"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home"
In the hospital where my mother died they had a small prayer/meditation room with one wall decorated (and lit up) to resemble a stained glass window. That extract from Wordsworth was 'engraved' on the wall, it was a reminder that all things must pass away: to be reborn?
You will have heard that tired old cliche that we must "...live each day as if it were your last"
That is a philosophy of despair.
You must live each day as if it were your first! Look at everything and everyone with wonder as if for the first time!
Thank you, JD!
A couple of quatrains from my favourite go-to Persian philosopher (Omar Khayyam). He was in a rather more cynical mood, adding some edge, though not exactly arguing with what JD has written.
But leave the wise to wrangle, and with me
The Quarrel of the Universe let be:
And in some corner of the Hubub coucht,
Make Game of that which makes as much of Thee.
'Tis all a Chequer board of Nights and Days
where Destiny with Men for pieces plays:
Hither and tither moves and mates and slays,
and one by one back in the Closet lays.
JD counters with this though:
If you want to add some verses from the Great Omar that's fine but remember my original idea was to affirm the idea that we are truly immortal which was Wordsworth's view.
The Bhagavad Gita says "the soul is never destroyed when the body is destroyed"-
In a similar fashion that is the message of all the Sufi poets including Omar Khayyam. I have a small book called 'Magic Casements' by Sir George Trevelyan. Wonderful book and I didn't realise the whole book was on-line, so it is worth reading what he has to say about the Rubaiyat, as indicated beneath the quatrains below:
Sir George Trevelyan: At this point I include five verses from that great poem FITZGERALD's: 'Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam' [Sir GT's comments are beneath each quatrain]. This is usually treated as a wine-bibber's philosophy - 'Let us eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.' It does, apparently, say that death is extinction – but as we have seen, every symbol is Janus-faced. You are free to read it in the way that gives meaning to your life, negatively or the reverse. Thus the poem really is about Life Eternal, the Wine of Life and consciousness. The Cup is the body, and the wine is the life given us by Him who said, 'I am the true Vine.'
Think, in this batter'd Caravanserai
Whose doorways are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his pomp
Abode his hour or two, and went his way.
The Caravanserai is our Earth life, with the moon-gate of birth and the sun-gate of death – the new dawn.
Listen to this:
Ah, my Beloved, fill the Cup that clears
Today of past Regrets and future Fears –
Tomorrow? – Why, Tomorrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday's Sev'n Thousand Years.
We must learn to live in the present, not because there is no future but that we have the creation of the future in our own hands, if we can learn to work with our Higher Self.
Ah, fill the Cup, what boots it to repeat
How Time is slipping underneath our feet:
Unborn Tomorrow and dead Yesterday,
Why fret about them if Today be sweet?
One moment in Annihilation's Waste,
One moment, of the Well of Life to taste –
The stars are setting and the Caravan
Starts for the Dawn of Nothing – Oh, make haste!
So easily can the poem look like negation – after death there is nothing. But the Life Eternal belongs to the ethereal realm beyond time, space and form. Thus it is the realm of No Thing, a condition of unborn-ness; a freedom from the limitations of form and embodiment. Life on Earth is 'Annihilation's Waste' – this is the 'Well of Life', the heaviest, densest vibration, which we enter for a brief span of existence. As Dawn comes and the stars set, the caravan starts for that Higher Realm – O make haste! Had the negative interpretation been valid, surely Omar would have urged us to miss this Caravan and have another evening of drinking and merry-making. This gives us the clue to the central verse which superficially appears complete negation and, interpreted, is the great affirmation.
And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press,
End in the Nothing all things end in – Yes!
Then fancy while thou art, thou art but what
Thou shalt be – Nothing – Thou shalt not be less.
For 'Nothing' read 'No Thing' – a condition of 'pre thing-ness'.
Note that affirmation of 'YES' in the middle of this strange verse, the assurance that as a soul you will not be less than a free spirit united with your Higher Self. So, while here, imagine you are what you will be – a No Thing. Thus you will prepare for the great transition, with Donne – What you will be then, think here before, for Thought is the great reality.
JD: So that will be clear as mud now, will it? :)
I love having my synapses tickled into action and my consciousness expanded!