Sunday, August 08, 2010


"Indeed, the beauty of nature is often the wisest balm for it gently relieves and releases the caged mind."

"In our everyday experience the quality of presence is generally limited and broken. Much of the time we are distracted; we might manage to be externally present, but often our minds are secretly elsewhere."

Those are some observations from Irish poet John O'Donohue. And how true and vibrantly expressive words they are. Life is full of paradox. The caged mind, even though it is locked up, is a mind that is defined by it's nature to wander and rarely ever able to remain present. And it's a schizophrenic wandering, full of angst, fear, unsettledness...often devoid of hope and at the same time equally full of despair. The imaginations that fill the caged mind are most often grizzly in content. This beast is very skilled at hunting down and devouring any other imaginations that are capable of inspiring and setting the mind free.

Imagination is a common function of the mind. But the mind that has been set free and is in the ongoing process of being set free, is a very different creature than is the one that is caged. Grace and freedom and rest define the mind that has been captured by Beauty. And the imagination that emerges from that mind sets in motion ever deepening liberation for itself and opens up the possibility of freedom for the others it touches. The caged mind has no eyes to see this Beauty and so finds itself floundering around in darkness pacing the cage.

I ran across this quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes recently, "I would not give a fig for simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity."

My mind could relate to this thought and concurs with the reality of it. But to get there, one must face the complexity and refuse to settle for some manifestation of simplicity that the caged mind conjures up. Example: All fundamentalisms and fascisms are a product of the mind that is not free. This is the space of law, rule following, conformity and attempts to live by "superior" ideas and principles. It's a landscape that brutalizes Beauty and holds captive every mind that succumbs to it's curriculum.

To face the complexity, one must first break free of this crude simplicity so that the malforming effects of living in this environment can be overturned. It's a painful scary process but one that cannot be avoided if it is freedom we long for and Beauty we desire. Beauty will lead anyone who desires to be set free, out. Beauty is the only thing that can accomplish this. But Beauty forces nothing on us but instead invites us to come out of the mess and head home.

Beauty has never looked so wonderful in simplicity as it does I continue to cross over to the other side of the complexity.

Since beauty issues from depth, this order has emerged from intense engagement with chaos, confusion and contradiction. It is a beauty that the soul has won from the heart of darkness. Such beauty cannot simply be siphoned off from chaos. Neither can it be fabricated or slipped over chaos as a benign, concealing mask. Such beauty engages in the labour and the grace of the imagination. Beauty is ultimately a gift.--------John O'Donohue


zinger said...

Hey Kent,

Your picture reminded me of our family holiday this summer. It took a full week to be able to let go of the distractions before I was able to embrace the beauty around me. We went to Crater Lake, and it was simply stunning. I didn't want to leave. I could have spent an entire week drinking in its beauty. It is no wonder the local first nations used it for their vision quests.

Uncaging our mind, and leaving fundementalism behind is a bumpy journey my friend.

Kent said...

It can be a bumpy journey

Crater Lake is another place I want to spend some time taking in.

Now to let the beautiful inner landscape be the thing that our minds are captured by so that even if we aren't in places like Yosemite or Crater Lake we can still remain present for the people around us.