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The wind carves shapes into the beach sand

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#5149 – Bucky, David Whyte, Santiago, Self Knowledge

Edited by Gloria Lee

I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not
a category. I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary
process— an integral function of the universe.
- R. Buckminster Fuller

via Tony Cartledge on Facebook




The road seen, then not seen, the hillside
hiding then revealing the way you should take,
the road dropping away from you as if leaving you
to walk on thin air, then catching you, holding you up,
when you thought you would fall,
and the way forward always in the end
the way that you followed, the way that carried you
into your future, that brought you to this place,
no matter that it sometimes took your promise from you,
no matter that it always had to break your heart
along the way, the sense of having walked
from far inside yourself out into the revelation,
to have risked yourself for something that seemed
to stand both inside you and far beyond you,
that called you back in the end to the only road
you could follow, walking as you did, in your rags of love and speaking in the voice that by night
became a prayer for safe arrival…

© David Whyte
From SANTIAGO in Pilgrim: Poems by David Whyte
Many Rivers Press.

Photo © David Whyte 2012
Pilgrims Looking South from Thornythwaite Pike. Cumbria. English Lakes.




is not fully possible for human beings. We do not reside in a body, a mind
or a world where it is achievable or from the point of being interesting,
even desirable. Half of what lies in the heart and mind is potentiality,
resides in the darkness of the unspoken and unarticulated and has not yet
come into being: this hidden unspoken half will supplant and subvert any
present understandings we have about ourselves. Human beings are a
frontier between what is known and what is not known. The act of turning
any part of the unknown into the known is simply an invitation for an equal
measure of the unknown to flow in and reestablish that frontier: to
reassert the far horizon of an individual life; to make us what we are – that
is – a moving edge between what we know about ourselves and what we are
about to become. What we are actually about to become or are afraid of
becoming always trumps and rules over what we think we are already.

The hope that a human being can achieve complete honesty and
self-knowledge with regard to themselves is a fiction and a chimera, the
jargon and goals of a corporate educational system brought to bear on the
depths of an identity where the writ of organizing language does not run.
Self-knowledge includes the understanding that the self we want to know is
about to disappear. What we can understand is the way we occupy this
frontier between the known and the unknown, the way we hold the
conversation of life, the figure we cut at that edge, but a detailed audit of
the self is not possible and diminishes us in the attempt to establish it; we
are made on a grander scale, half afraid of ourselves, half in love with
immensities beyond any name we can give.

Self-knowledge is often confused with transparency, but knowledge of the
self always becomes the understanding of the self as a confluence; a flowing
meeting of elements, including all the other innumerable selves in the world,
not a set commodity to be unearthed and knocked into shape.
Self-knowledge is not clarity or transparency or knowing how everything
works, self-knowledge is a fiercely attentive form of humility and
thankfulness, a sense of the privilege of a particular form of participation,
coming to know the way we hold the conversation of life and perhaps, above
all, the miracle that there is a particular something rather than an
abstracted nothing and we are a very particular part of that particular

What we recognize and applaud as honesty and transparency in an
individual is actually the humble demeanor of the apprentice, someone
paying extreme attention, to themselves, to others, to life, to the next step,
which they may survive or they may not; someone who does not have all the
answers but who is attempting to learn what they can, about themselves and
those with whom they share the journey, someone like everyone else,
wondering what they and their society are about to turn into. We are
neither what we think we are nor entirely what we are about to become, we
are neither purely individual nor fully a creature of our community, but an
act of becoming that can never be held in place by a false form of
nomenclature. No matter our need to find a place to stand amidst the
onward flow of the world, the real foundation of the self is in the
self-forgetfulness that can occur when we meet something other than our

© -2013 David Whyte. From Self Knowledge: From the Readers’ Circle

Photo © DW 2014 : Photographers: Chanel Haute Couture Show: Grand
Palais, Paris.


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