Sunday, August 14, 2005

Le Crépuscule du Soir

Ahhh--a lovely time with my family and I did not revert to australopithecine behavior, by the grace of Kali and Al-Anon. surreally extended, luxurious Vacation is coming to an end, and so I've been working on a strategic plan for some people I supervise. It's supposed to cover September through December, and though I've been attacking this thing alllllll day, I'm still only up to the middle of October. I've been listening over and over to
Love's Secret Domain by Coil and, now, to Dusty in Memphis. (I think Dusty Springfield must have been an avatar of the Divine Mother.)

To buttress my Spirit during my sojourn in the Great White North, I took along a copy of Christopher Isherwood's
My Guru and His Disciple. I found this book at a propitious time and in a most unlikely place, and took this as a sign that I should read it as soon as possible. Isherwood, like me, was a highly intellectualized westerner who for some reason found himself drawn to the highly devotional Bengali Shakta tradition of Ramakrishna. Also like me, he was an incorrigibly sybaritic sensualist who managed, with struggle, to reconcile the total surrender of self demanded by bhakti with the joyous embrace of the senses demanded by--well, people who go around alluding to Baudelaire in subject lines while listening to Dusty Springfield and sipping a scotch and soda.

Isherwood's style, both in
My Guru and His Disciple and in Ramakrishna and His Disciples, is distinguished primarily by the utter absence of bullshit. The guy knows what nouns, verbs, and narratives are for and, whenever possible, avoids adjectives and editorials. I found many sentences and paragraphs I wanted to remember from My Guru and His Disciple, and so as I read I copied a lot of stuff into my journal. I'm tempted to reproduce a lot of that stuff here but will try to keep it down to a few well-chosen quotes.

Here are a couple:

"'The Swami is too Indian for me' was a complaint I would return to again and again. But, even while persisting in my prejudice, I had to admit to myself that the very Indianness of Vedanta was helpful to me. Because of my other, anti-christian, set of prejudices, I was repelled by the English religious words I had been taught in childhood and was grateful to Vedanta for speaking Sanskrit. I needed a brand-new vocabulary and here it was, with a set of philosophical terms which were exact in meaning, unemotive, untainted by disgusting old associations with clergymen's sermons, schoolmasters' pep talks, politicians' patriotic speeches."

[Praying at a shrine to Vivekananda, Ramakrishna's disciple who brought Vedanta to the West:]
"Give me devotion--even against my will."


  1. Glad it went well! And welcome back. I love those quotes -- the ability to get to the core of one's Sense via a new pathway in the first; the succinct surrender in the second.

  2. Grigorss1:18 PM

    Hey, is this blog all about religion and stuff ?

    Or What?

    Really . . .