Friday, March 12, 2010

There is only the dance.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity,
Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.
I can only say, there we have been: but I cannot say where.
And I cannot say, how long, for that is to place it in time.
The inner freedom from the practical desire,
The release from action and suffering, release from the inner
And the outer compulsion, yet surrounded
By a grace of sense, a white light still and moving,
Erhebung without motion, concentration
Without elimination, both a new world
And the old made explicit, understood
In the completion of its partial ecstasy,
The resolution of its partial horror.
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.
--T. S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

What is that point, that place, that moment, that Person where all things converge and all opposites are reconciled? As a Christian, I would call it Christ, but humanity uses many names for the same reality. All motion is contained in its stillness, all time in its timelessness. I love the phrase, so evocative of nirvana: "The release from action and suffering, release from the inner/ And the outer compulsion." Wowser.

How badly do we need to be released from compulsion, within and without? Once free from all external compulsion we are not quite free. We need liberation from our internal drivenness.

Note that flesh can no more endure heaven than it can damnation. We are so frail, so limited, so unaware.

Once we are aware, conscious, then we transcend time because we are aware that everything transcends time, yet as finite creatures we only experience this within time. "Only through time time is conquered."

I shall repost a poem I wrote, an acrostic based on Burnt Norton, that involves two images. I shall incorporate them.

Shabbat shalom, y'all.

--the BB


susan s. said...

Shabbat Shalom, yo'self! Our choir sang with the Temple Sinai choir last night at their Shabbat service. We've done this for 3 year in a row because our choir director is their choir director too! It was wonderful!

Paul said...

Say hello to George for me!