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- Ancient wisdom in the modern world


The Dam

I’d be a man in a dam,
everything automatic,
a hill-side of concrete
vibrating under my feet
a warm control room
where the dials tune
energy, more or less

there, behind,
a vast body of water
raw stillness
there, in front,
a flow, a trickle,
or a rushing river
the exuberant song of water
I can listen to it forever

I’d be a man in a dam,
did I leave something out?
does there need to be a problem?



Being a Westerner, being a 3rd son of career teachers, just being me I guess, I had an abundance, an overflow, of striving, competitive instincts throughout my formative years!

In fact I think it was this insistent drive that was in no small part the reason why I was drawn to the Eastern philosophies from a fairly young age. Some of them, at least, take a rather polar opposite approach to our vigorous Western self-improving and
I found concepts of 'not-doing', 'being with what is' and 'acceptance' more than intriguing, at some level they felt a necessary kind of counter-balance to all that endless ladder-climbing. There is a mind-bendingly counter-intuitive truth in the understanding that I cannot do anything to earn peace because it's already there. It already belongs to me up until the point that I start trying to find it....

That said, in my life, complex and multifaceted as are the lives of others around me, I love the ebb and flow of both doing and not-doing, I cannot choose between West and East any more than I can choose between being a mind or a body. Literally sitting in a Dam all day doing nothing would bore me stiff and render me stupid. I like evolution, and I like where it's taking us i.e. such things as crazily complex, interestng people!

Nevertheless this poem is a way for me to express a glancing idea towards how this passive kind of 'being' actually feels, a sense of power that one is a part of, but does not need so much controlling as simply understanding...




© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd