February 11, 2011

If the Confident Animal

 Flying Fox, by Vincent van Gogh

If the confident animal coming toward us
had a mind like ours,
the change in him would startle us.
But to him his own being is endless,
undefined, and without regard
for his condition: clear,
like his eyes. Where we see future,
he sees all, and himself
in all, made whole for always.

From the Eighth Duino Elegy


  1. It is in reading passages like this that remind me of what is real. Thank you Ruth and Lorenzo for this site.

  2. Time is an artificial boundary. And so is our skin. I think I am separate, other, and I compare myself now with who I want to be in the future, or with someone else as they are now. How limiting, when I could just be one with the whole, now, with all its resources.

    Rumi today says:

    Someone may be clairvoyant, able to see
    the future, and yet have very little wisdom. . . .

    . . . Listen to the sound of waves within you.

    You are dreaming your thirst,
    when the water you want
    is inside the big vein on your neck.

  3. For some reason today's Rilke quotation made me think of these lines by the Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean...

    What is my thought above the heron's?
    The loveliness of the moon and the restless sea,
    food and sleep and dream,
    brain and flesh and temptation.

    Her dream of rapture with one thrust
    coming in its season without stint,
    without sorrow, but with one delight,
    the straight, unbending law of herons.

    My dream exercised with sorrow,
    broken, awry, with the glitter of temptation,
    wounded, morose, with but one sparkle,
    brain, heart and love troubled.

  4. I'm glad, Robert, because this poem is incredible, and I didn't know the poet. Thank you. I think of George's images and contemplations of herons and egrets, their stillness, and wisdom.

  5. As humans we seem to be burdened by ego ('a mind like ours'). Without ego (like animals), our view is clear, life just is and does not need to be defined. Without ego concerns about prolonging our being, the future, the specter of death would not blur our vision. Only without ego can we truly see our self in all.

    If one is fortunate, life conspires to help the child build a strong ego, for only a strong ego in an adult can allow itself to be transcended. With ego transcended we can approach Rilke's description of a 'confident animal'. (By 'strong ego' I mean an ego that is not fragile, grasping, judging and defensive.)

    Thank you Robert for sharing that lovely poem by Sorley MacLean! It marries perfectly with this reading.

  6. Loved the posting today. I agree with the eloquent comments of Ruth and Bonnie, and I am very moved, Robert, by the heron poem by Sorely MacLean. This is like a great feast among friends, made all the more delicious by the offerings of each person.

  7. I was thinking simplicity was the key here, but on third and fourth reading, perhaps it is acceptance. That, as though you lay the throat loose and just go into the day, refuse all muscle of thought, tension in trying to understand, but instead, just accept and just be.

    Time is an artificial boundary. And so is our skin. yes, yes. I hope I believe this as much as I think I do.


  8. What a great poem Robert has brought to the table. And combined with the banquet of comments, this does, indeed, feel like a feast as George has said. I had the same reaction as Ruth to reading the Sorley MacLean poem in that it instantly conjured up the wonderful images of herons and egrets that George placed on Transit Notes a few days ago, one of which has been gracing my PC screen as background since then.

    The energy in this blog can be scintillating and I sometimes feel I hear it crackle with connections to Rumi, to each individual reader and commenter to all of you my good friends.

  9. I'm reminded of John O'Donohue's blessing "To Learn from Animal Being":

    ... Animals know this world
    In a way we never will....

    Stranded between time
    Gone and time emerging,
    We manage seldom
    To be where we are:
    Whereas they are always
    Looking out from
    The here and now....


"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Go ahead, bloom recklessly!