Monday, January 29, 2007

Short Bits

It seems to me, after re-reading the fascinating Comments on my last post, that the time is ripe for us to talk about dreams. While I’m working up an introductory post on dreams, here are a couple of quotes I like, along with a few remarks. As far as dreams are concerned, I’m really looking forward to hearing from readers, and so I want to make it clear that I have in mind dreams which are of interest for any reason, and not just dreams that foretell the future.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle."

Philo of Alexandria


“To go out searching for God is like searching for an ox while riding on the ox.”

One form of a Zen saying.

Years of treating disease in the human body left Dr. Sherwin Nuland in awe of the fact that health is the norm rather the exception. He said that knowing that so much can go wrong has given him a tremendous respect for all that goes right, moment to moment.


“Creeds and doctrines at best point us to God. They never capture God. That is why I believe that religion must always fade into mysticism. It must move beyond creeds, beyond certainty and finally beyond words. That is not an easy realization for many who use religion as a security system and who need certainty for security's sake and who always turn religion into idolatry.”

John Shelby Spong


“It must move beyond creeds . . . and finally beyond words.” I often ask myself why, when I know very well that words are a hindrance to illumination and intuition, I engage every day in an activity which is all words? Does my blogging in FLIGHTS OF PEGASUS obscure reality instead of helping reveal it? Wouldn’t I be better off just looking at a flower? The best excuse I can think of – other than pleading guilty to an addiction to writing as an escape from the Real – is that words are for communication with other people, and that perhaps I can participate in creating (to use an image from Eckhart Tolle and Bishop Spong) signposts that point in helpful directions.


  1. I like your choice of quotes, all of them. But I don't agree with your point that "words are a hindrance to illumination and intuition", any more than applause is a hindrance in a concert auditorium. The audience know when to shut up, and mostly when to clap. The definite rule is to give music the precedence, and shut up when in doubt.

    And as Ludwig Wittgenstein said, "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

  2. “To go out searching for God is like searching for an ox while riding on the ox.”

    This is so true. We often don't realize what's in our hands until we lost it again.

  3. Thanks for the kind comments, all.

    Yves, I can't agree with your view that words are not a hindrance to illumination and intuition. It seems to me that wordless intuition, feeling, concept, perception always come first, before the reasoning, verbal mind "puts them into words". Something wells up for conscious recognition, and the words that are chosen to express it always come second.

    Aware of that, when I find myself saying to myself something like, "Time to get up, or I'll be late", I now think, "I knew that before I said it. I didn't need to say that to myself in words."

    Our language places certain limits on us, and if we can learn to recognize the birth of what is almost instantaneously clamped into words we can develop the beginnings of an awareness free of the constraints of words.

    Are we not vain to think that words invented by an apelike species in one tiny place in the universe can express all that there is?

    I also disagree that words can be compared to applause, where the audience know when to shut up and when to clap. I've never found that words know when to shut up. Trying to shake free of the constant wordstream has been one of my great struggles.

    Of course words are marvelous as a means of communication between humans, but they are secondary to that they strive to express, and I think they're a hindrance when they masquerade as the primal source of an individual's awareness and thought. I believe I've read that, "You don't know what you're thinking until you put it into words," but I challenge that.

  4. the linguistic boundary is the challenge we all have to surmount in our search for peace, or spirituality if you will.

    the noisy nattering of the head will drive you crazy if you don`t find the strength to tell yourself to shut the fuck up and just unconsciously go and be and do what you need to do.

    the dogmatic want there to be rules. written words that describe actions.

    what are the rules for intuition............?

    they don`t exist.

    how can e re-create what happens by accident and turns out so beautifully?

    wittgenstien went to a dinner party once in oilskins as it was raining. the hostess asked where his dinner jacket was.
    underneath he said.
    this is an evening affair with breakfast in the morning she then said. where are your pygamas?
    underneath he said once again.

  5. I agree with you more than not, Fleming. Yet we can escape the tyranny of words. My own method over the last year has been to plunge my consciousness into Nature and feel the vibes. The gap between the experience and any words I could use has always been huge.

    A writer is like any other kind of artist, using words instead of brushstrokes, for example. A ballet-dancer uses her own body and so does a swordsman or practitioner of oriental martial arts. "Language offers us a mode of action" is what I am saying. It's not that the words contain the meaning of the inexpressible. We can hardly say that they contain anything, being but sounds or marks of black shapes on white. But we can pronounce them without losing our experience of the inexpressible. We can allow them to escape from us, as gestures or cries, and they may provoke our listeners into some fellow-feeling.

    I see writing as more poetry than philosophy, evoking rather than defining.

    Intellect does give us problems when it wants to dominate and speak on behalf of other parts. The other parts of our being don't have language with which to express themselves, but so long as they keep intellect as a servant to carry out translations as required, no problems arise.

  6. Admirable comment (Jan 31}, Yves.

    I think I have a particular problem with the incessant word-stream in my head because from an early age, wanting to be a writer, I used to practice creating a verbal description of everything I saw or heard or felt, often writing it down. How could I communicate something to other people if I couldn't put it into words? That constant practice over a long time encouraged the torrent of words that dominates the stream of consciousness and tends to drown out everything else.

    Several things you said, including the comment about Nature, reminds me that one time when I was cross with God for never speaking to me -- "If you can do everything else, why can't you just answer my questions once?" -- I realized that the language of God (or the Source) is not words. I decided that it is images -- forms, shades, colors. What God presents to our human senses is a display of images, of Nature, in which you and I both find escape from the tyranny of words. (Beethoven not surprisingly found his inspiration in long walks in the country, not in reading.) I therefore decided that drawing and painting were a much more wholesome activity for me than writing . . . but as you can see, I keep on writing.

  7. Thanks for your insightful comment, Alistair.

  8. the other parts communicate more richly than one might imagine.

    my father and i were having a discussion about language and communication and he became defensive when i suggested that 80% of our communication was non-verbal.

    as the conversation wound down i looked at my watch and began to gathered his things and rose out of his chair.

    where are you going i asked.

    he said, well i thought it was time to go......

    how did you know that dad, i didn`t say anything? i said.

    he then realised my point.

    as a jesuit i don`t think he ever realised his methodologies....but his son made a career out of it.

  9. Great quotes. I paricularly like the one about searching for God.