musings, thoughts, and writings of Barbara W. Klaser


July 7, 2007

The Universe In A Single Atom

A post by Susan at Spinning reminded me of a book I recently read, written by the Dalai Lama — The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality. The Dalai Lama has nurtured a lifelong interest in science, and this book explores the gaps and meeting places between religion and science, in what I found to be a thoughtful and profound treatise. It was interesting to read how a religious leader views science, which sometimes threatens his long held beliefs and at other times seems to support them. Granted, Buddhism is one of the least dogmatic religions, and Buddhists don’t believe in a personal God or a specific creation myth, as far as I can discern from this and other readings, so he tends to be much more flexible toward science than other religious leaders might be.

I’ve often seen science as exploring the underpinnings, materials, and physical characteristics of the same great work of art (the Universe) that religious leaders and philosophers explore the ideas and impulses behind. Both, at their best, explore the best ways to live within that great work. To me their goals seem to mesh perfectly, so long as greed, dogma, and power plays don’t get in the way. But then I don’t have a set religious belief to try to fit everything into. I think the more set in concrete one’s beliefs are, in either science or spiritual teachings, the more difficult it may be to see the common ground and bridge the gaps. Flexibility is important, and we already know that some of the greatest scientific discoveries are results of either accidents or imagination. Einstein considered imagination more important than knowledge —

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Perhaps the most important way we’re made in any creator’s image is that we’re creative ourselves. It’s that very imaginative nature that can enable us to be flexible and love the mystery of life, rather than try to impose steadfast answers on others.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 12:32 pm PST, 07/07/07

February 25, 2007

More poetry

Aside from the novel, I’ve been reading, writing, learning about, and pretty much immersing myself in poetry. I’ve posted some bits and pieces, mostly practice and works in progress, over at Spirit Blooms in the Poetry Sketchbook category. Feel free to drop by there if you’re curious. Though I’ve taken creative writing workshops in the past, I’ve never taken a poetry workshop, and I think I have a lot to learn before I go even that far. Right now I’m refreshing my memory with basics that I learned when I was young but are now a bit fuzzy.

Beverly Jackson has been an inspiration with her poetry posts, (not to mention her abstract paintings — wow!). She recently shared her experiences at the Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway – Cape May N.J. and the Palm Beach Poetry Festival on her blog. She also provided examples and book recommendations she got from poets there. Dig into her January archive to read the first of those posts, beginning here.

Right now I’m reading Mary Oliver’s A Poetry Handbook, which I mentioned in a previous post.

HW Longfellow Postage Stamp

My renewed interest in poetry arrives just in time for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s bicentennial, which the United States Postal Service is commemorating with a special stamp — the second to bear his likeness. Longfellow is one of only two writers to be immortalized on more than one US postage stamp. Herman Melville was the other, a distinction he earned, in my estimation, with The Encantadas alone — his sketchbook about the Galapagos Islands.

The stamp displays a portrait of Longfellow, as well as a depiction of Paul Revere’s famous ride. The Smithsonian Magazine’s online biography, Famous Once Again provides lots of interesting details about Longfellow’s life. I never knew, for instance, that he was proficient in so many languages — ten altogether, at one point in his life. He’s considered the “uncrowned poet laureate” of the 19th-century US, and February 27 will be his 200th birthday.

I’m out of touch with today’s curriculums, but when I was young, just hearing or reading the first line, “Listen my children and you shall hear,” could set the cadence of Paul Revere’s Ride beating in my mind. Do kids still learn Longfellow in school? I was older when I read Evangeline, but the first verse is just as deeply embedded in my mind. I’ve since gone back for a taste, drawn in by the same first lines:

THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers –
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?
(read poem)

I had no idea what a Druid was when I first read that, but the poet drew me into that forest and I was hooked. I wanted to know everything about it. I wanted to know what happened to the Acadians who once lived there.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 6:23 pm PST, 02/25/07

March 26, 2006

Tolerate my religion and I’ll tolerate yours

While changing feed readers today I had to decide how to categorize various blogs. I noticed how often a religious or spiritual blog could also be classified as a political one. I find that surprising on one hand and inevitable on the other. Surprising because when I belonged to a church for a few years in the late 70s we seldom spoke of politics in relation to religion. The blending of the two was discouraged at that time. Yet some merging of religion and politics seems inevitable today. It’s impossible to discuss one without someone mentioning the other. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 5:49 pm PST, 03/26/06


Recent Comments