Keats and the Vale of Soulmaking

 

John Keats SoulmakingYou can find an existential spirituality articulated by John Keats in this excerpt from a letter to his fiancee, Fanny Brawne, April 21, 1810.

“The common cognomen of this world among the misguided and superstitious is ‘a vale of tears’ from which we are to be redeemed by a certain arbitrary interposition of God and taken to Heaven–What a little circumscribed straightened notion! call the world if you Please ‘The vale of Soul-making’ Then you will find out the use of the world (I am speaking now in the highest terms for human nature admitting it to be immortal which I will here take for granted for the purpose of showing a thought which has struck me concerning it) I say “Soul making” Soul as distinguished from an Intelligence– There may be intelligences or sparks of the divinity in millions–but they are not Souls till they acquire identities, till each one is personally itself. Intelligences are atoms of perception–they know and they see and they are pure, in short they are God–how then are Souls to be made? How then are these sparks which are God to have identity given them–so as ever to possess a bliss peculiar to each ones individual existence? How, but by the medium of a world like this? This point I sincerely wish to consider because I think it a grander system of salvation than the Christian religion–or rather it is a system of Spirit-creation–This is effected by three grand materials acting the one upon the other for a series of years–These Materials are the Intelligence–the human heart (as distinguished from intelligence or Mind) and the World or Elemental space suited for the proper action of Mind and Heart on each other for the purpose of forming the Soul or Intelligence destined to possess the sense of Identity. I can scarcely express what I but dimly perceive–and yet I think I perceive it–that you may judge the more clearly I will put it in the most homely form possible–I will call the world a School instituted for the purpose of teaching little children to read–I will call the Child able to read, the Soul made from that school and its hornbook. Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a soul? A Place where the heart must feel and suffer in a thousand diverse ways! Not merely is the Heart a Hornbook, it is the Minds Bible, it is the Minds experience, it is the teat from which the Mind or intelligence sucks its identity–As various as the Lives of Men are–so various become their Souls, and thus does God make individual beings, Souls, Identical Souls of the sparks of his own essence–“

Moon Language

Moon Language

With That Moon Language
by Hafez

Admit something:
Everyone you see, you say to them, ‘Love me.’
Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.
Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect.
Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye
that is always saying,
with that sweet moon language,
what every other eye in this world is dying to hear?

Thank you to Father Greg Boyle and Kristin Tippet for introducing me to this fourteenth century poem by the mystic Muslim poet Hafez, which so perfectly expresses my philosophy of life.