The Stillness of Snow

Just past dawn, I went outside into the silence of falling snow.  Suddenly, I realized how fresh snow fall changes the order of things.  Usually, I turn inward to seek stillness.  I sit down on my meditation cushion in a secluded corner. When it snows, I am drawn outside into the world, seeking a greater silence.  A friend wrote me this week, saying how much she loves going on silent meditation retreats in the snowy, silent depths of winter.   I understand.   Inner stillness touches outer stillness.   Questions like “Why am I here?” and “What’s next?”   reverberate to heaven.

I co-lead a meditation sangha that meets in a yoga studio in Tarrytown, New York, on Sunday evenings.  Last Sunday was bitter cold, but a hearty eight of us gathered.  Sitting on chairs and cushions, some of us wrapped in yoga blankets,sitting in a semi-circle before a glowing candle, there was something  primal about gathering on such a cold night.  I really felt what the great Zen sage Dogen meant when he said that practice draws us into a circle, that when we sit down to seek stillness and enduring truth, we join all people in all times who have sought stillness and enduring truth.  And because it was such a cold night, I spoke about the ordeal of the British polar explorer Ernest Shackleton, which is described by Shackleton in the rich new “Suffering” issue of Parabola (which you should definitely check out!).

Shackleton’s ship Endurance was crushed in the ice in Antarctica in 1915.   He and his men weathered an Antartic winter on the ship until it broke apart; then they lived on the ice; then they moved to isolated Elephant Island.  After a year and facing another winter, Shackleton decided to place himself and five others in a small open boat for a perilous journey throught hurricane-swept waters to the whaling stations on South Georgia Island, nearly eight hundred miles distant.  When they did hit land, which was a miracle in itself since they were navigating by stars and intuition, they hit the opposite end of the island.  Near death, Shackleton and two others had to march for thirty-six hours over unnamed mountains, through freezing waterfalls.  But they all made it, and all of Shackleton’s men were saved!   Why tell this story in a meditation group, much less include it in the “Suffering” issue of Parabola?  It  illustrates that there is something besides desire, aversion, or spacing out and being oblivious.  Sometimes when conditions allow, we can in Shackleton’s words “pierce the verneer of outside things.”  Shackleton reported sensing another presence walking with them, and the other men later reported to the boss that they had sensed the same.  Sometimes, in great stillness, we can sense this invisible accompanying presence, this greater awareness.  At such moments,  there can be a new possibility for us–a new spaciousness blooms inside us.  We aren’t just pulled along by a desire for what is pleasant and pleasing to the ego or an aversion to pain and what is unpleasant.  I’ve heard this third  possibility calledthe ability to serve.  It is characterized by clarity and it can descend on us like a kind of grace and allow us to fulfill even arduous obligations in a graceful, freely chosen kind of way.   I think when we sit down on our meditation cushions, when we pray, when we contemplate in nature, when we lovingly fulfill our obligations even when we don’t want to–all those times when we notice what is and how we are yet go on–we are practicing allowing this kind of spaciousness to appear.

And what is the alternative?   When my daughter was little and we were living in Brooklyn, she outgrew her little bicycle with training wheels and I encouraged her to leave it out on the street in front of our building so someone could take it, the way people do.  She made a pretty sign that read in purple crayon “Free Bike.  Please enjoy!”  Wait and see what happens, I told her.  Giving things away is a way to receive something else, something even greater.  Alex was skeptical but curious.

The next morning, however, she threw off her covers and clattered down the ladder of her loft bed and ran to the big living room windows as if it was Christmas morning.

“The bike is gone!” Alex shouted.  “Mom, come look!  The bike is gone!”  She looked as radiant as if it was Christmas morning.

“How wonderful!” I agreed.

We stood there beaming at each other, and I had a funny little inkling that it wasn’t this simple, instilling the notion a notion of giving without expectation, opening up wide to the unknown, trusting that something will come.

“Now when do I get something back?”

This is the way we usually are.  Our lives move from hope to hope.  Wanting defines us, and this is perfectly natural.  This is the way nature made us. We want to be happy and safe from harm.  We want our loved ones to be happy and safe from all pain.  But sometimes things happen that rock our boat–or lock it in ice.  Yet sometimes we are called to go beyond what we want.  Sometimes we know we can serve something greater.  Sometimes all it takes is the stillness of the snow.

31 thoughts on “The Stillness of Snow

  1. My experience of sitting in the winter is that the food of impressions is scarce. Most of the birds have followed the warmth south, deer seek the woods for shelter and food, squirrels are not chattering in the trees, leaves and branches are not singing in the wind, there are no varieties of smells in the warm air, most everything is colored in black and white, no blues, oranges, reds, greens, pinks. In short so many vibrations of many lives that are active in the spring, summer and fall are gone in the cold of winter. I miss this relationship with life and somehow can’t quite find as meaningful a relationship with snow as I can with listening and smelling rain drops falling on dusty ground.

    It has been a real question for me about how to get the impressions I need, we all need as the third being food, in the ‘dead’ of winter.

  2. Thank you Tracy. Reading your article about Shackleton made me cold and then further annoyed me as I wondered what could this have to do with “consciousness”. But I persevered as I once had a girlfirend from Tarrytown NY. When the men reported a “presence” with them I was brought back front and center to my unconsciousness and sleep and said “Lord have mercy on me”. Walter

  3. I love all this talk and feeling about the snow, Tracy. I love being surrounded by it’s beauty and everchanging characteristics.Yes, the texture changes everyday, walking through and upon the snow, one must maneuver your stepping as one would adjust their paddleing in a kyack. Directed by the snow, I enter the forest almost everyday….It is profound meditative enviornment and I am the only human visitor. The deer have left their slumbering impressions throughout the forest, even the birds have left their foot prints…The trees reign at this time of year, appearing tall and majestic without their leaves. I feel their vitality as the sap is being released from the roots. My senses and alertness are my guides. The immensity of space is everywhere. Then I remember that it is my choice to be outdoors, with the right clothing and sometimes with snow shoes and poles to support me. I am not trapped or a prisoner like Shackleton may have felt. Yet his hope or will carried him through. I hope that all my trecking in delight and silence is practice and committment to pickup each foot, one after the other for the small and greater tasks. This snow has a settling down flavor , a valuable restorative quality ……that asks us to be patient, flexible and quiet… thanks for bringing it up!

  4. I like reading your words there always positive in some round about way…My wife is a WORD person, she Publishes Small town Newspapers. Her stories are always like yours she finds so much light in such a negative world….Although your Venue is totally different, but not really….

    May I share with you something that has made it all personal with me in hopes of SEEING…..

    “In the moment of experiencing, you are not aware of yourself as the experiencer apart from the experience; you are in a state of experiencing. Take a very simple example: You are
    angry. In that moment of anger there is neither the experiencer nor the experience; there is only experiencing.
    But the moment you come out of it, a split second after the experiencing, there is the experiencer and the experience, the actor and the action with an end in viewwhic is to get rid of or repress the anger. We are in this state repeatedly, in the state of experiencing; but we always come out of it and give it a term, naming and recording it, and thereby giving continuity to becoming.

    the Snow was that..

    1. The state of sleep, identification with an experience – immersed in it without a sort of double awareness is one state of consciousness. Another is awareness of myself while experiencing, aware of the various sensations vibrations that come with the experience; both receiving and seeing the impressions of smell, sound, sight, thought as they occur and how I AM with each – without being engulfed by the experience.

      Later, there remains only traces, memory of the experience. Now there is relatively speaking no life in it. This now is a new experience of myself remembering. I am both the experience and the experiencer. Naming and recording is to remain in sleep; not becoming.

  5. Hmmmmmmmmmmm, the experience of experiencing. this is rich food for thought. i will explore this, thanks!

  6. There is a very beautiful thought that has grasped me recently, I comes from Romans 8, verse 26-27.

    “26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

    Perhaps it was the Holy Spirit that Shackleton and his men felt beside them, helping them in their weakness. What the Christian tradition teaches on this thought, is that the Holy Spirit dwells with us, lives within us, at some level. And in turn prays with and through us “in sighs too deep for words.”

    I too have felt that presence in prayer and meditation, in stillness and silence, in sacrament, praying with, through, and for others, even myself, perhaps because I simply could not find words or thoughts of my own with which to pray.

    Stillness and silence are often a very special kind of prayer, a prayer that reminds us of something deeper, something sacred, that dwells deep within the human heart. It’s all a mystery to me, and the older I get, the more I have come see how deeply this mystery dwells with in us all, beyond all words.

    Winter is a time that may help us to see this more clearly, more intuitively perhaps, opening up our vision of spiritual insight, a time of reflection. In winter the thin places and spaces within our own world are more easily seen and felt, the veil between the world we live in and reality itself becomes more transparent.

    I can remember as a child taking long hikes in the winter time, especially after a new snow. This whiteness of winter, the diffused softness of the light itself, the translucence of the veil, can be another kind of prayer spoken to the heart.

    Tracy, I envy the time you have with nature on your winter walks, and I like to think that maybe, just maybe, there is some presence of myself walking with you, praying with and through you too.

    If we are all as inner-connected as I supect, beginning to suspect more each day that I live, then that’s not too far fetched is it? Not, if the Holy Spirit that is living in you, is the very same Holy Spirit living in me, praying with and through us both.


  7. Although the Human Mind likes to believe that it is of course dedicated to truth, in reality what it really seeks is confirmation of what it already believes..The ego is innately prideful and does not welcome the revelation that much of its beliefs are merely perceptual illusions.

    It is from moment to moment..Truth is not cumulative,accumulated, is memory, and through memory you can never find truth, for memory is of time-time being the past, the present and the future. Time, which is continuity, can never find that which is eternal; eternity is in the moment. Eternity is in the Now. The Now is not the reflection of the past nor the continuance of the past through the present to the future.

  8. Tommy – your words reminded me of T.S. Eliot’s poem The Four Quartets. We have explored this before here, but it’s worth another look. Here are the last few verses from the second stanza of Burnt Norton.

    “Yet the enchainment of past and future
    Woven in the weakness of the changing body,
    Protects mankind from heaven and damnation
    Which flesh cannot endure.
    Time past and time future
    Allow but a little consciousness.
    To be conscious is not to be in time
    But only in time can the moment in the rose-garden,
    The moment in the arbour where the rain beat,
    The moment in the draughty church at smokefall
    Be remembered; involved with past and future.
    Only through time time is conquered.”

    Human consciousness, our human sense of time within time, is grounded in our memory. Who are we without such a memory? Our identity comes from the many memories that make up our lives and these memories are changing all the time, we make new ones every day or we can lose them altogether. In Buddhism this impermanence is called the concept of not-self, or no-self, anattā (uhn-uht-tah), because the self is constantly changing.

    Still, even people who by some accident or illness have lost their memory, retain something of themselves in their behavior and interaction with others, some grace it seems. What is that grace at work within their world, if not some memory of the Spirit and connection to the eternal now. What would our life be without some connection to that which is always surrounding us, the eternal found within a single passing moment?


    “Time and the bell have buried the day,
    The black cloud carries the sun away.
    Will the sunflower turn to us, will the clematis
    Stray down, bend to us; tendril and spray
    Clutch and cling?

    Fingers of yew be curled
    Down on us? After the kingfisher’s wing
    Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
    At the still point of the turning world.?”

    “Only through time time is conquered.”

    I always marvel at what T.S. Eliot has done with this work. It’s early still here, and time bids me to sit and meditate a while this morning. So, I’ll go and light a candle for all of us and then try to let go of all the words and let the Holy Spirit come to pray with and through me without any words.


    1. Ron, I think what Tommy said stands on its own and poems, explanations and definitions do not bring more understanding to what he said. It was after all, knowing too many ‘things’ that got Adam and Eve kicked out of Eden.

      1. Perhaps that is why the pure white virgin snow quickly loses it virginity and changes color. :)

      2. You’ll have to please forgive me for seeing a connection to T.S. Eliot and his poetry, poetry is an intimate and essential part of my worldview.

        My intention was not to detract from Tommy’s words, never that, they resonated and echoed within me like a poem. They do stand on their own, with great eloquence.

        Thank you for sharing them Tommy, very well said.

        You reminded me that it is in this life and through our life that we learn to let go of the ego and come to some small perfect understanding of the truth, and to realize and learn that we are all simply an echo or a reflection of one another. Where else, when else, would we have the chance to learn this truth?

        This, it seems, is why we hear the call to serve. That call comes our relationships, it is a response to those relationships. The reality we experience arises from and through our relationships, all our relationships.

        Art, I don’t know if any one of us could have learned this in the Garden of Eden, we had to leave the garden to grow up and to come to know how dependent we really are upon one another, to learn to serve something greater than ourselves.

        The More, the Other, God if you wish, however we may imagine these connections, or simply one another.

        Peace Again,

    2. Hello all,

      I think these words from T.S. Eliot are a marvelous, profound offering. Read closely, Art. What Eliot–and Ron–offer is another twist. Indeed, it’s a way of articulating what Madame de Salzmann repeatedly urges us to see, that the real struggle is not to leave our desires and identification completely for pure consciousness, but to be in our desires, in those piercing moments, and yet also conscious.

      Thanks, Ron. Peace all. How did T.S. Eliot come to know what he knew?

  9. Hi Tracy,

    Thanks for a wonderful thought journey that once again travels across time and space!

    On the subject of desire:

    I have been strongly pondering the concepts of Will and Desire. Yes, there are the desires of the ego to find people and situations that sustain our illusions, that make us feel “better.” But there is also the deeper Desire. A Desire that sprouts from our authenticity, our uniqueness. It is like the compass of our personal evolution. This Desire is sacred, coming from a place within ourselves that we can not see, we must just listen.

    The desire to become more YOU is both the challenge and the gift from God, and as you follow it, you are actually connecting with the world and its people, rather than the opposite. I believe that this Desire, and the courage and love of our Will is what brings us towards a higher purpose.

    As you wrote, too often people feel they must transcend desire in order to be spiritually healthy. It seems like no matter where you look in America, whether it’s the churches or the offices, we have theories about why we shouldn’t listen to our bodies! The solution is so much more simple and challenging, just learn to listen deeper.


    1. Hi Ryan

      We’ve both been pondering will and desire. I’m also skeptical about “transcending” desire. More often then not, I see it as escapism.

      When I read Ouspensky’s book “In Search of the Miraculous,” I was sruck by this idea that we don’t do anything. Rather everything “happens.” If this is true and I am particfipating in a happening, how does it relate to will and desire?

      Simone Weil sheds a light on it from her intellectual and emotional purity that allowed her to acquire objective experiential “understanding.”

      I don’t think I could have understood Simone’s essay on the Iliad without being familiar with this idea of the “happening.” Though considered one of the most important interpretations of the Iliad, I wonder how many are open to what she means by force being the hero of the Iliad? It would be offensive to anyone that uses the hero for escapism normal for the exchanges of fantasy. She begins her essay with the following:

      “The true hero, the real subject, the core of the Iliad, is force. That force which is wielded by men rules over them, and before it man’s flesh cringes. The human soul never ceases to be modified by its encounter with force, swept on, blinded by that which it believes itself able to handle, bowed beneath the power of that which it suffers. Those who dreamt that force, thanks to progress, belonged henceforth to the past, have been able to see its living witness in this poem: those who know how to discern force throughout the ages, there at the heart of every human testament, find here its most beautiful, most pure of mirrors.”
      “Force” creates the “happening.” Desire is a reaction to “force.”

      how many have either the will or need to accept force for what it is by experiencing it rather than avoiding and interpreting it for self juxtification? Without the need why bother? What is the truth gained by those who become capable to experience it for what it is rather than fall into interpretation natural for allowing an absurd psychological condition become inwardly acceptable?

      Some will ask what can be gained by becoming open to experience force for what it is. Yet for those like Simone, experiential understanding is everything. It is what feeds the seed of the soul allowing it to develop.

      Simone wrote in her notebooks:

      Impossibility — that is, radical impossibility clearly perceived, absurdity — is the gate leading to the supernatural. All we can do is to knock on it. It is another who opens.
      Who has the courage and will to impartially witness our personal absurdity as well as its exxpression in the world without the need for inner commenting? All our conditioning struggles against it. Yet I can see why she perceives it as the gate. We must hit bottom to open to the truth. It is much more inviting to escape it through our imagination

      1. Hi Nick,

        I’m reading and listening to lectures about the Iliad as we speak. Do you have a link for this essay? Thanks!

    2. Hi Ryan,

      What you offer here touches on my own deepest experience. I have felt that deeper Desire to BE, as opposed to just being carried along by the changing currents. In those moments, Will is revealed as courage and a kind of sacred Wish–a capacity (in only for a moment) to serve a higher Will: Thy Will be Done.

      I am touched by what Nick brought about the Iliad, about Force being the real hero. It shows that our Will is ultimately a capacity to consciously play the role determined by our conditions, to serve as a channel for a Force greater than ourselves.

      As Ron said we cannot learn this in the stasis of the Garden of Eden, but only in movement, in relationship, in the rough and tumble of the world.



      1. You are of course familiar with this phrase “follow your bliss” which is becoming more and more popular. My experience is that it is rapidly devolving into imagination. “To Be” quickly becomes the mutual enjoyment of shared fantasies. There is equality in fantasy. Awakening requires the recognition of relative quality which is taboo and acquires a negative connotation.

        If fantasy sustaining self justification is all that is wanted, then it is fine. But what of those that seek “to be” rather than the attraction of bliss and are willing to be open to the difference? It is also why those like Gurdjieff and Simone are in the background. The reality they invite us to experience is like an alarm clock which deprives people of the joys of mutual fantasy. It is normal to respond negatively to an alarm clock. Who wants to put fantasy into perspective?

        “Gurdjieff was a danger. A real threat. A threat for one’s self-calming, a threat for the little regard one had of oneself, a threat for the comfortable repertoire where we generally live. But at the moment when this threat appeared, like a ditch to cross, a threshold to step over, one was helped to cross it by his presence itself.” Michel de Salzmann
        Gurdjieff was a danger and his teaching remains a danger.

        Simone described our “Choice” well. She speaks of our choice of necessities. One is sustained through imagination, and the other requires freedom from imagination.

        “The sea is not less beautiful to our eye because we know that sometimes ships sink in it. On the contrary, it is more beautiful still. If the sea modified the movement of its waves to spare a boat, it would be a being possessing discernment and choice, and not this fluid that is perfectly obedient to all external pressures. It is this perfect obedience that is its beauty.” “All the horrors that are produced in this world are like the folds imprinted on the waves by gravity. This is why they contain beauty. Sometimes a poem, like the Iliad, renders this beauty.” “Man can never escape obedience to God. A creature cannot not obey. The only choice offered to man as an intelligent and free creature, is to desire obedience or not to desire it. If he does not desire it, he perpetually obeys nevertheless, as a thing subject to mechanical necessity. If he does desire obedience, he remains subject to mechanical necessity, but a new necessity is added on, a necessity constituted by the laws that are proper to supernatural things. Certain actions become impossible for him, while others happen through him, sometimes despite him.”

        Excerpt from: Thoughts without order concerning the love of God, in an essay entitled L’amour de Dieu et le malheur (The Love of God and affliction). Simone Weil

        “To Be” first requires the recognition that we are not but rather a slave to attachments being carried along in changing currents.

        Not that flattering but IMO far more accurate for those needing “To Be.”

      2. Thanks Nick. Well said!

        You are of course familiar with this phrase “follow your bliss” which is becoming more and more popular.

  10. I was intrigued by Ron’s statement, “if any one of us could have learned this in the Garden of Eden”.

    It raises many questions. Why were Adam and Eve put there if it wasn’t a good place to be? Is it true we can’t learn in paradise? Why does knowing, an accumulation of data?, expel one from the garden?

    And: Why does the higher need me? What does it need? What can I give? My pain, my suffering? Does the higher need that? What do I receive? How do I respect and honor what is given? The universe has the very fine, the most high and the densest, the darkest. Human attention has the possibility of expanding to include a much larger scale of various densities. At the most dense it has been said there also is the Absolute, that is the Source of everything existing. Is the most dense, the most dark in relation to finer, lighter more evil? If so why? It has also been said that the way up is also the way down, meaning our attention when broadened expands both upward toward the finer and downward toward the denser. Knowing, experiencing these energies/matters how, and what will we manifest of this understanding?

    Frank Sinclair writes in Of A Life Aligned very touchingly about his near death experience regarding these questions and the dark forces trying to pull him down while he was for two weeks in an ‘unconscious’ state.

    1. Art,

      I would say that one lesson to this creation story of Eden is simply this, that we must leave paradise in order to learn and know that we may and can create paradise for our selves. As hard as it is, it is easier to learn this lesson outside of Eden, within the world. Just as we may lose our life to gain it back, it is a process of letting go.

      We can and may return to paradise at any time. Paradise may be found in a state of mind and being, and in lives, that are grounded in our relationship with all of creation, with one another. The gift of life gives us a chance to not only learn this, but to practice (praxis) it as well, to know that God is love.

      Please don’t think of these verses below as scripture so much, but rather as fingers pointing at the moon, and they do.

      Luke 17: 20-21 – And when the Pharisees had demanded of Him when the Kingdom of God should come, He answered them and said, “The Kingdom of God cometh not with outward show. Neither shall they say, `Lo, it is here!’ or `Lo, it is there!’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.”

      1 Corinthians 13 – When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

      Luke 9:23-25 – Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?

      1 John 4:16 – So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

      Have a great week, the weekend is over for me, and I’m headed back to work this morning.



    2. Art,

      I took some time this morning to search the internet and find another way of looking at the story of creation and the Garden of Eden. I found this link to something written by Rabbi David Cooper, who has written for Parabola before.

      He wrote a piece in the issue about God, within the last few years. A wonderful issue by the way, worth having and getting.

      I believe that Rabbi Cooper is a reliable source on Jewish Mysticism. I’ve also read his book titled, God is a Verb. It is also very good. Here is the link, it points to a way of reading the story that you may not have heard before is all.

      Like so many of the great mystical and contemplative traditions do, this teaching is pointing us inwards, towards the inner work we engage in to grow spiritually.

      There is another concept of Eden in Jewish eschatology you might look up on your own, Gan Eden.


  11. Greetings;

    Speaking of books, spiritual guides, intuition, enlightenment,
    higher states of consciousness, becoming…..etc.

    Truth is relative and only “true” in a given context..All truth
    is only so within a certain level of consciousness. For instance, to forgive is commendable, but at a later stage, one sees there is nothing to forgive. There is no “other” to be forgiven. Everyone’s ego is equally unreal, including our own. Perception is not reality Truth arises out of subjectivity and is obvious and self-revealing. Truth is radical subjectivity.. With the collapse of the illusions of duality, including the supposed
    “reality” of a separate ,”self,” there remains only the state of the infinite “I”, which is the manifestation of the Unmanifest as the self. Truth has no opposites, such as falsity or “off-ness.” Nothing is hidden from the field of consciousness..The ultimate truth is beyond is-ness, beingness, or any intransitive verb. Any attempt at self-definition, such as “I am that I am” or even just” I Am”
    is redundant. The Ultimate reality is beyond all names. “I” signifies the radical subjectivity of the state of Realization. It is in itself the complete statement of reality.

    I could be wrong.

    1. Hi Tommy

      With all due respect, I hope you are wrong. If there is no objective truth it means the universe is a figment of our imagination.

      Jacob Needleman writes in part one of Chapter One in his book: “A Sense of the Cosmos:”

      Every great spiritual teaching speaks of itself in its own way as a mirror of cosmic reality. In the traditions of China the Tao is both the way to truth and the way things are. In Christianity the Word is both the teaching of Jesus Christ and the fundamental manifestation of God. In the Hindu tradition (including Buddhism) Dharma means both duty and the sustaining order of the universe. And in the Hebrew tradition Torah includes not only law in the sense of the teaching, but also law in the sense of the foundations of God’s creation. A well-known passage in the book of Proverbs expresses this idea without ambiguity. Wisdom is speaking:

      The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
      I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
      When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water…
      When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth… when he gave the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by him…
      Now therefore harken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.
      Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.

      (Proverbs 8:22-33)

      Wisdom thus speaks not only as the teaching (the instruction) but as the divine pattern of the cosmos.

      Objective truth if it exists, is the divine pattern within which Man’s objective meaning and purpose is manifest. If it doesn’t exist, then our search for the experience of meaning can only be the creation of our own reality. In that case we may as well just go out drinking since nothing really matters.

    2. Truth–or spiritual Truth as opposed to the repeatable laws of scientific truth, as we mortals are given to realize it–is situational. We, at least I, forget this over and over again. I want to abstract it, crystallize it, freeze it in place for once and for all. We can only know it through living it. The map is not the territory.

      1. Oh, well said Tracy!

        At meditation class last evening, our teacher reminded us of the old Buddhist proverb, “The Tao that can be spoken of, is not the true Tao.”

        I descend within myself for answers, spiritually bereft or confused, close to tears. Often after a few insights or calming realizations, how often my ego perks back up about what great spiritual talents I have! Or how well I can write about them, or how much more intuitive I am than others. And then I must laugh at myself at how quickly I depart the humility necessary to truly stay on the Path.

        That I am like a child who has placed his foot in a backyard pool, and believes the ocean has been conquered.

      2. Tracy, that is why Simone offers us so much. She had a quality of intellect capable of sustaining conscious attention and emotional purity to experience qualitiative spiritual truth: conscience. She reminds me that I lack both.

        It isn’t a matter of being without ego but rather healing my corrupt ego so that it can objectively serve its purpose by enabling the conscious connection between my inner world and the external world.

        I’ve been introducing Simone Weil to a major spiritual center in Westchester. As a result we just agreed last week that there will be a day for Simone on 11/5. I was asked what I would like the title to be. I wrote back. “Simone Weil: The Need For Truth.”

        Planning a day like this is a real challenge. How to avoid the appeal to secularism, fundamentalism, and of la la land in the attempt to honor the “Need For Truth?” How to honor the connection between scientific truths and spiritual truth she was drawn to even at the young age of fourteen?

        I hope to invite some people who have been touched by her to speak on their experiences so all presentr can mutually become open to what it is that draws these special people like Simone to sacrifice secular pleasures for the sake of the “Pearl of Great Price?” They lead a meaningless life by secular standards and yet to those like me who begin to feel the need for truth, their odd lives are more meaningful than ours.

        Are you familiar with this old Hasidic tale?

        The devil and a his imp friend were walking down the street, when they saw ahead of them a man stoop down and pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket. The imp said to the devil, “What did that man pick up?” “He picked up a piece of the truth,” said the devil. “That is a very bad business for you, then,” said the imp. “Oh, not at all,” the devil replied, he may have picked up a piece of the truth but we will help him organize it.

        Our horned friend tempts us into secularism, fundamentalism, many other isms, and la la land that all begin as piecess of the truth. However, after a while they all become the same in serving the same purpose: denying the human condition and the conscious potential for man’s “being.”

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