Ah Sunflower!

Yesterday I read a quote from Yeats on the Symbol Reader’s wonderful blog about symbolism, astrology and Jungian mythos and transformative imagery (my tortured words.) Yeats (for my money, the greatest poet of the 20th century,) spoke of the “one adventure that is the image of his secret life,” and the necessity to preserve its motivating influence.

I won’t bore my readers with details of the “adventure” which opened the door to my own secret life-the door to which I feared I’d long since lost the key. Monika’s post reminded me of it- reminding me not to squander the gift on the same distractions which mired the lotus eaters in forgetful apathy .

Many years ago I encountered a book that (while I struggled to understand its convoluted thought) transformed my inner life. It was Henry Corbin’s book on Ibn Arabi called: Alone with the Alone.

He begins with citing the ancient philosopher Proclus’s meditation on the heliotrope (sunflower.) This flower exemplifies, in its continual sun-ward orientation and movement following the solar path, the method of theophanic prayer.

( I think of The great poet Rumi who, in grieving the death of his teacher Shams [the Sun,] began turning as he composed his verse. This lead to the inception of the Mevlevi Sufi order.)

Corbin speaks of the phrase which opens each Sura of the Koran: Bismallah er Rahman er Raheem, (we begin in the name of the One who is most merciful and compassionate.) The spirit of theophanic prayer is not a petition for deliverance from evil, but a practice where all actions are begun with full awareness of our reciprocal bond with the creator. It is a recognition of interdependence. By intoning this prayer, the faithful proclaim their allegiance to the primordial pact which confers existence upon both Lord (Rabb) and vassal. Our breath is united with the existentuating breath of the all-merciful and allows knowledge of God by a mutual sharing of essence. 

As in Buddhist teachings, it stresses the breath-inhalation, exhalation and the vast space between.

I’ve come to see that all creative work depends on this. It reminds me of the need to strike the right balance of egoistic intent I project upon the world, with a receptivity to what the world has to say to me. This holds true in painting, writing and human relations.

This is the wider perspective Yeats’ words reminded me of-that which makes true, angelic inspiration possible.  It is a creativity motivated and vivified by a wish to benefit all beings.

I thank the Symbol Reader for reminding me.

Categories: Books I love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Ah Sunflower!

  1. Thank you – I am really honoured that my little post would inspire so much thought. The book you mention sounds marvellous.

  2. ” I’ve come to see that all creative work depends on this. It reminds me of the need to strike the right balance of egoistic intent I project upon the world, with a receptivity to what the world has to say to me. This holds true in painting, writing and most important, human relations.A beautiful post.”

    I think this is so beautifully put. A wonderful post – thank you.

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