More or less, usually less

The skull beneath the eye,
the sinew without the pull,
the ghost left raving in a raging heart—
is there a hope left here to hold?

And while this, of course, is something,
it is nothing and all that I am true to;
and while this, of course, is nothing,
it is something to be ashamed of;
if I had less, I’d embrace it more,
if I embraced it more, I’d have more,
or less, depending on my desires.
You see my dilemma, don’t you?

I love emotional and spiritual puzzles and paradoxes. I love ideas that conflict and oppose but are, by their nature, wedded together so that understanding them is a discovery of truth. It is my belief that at the heart of every paradox there is a great spiritual truth; resolving the paradox is the heart of wisdom.

One of these paradoxical truths is the idea of surrender. Let me illustrate this by a metaphor I first read by the wonderful Rúhíyyih Khanum.

Imagine yourself trying to drive across a busy city at the end of the work day; if there were no street lights it would be utter chaos. Moreover, without them, you’d be risking your life and the lives of others. But if the street lights are working and you obey them, they organize the traffic patterns in an orderly flow and allow you to get home safely in the fastest time possible. So by surrendering your will to the will of the traffic lights, you have gained what your independent freedom could not have got you.

Thank you for reading More or less, usually less. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2012 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2012 by John Etheridge,

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