Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dilatory and Ignorant Beliefs

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem.
I whisper with my lips close to your ear.
I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.

O I have been dilatory and dumb;
I should have made my way straight to you long ago;
I should have blabb’d nothing but you, I should have chanted nothing but you.

Walt Whitman is one of America’s foremost 19th century thinkers. His essays, poetry and humanistic reflections are part of American culture, although his views about certain issues are still debated. His thoughts about the abolitionist movement were considered radical by some, and accepted by others. There’s no doubt that his work can be interpreted in several different ways. His poem, To You was one of the topics William James wrote about in his 1905 essay, Pragmatism and Religion. Certainly the pragmatic view can be accepted as a belief about the nature of Whitman’s thoughts, just as easily as a mystic can translate them into a message of self awareness. The choice is an individual one. Within Whitman’s work there’s an undertow, an inescapable knowing that he senses other realities and expresses them in 19th century terms. The first two stanzas of To You explain how he framed himself in that linear time period. He knew he was living in two worlds, but was ignoring one in order to practice conformity in the other.

Whitman’s work Leaves of Grass was shunned by most readers in that linear time period, but Ralph Waldo Emerson had nothing but praise for the work, and that opened the door so others could recognize the masterpiece. Henry David Thoreau and Bronson Alcott also thought enough of the work to pay Whitman a visit. That’s how awareness works. At that time there were a few people who were aware of the mystical aspect of Whitman’s work and that awareness permeated the collective, and now it is an accepted way to absorb the messages.

Believing that there are other selves living experiences in other focused realities is certainly a belief that is only held by a few, but that does not invalidate the reality of those selves. Some call it reincarnation, but all realities are happening simultaneously.

It seems that the road to accepting these messages is paved with dilatory and ignorant beliefs about the self and our multiplicity. In order to eliminate the sunderance between us, we must express the self using our internal voice. We are our own poem with different lines, and diverse stanzas, and a plethora of meanings.

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