My Dear Govinda:

Wow, was it ever a busy summer! I didn’t even remember to stay alert for stories to tell here. I haven’t gotten much writing of any sort done. But…

I remember mentioning a few posts back that I was going to be doing some spiritual work, trying to develop a discipline of mindfulness, learning to live more fully in the moment. I don’t think that I have made much progress in that direction; I know that I haven’t even started to read about mindfulness, because I have been distracted by trying, first, to get my mind around Buddhism! (The spiritual writers/teachers who are most concerned with mindfulness are Buddhist monks.)

But in the mean time, I have found my own meditation and prayer practice deepening and bearing fruit, and I have found my life showing me, in very pointed ways, just where I need to change my spiritual self. I got embroiled in some very wordy disputes, reminding myself that I am still capable of destructive anger, and that words are truly of little real use; only in story-telling and poetry can words actually convey wisdom, actually serve us. No one really listens to those with whom they aren’t already in agreement, and the best-written arguments seldom convince anyone.

Here are some more words on this subject that can be found in the closing pages of Siddhartha, a story by Hermann Hesse that I read this summer: Look, my dear Govinda, this is one of my thoughts, which I have found: wisdom cannot be passed on. Wisdom which a wise man tries to pass on to someone always sounds like foolishness….Knowledge can be conveyed, but not wisdom. It can be found, it can be lived, it is possible to be carried by it, miracles can be performed with it, but it cannot be expressed in words and taught.

Isn’t it ironic, that here are wise words proclaiming that words cannot convey wisdom? Yet, these words were spoken by a character in a story, and were a summation of his lifelong experience; it’s not Siddhartha’s spoken words that made an impression on me, but the experience I shared with him through the story, which helped me make sense of my own experience.

Convinced? I doubt it — not unless you already had learned this from experience, and were only waiting for someone to draw your attention to it.

So, one of the things I have been learning while I have been silent, is humility, sufficient humility to remain silent so life may speak, to me and to others.

I remember, back when I started this blog my intention was to primarily write stories, not expositions. I am recommitting to that lost intention. At that time, my intention was to write only nonfiction here, but now I think not. All good stories lead us to contemplate experience, and grow in wisdom, and so, I will add fiction to the mix.

In a day or three, I will post a short-short story that I wrote a few years ago at a writing workshop. It was written in the ninety minutes allotted, in response to this writing prompt: write a short piece of fiction about the 9-11 attacks. I would welcome any writing prompts that you might care to send me, and will try to respond in a few days with a short or short-short story.

As always, this blog, like life itself, is all about love.

2 responses to “My Dear Govinda:

  1. siddhartha…a great reference …also an amazing piece of work….it was a very important piece of the puzzle for my path of discovery inward…mindfulness…buddhism…all just labels…limitations….for the beauty of self discovery….the truth is….look within…with the utmost of objectivity…and you will experience just what it is you are looking for… do an experiment on yourself…become third person and just observe…well yourself…i enjoyed reading your blog…keep it going my friend.

  2. You’re right, Paul, wisdom can’t be passed in words, but we can always hope that, clinging close to a person we recognize as wiser than ourself and praying fervently to be made more like her (or him), foolishness will fall away from us and wisdom will grow in us. If only we could be single-minded in our desire for wisdom! But of course, if we find ourselves hopelessly unable to make ourselves single-minded (as we all do), we need only ask for help; our Helper is closer to us, the wise tell us, than our own jugular vein. Or so my experience suggests.

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