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Lines of Thinking - January 2019: Rupert Spira and Alice Fulton

“Lines of Thinking" is a monthly feature from College President Tom Manley. 

January, 2019

Nothing will unfold for us unless we move toward what
looks to us like nothing: faith is a cascade.

                Alice Fulton, Cascade Experiment

There is a light flurry of snow dancing above the Antioch College campus this morning. From the window where I sit I can’t really tell if it is amounting to anything on the ground; nevertheless, the chaos of flakes fluttering, zigzagging, moving sideways, rising and dropping is mesmerizing. It suggests eddies and churn of universes beyond a current frame, and how beauty and meaning flash before us on the screen of awareness.

The artists/philosopher/spiritual teacher Rupert Spira encourages us to consider a simple approach to meditation by asking, “Am I aware of being aware?” In the preface to the Transparency of Things: Contemplating the Nature of Experience (2008), he writes:

Awareness or Consciousness is the open Unknowingness on which
every experience is written.

It is so obvious that it is not noticed.

It is so close that it cannot be known as an object and yet is always
known.

It is so intimate that every experience however tiny or vast, is utterly
saturated and permeated with its presence.

It is so loving that all things possible of being imagined are contained
unconditionally within it.

It is so open that it receives all things into itself.

It is so spacious and unlimited that everything is contained within it.

It is so present that every single experience is vibrating with its substance.

In selecting a poem for this first month of the new year, I return to one of my favorite writers, Alice Fulton, and to a piece that I shared in the Lines of Thinking from April 2017. Then, I recall saying that it was high on my reading list for students interested in developing and exploring the curriculum for a “Quantum College.” It still is. Now I recommend it to you as entre point to a year of promise and possibility. Be well!

Cascade Experiment

Because faith creates its verification
and reaching you will be no harder than believing
in a planet’s caul of plasma,
or interacting with a comet
in its perihelion passage, no harder
than considering what sparking of the vacuum, cosmological
impromptu flung me here, a paraphrase, perhaps,
for some denser, more difficult being,
a subsidiary instance, easier to grasp
than the span I foreshadow, of which I am a variable,
my stance is passional towards the universe and you.

Because faith in fact can help create those facts,
the way electrons exist only when they’re measured,
or shy people stand alone at parties,
attract no one, then go home and feel more shy,
I begin by supposing our attrition’s no quicker
than a star’s, that like electrons
vanishing on one side
of a wall and appearing on the other
without leaving any holes or being
somewhere in between, the soul’s decoupling
is an oscillation so inward nothing outward
as the eye can see it.
The childhood catechisms all had heaven,
an excitation of mist.
Grown, I thought a vacancy awaited me.
Now I find myself discarding and enlarging
both these views, an infidel of amplitude.

Because truths we don’t suspect have a hard time
making themselves felt, as when thirteen species
of whiptail lizards composed entirely of females
stay undiscovered due to bias
against such things existing,
we have to meet the universe halfway.
Nothing will unfold for us unless we move toward what
looks to us like nothing: faith is a cascade.
The sky’s high solid is anything
but, the sun going under hasn’t
budged, and if death divests the self
it’s the sole event in nature
that’s exactly what it seems.

Because believing a thing’s true
can bring about that truth,
and you might be the shy one, lizard or electron,
known only through advances
presuming your existence, let my glance be passional
toward the universe and you.


“Lines of Thinking," a monthly feature from College President Tom Manley. Each installment features a poem selected for its powers to transport us to some higher, lower or common ground, and, possibly in the process, provide fresh perspective and insight on the ground we occupy daily.