[A while back, I included in my blog some (in my opinion) relatively sad specimens of poetry that I had written in jail ten or so years ago. And they were surprisingly well received by my kind friends.
In addition to writing thousands of letters, song, poems, essays… and quite a few musical plays during my 11-year stay in the gulag, I also kept a journal that fills over ten thousand pages.
The following is an unedited excerpt, written in January 1997. In it, I was more or less thinking aloud. As Bob Dylan sang, “I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.” I welcome your feedback.]
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As I awoke this morning [9 Jan.] I realized that man is just a growth/cancer on earth — I can’t decide whether to use the positive or negative name — but it’s a synthesis of everything I’ve learned in astronomy and life — I can’t really explain it — but dig our insignificance in the universe and eternity, however hard we strive — is there a point to our waging war against the system, the grand order? This is, I feel, the great revelation I’ve sought. I wish I could better express what I see — I’ve only given you the shell of this great wisdom.
“LIGHT” [written seven days later]
More revelation — it keeps developing –. I love peace. I abhor violence. But I’m learning to be less outraged. It is the natural order of things. The cancer may consume its host unless it is arrested. Not every cancer cell can live forever. Every animal feeds on something. There is no death. Everything is feeding off of everything else. Everything is continually growing and changing. There is nothing to lament. Nothing is permanent; nothing even lasts a second exactly as it is. Everything is interconnected. Everything is One. I live for love but do not condemn the warriors. They have their “purpose.” Everything makes sense, whether or not it makes sense to us. There is no death. There is nothing to lament. Try not to be so cancerous; or accept that you are and make the best of it. Try to be happy and respect the happiness of others. Or at least be accepting. Each person is both infinitely large and infinitely small. Everything is coming apart. Everything is coming together. Nothing is constant. All is one. There is nothing to lament.
“LIGHT” [written four hours later]
Confirmation — today I began reading a translation of the Satipatthana Sutta (Sutra on the Four Establishments) by Thich Nhat Hanh and Annabel Laity. Right at the beginning I discovered this:
The practitioner … remains established in the observation of the objects of mind, diligent, with clear understanding, mindful, having abandoned every craving and every distaste for this life.
This is what I was trying to key in on earlier. There is no need to lament anything. One can more easily abandon “every craving and every distaste for this life” when one realizes the ultimate insignificance (in many ways) of human existence. This is not to say that anything is insignificant, since nothing is entirely insignificant. But I can better understand now the words attributed to Solomon in Ecclesiastes: “All is vanity.” Even if every disease humans suffer is eliminated — where will all these people live eventually? We can colonize other planets perhaps — but even this will be a mere delay of the inevitable. Nothing stays the same. The cancer will consume many hosts as easily as it consumes the first host. And we cannot even assume that Earth is the first host. Solomon glimpsed this — perhaps, too, the Buddha. But how many of their followers really understood? And how can I express everything I understand right now? Let me live and love and not lament. There is no God; but there is the Divine. And everything is part and parcel of the Divine. You are Divine. I am Divine. There is no supreme being (God), because nothing is superior. Everything is part of the all. Everything has a role. Everything is part of everything else.