Updated: Apr 6
Note: This is an excerpt from my next book, Ousia: Performance Poems for New World-ing. There are symbols in the original book that intend to embody and enliven the words through meanings such as "plant these words" and "recite these lines aloud"). These symbols have been omitted from the blog post. The word "it" does not appear in the entirety of the book as a rebellion against the "thingification" of our language and society. I sometimes use "ou" instead of "it," a gender neutral term that I have appropriated from the old English.
Hell is self-enclosure. Enlightenment is a gathering.
The sage speaks without words. So does the cat. And the fern. And the cutting board. All beings within your senses recite the four mysteries: death, love, time, and eternity. Simple proximity to a life changes you by necessity. Tunes you to the sharp call of surrender. Reminds you of your creaturely core.
Bathe the beetle in your sight until ou’s presence becomes the initial singularity, the pinpoint where the universe coheres before ecstating into mind-numbing multiplicity.
Freedom is not contraction into personal holiness, but expansion. Gather the perception of this beetle, that tree, that drop of rain and this ray of light, and you have healed God’s fragmented sight. Without you, ou lies trapped in solipsistic potentiality. Scattered over land and seas, without a seer to see the totality of being.
Without a whole-sighted one, God contracts back into myopic singularity.
(Birth, birth, birthing.
Galaxies birth God and your
"yes" births galaxies).
A plant may teach you any lesson you need. Sit in the presence of the creature that calls you and wait for the answer to crystallize or the peace to release you from questioning.
For the sake of understanding, bake a loaf of bread. You will need:
3 cups bread flour, plain/all purpose (15.8 oz. or 450g) (the flesh of all living)
1 tablespoon white granulated sugar (the bare sweetness of blood)
2 teaspoons dried, instant or rapid rise yeast (prayer, or the expansion that opens holes through the fabric of reality).
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (your bitter, unwept tears)
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) warm water (the life that flows through everything)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil (salve for the world's wounds).
Measure three cups of flour. Stir in 1.5 teaspoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 2 teaspoons of yeast. Add 1½ cups of warm water and one tablespoon of oil. Stir until a wet, sticky dough is formed. Place a towel over the bowl and proof for 2-3 hours. When the dough has doubled in size, shape with floured hands into a round loaf on a piece of parchment paper.
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees and place a large dutch oven (with the lid) inside to heat for 30 minutes. After thirty minutes, remove pot with oven mitts. Lifting your bread by the parchment paper, carefully lower into the pot. Cover with lid and bake for thirty minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for another 12 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown. Take from oven and let bread cool for at least ten minutes before slicing.
The recipe is quite simple. But the meaning requires a century-large inhalation of your soul.
Pouring flour into a bowl, you contemplate: sun-tanned heads yield berries. Thresh, winnow, grind: the succession of necessary brutalities. She has aged green sprout into hard grain into fine flour in order to sift through your palm, the beginning of bread.
With this meal, I praise your unearned generosity. Each thought that follows is fed by your eternally recurring energy.
Adding sugar, you are struck by life’s great absurdity: that you are never without a persistent strain of joy. Not a saccharine acceptance, but a life force large enough to make transparent each drop of world. Not the occasional exception to the banal, but the blood. Ever-present beneath the flesh, the thick sap flows. Murmuring many hidden knowings (like “I am also a sun”), only humans tucked into their depths can sense the flow.
Recite: I see you beneath the skin of this moment. I welcome the heady warmth of your arm-stretched Open.
You sprinkle yeast over the wheat-flesh, over the joy-blood. Prayer expands reality with the Real. Pleas hollow the structure of God's body (and all is God's body). Through holes sing the single lover who hums through all sensed and sensing beings.
Pray: Heal my hollow heart as I heal the hurting world. Enworld me with ever-rising peace, that I may leaven my small societies.
Salt tempers the yeast, ensuring a slow fermentation (how slow a human’s prayers ripen). Salt allows the gluten to hold more holes by strengthening the structure, creating an open crumb. So like your suffering, which strengthens your structure (a brute force belonging to you alone, suffering individuates), while making porous your soul with compassion. Strength and permeability are two sides of one vulnerability.
Pray: I offer you the pain that has trailed me from birth. Enmixed with joy and flesh, craft me a canoe of meaning.
Oh, and water harmonizes and cleanses. Olive oil is salve for wounds. Etc. Etc. Make your meanings, craft your prayers. Our bodies are myth-makers by birth.
But no, no, no, not as your ancestors mythologized. To them, everything was mythological, because the factual had not yet been divided from one source. Everything was symbolic, because the literal had not yet been invented. We have since matured in many necessary ways, but we have never abandoned the mythological, as rational as we now believe ourselves to be. In science, we accept the mythologies of space, time, and causality. In politics, we accept the mythologies of human rights and human freedom. In social theories, we accept the mythology that power structures determine everything.
I say nothing of truth or falsity: mythologies are not factual by their nature. They must be accepted as necessary givens in order to build contextual truths. Then all “truths” are defined by their relation to an arbitrary, yet absolute beginning. This is why we “define our terms” until the terms can no longer be defined, until we must rest with a tautology that is self-defined (try to define time and space without using other synonyms for time and space). Yes, to be human is to mythologize, and to be modern is to mythologize unconsciously. Unconscious mythologies become dangerous ideologies.
The new human knows how to craft mythologies consciously. Knows how to pray the world. Washing your face ("cleanse my visage of duplicity"). Clothing your body (clothing as a context cue says, "I don my Self in time and place"). ). Drinking a glass of water ("I participate in the primal element. Through you, I commune with all living"). On and on and on.
I am the author of all God's mythologies. Holy must I cram every scrap of time and space.