Below I share my waking thoughts from this morning in poetic form. I am calling it “Between”.
I also share Lynn Ungar’s brilliant poem, “Pandemic” and the Buddha’s thoughts on “Better.” I’ve attached all three as pdf’s so you can print them out and tape them up in every room to inspire you during these powerful, powerful times. Each of these verses will guide you to make meaning, profound transformative meaning of our times.
And I am also sharing a video that brings the best preventative and curative medicine ever.
As I was working with my verse, Between, I thought of my favorite kind of space and time: liminal. In liminal space and time, I sing out Goethe’s admonition: “Die and Become.” In Liminal Space and Liminal Time we are in between what was and what will be, but this is not the present. To be in the present we must be able to be in this place or this time, a state we can recognized with patterns that are known and familiar. Liminality has no given or defined characteristics. It’s inside out and topsy turvy, unmapped and unnamed.
You can go to Wikipedia to read a very thoughtful essay on liminality. Here are a couple of quotes from the essay.
During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt. The dissolution of order during liminality creates a fluid, malleable situation that enables new institutions and customs to become established.
‘The attributes of liminality or of liminal personae (“threshold people”) are necessarily ambiguous’. One’s sense of identity dissolves to some extent, bringing about disorientation, but also the possibility of new perspectives. Turner posits that, if liminality is regarded as a time and place of withdrawal from normal modes of social action, it potentially can be seen as a period of scrutiny for central values and axioms of the culture where it occurs.—one where normal limits to thought, self-understanding, and behavior are undone. In such situations, “the very structure of society [is] temporarily suspended”
‘According to Turner, all liminality must eventually dissolve, for it is a state of great intensity that cannot exist very long without some sort of structure to stabilize it…either the individual returns to the surrounding social structure…or else liminal communities develop their own internal social structure, a condition Turner calls “normative communitas”‘.
Individuation can be seen as a “movement through liminal space and time, from disorientation to integration….What takes place in the dark phase of liminality is a process of breaking down…in the interest of “making whole” one’s meaning, purpose and sense of relatedness once more'”
At 72, I can look back over my years and recall many large community experiences that drew us into liminal states. What makes this coronavirus liminality different is the social distancing, quarantining, and isolation and its invisibility and unknown duration. We are forced (or are we being given?) opportunities to evolve, to live into a new day of new awareness on our own. For many of us we are also in a liminal relationship to technology as it allows to connect to each other in these strange times, yet keeps us apart.
I hope these verses help you transform the weird threat and uncertainty of living in a pandemic into a calm, creative and courageous equanimity. We are at the Spring Equinox and new life is all around us.
Photo by Miguel Dominguez on Unsplash
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
The Dhammapada – The Sayings of the Buddha
Rendered by Thomas Byron, pp. 49-51
Better than a thousand hollow words
Is one word that brings peace.
Better than a thousand hollow verses
Is one verse that brings peace.
Better than a hundred hollow lines
Is one line of the dharma bringing peace.
It is better to conquer yourself
Than to win a thousand battles.
Then the victory is yours.
It cannot be taken from you.
Not by angels or by demons,
Heaven or hell…
Better to live one day
How all things arise and pass away.
Better to live one hour
The one life beyond the way.
Better to live one moment
In the moment
Of the way beyond the way.
At the beginning
I am safe.
I am calm.
I am awake.
I am nourished.
I am free.
Between Spirit and Matter
Between Self and Other
Between Birth and Death
Between Chaos and Order
Between Doubt and Confidence
Between Isolation and Solitude
Between Sickness and Health
Between Poverty and Wealth
Between Right and Not Right
Between Today and Tomorrow
Between Forgetting and Remembering
In the end
My warmth radiates.
My light illuminates.
My tone resonates.
My life force generates.
I am love.