What do the Jewish Tanakh
, Christian Gospel and Letters,
, Buddhist Dhammapada and Writings,
Taoist Tao Te Ching
, Muslim Suras
, and worldwide poetry
of every stripe -- have in common?
One of the major symptoms of the general crisis existent in our world today is our lack of sensitivity to words. We use words as tools. We forget that words are a repository of the spirit.
The tragedy of our times is that the vessels of the spirit are broken. We cannot approach the spirit unless we repair the vessels. Reverence for words – an awareness of the wonder of words, of the mystery of words – is an essential prerequisite for prayer. By the word of God the world was created.
We have forfeited the reverence for words. Purification of language, therefore, remains a major task in theological discipline. Beginning by emphasizing deep sensitivity to words, its goal must be the sanctification of human speech.
Abraham Joshua Heschel was a Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century. To relish more of his wisdom, read this review of "Abraham Heschel: Essential Writings," edited by his daughter Susannah Heschel that contains numerous quotes from Rabbi Heschel. https://www.monasteriesoftheheart.org/monks-our-midst/rabbi-abraham-heschel-reverence-words
Words are our true religion.
The question is asked: How religious are we? How religious am I?
My word! What a question!
So many words these days resemble the picture sketched in what a friend sends in these words:
"...the contraction of existence into a spiritual will to destroy, without the guidance of a spiritual will to order." (p.319, in Age of Anger: A History of the Present, By Pankaj Mishra)
The shocking and disturbing words of right wing politicians and fawning followers are matched with the apoplectic and outraged words of left wing counterparts. The centrist crowd straddles the seesaw with a shaky aplomb seeking to stake some solid rootedness in traditional law and values referring to the Constitution and a loose obeisance to a Christian canon.
Words become empty missiles launched against the other. And 'the other' is everyone outside narrow ribbon of fabricated enclave of unquestioning loyalty.
Martin Heidegger asked questions about these issues. He especially asked, "what are poet's for?"
what are poets for? They are not exactly philosophers, though they often try to explain the world and humankind’s place within it. They are not exactly moralists, for at least since the nineteenth century their primary concern has rarely been to tell us in homiletic fashion how to live. But they are often exceptionally lucid or provocative in their articulation of the relationship between internal and external worlds, between being and dwelling. Romanticism and its afterlife, I have been arguing throughout this book, may be thought of as the exploration of the relationship between external environment and ecology of mind.
“What are poets for?” (“Wozu Dichter?”) asked Martin Heidegger in the title of a lecture delivered on the twentieth anniversary of the death of Rainer Maria Rilke. In his later philosophy, Heidegger meditated deeply upon three questions. “What are poets for?” was one of them, “What does it mean to dwell upon the earth?” was the second, and “What is the essence of technology?” was the third. Heidegger’s answers to the three questions turn out to be closely inter-related.
(--in The Winter Anthology, article What Are Poets For? by Jonathan Bate)
Poet Friedrich Hölderlin] says to us: poetically man dwells on this earth.
The curious dance of Shiva and Kali comes to mind:
Shiva is the silent, eternal all pervading aspect of the Transcendental Reality. Shiva is often depicted as spending years meditating unperturbed.
Mother Kali is the dynamic aspect of the Transcendental Reality. Kali in Sanskrit literally means ‘time’
Kali is depicted as dancing on Shiva to illustrate the interaction between Shiva the silent, all pervading force and Kali the destroyer of Time. Kali creates the cycles of time on the underlying structure of Shiva.
Kali and Shiva are very close. They could be considered to be the Yin and Yang of creation.
We seesaw between creation and destruction, between order and chaos.
Our task is to intimately engage and word reality in such a way that the inner dynamic between the edges of wildly conflictual experience is the sounding of a radical compassion for the suffering practitioners of everyday living -- for the ideologues and the pragmatists, staggering, wending their way through life in the world -- as technology makes the peregrination seem easier and less worrisome by concealing the underlying issues.
Jonathan Bate continues:
In Heidegger’s theory, when man is driving technology, he does not become standing-reserve. Technological man orders the world, challenges it, “enframes” it. “Enframing” (Ge-stell) is the essence of modern technology. Enframing means making everything part of a system, thus obliterating the unconcealed being-there of particular things. Enframing is a mode of revealing which produces a styrofoam cup rather than a silver chalice. The chalice’s mode of being in the world, its Dasein, embraces aesthetic and social traditions—it is shaped so as to be beautiful, it is associated with customs such as sacrificial libations and the sharing of a communal cup. The styrofoam cup has no such associations. Its being is purely instrumental. The styrofoam cup is a symptom of modern technology’s forgetting of Dasein. “Above all, enframing conceals that revealing which, in the sense of poiesis, lets what presences come forth into appearance…Enframing blocks the shining-forth and holding sway of truth.” The techne of the craftsman, though it was not internal to the physis of the chalice, nevertheless revealed the presence, the shining-forth, the truth of the chalice. The enframing of modern technology conceals the truth of things.
Both Plato and Aristotle said that philosophy begins in wonder. The history of technology is a history of the loss of that wonder, a history of disenchantment. Bruce Foltz explicates Heidegger’s version of the story:
The need that [philosophy’s original] astonishment engenders is that entities, emerging of their own accord (phusei), must stand in unconcealment. The completion or fulfillment, then, of the necessity arising from this fundamental astonishment lies in techne, which keeps in unconcealment the rule of phusis. Yet precisely in techne as the fulfillment of this fundamental mood lies the danger (die Gefahr) of its distraction and ultimately its destruction; that is, there is a possibility that techne, originally allowing phusis to hold sway in unconcealment, could become detached from the mood of astonishment before entities in their self-emergence and hence become willfull and arbitrary in its independence from phusis. It is through such a “defection from the beginning” that unconcealment could become distorted into correctness, that the “letting-reign” (Waltenlassen) of phusis in unconcealment could become a demand for constant presence, that thinking could become metaphysics, and that the techne of the Greeks could be utterly transformed into modern technology.
Words and bodies, in poetic phenomenology, appear together.
When word deteriorates, so also do bodies.
When word is inchoate origin, incarnation originates.
When word presents itself, Itself
We seek the inspiration of word.
We long for the true sound of...
A kind of manifesting revelation,
What Is Originally Being Said.