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At the Transcendent's Hem

June 18th, 2008

This is my entry in the “blog a random book, page 123, 5th sentence” challenge, from . I’m not going to point its barbs at anybody else specifically; If you’re intrigued by it, try it.

These worlds could feel God’s breath visiting their tops;
Some glimmer of the Transcendent’s hem was there.

—Sri Aurobindo, Savitri

The arbitrary nature of this meme makes me think of the folk-religion fortune telling aspect of the I Ching, minus the individually-tailored astrological variables (some people do the same sort of thing with the christian bible). So I thought I’d go with something else that reminds me of the I Ching without actually being much like it.

You might call Aurobindo one of the fathers of New Age thought, in that his influences and background stem from both Western and Eastern sources. He was born in India, educated at Cambridge, a very smart guy; the principle that drives his writings is the belief in an impending spiritual revolution by which mankind will catapault itself into a higher plane of existence, becoming collective entities of pure energy and infinite joy, existing outside the influence of time or space, not unlike all those interstellar beings one runs into all the time on Star Trek. Savitri is his masterpiece, a thousand-page epic poem, heavily influenced both by John Milton and the Vedic poems, retelling the classic hindu love story of Satyavan and Savitri in the form of an incredibly convoluted, near-impenetrable spiritual allegory. Lovely reading in short spurts, but rather forbidding as a whole. Which attributes suggest to me it would make fine fodder for an I Ching style astrological die roll randomization game.

Were I to interpret the above excerpt in that spirit, I’d say the message is that we are always at the hem of the transcendent, always climbing, never getting to the seam. Which I don’t read as discouraging—merely humbling. We’re human. We’ll transcend when we transcend; it won’t be me that tips the scales.

   Reading, Religion, Transcendentalism | 2 Comments »



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2 Comments »

  • Erin says:

    Thanks for the quote! Wow, you put way more thought into that than I did before propagating the meme, so I feel irresponsible. 😉

    I thought it was a good pass-around just to see what people were reading — hadn’t thought at all about a predictive or I Ching element.

    • mjd says:

      Yes! By far too much thought. But I’d been sampling epic poetry anyway for a thing I’ve been working on, and a lot of it didn’t get used. And this meme made an excellent excuse.

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