myth and poetry

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Matter & Beauty
Mythopoetry Scholar Ezine

Embodiment & Aesthetic Imagination
Musing In The Gap

-George Breed

This gap, however, does not exclude interaction between the holy and man. On the contrary, the gap itself is the link that unites man to this holiness.- Hisamatsu Shin’ichi (1)

The Antechamber

The older farmhouses of the Midwest have a mud room, an antechamber where boots and jackets are shorn in preparation for entry into the warmth and light of the house proper. One comes in from the storm or foul weather through a vestibule of transition.

We are this antechamber, this place of transition between the earthly and the divine, between the conscious and the unconscious, between the born and the unborn. In a larger sense, we are all three spaces: the human sensory world, the transitional chamber, the mystery of that not yet born.Energies flow through the antechamber in both “directions” simultaneously.

Henry Corbin, in his superb writing on mystical theophany (2), speaks of this transitional realm as the Imaginatrix, the place of creative imagination. It has other names. Zen folk point to the gateless gate or “the gap.” Celtic lore speaks of “thin places” where one can more readily move between worlds. Carl Jung helped us experience it as an alchemical furnace, a site for the continuous shaping and unfolding of human character.

This antechamber is “where spirits are embodied and bodies are spiritualized” (3), where poetry, metaphor, and symbols are born. As we open to it, we become that antechamber, that bridge between two worlds. We are the conduit, the birth chamber, the gateless gate allowing two-way traffic.

To serve effectively as conduit requires sitting in the antechamber until one becomes the antechamber. No separation. At that point the fire roars and all springs into action. The dead, still mud-room becomes the alchemical furnace.

The Gap
Wrestling In The Gap

Thus no doubt we should speak not of a combat with, that is against, the Angel, but of a combat for the Angel, for the Angel in turn needs the response of a soul if his being is to become what it has to be. (4) 

Sometimes in that gap between sleep and wake, a word will be imaged, a word not heard or seen before now both seen and heard. Before coming to full wake, I wrestle with that angel, dimensional and ripe with meaning. If I do not wrestle with it, I lose the blessing.

Words and a phrase given in times past include transuniversalphilosynthesis, synthronicity, and the empty circle. This morning it was sencreant, pronounced aloud to me and outlined in light gold in block letters against dark gold. I wrestled to keep it in my consciousness, to bring it back into the land where things matter. I will wrestle with it some more now. In full daylight. I already have some sense as to its meaning.

I give this as an example of the necessity of reciprocal action in this combat for the Angel, the need for both call and response. One cannot idly let the call go by, sink back into sleep.

In the Judeo-Christian holy book, the most obvious example of wrestling for the Angel (and the one to which Corbin’s above quote refers) is Jacob’s struggle in the night (5). Another night wrestler was the fledging priest, Samuel, called out of sleep by name three times (6). Each time he arose, went to the old priest Eli and said “Here I am.” The first two times, Eli told him that it wasn’t him who called him, to go back to bed. The third time, Eli caught on and told Samuel that if it happened again to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.” Samuel did as told. The call came again and he responded -– which produced a response, not just one word, but four paragraphs.

The dream and the dreamed wrestle in the night and something new is brought to light of day.

The Rule of Three

In reading Henry Corbin , I soon fell into the abyss of his Imaginatrix, that gap between humans and the gods. Like Raimon Panikkar (7) and other theophanists, Corbin believes in the rule of Three.

Three is the way out of the dualistic embrace robbing us of soul. Three is the centerline of the body resolving the twoness of “on the one hand and on the other hand.” Three is the Gap, the Vestibule, the Chamber of Creative Imagination.

Three is the open wound of healing produced by the raw splitness of the Two. Three is the arena of reconciliation, the meeting place of the seen and Unseen, where each becomes the other, at first hesitantly, then with a mutual simultaneous leap into each other’s lap, a joyous act of synthronicity.

The Three make up the One and lead us to the opening of the Not Even One.

Living As The Gap

The essential factor of imagination is not to construct something unreal (imaginary), but to effect the transmutation and dematerialization of sensory data, to change the physical datum, imprinted upon the senses, into a pure, unblemished mirror, a spiritual transparency. (8)

We sit in the midst of our create. We drape the wrapping of our thought around us as celestial garb. We yearn for transparency while thinking thick thought. We want no answer to this. We truly don’t. Unconditional nakedness. What fear that strikes! We must cover our private parts!

We sit in the midst of our create, our woven clothing. Spiritual transparency our aim, we weave diaphanous garb. It will not do. Just another line of fashion.

Self-reflection becomes a mass of ingrown hairs, spinning ouroboroi quickly weaving a hair shirt. This makes our Creative Source thoroughly disenchanted. An angel with flaming sword now blocks our way.

When we are naked and do not know we are naked, we are naked. We must go back to the mud room, the antechamber to the divine, divest ourselves of reflective garb, our funhouse suit of rubbery illusion. A sigh of relief, of release. Garb of fantasy dropped, opening fully to and with the Imaginal.

(1) Shin’ichi, Hisamatsu (1982) Zen as the negation of holiness. In F. Franck (Ed.), The Buddha Eye: An Anthology of the Kyoto School (p. 172). New York: Crossroad.

(2) Corbin,  Henry (1998) Alone with the Alone: Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn ’Arabi.  Princeton: Princeton University Press.

(3) Ibid., p. 351

(4) Ibid., p. 35

(5) Genesis 32:24-32

(6) I Samuel 3:1-15

(7) Panikkar, Raimon (1979) Myth, Faith and Hermeneutics. New York: Paulist Press.

(8) Avens, Roberts, “Henry Corbin  and Suhrawardi’s Angelology,” Hamdard Islamicus,  Vol. XI, No. 1, Spring, 1988, p. 12

...................******* ******* *******Mythopoetry Scholar Ezine******* ******* *******

George Breed PhDAuthor Bio
George Breed Ph.D.,
Psychology, is an experienced seminar leader on the application of martial arts principles to daily life. He is the author of Embodying Spirit: The Inner Work of the Warrior; Silence Whispers; Radical Openness; and co-author of The World’s First Ever Baptist Crime Novel. Unique photos of his local environs (Flagstaff, AZ) continue to be posted at his blog: Walking Flagstaff.

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