Alphonse Osbert (1857-1939), Silence of the Water, 1895
I must tell you that in our brotherhood there are two very old brethren; one is called Brother Ahl and the other Brother Sez. These brethern have voluntarily undertaken the obligation of periodically visiting all the monasteries of our order and explaining various aspects of the essence of divinity. Our order has four monasteries, one of them ours, the second in the valley of the Pamir, the third in Tibet and the fourth in India. And so these brethren, Ahl and Sez, constantly travel from one monastery to another and preach there.
They come to us twice a year. Their arrival at our monastery is considered among us a very great event. On the days when either of them is here, the soul of every one of us experiences pure heavenly pleasure and tenderness. The sermons of these two brethren, who are to an almost equal degree holy men and who speak the same truths, have nevertheless a different effect on all our brethren and on me in particular.
When Brother Sez speaks it is indeed like the song of the birds in Paradise; from what he says one is quite, so to say, turned inside out; one becomes as though entranced. His speech purls like a stream and one no longer wishes anything else in life but to listen to the voice of Brother Sez. But Brother Ahl’s speech has almost the opposite effect. He speaks badly and indistinctly, evidently because of his age. No one knows how old he is. Brother Sez is also very old, but he is still a hale old man, whereas in Brother Ahl the weakness of old age is clearly evident.
The stronger the impression made at the moment by the words of Brother Sez, the more this impression evaporates until there ultimately remains in the hearer nothing at all. But in the case of Brother Ahl, although at first what he says makes almost no impression, later, the gist of it takes on definite form, more and more each day, and is instilled as a whole into the heart and remains there forever.
When we became aware of this and began trying to discover why it was so, we came to the unanimous conclusion that the sermons of Brother Sez proceeded only from his mind and therefore acted on our minds, whereas those of Brother Ahl proceeded from his being and acted on our being.
Yes, professor, knowledge and understanding are quite different. Only understanding can lead us to being whereas knowledge is but a passing presence in it.
—G.I. Gurdjieff, in Meetings with Remarkable Men.
With thanks to Awakin.org
Ceramic Tile Ceiling, Shah Chirag, Tomb of Amir Ahmad Shrine at Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran, 14th c.
Inside this pencil
crouch words that have never been written
never been spoken
never been taught
they’re awake in there
dark in the dark
but they won’t come out
not for love not for time not for fire
even when the dark has worn away
they’ll still be there
hiding in the air
multitudes in days to come may walk through them
be none the wiser
what script can it be
that they won’t unroll
in what language
would I recognize it
would I be able to follow it
to make out the real names
maybe there aren’t
it could be that there’s only one word
and it’s all we need
it’s here in this pencil
every pencil in the world
is like this
–W. S. Merwin
With gratitude to Whiskey River.
I lost my way, I forgot to call on your name. The raw heart beat against the world, and the tears were for my lost victory. But you are here. You have always been here. The world is all forgetting, and the heart is a rage of directions, but your name unifies the heart, and the world is lifted into its place. Blessed is the one who waits in the traveller’s heart for his turning.
—Leonard Cohen, Poem #50, from The Book of Mercy.
Photograph: George Krause, Icon Painter, Philadelphia, 1966
Andy Bey | “River Man,” Nick Drake cover.
Yale Joel - Winner of Harvard Scholarship Listening to Records in University Library. Thank you, vinylespassion.
PARABOLA celebrates the birthdate of American jazz singer, Sara Vaughan (March 27, 1924 – April 3, 1990). This particular track, “The Mystery of Man” was recorded in 1984 as part of the album The Planet is Alive, Let It Live, a symphonic piece composed by Tito Fontana and Sante Palumbo on Italian translations of Polish poems by Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II.
Here are the lyrics:
We come from a distant past that we’ve forgotten
And now we look up and aspire to the stars
We are the mystery that even we can’t decipher
The mystery of man
The story is told in stone and broken arrows
In traces of cities unknown lost in sand
In colours and castle walls silent and unseen statues
The mystery of man
The wind stirs in the trees likes voices in dreams
And then just when it seems we know what it means
Simply its gone
The miracle is the mind asking the questions
Seeking to find itself if it can
Only to see itself endlessly echoed in mirrors
The mystery of man