Like a diver going down into the sea
the helmet seems to seal the fact.
Gold lamé. Stylish. Think of a cloche hat
but made of brass and covered like a Pearly
King's with buttons. Not a diver, though;
not going down into the sea, and not,
most definitely not, a Pearly King.
The monk goes down into a prayer,
a meditation - but the scientists
are here to map the god part of his head.
Where is the godhead in the head, they ask.
They have injected tracers in his veins.
Chemicals. Small shots of radiation.
Something for their sensors to detect.
The parietal lobes, their sensors say
are being starved of blood. The flow
drops ever lower as he dives
into his sea of prayer and contemplation.
This they know because the helmet lets in
their strong pulses of magnetic waves -
gives open sesame to his unguarded head.
The parietal lobes are known to be
the seat of mankind's sense of time and place.
Like eight in ten of others like him, he
will have sensations to report:
a presence he's encountered on the way.
extract from the poem Koi by John Burnside All afternoon we've wandered from the pool to alpine beds and roses ...
The moon petals the sea. Rose petals the sea. Stone sea. Stone petals. Rose petals of stone. Stone rising before me. Sea moves. How moves...
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I'm sorry it has taken me so long to visit this post. I've had no internet connection this past week.
Your piece is a very challenging one: this is a deep look into roles, and consciousness. I like how you tied the parts together so well in the final stanza. Thank you for taking part in our Real Toads challenge.
You have an intriguing idea here, at the heart of the poem, one to tease the reader's own brain after leaving the page.
At the same time, your poem starts in an original place: fancy taking a monk in prayer as your subject matter ... and then compounding the unexpected with this image of a diver's helmet or the costume of a Pearly King. It works though: it drew this reader into the next stanza and then the rest.
Very well done!
It's intriguing to examine thought and meditation processes but surely mysticism/spirituality must have its own place. Exposing it to 'understand' it reduces it.
The gold hat seems to be a good protection for the scientist when his head becomes to a stage of explotion. Difficult poem for me though.
I am sure if they could get into a true Buddhist priest's mind, they would be amazed.
We do so much in the name of science and discovery yet, are we any further forward in our love and compassion for it? I myself, don't think so.
Great write Dave.
Some things will never be measurable in an empirical way,a fact we all know in our secret hearts, very thought provoking.
i love the image of a monk going down into a prayer like a diver would dive for pearls...also like that you combine these natural things with the scientific side, the chemicals, the shots of radiation...i think they would be in awe what they could see if they could really measure it.. love the whole idea of the poem david
dave this is a great blend of mystical and science...a division i think has in many ways set us back...as if science is not spiritual or vice cersa...was reading this week on the nearness of discovering the god particle...
I thought maybe you would take the turn and have God hide from the science, leaving the unproved intact. I like instead how you went with letting science get ever closer to the moment of enlightenment. Ever closing the gap on infinity!
Wonderful imagery as well. I really enjoyed this one.
God and Science,that's heavy. You blended it so well, Dave! It turns out smooth with all the imagery!
An impressive analysis of what metaphysically, and physically, can happen "going down" into prayer and meditation.
Today at school I commented the first section of Burnt Norton from Four Quartets and I feel it now very close to these territories,
in paricular about "the roses " that "have the look of flowers that are looked at". This being "enraptured" by a presence, taken in by a stare.
Looking for god in a monk's head would be like looking for a needle in a haystack, very enjoyable all the same :-).
First of all, a warm hello to any new visitors and/or commenters. It is always good to read the thoughts of others on what I have written, so thank you all.
A special thank you here for a particularly interesting collection of thoughts. Perhaps I should make clear that this poem was factual, or at least based upon fact. It describes an experiment that was actually carried out on meditating monks.
My first thought was to question what could be learned from such an excercise. Nothing but the exact location in the brain of the processing of concepts of time and place, perhaps. But that was already pretty much known. Whether the decreasing blood supply contributed more than that, I doubt.
My second thought was to question whether, had I been one of the monks, I would have been willing to have radio-active tracers injected for this purpose.
I do agree that with those who suggested that if we could only get to know what was in the monk's mind we would be amazed. I am sure that is so.
Thank again, then, for a fascinating set of reflections.
I would really like to know what motivated this piece; it is fantastic (in every respect).
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