Prayer for the Inmost Light

Beloved Creator, God of the Universe, open my inward vision to the beauty of your hidden presence. This morning, each day, in all places, may my mind be seeking you in love and delight, most Beautiful Presence. May I be able to see you and know you when you appear in the grace of the world. Fill my mind with good thoughts and deep joy. You are the One who looks out through the eyes of all creatures. Inspire my words and actions to reflect your delgiht, great Light who never expires. You make the darkness shimmer in the night with the stars of your inmost light.

 

 

Originally Written April 2nd, 2016

Photo by Mark Kamalov on Unsplash

Our Species at Dusk

Last night I wanted to go to sleep and wake up as a happy five-year-old in this house of my grandparents, with both my Grandma and Grandpa alive, healthy and vital, the decay of the future far away or nonexistent; that present that is now the past, eternal again in a child’s unending summer day. And I found myself crying quietly in Grandpa’s study where I sleep when I come to Fresno, California to visit, because he is ten years still gone and Grandma is here in body but is barely and unrecognizably tenuously “alive” in her spirit.

I’m twenty-eight now and, for the great majority of my adult life under the rational light of the sun, I am accepting of and at peace with the situation that has come to be: our time is one of seeing more beloved elderly people slowly and pitifully die than ever before in society, proportionate to the numbers of the young who must witness it. Our grandparents and parents, once all medical cures are exhausted, languish in a half-life awaiting death, this rite of passage of which I have increasing faith in as a great liberation and the ultimate cure itself. People are living longer, but not necessarily better lives past a certain point. It became known to me in the past few years that Grandpa had considered seeking physician-assisted self-euthanasia, had his incurable physical pain become unbearable and death had not taken him in his sleep. The thought of it would have been too hard for me to handle when, at his death, I was eighteen and he was eighty, but now I have more and more serious respect for the natural and ancient dignity in such a choice. I had the freedom to euthanize my beloved cat of thirteen years when her veterinary ailments became unbearable for her, but we are in such stupid denial about the dignity of human beings in valid situations being able to choose the same for themselves. Instead, we force our beloved humans to have their butts wiped by somebody else, a humiliation that should never be forcibly born by a person because those around them are too chicken-shit to accept the reality of death in The World.

Sometimes, it’s the very resiliency of human beings that scares me so much: we can go through any hell and keep living. Other animals are not averse to the peace of death as a natural response to a suddenly severely maladaptive environment. But we humans are terrifying in our ruthless, pertinacious will to keep breathing through any plague, and now I wonder what this insect-like insistence has made of us. We have become titans of battle against everything, against our own brains and against Nature itself, and we have become unloving of Reality, at odds with The World, constantly unaccepting of the limits of the universe. Do I share in this same inclination to be at odds with The World in my childlike longing for a theoretical universe that could have (should have, would have, but only might have) been?

I was a child of the 1990s. I’ve long had a quietly uncanny feeling that something happened in the ’90s, and it was the end of the world. It was the end– or maybe the world spun off into different directions, dimensions, and this who I am in one of them is not who I am in another. And yet I do not feel divided within myself: through all my depression and the shit I went through as a kid with an insanely emotionally abusive mom with Borderline Personality Disorder, I have had the great luck of always feeling continuously whole within myself. Imaginatively, this uncanny sense of differing possible realities is more that I was pulled into one possible universe where things were not as whole all was meant to be, and something was off, only because, in contrast, I also glimpsed that deep Beauty of the Original World peeking through into this one. As a child, I saw this through the lens of my family. And who I am here have always been a little exorcist, who descended only deeply enough in time and in worlds within worlds to confront something, finish something, set something right. And any day now I will find my way back home to where I am supposed to be, waking up, relieved, from a dream.

Back in this world, I have lately been enjoying the lighter quality of trying not to feel so much all the time, for once in my life: my nature is to be so deeply feeling that it is frequently maladaptive to my environment, and I am weak and as yet unskilled in spinning this sensitivity into strands of gold. And now it suddenly and forbiddingly occurs to me that this ability to turn away from the tender heart is the necessary –and terrifyingly natural– shadow underlying my hominid ability to uncanny adaptation. How comfortable we are pressed to become among prolonged sickness and wrongful decay in our dogged search between a rock and a hard place for survival: the loss of tender feeling for that shimmering Original World, peeking through the slats of our weighted days, becomes an unbearable heartache for those with too much to carry. So much of an aging human life is full with the totalistic and unbending trial of coming to accept the absolute finality of death and loss, when still our persistent hearts in their deepest chambers yearn for life eternal. Among all of this, we must find a way to be happy– on pain of death. No wonder that those who find a path of absolute acceptable of reality while somehow keeping a tender heart are rightly called the saints of our species. And so I wonder if the Christians really have it right about something: humanity’s omnipresent longing for a semblance of eternal life, evident in all cultures, makes me wonder if there’s really something to it, in the way that hunger is an indicator that food exists somewhere.

But I am here now, born into this land of the vast old Earth, where my species is restless and beautiful and full of ancient and unknowable strangeness. Drifting into sleep last night I heard the night birds of this warm valley cooing their evening song from their perches and nests, calling steadily to their mates in their peaceful language, comforting their young in their downy breasts. I know their names, some of them, and the names and intimate formations of the trees that they love, that I love with a tender heart, that are bequeathed to me in an unending ancestry of natural lives in exchange. It was the Descent of Man, a going-down which Darwin spoke of, into the World to be among it completely, in totality. And in this moment of my brief human heart in the glorious life of the dark Earth I want nothing more than to be among the sounds of the night-songs forever, here in The World, so deeply is their avian comfort entwined with the blanketing world of the dusk, the old bones of the mother-sound of my animal life.

 

“How Far Did You Get?” by Christopher Bursk

How Far Did You Get?

by Christopher Bursk

 

Often the first question other boys would hit a boy with,

as if the kid hadn’t gone out on a date but tried to swim the English channel,

and they knew he couldn’t cross such a distance without their help,

and this was their way of helping him.

“Go on, tell us exactly how far,” not knowing yet

how to understand what a boy did with a girl,

except by measurements: how long, how often,

the precise calculations of sex.

What was a kid to say to his buddies?

“It was like grabbing hold of a boat

and being pulled aboard after treading water for days.

I lay there like someone who’d been rescued,

looking up at the stars as if they’d been part

of the search party, too,

the breeze on my neck, the whole dark sky.”

Imagine a boy telling that to his friends.

It is more than they wish to know.

 

Source: The Mysterious Life of the Heart: Writing From The Sun.”

A Candle in a Business Meeting

Cheap purple cloth hung from the rickety table; who puts a candle in the middle of a business meeting? The answer is someone who wants to make you think it isn’t a business meeting. This way, emotionally hungry people end up spilling more than they planned to. Afterwards you look back and are embarrassed you fell for it. The boss is still driving this ship even if you open with a song to the earth.

Some trends in business look humanely promising, like we’re about to all feel so cozy together at work, right at home. But I don’t believe it. I watch these trends, these “guided meditations” conducted by the development company before teardown of the house the old woman was evicted from. It is still a business meeting. In my demand for truth in writing I have demanded the truth of life. This means acknowledging the unhidden subjective reality of what is happening, in addition to objectivity, all elegantly complicated. It often isn’t pretty or ideal. It breaks through edited thoughts that, like the truth, aren’t edited beauty.

So when companies gather us together for a big company party to make us feel warm and trusting, I don’t believe it. They are lying to their workers’ hungry hearts. This is where truth-telling gets daunting because it’s damn disruptive, doesn’t make a safe LinkedIn cover, to tell this kind of truth. If a company can fire a person for any reason, at any time, this place is not a community. It isn’t mutual. If a company offers you a nap on a cot mid-shift it is not because they care about your wellbeing. It is because they want to get more productivity out of you. If getting productivity out of you for the dollar means killing you, then kill you they will. If they mean to get you to feel beholden to everybody as if you all were a family, especially to feel this loyalty for your boss, know that it will be your heart to suffer when you are no longer of use to them.

All of this isn’t to say that companies shouldn’t have uplifting business meetings or offer exhausted employees places to take a nap on their breaks. I, too, wish to make money and have comfort and prestige. I have come to see that lying to survive can be a moral value in its own right to human beings, lying about the truth of our hearts past the place of no return in life when we can nevermore be truly trusting before trust is earned, if we can ever be truly trusting at all. It is simply the strategy of our economical ecology. Seen in this light, the heaviness is taken out of it. It doesn’t need to be heartless. Now I have become shrewd enough to understand this, that the metaphorical killing-off of the time of childhood involves sacrificing half of one whole truth to survive by another. We must pay rent and buy food. We must, we always will, do attain our survival. So, too, do the smallest and greatest of beasts. But these motions are acts of survival, then become pangs of the heart. When the press upon your throat for survival is passed down from management, remember what you are capable of.

Karoshi is a Japanese word, meaning “overwork”. Overexertion. Men sleeping in train terminals and marching to death down fluorescent-lit halls are the demons of the modern Japanese work-culture, the death cubicle of endless hours because they think their companies actually care about them. They have been taught to believe they owe their corporation some kind of devotion. Great Corporation loves you as Father loves you. Americans have, until latter years, often been a bit too shrewd for this. We once were the unionists –with all of the problems and corruptions that came with it. Now, it is trendy to force “collaboration” by getting rid of privacy in the workroom. It would be more sincere to admit it.