soon he will have to relearn his most basic skills — seeing, hearing, reading, thinking. They never allow him a moment’s rest as he is constantly pushed to perform and produce. They are the ultimate tyranny, seen by none, upheld by all.
When you remember, which comes first, the image or the feeling? I venture to say that it is the feeling that calls out the image and frames it, giving it its depth, hue and texture — it sears it, as though in fog. Many feelings remain after being uncoupled from their original images, and so they create images of their own. This is well known to all poets and artists.
What I find deeply disconcerting about science is its will to reduce everything it touches into the realm of knowledge — i.e. utilitarian — thus dispelling existence of every shade of mystery. In such an atmosphere that is deeply antagonistic to poetry I find myself suffocating and unable to tolerate life. The good news is that this endeavour of science is futile, in that it is impossible to reduce everything into the realm of knowledge; the unknown remains, and the shade of mystery cannot be dispelled; poetry cannot be vanquished. The bad news is that science may well destroy life and the world before coming to this conclusion and admitting its childish aspirations. The link between poetry, mystery, and ecology is unmistakable. It is what we hope will one day bring science to its senses, making it aware of its own limitations. Hopefully that day won’t be too long in the future.
We all coexist with the idea that the people we love might disappear at any moment, though this idea, in the every day life, only occupies the fringes of our minds. But when someone you love has cancer, the idea becomes central, and it moves to occupy the entire space. Managing your emotions while going through this is one of the hardest things a human being has to do.
The years move on, and the things which seemed so important become trivial; time and loss have a way of distilling life to its essence. The years move on, what remains now are the simple things that were there all along, waiting in the quiet. The years move on, and we start making friends with our own disappearance; how well can we dance the dance before saying goodbye?
Things, in the end, will not be alright, and it is unrealistic to expect them to be so. Life will falter, sickness will creep in, relationships you value will be torn, friends and lovers will one day be strange as ghosts, everything will change, nothing you love will remain the same, and, in the end, sooner or later, you yourself will disappear without ever having felt like you have had enough, or that you have fulfilled all your dreams, or resolved the puzzle of life. If you can truly face this fact, deeply, without closing your heart, you will attain internal peace, and will be able to dance in the rain for a little while. You will give all you can give, and you will know the gratitude of love.
All poets are fools; they love the world more than it deserves to be loved, and when it hurts them they bless it. All poets are fools; they inscribe their holy verse in a woman’s body, and turn her into mist and light. All poets are fools; they are meant to suffer, and enter a place of light. All poets are fools, they bless what hurts them, and love with a passion that rivals the sun. All poets are fools; blessed are the poets.
Whereas in the past greatness was identified with asceticism and virtue, an ability to resist and will, in our days the ideal has shifted towards a life of entertainment, consumption, and laisser-allez, one identified cynicism and vice. What was admired was the man who was able to raise himself above himself, to overcome and control himself, whereas now, a voice hums in his ear, telling him to suckle all he can from the bosom of this moment, for that is all he can ever hope to have.
In a dictatorship or a totalitarian regime the election is only formal, and serves the purpose of giving popular legitimacy to the system in place without allowing any fundamental change to the policies and forces of governance. A people’s belief in the election would actually hinder any real change, and only preserve the status quo and power balance of the system. In Lebanon, any election will be ineffectual in bringing any real change, since the country is governed by an oligarchy of sects, and the actual power is concentrated not in the parliament and not in the cabinet of ministers but in around six sectarian men, with each having his own external alliances and his own internal agenda. The oligarchy is as powerful as the central government is weak and ineffectual. The current political system incubates corruption as a way to survive and to proliferate itself. The current political system recognizes no citizenship and no sovereign individuals, but only subjects who must be used as fuel for war among themselves. In Lebanon there are no left and right parties, but only a form of tribalism that calls itself a democracy. So long as people believe in the illusion and do not stand in solidarity with each other around a shared ideal, change will be impossible.
People are avoidant by nature; they dislike taking responsibility for their lives and actions. And because they don’t take charge, they feel, as a result, and subconsciously, that their lives are not going the way they want. This breeds inner pestilence and it becomes easy to get angry over trivial things. The energy resulting from a feeling of dissatisfaction and lack of control needs continual discharge, so things are invented over which to get angry, and life in certain areas grows dark and poisonous. Many people, philosophies, religions, epochs, curse existence as a result of this. Many people need hate and anger to survive.
Words, they are the geological forces of the soul, pushing against the toughest and most deeply imbedded boundaries and structures, with great patience eroding, stretching, pulling, transforming, and giving us the tools to control ourselves, to rise above ourselves and overcome ourselves, and shape our own destinies.
Poets love intensely because they invent their love long before they live it. Their lover is an active fire that brews in the marrow of their soul. Their carnality is an animal ferocity softened, spiritualized and intensified by their imagination and longing. Poets are the animals of the soul.
A little poetic sensibility is enough for you to know that you do not inhabit the same world as that of men. They pass you by as if they were holograms projected from another dimension, barely aware of their immediate surroundings and the intricacy that holds everything together, sways and moves everything to the same rhythm; they pass you by as if they were humans that never completely materialized, remaining half-ghosts, not really aware of the currents and tides of their own bodies, and how these merge with and echo the infinite beauty and chaos of the world outside. A little poetic sensibility goes a long way. You open your eyes, and realize you’ve been blind. You hear, feel, smell and touch as if for the first time. The world is alive. The world, as it is, is spirit, is art, it is poetry.
To see a World in a Grain of SandWilliam Blake
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
A summary reading of the history of myths teaches us how religious even the most atheist of us remains; how the religious lives on in us, in our imagination, ideas, impulses, emotions, motives, narratives of life, etc., irrespectively of what our rational mind believes. We remain worshipers in a temple we no longer believe in its existence. We remain idolators of a power in which we ceased to believe, at the very thought of which we cannot hold our laughter, our cynicism — and what is cynicism if not the pain of a wound? We may know a lot more, we moderns, but we feel a lot less and less profoundly, and the world of our feeling, intuition, and imagination has shrunk in proportion to the horizons which our minds have widened. We know no reverence; we are deeply irreverent. The sacred has been expunged from our rational world, and that is a direct correlation with the way we are handling our planet and ourselves.
Not to shrink away from fear, not to rationalize it, hide it, or pretend it isn’t there. To use fear as a way of knowing your weaknesses and strengths, keeping you rooted in reality, as a way to highlight the areas of your life that are asking to grow, to keep you moving on the edge of your life, the edge that is asking you to use up your insight, strength, and imaginative powers, the edge that is sharpening you, allowing you to become the best version of yourself, the person you were meant to be. This is the purpose of fear, and that is the way it should be used by a philosophy that embraces life.
A poet is one who feels and intuits the infinite in the finite, and this from the deepest elevations of his spirit and soul.
Poets and people in whom the spirit is rich and abundant face the danger of feeling excluded and guilty on account of that which makes them rich and unique — because it also excludes them from the company of people and society, and makes the space around them so great that very few could hope or want to traverse it. Learning the usual social skills is doubly more difficult for such people, because, at first sight, it feels for them as though it is a betrayal of the spirit in them, of their uniqueness and idiosyncrasy. But that is necessary if they hope one day to become more than just poets and spiritually rich people — human beings who are full of light and mastery, conquerors of the inner realms and of their lives, a light unto humanity, and also, simply, genuinely and deeply happy people, people whose ability for joy and fulfillment is so much greater than their normal kin could ever fathom or understand.
There will always be unbridgeable gaps between our knowledge and reality. On the force of what, then, does the person fill the gaps and act? Life was not founded on knowledge; and a being in the flux of life does not rely on knowledge primarily to act and react. Knowledge is a step back from life, and therein lies its value. It enables us to understand the emotional and unconscious forces and drives that govern our being in the midst of the action — emotions, forces and drives that have hardened into character — and by doing so it gives us the power of control by enabling subtle shifts in the emotions and drives which, in turn, enables us to change or redefine our character. By bringing unconscious motives to light these change and transform; and a person becomes free when, overtime, he is no longer acting out of them as from a compulsion. He is free, which means that the spectrum of emotions have widened, enabling more control and selection over the course of the action, enabling more ease as his sensory and experiential centers take in the outer and inner experience feeding the loop of his being and drives. He is now able to digest life and experience better and with more cheerfulness, and life is richer, more profound, fulfilling and manifold for it.