Friday, July 8, 2011

Quote of Note...

I'm going to change the quote over on the left ("Have Faith") this evening. This one has been up for a while. But I don't just want to let this one go. It comes from a very inspirational poem by Edward Carpenter entitled "Have Faith". He was English, lived 1844-1929, was an early gay activist and was friends with 2 of my favorite poets, Walt Whitman and Rabindranath Tagore who I would say is my favorite poet. (Some quotes from his will appear here over time.)

Despite the fact that there is a reference to a second coming in this poem--which makes me a bit uncomfortable because I don't subscribe to the conventional notion, I would like to post the whole poem because, well... it is inspirational. Some many lines from this poem would make wonderful 'quotes of note'. His message is not an easy one and I've heard it before, notably from the world of Buddhism. But I like this poem because it's not dogmatic. It's food. It's a feast for the soul.

Have Faith
by Edward Carpenter

DO not hurry: have faith. Remember that if you become famous you can never share the lot of those who pass by unnoticed from the cradle to the grave, nor take part in the last heroism of their daily life;

If you seek and encompass wealth and ease the divine outlook of poverty cannot be yours—nor shall you feel all your days the loving and constraining touch of Nature and Necessity;

If you are successful in all you do, you cannot also battle magnificently against odds;

If you have fortune and good health and a loving wife and children, you cannot also be of those who are happy without these things.

Covet not overmuch. Let the strong desires come and go; refuse them not, disown them not; but think not that in them lurks finally the thing you want.

Presently they will fade away and into the intolerable light will dissolve like gossamers before the sun.

Do not hurry: have faith.

The sportsman does not say, I will start a hare at the comer of this field, or I will shoot a turkey-buzzard at the foot of that tree;
But he stands indifferent and waits on emergency, and so makes himself master of it.

So do you stand indifferent, and by faith make yourself master of your life.

For all things are possible, yet at any one time and place only one thing is possible;

And all things are good, yet at any one time and place can you extract the good only from that which is before you.

Have faith. If that which rules the universe were alien to your soul, then nothing could mend your state— there were nothing left but to fold your hands and be damned everlastingly.

But since it is not so—why what can you wish for more? —all things are given into your hands.

Do you pity a man who having a silver mine on his estate loses a shilling in a crack in his house-floor?

And why should another pity you?

Do not hurry.

As at the first day the clouds suffused with light creep over the edges of the hills, the young poplar poises itself like an arrow planted in the ground, the birds warble with upturned bills to the sun;

The sun rises on hundreds of millions of human beings; the hemisphere of light follows the hemisphere of darkness, and a great wave of life rushes round the globe;

The little pigmies stand on end (like iron filings under a magnet) and then they fall prone again. And this has gone on for millions of years and will go on for millions more.

Absolve yourself to-day from the bonds of action.

[Wait, wait ever for the coming of the Lord. See that you are ready for his arrival.]

Begin to-day to understand that which you will not understand when you read these words for the first time, nor perhaps when you have read them for the hundredth time.

Begin to-day to understand why the animals are not hurried, and do not concern themselves about affairs, nor the clouds nor the trees nor the stars—but only man—and he but for a few thousand years in history.

[For it is one thing to do things, but another to be concerned about the doing of them.]

Behold the animals. There is not one but the human soul lurks within it, fulfilling its destiny as surely as within you.

The elephant, the gnat floating warily towards its victim, the horse sleeping by stolen snatches in the hot field at the plough, or coming out of the stable of its own accord at the sound of the alarm bell and placing itself in the shafts of the fire-engine—-sharing the excitement of the men; the cats playing together on the barn floor, thinking no society equal to theirs, the ant bearing its burden through the grass—

Do you think that these are nothing more than what you see? Do you not know that your mother and your sister and your brother are among them?

I saw deep in the eyes of the animals the human soul look out upon me.

I saw where it was born deep down under feathers and fur, or condemned for awhile to roam fourfooted among the brambles. I caught the clinging mute glance of the prisoner, and swore that I would be faithful.

Thee my brother and sister I see and mistake not. Do not be afraid. Dwelling thus and thus for a while, fulfilling thy appointed time—thou too shalt come to thyself at last.

Thy half-warm horns and long tongue lapping round my wrist do not conceal thy humanity any more than the learned talk of the pedant conceals his—for all thou art dumb we have words and plenty between us.

Come nigh little bird with your half-stretched quivering wings—within you I behold choirs of angels, and the Lord himself in vista.

Crooning and content the old hen sits—her thirteen chicks cheep cheerily round her, or nestle peeping out like little buds from under her wings;

Keen and motherly is her eye, placid and joyful her heart, as the sun shines warm upon them.

Do not hurry: have faith.

[Whither indeed should we hurry? is it not well here? A little shelter from the storm, a stack of fuel for winter use, a few handfuls of grain and fruit—

And lo! the glory of all the earth is ours.]

The main thing is that the messenger is perhaps even now at your door—and to see that you are ready for his arrival:

A little child, a breath of air, an old man hobbling on crutches, a bee lighting on the page of your book—who knows whom He may send?

Some one diseased or dying, some friendless, outcast, criminal—

One whom it shall ruin your reputation to be seen with—yet see that you are ready for his arrival.

Likely whoever it is his coming will upset all your carefully laid plans;

Your most benevolent designs will likely have to be laid aside, and he will set you to some quite commonplace business, or perhaps of dubious character—

Or send you a long and solitary journey; perhaps he will bring you letters of trust to deliver—perhaps the prince himself will appear—

Yet see that you are ready for his arrival.

Is your present experience hard to bear?

Yet remember that never again perhaps in all your days will you have another chance of the same.

Do not fly the lesson, but have a care that you master it while you have the opportunity.

These things I say not in order to excite thought in you—rather to destroy it—

Or if to excite thought, then to excite that which destroys itself;

For what I say is not born of thought and does not demand thought either for comprehension or proof;

And whoever dwells among thoughts dwells in the region of delusion and disease—and though he may appear wise and learned yet his wisdom and learning are as hollow as a piece of timber eaten out by white ants.

Therefore though thought should gird you about, remember and forget not to disendue it, as a man takes off his coat when hot; and as a skilful workman lays down his tool when done with, so shall you use thought and lay it quietly aside again when it has served your purpose.

A veil of illusion hangs following the lines of all things,

Over the trees and running waters, and up the sides of the mountains and over the sea and the cities, and circling the birds in the air as they fly—

So that these themselves you see not, only the indications of them, and yourself you see not, only the indication.

As long as through the eyes of desire, and of this and that, you look—and of vanity; as long as you hurry after results and are overwhelmed with the importance of anything you can do or leave undone—so long will the veil lie close, do not be deceived.

On all sides God surrounds you, staring out upon you

from the mountains and from the face of the rocks, and of men, and of animals.

Will you rush past for ever insensate and blindfold— hurrying breathless from one unfinished task to another, and to catch your ever-departing trains—as if you were a very Cain flying from his face?

Resume the ancient dignity of your race, lost, almost forgotten as it is.

What is it surely that you are fretting about? Is it the fashions, or what men say about you, or the means of livelihood, or is it the sense of duty this way and that, or trivial desires, that will not let you rest?

Are you so light, like a leaf, that such things as these will move you—are you so weak that one such slender chain will deprive you of inestimable Freedom?

And yet the lilies of the field and the beasts that have no banks of deposit or securities are not anxious: they have more dignity than you.

As long as you harbor motives so long are you giving hostages to the enemy; while you are a slave (to this and that) you can only obey. It is not You who are acting at all.

Brush it all aside.

Pass disembodied out of yourself. Leave the husk, leave the long long prepared and perfected envelope.

Enter into the life which is eternal, pass through the gate of indifference into the palace of mastery, through the door of love out into the great open of deliverance;

Give away all that you have, become poor and without possessions—and behold! you shall be lord and sovereign of all things.

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