Saturday, July 23, 2005

Trolling for Soul

"Man has no Body distinct from his Soul; for that call'd Body is a portion of the Soul discern'd by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age."

The Fakiegrind Guru, Swami Passthepastrami, claims that this line from William Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell, if truly contemplated and unfolded in all its implications, is all the philosophy necessary to lead a mind of suitable disposition to complete enlightenment.

This is not to disparage the voluminous reflections of Kant, for instance, or Hegel's ponderous calculations, but in this age of soundbites and shortened attention spans we are living longer but seem to have less and less time, so a short, succinct summation of everything you might need to know about the mind/body false dichotomy could come in handy should you find yourself suddenly beset by metaphysical insecurities in a dark alleyway.

Blake collapses the entire dualistic house of cards in one expert stroke with this quote. Body and soul, he says, are the same thing. But this is not to reduce the mysterious inner nature or our being to the mere physicality of chemicals and biology, like some money-grubbing pill pusher for Pfizer. No, what Blake says is that our bodies are but a portion of our souls; that portion currently visible to us through the senses.

Our souls may be--and according to the accounts of the most spiritually developed traditions on the planet, are--much larger than what we know of them through the unfolding history of a single lifetime. And yet the whole of what we are is somehow also implicit and present at each moment of this life, and any other lives we might find ourselves inhabiting when the veil of time and space is shucked away like the chitinous shell of some mud-sucking, pearl-popping, sea creature.

The senses are the "chief inlets of Soul in this age", meaning that our senses are still the best shot we've got at understanding something of the ineffable in the fleeting storm of terrestrial experience. But Blake also goes on to say "A fool sees not the same tree a wise man sees" (Proverbs of Hell, #8). This echoes Heraclitus' enigmatic slogan "Eyes and ears are bad witnesses to men, if they have souls that understand not their language" (fragment 107). We can look at ourselves as bodies, but if we have understandings that are dull, we will not see the eternal energies manifest in the temporal image.

So, how in Hell is one to illuminate one's understanding and see the soul as it really is, to know oneself apart from the masks and deceptions we weave and wear daily in navigating through the Great Void? Heraclitus also said, "Nature loves to hide itself", and "You will not find the boundaries of soul by traveling in any direction". Blake's personal, romantic prescription for the transformation of one's consciousness (to see heaven in a grain of sand) is, "an improvement of sensual enjoyment." Anyone who has lived through the various chemical, sexual and material excesses of the sixties, seventies and eighties might cast a suspicious glance at this formula for enlightenemt, but perhaps it still has some widsom to offer. I, for one, enjoy rolling on my skateboard to clear the beams from out my eyes.

Whatever the path to enlightenment might be--and it is surely as different for each indivdiual as we are all unique--one thing is certain: there is an underlying hidden harmony to it all, and the path to its discovery is with you right now, and for all time, everywhere you might be given to roam. Call on Jesus, or Buddha, or Bob Dobbs to help you, if you like. In the end its you who will be doing the legwork, and should the soul decide to come a-knocking, there's not a corner of Creation in which one could hide.

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