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Pedantic Babylon

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About this blog

Human experience, Ancient Egypt, archaeology, and great poetry

Entries in this blog

 

Krishnamurti, Belief in God, and How to Find

Because I have no gift for eloquence or summary, I'm going to quote a long dialogue between a questioner and Krishnamurti on God, belief in God, and where or how to find God.  It may be of interest to those who debate these questions here on UM: Krishnamurti influenced many from various disciplines, including Bruce Lee: Bruce Lee with the aged Krishnamurti (in a black wig!) https://medium.com/@soodsandeep/the-pathless-dragon-jiddu-krishnamurtis-deep-influence-on-bruc

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

Thomas the Sparrow

“When we are alone on a starlit night, when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children, when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet, Basho, we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash - at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the "newness," the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident,

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

Mysticism and the Golden Boy

Right now I’m sitting in my study, looking out the big window as dusk settles over the treetops, thinking back to about a dozen years or so ago when I’d just got my cat.  I’d never had a pet before.  Lots of reasons for that, but most of all I didn’t want to own a living, breathing being.  It just seemed wrong for me, though I played plenty with other people’s pets and didn’t mind at all that they owned theirs.  The problem was I needed company.  I do much of my work at home, and I live

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

We Are All Connected

.Symphony of Science -- "We Are All Connected" (ft. Sagan, Feynman, deGrasse Tyson, & Bill Nye)  4:11 min.                                                            

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

The God Abandons

While working with my Cleopatra thread on the Ancient Mysteries subforum, I came across this piece and it struck me, but it wasn’t appropriate to include it there.  It contains a large intimated truth: the more that someone has in life – the more material rewards – the harder it is for them to lose it, or let go of it.  This is especially true when one gets those rewards and doesn’t experience, along the way, losses to temper the ego’s gold-plated crown. The ancient Roman we know as Marc An

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

Nature Boy

There was a man whose name was eden ahbez.  He was a mysterious person, a sort-of early nomadic hippie in California.  He wrote an important song that many major artists have sung and recorded.  Numerous films have included a version of it in the soundtrack.  Nat King Cole made it famous, but there are great versions by Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, and countless others.  Here are the lyrics, and then there's my favorite, most haunting versi

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

The Minotaur

Once I saw a Minotaur peeking through my bedroom door. Then burst my most potent scream I thought, however nothing more I heard but hooves and breathy steam.   Now why would that be so?  How could panic mute to hooves on wood, constricting or convulsing that defensive instinct of childhood to vocalize alarm?  Combat   comes to children hard, it seems, coalescing in bad dreams. And something else, so

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

Babylon and the Ark Before Noah

In 1985, a man named Douglas Simmons brought a bag of antiquities to the British Museum for evaluation.  Among the varied objects was one cuneiform tablet.  The duty officer at that moment was Irving Finkel, one of the museum’s Assyriologists and now Curator in charge of Cuneiform Inscriptions in the British Museum’s Middle Eastern department.  Finkel picked up the cuneiform tablet and began to translate it.  It quickly became clear that it was a 3700 year old Babylonian artifact which e

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

The Crimson and the White

The master poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, crafted this astonishing love poem with its hypnotic imagery in 1847, and it's been set to music multiple times since then by the likes of Benjamin Britten, Ned Rorem, and other luminaries.  But is it just a love poem?  Or is it also an esoteric pointing, as was suggested to me long ago.  Note the alchemical character of the specific images, the colors, the flowers, the white bird, the astronomy references, the stages of development.  It is curious.  It is

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

Aliens or Mystic Lightning

I saw a great light come down over London, And buildings and cars and people were still They were held wherever they were under the sky's Clear humming radiance as it descended -- Everywhere, in shops, behind desks and on trains Everything stopped as the stillness came down And touched the crown of our heads As our eyes closed, and the sky filled us And our minds became the sky -- And everyone, regardless of crime class or creed Was touched; as slowly we began to stir Out o

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

And the Mystery Sang Alive

Here where I live in upstate NY the autumn colors were delayed in October, but are now fully awash at the opening of November.  The breath halts in the morning at sunrise on seeing the incandescent foliage as it readies for death.  Cabbage white butterflies flitter through stands of red sumac and remind of Robert Frost’s confrontation with nature’s design.  This symbol—the grandeur of autumn trees and grasses—like the finale song of the dying mute swan, is a perennial one so often used in the pa

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

Breath of the Planet, Fortress of Mind

Our glorious biosphere is being attacked.  By us.  We are the culprits.  We have, over the years, allowed it to happen.  We consented.  We could have stopped it.  We still could, possibly.  But we don’t do that.  We shop.  We focus on our phones.  We luxuriate in our egos, our credit ratings, our illusions and self-indulgence.  We are delusionary.  We are scientific.  We are religious.  We are secular.  We are religiously or secularly moral.  We are neither.  We are charitable.  We are apathetic

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

The Point That Dissolves the World

Return Within    Return within, to the place where there is nothing, and take care that nothing comes in. Penetrate to the depths of yourself, to the place where thought no longer exists, and take care that no thought arises there! There where nothing exists, Fullness! There where nothing is seen, the Vision of Being! There where nothing appears any longer, the sudden appearing of the Self! Dhyana is this!                                     -Swami Abhishiktananda

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

Snakes and Ladders, heights and depths

Raqqa after U.S. coalition bombing to "save" the city from Isis These Are The Clouds These are the clouds about the fallen sun, the majesty that shuts his burning eye: the weak lay hand on what the strong has done, till that be tumbled that was lifted high and discord follow upon unison, and all things at one common level lie. And therefore, friend, if your great race were run and these things came, so much the more thereby have you made greatness your companion, alth

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

Mesopotamian Ghosts

Here's the affable and wise Irving Finkel, the British Museum's Curator of Cuneiform Clay Tablets from Mesopotamia, discussing that ancient culture's ghost lore, @ 6 min.:  

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

Gary Snyder Describes the View

...from the American zen poet Gary Snyder: At Tower Peak Every tan rolling meadow will turn into housing Freeways are clogged all day Academies packed with scholars writing papers City people lean and dark This land most real As its western-tending golden slopes And bird-entangled central valley swamps Sea-lion, urchin coasts Southerly salmon-probes Into the aromatic almost-Mexican hills Along a range of granite peaks The names forgotten, An eastward runnin

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

The Journey is as Important as the Goal

Ithaca When you set out on your journey to Ithaca, pray that the road is long, full of adventure, full of knowledge. The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops, the angry Poseidon -- do not fear them: You will never find such as these on your path, if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine emotion touches your spirit and your body. The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops, the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter, if you do not carr

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

Disillusionment

One reason why Yeats is so highly regarded is that his themes are timeless.  This next poem is long (I'll only show part 1--the most famous section) and grounded in its own era, but razor sharp and relevant to our current zeitgeist. Enjoy. ref: Phidias was the classical Athenian sculptor responsible for the Parthenon friezes and the huge olive wood/ivory and gold clad statue of Athena that was inside, and is long lost. Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen    (1)     Many ingenious lov

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

The Funeral of Amenhotep III

Surviving megaliths portraying Amenhotep III, from the ruin of his Valley Temple on the West bank at Thebes:   Amenhotep III was the most glittering of the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaohs; his long reign came at the material and political peak of that dynasty.  The prosperity and affluence of the kingdom was reflected exponentially in his personal grandeur and lavish display of wealth and power.  His funeral ceremonies would likely have eclipsed every other public or private ritu

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

Enzymes from the Gods

In my family, freckles were called ‘angel kisses.’  A fairy took your discharged baby tooth and left a prize in its place (we got a coin.)  Uncle’s hair turns gray overnight: he’d seen a ghost.  Birth marks were signs of deity contagion.  At the same time, we were practicing Catholics, so we were touched by God during communion…actually, we ate that God, a god who denied the legitimacy of the other, folksy pagan gods (of course), but we included them in our milieu anyway.  It was fun.  It made u

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

The Spindle of War

Days pass by, and if we’re keyed in to public and world affairs we can daily feel the squeeze, like a wet rag twisted, twisted until all the moisture is bled out.  We’re getting used to it again, though I know I’ve seen this all before, rolled out in much the same way. Again we observe the profit of a few supported by the suffering of many.  The aggressive and violent impoverishment of others.  International affairs conducted like a football game, with the respective populations cheering fr

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

The Mystic's Quest

Here’s the famous 1897 poem by Yeats that, I say, frames the mystic’s quest in symbolism and metaphor: “The Song of Wandering Aengus” I went out to the hazel wood, because a fire was in my head, and cut and peeled a hazel wand, and hooked a berry to a thread; and when white moths were on the wing, and moth-like stars were flickering out, I dropped the berry in a stream and caught a little silver trout.   When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire

The Wistman

The Wistman

 

Ignorant and wanton

For my first blog post here I’d like to open with an emblematic 1919 poem by W.B. Yeats:                                                                                                            The Dawn I would be ignorant as the dawn   that has looked down   on that old queen measuring a town  

The Wistman

The Wistman