Friday, July 16, 2004
The Dog at the Temple Gate
Still relentlessly pursuing my ever approaching, never touching Purity.
It is interesting (and I mean this in the same way that the Chinese meant it: as a curse) how a thing that is only 75 percent pure does not suffer too much damage to its integrity if it suddenly becomes less pure by 1 or 2, even 5, percent. But a thing that is 95 percent pure is almost absolutely polluted by a change of only .25 percent. Lest you think that I am become emptied or hole-y, most of my issues these days are with food and drink.
Because of some newly discovered intolerances, I have nearly adapted to a vegan diet. I have become increasingly rigorous (read:religious) about the purity of what goes into my body - like a dog sniffing out the unfaithful in front of the temple.
Naturally, at least to me, this dog has not been content to merely hang around the gateway to my gut. There are emotional purities such as devotion and love, mental purities such as honesty and integrity, and spiritual purities such as hope and ritual that are all being watched over and "sniffed out" for "pollution."
I am reminded often of Wendell Berry's essay "Standing by Words" which discusses the relationship of a Human Being to Words:
"When we reflect that 'sentence' means, literally, 'a way of thinking' (Latin: sententia) and that it comes from the Latin sentire, to feel, we realize that the concepts of sentence and sentence structure are not merely grammatical or merely academic - not negligible in any sense. A sentence is both the opportunity and the limit of thought - what we have to think with, and what we have to think in, It is, moreover, a feelable thought, a thought that impresses its sense not just on our understanding, but on our hearing, our sense of rhythm and proportion. It is a pattern of felt sense."
And, "Love makes language exact, because one loves only what one knows."
This relentless need of mine for purity is a desire to "make language exact", to "purify the dialect of the tribe". For me, this Purity (becoming one thing) leads to Simplicity (being one thing, being one) which leads to Grace (being loved). There is a noted passivity to the action, a necessary silent stillness.
Within this silent stillness, I listen for Grace. But, as I indicated above, it is "interesting" how the calculus of purity becomes increasingly vulnerable to pollution.
Opening the Flesh to the Silence
Being Still with the Blood
Waiting for the Bone
To reveal me