We all long and long and long after, well: we don’t rightly know what it is we’re so so so desperate for..
Why? Biologists tell us that a vague longing at each animal-core, combined with the inborn illusion that the vague longing can be adequately addressed with some clear-cut specific “good” (example: “that woman” or “that dessert”) drives us poor snippets of shattered sentience on and on for all kingdom-never-come day long.
Advertisers tell us that it’s wonderous to be thusly patsied; and they offer us vague unspoken tales of how their product, politician, or other particular-something will somehow align us with vague triumphs like belonging, mattering, thriving, being desired, etc. They play off our own inborn illusions about Reality, illusions that themselves rely upon vagueness for all their staying-power.
The following chain of reasoning doesn’t have a single true link; it relates to the Truth amazingly inadequately, and yet it influences us and our world a great deal:
(1) If I’m safe and thriving, I’ve adequately answered this vague longing at the core of my every conscious moment; (2) I can expand infinitely into safe and thriving with (to list a few common examples) cool, good looking friends; a warm, happy, good-looking family; beautiful skin and luscious hair with “bounce”; funny lines, high-fives from cool dudes, and hot women; a political order that protects me infinitely and is also an eternal moral good; etc. etc. (you’ve watched TV before); (3) the “goods” offered in #2 exist (of course things like cool, good looking friends and warm families do exist in a sense, but not in a concrete, definitive sense: not as absolute, discrete Answers; but rather as directions towards adequate-ish momentary descriptions of ever-evolving human experiences; I would submit that as such, they are not what the advertisers are claiming they’re bringing you); (4) a specific make of car can get you those friends; a specific detergent brand can get you that family; a specific shampoo will give you that skin and hair; abusing a specific brand of beer will give you those high-fives and flirty giggles from those babes; and/or any politician can remove all economic and/or existential scariness from your life and/or provide you with an eternally righteous collective-shading-individual narrative; etc. etc (here we again take it for granted that you’ve watched television).
Friends, advertisers are not evil. Rather, they are boring and shallow fools whose net impact on the world is evil.
There’s no need to imprison ad execs. Just turn their game way down. Push away from the vagueness that helps you trick yourself into imagining you’re about to buy, agree, or vote your way into physical and spiritual salvation / out of destruction and damnation.
The truth is that either our inner push towards awareness, clarity, honesty, accuracy, competence, kindness, and shared joy is onto something; or we’ve no system for choosing thoughts and actions that can ever ever ever mean a thing to any of us.
The truth is that either our inner sense that life matters; that it matters what we say and do; that clear-eyed competent loving kindness is the Way forward; that we are all in this together, bound in and through a Light that shines in and through each of us and that we can–via the above-mentioned inborn levers of carefully pursuing awareness … shared joy–get better and better at understanding and following that Light within that knows how to actually move us towards more loving kindness (rather than big-head, small-heart stories about “goodness”, “virtue”, “loving kindness”, etc): Either the picture sketched in this little paragraph points sober, open-hearted/-minded conscious moments adequately well towards how things really are; or there’s no way for us to live in a way that we particularly understand, follow, or even care about.
Let’s not get mad at ourselves or each other. Anger’s what bumble bees resort to because they don’t know how to create space within themselves. They swarm; they kill their enemies and/or wipe themselves out in their mindless fury. It is not a satisfying life. Let’s relax; see that we are all to some degree wise and to some degree foolish; join hands and together push for individual and collective endeavors that reward creative competent generous shared joy.
The vague longing cannot be resolved. Enlightenment is this: enough space within that the Light at the center of everything–including each conscious moment–overpowers all the distractions. The vague longing is still there, as are specific-longings and their incurable habit of vaguely (but oh so loudly!) claiming to once and for all answer that vague, implacable longing at their core. What changes is that as a person becomes more and more enlightened, the Light fills more and more of her or his conscious space and more and more and more everything else is shown for what it really is: in comparison, just a tiny, tiny little in-and-of-itself-meaningless sound that one notices but (rather than chasing it madcap and building crazy, soulless symphonies out of it) effortlessly moves past.
No one is ever fully enlightened or fully depraved. There are directions; there are degrees; but we all have the exact same duty: gently push towards more wisdom and less folly. It is true that folly encourages folly; but the good news is that wisdom encourages wisdom. We’ll just keep at it. Our lives and governments can be more aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, kind and joyfully sharing. We can continue to improve by every day thanking the God we cannot name and asking for the blessing that transcends all specifics: all religions, governments, cultures, ideas, and feelings: the blessing that knows we are all in this together and acts accordingly.
Pure Love is infinitely expanding and so in a sense it adequately answers the infinitely dissatisfied vague longing. But the vague longing refuses to be answered, and so, even in the face of eternal infinite bliss it would push doggedly on with its gimmegimmegimme. So the real value of Pure Love is not that It “solves” the vague longing, but that It overpowers one’s conscious space and puts the vague longing in its proper place: an interesting but not binding animal impulse.
What is Pure Love? What is God’s Love? Is God’s Love God? What is Buddha Nature? What is the Knowledge that also is simultaneously Reality and Goodness? What is really going on? “Pure Love” points imperfectly but not therefore necessarily inadequately towards the Peace that Passes But Does Not Abandon Or Otherwise Blowoff Understanding.
Question: How can someone so obviously unenlightened tell us about the nature of enlightenment?
Answer: What is a good poem? A good poem takes the author through a whole conscious moment (of a past or present experience and/or some set of ideas and feelings they’re meditating upon while working on the poem) and to some degree captures that conscious moment. When this poem is then read by a reader with an open heart and mind, that whole conscious moment is to an appreciable degree recreated in the reader. What is a whole human conscious moment? It goes like this: vague feelings and notions flow up into less vague ones, creating more and more specific ideas and feelings that interact with one another (and so generally branch into multiple threads, some of which drop back down into more vagueness: it’s super complicated how all these strands by turns harden and soften and interact with one another to create new strands); until at some point some collection of ideas and feelings overwhelms and becomes “the thing to do”, giving rise to very specific thoughts, to words, to actions. But a human conscious moment also goes like this: the Light that alone knows what’s actually going on and what actually matters shines through everything and thus every conscious moment; just as ideas can relate more and more adequately to feelings with more and more awareness … generous joyfulness, ideas and feelings can relate more and more adequately to the Light with more and more awareness … generous joyfulness; and the Light guides us to more and more awareness … generous joyfulness–creating a self-enforcing loop of blessedness. A good poem reflects a whole human moment, which is always to some degree aware of and lifted up by the Light. (so a good poem can’t be written by an evil person?? Well: it can’t be written in an evil moment.)
Question: What are you saying? That you claim only to write good poems?
Answer: I try to write good poems. They’ll never be perfect, but insofar as a philosophical/metaphysical poem like this one points adequately towards the Reality that is also Knowledge and Goodness, a generous reading will cause readers not to say, “he’s right! he’s right!”, but “yeah, I see where he is pointing: I see it within myself and all through every moment that’s ever been mine: there is a Light and it is the Way and it is never selfish, never mean, never vain, never anything but loving, kind, life-overflowing” – something like that.
Question: But you explain yourself with more of your own poetry. Isn’t that circular?
Answer: No human statement about what really matters can be logically and/or emotionally proven or disproven. The dream of a perfectly logical human worldview is as misguided as the dream of a human worldview that abandons human logic. We cannot fit all of ourselves into precise, distinct intellectual ideas; at some point we have to point towards an inner sense, and that inner sense can only be truly believable, meaningful and interesting to us if within it there is something that actually Knows that Love Matters. That sketch has to flow meaningfully into our logic and emotions for it to have any meaning to us, but for it to have real meaning to us, it must also ultimately expand beyond our logic and our emotions: because we are more than these necessary-but-not-in-and-of-themselves-adequate tools for coherent (ie: internally meaningful; ie: meaninful-to-a-given-human-conscious-moment) human thought and action. So let’s start from that shared awareness: we have to discover that and in what way it is True to say we’re all in this together and how we treat ourselves and others truly matters. We all know that’s our only hope, and we all have some glimmer of the Light that says it isn’t a vain hope. I’m not enlightened. I try to be both happy and decent but don’t always pull of either, let alone both. I try to be kind, but am all too often all too self-absorbed. I try to be generous, but have a great weakness for myself. And yet, I believe that what I’ve here sketched points adequately well towards a whole-being sense of where our starting point has to be: aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, kind, sharing joy: guided not by mere ideas and feelings which know that they don’t know what’s really going on or what really matters, but by (to use one poetic expression for what is of course even more beyond human words than our already only-approximable normal day-to-day experiences) God’s Love.
Question: Whatever, dude.
Answer: Is that a question?
Authors: Who else but BW & AMW????? No one else writes this essay over and over and over and over again.