First Love (excerpt)
It was a flower.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
there was Before I saw it, the vague
past, and Now. Forever. Nearby
was the sandy sweep of the Roman Road,
and where we sat the grass was thin.
From a bare patch of that poor soil, solitary,
sprang the flower, face upturned,
looking completely, openly into my eyes.
I was barely old enough to ask
and repeat its name.
‘Convulvulus,’ said my mother.
Pale shell-pink, a chalice
no wider across than a silver sixpence.
It looked at me, I looked back,
delight filled me as if
I, not the flower,
were a flower and were brimful of rain.
And there was endlessness.
Perhaps through a lifetime what I’ve desired
has always been to return
to that endless giving and receiving,
the wholeness of that attention,
Copyright © 2014 Roger Housden
It was in this stillness that I first noticed the movement inward, how each breath brought me infinitesimally closer to the core of my body. As the year went by and this inward movement progressed, I began to notice that I felt further away from the people around me. I could look across the distance and connect with them. I could feel their presence while still feeling my own. I could also feel the stillness that was the same in all of us, that was continuous between us, and that was unchanged by even the most intense movement of thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
It is very interesting that when we inhabit the internal space of our body, the barrier between ourselves and other people dissolves.
We experience oneness of our internal and external experience, a mutual transparency of self and other. But when we live on the surface of ourselves, as most people do, we live in divided space; we feel separate from everything around us. We can say that the world of the severely defended person is (almost) flat, whereas, at the other end of the spectrum, the world of the advanced spiritual master is (almost) round. This is a deepening of perspective, a deepening of contact with oneself and others.”
The meditative focus that produces art is fascinating to me. I realize that not all artists are spiritual people. Some are more focused on craft or even career and money, but I’m interested in the quality of mind shared by artists and meditators.
Does meditation equal spirituality? Probably not. I’m using that word loosely.
Where does real poetry come from? From whence come life-giving insights that surpass the mundane? The meditative mind makes connections that ego consciousness doesn’t. In the creative process, a relaxed, open, unpreoccupied mind is necessary. There is intense focus but at the same time an open, non judgmental mental space that can receive inspiration easily holds sway.
That quality of meditation could be called love, joy, delight in being alive and connected to life. Unimpeded, there is a heightened consciousness that flows naturally through us. It carries a joyful intelligence. There is no other reason for living that I can see. Competing, gathering and accumulating reputation or possessions pale in comparison.
Of course we have our youthful mission to establish our identity and carry on the species, but I speak as a man “of a certain age” who has accomplished as much of those things as I’m able. My attention is drawn now toward the quality of mind that lends itself to the creation and promotion of beauty. That mind is a mind not hampered by distractions of identity or status.
We all have this quality of mind, especially when we are children. In the middle of our lives we lose it a bit unless we devote ourselves to a metier that requires it, like art. Not that art is the only thing that needs a meditative mind, far from it, as any gardener or seamstress could tell you.
Does one learn to meditate so one can produce art, or does one learn art so one can better meditate? I won’t try to sort out that conundrum, but I will say they are inextricably linked.
From my earliest days till now I have been attracted to both to the point where I sometimes can’t say which is which.
- Anima Fire is my publication