Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Blue Guitar and the Blackbird

The biggest challenge for most spiritual seekers is to surrender their self importance, and see the emptiness of their own personal story.
It is your personal story that you need to awaken from in order to be free.
To give up being either ignorant or enlightened is the mark of liberation and allows you to treat others as your Self.
What I am describing is the birth of true Love.
Adyashanti, How to Treat Others.

I have come across a couple poems by Wallace Stevens.
I have also read that in The Man with the Blue Guitar, Stevens was exploring whether our thoughts and mental images can represent reality as it actually is?

How do we see Reality? Through the glasses we have on, be they smokie, rose, or clear.
Through the stories that we tell, be they short or sweet or sad.
But, is any of that really Real?

The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, "You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are."

The man replied, "Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar."

And they said then, "But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are."

So went the first cantos of the poem I found yesterday.
And then this morning, I came across Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, from which I offer the first five:

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

I know I am being rather vague as to what my point is here.
I’m talking about making it through life in an honest manner. Sometimes it gets rather hard to see the truth.
Personally, I’ve come to believe in two trustworthy clues.
Is there love or silence in the telling? … the blackbird whistling or just after.

Perhaps you can take the poems and run with them yourself.
You might like to try this suggestion offered by Jeanette Winterson, at whose website I originally found the Blue Guitar.

Here’s a tip – and a mystery of its own – if you learn a poem, and then repeat it out loud in front of a mirror, watching yourself, you will discover something more about the poem, and something unexpected about yourself.


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