American Author, Professor and Poet
"Poetry will not save the world. But poetry can force the soul into the precincts of its last evasion."
"What . . . theopoiesis does is to effect disclosure [of Being] through the crucial nexus of event, thereby making the crux of knowing, both morally and aesthetically, radically decisive in time… [Like Rilke] . . . we must learn, with trust, to be one with, a breathing with the inhale and exhale of Being, in order that “the god” may breathe through us, and we, through the translation of its breath into song, may be . . . the eyes of becoming and a tongue for Being’s utterance."
"Another dimension in Zen recognizes movement in three steps: the great doubt, a meekness about our customary egoist ways of seeing; the great depth , a penetration into the abyss; movement through this brings us to the great wisdom. I?ve used a similar formula: the step back, so we can see the light under our feet ; the step down, which is a movement into the deep self; and through the useful tension between these two, the step through into what they call the great wisdom."
"Also, the spontaneous blasting of perhaps, the unconscious collective psyche of the west -- or of something in experience, which our own religious tradition has somehow failed to communicate to us -- has led to a very eager interest in certain dimensions of eastern thinking. One reason for this is that we find it difficult to retrieve these dimensions in our own tradition, because of our tendency to reappropriate them -- using the same way of thinking that has already emptied them of their depth and significance. So this move to the east may be a detour whereby, by discovering something there, we might possibly return to our own tradition with a fresh perspective on it, and we might retrieve much of what we seem to have lost. T. S. Eliot in ?Ash Wednesday? talks about redeeming the time, and redeeming the unread vision in the higher dream, as though there is something in our tradition, classically, Christianly, Hebraically that was either misread or was unread; but given the experience of the impoverishment of our symbolic world and our somewhat desperate anxiety, it puts us in a position to look again, to re-envision everything that we have known. So the turn to the east is helpful here."
"After two or three centuries of discounting the dream -- having lost its value with objective thinking -- we are now recognizing and recovering its extraordinary validity. The ego consciousness has lost contact with other elements of the self, one of these the deep self or unconscious. Being attentive to dream data is one way of reconnecting the ego to the unconscious."
"When we are moving from counter-myth to some new positive myth structure, in between one way of seeing and another way of seeing, there occurs the temptation to the pseudo-myth, the profane myth. That word ?profane? developed as a result of commercial transactions in front of the temple, the fane. When we lose the dimension of the temple, we then tend to pro-fane it with the myths that attend upon business. For example, Mercury is a car, Pegasus is a gasoline, Mazda is an electric light bulb. And less obviously, our obeisance to the term ?fact? functions mythologically, as we unconsciously bow down to it. This is pseudo myth. To go beyond this is very difficult. Stevens is attempting that -- trying to find a fresh way to lay hold on ultimate meaning in such a way that it will be confirmed by deep experience and restore the lost vitality of meaningfulness, to oneself and the world about us. If we lose a world picture, a dualistic way of seeing, with God above and ourselves below, that way of seeing is gone. With the old transcendence gone, we tend to be thrown back on ourselves where we discover a depth within ourselves, and we find that it curiously sustains us, once we have found that relationship. So we tend to move from a transcendent world picture to a picture of what I have called radical immanence."
"But it is something I must not look at. It is not out there. It is something I must experience. Now, there is a danger here: that we commit subjectivism, romantically. People like Wallace Stevens are on the right track when they get us to see that being presences anywhere in anything: anything is mysterious, shot through with the mystery of apogees. My pencil, my book, the plum branch, these things contain in the microcosm what is already present in the macrocosm, and the trick is for me to learn how to be open and receptive to this, so that it moves in and through me. That is why theopoetics would seem to be a more appropriate way of thinking about the ineffable. Theology tends to develop talk about God logically, where the logos is constrained within the model of Aristotelian propositional thinking; whereas theopoetics stresses the poem dimension, the creativity of God, his is-ness, if you wish to theologize it, so that I must move within his own creative nature and must construe him creatively, so that I would become co-creator with God, if you must speak theologically. If I am going to talk about God, I must recognize this mythopoeic, metaphorical nature of the language I use. Kierkegaard says this. But when we start talking theologically, we lose the poetic."
"There is a dimension in teaching today whereby we have to learn how to unlearn; and learn how to let the learner learn, instead of giving out information and reinstating traditional perspectives. The breakup of a symbol system, such as we have been experiencing in the West almost since the Renaissance, makes us feel alienated from the world, from reality. We may recognize this as a good thing, a release from repressive commitments. Artists working in all media express this feeling, coming up with fresh perspectives which function as counter myths."
"I have said that western theological language has yet to come to terms with the primary imagination. To explain this: When we lose a dualistic world picture, transcendence is not available to us. We are thrust back on ourselves, and we make a discovery that divinity, so to speak, is a presence, that its presences, and if we are open to its presencing, it can presence within us. Take, for example, Meister Eckhart?s proposition, ?God is nearer to me than I am to myself.? It is like that, whether one talks theologically or ontologically. The presencing of being is much the same thing."
"Waiting for Godot, for example, is a charade, a problem thrown at us as a Japanese ko?an that we have to construe to understand. The poet, Wallace Stevens, keenly aware of the loss of supportive myth structures, is concerned with the nature of myth, as if there is something more primordial than the Greek or Roman or Christian projections. So when we speak of that pantheon dropping away, we have to include all of that which developed in the classical world picture. We are now interested in another world picture, and it makes a difference."
"The first thing that impressed me, studying in Japan, was that Zen philosophers in Kyoto have developed a strategy whereby the ego consciousness can be talked out of, so to speak, its preoccupation with its need to objectify; taught to break up the subjective-objective dichotomizing that characterizes the western mind. They use the strategy of the Zen ko?an as a kind of riddling, aphoristic statement that seems to make no sense; and the function of this is to get me to see that I am the ko?an that has to be solved -- not intellectually, but in living the riddle of life. It turns me toward depth consciousness, or the ground of being. Now that is a western phrase, and we think we are talking about the ultimate, but it is another metaphor. The eastern trick is to break through all these metaphors until we can?t resort to another metaphor. We must break through the bottom of the pail and leave the thing open to what they describe as nothingness or the void or what Rilke calls "the openness." It is what the mystics in the west have taught us, some of them extraordinarily well."