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 Someone once told the poet, after listening to his poems: ‘It is as if you’ve invented your own new language.’ And indeed, whoever hears David Whyte recite his work or whoever reads his poems, will discover this language: the language of the Soul. In his poem ‘Start close’ in the English-Irish poet says the following:

 

Start close in,

don’t take the second step or the third.

Start close in the step you don’t want to take.

 

This may first seem like ancient folk-wisdom: start close in, start with yourself, don’t think too far ahead. The sharpness seems to be in the last words: start with the step you don’t want to take. This requires a different approach. It is always possible to shy away from it, to ‘fly away.’ How ingenious our ego is in escaping its responsibilities!

 

- Not now…

- Oh, that can be done later..

- Whenever I feel in the mood

- I’ve known for years that that’s what it’s all about, but I just can’t…

 

There you are, facing your inner conscience. That background voice from the soul that has been calling you all your life, calling you to what you have always intuitively felt but were unsure of how you could become part of. Yes, at times - every now and again - something comes through; something that seems to be outside of space and time. But as soon as you try to touch it or grasp it, it fades away. Nevertheless, you know it was there.

But how can something so essential, so important, not be obtained whenever you desire it? Can the truth solely be approached in a certain mood? With an open unprejudiced heart maybe? In a quiet, prepared room like this one? In a contemplative meeting such as this? In a consecrated Temple of the Rosycross? No, in the silence of the heart. In the deepest longing of your innermost self. A longing for the undivided Self, the most truthful Self. The poet continues:

 

Start close in,

don’t take the second step or the third,

start with the first thing close in,

the step you don’t want to take.

Start with the ground you know,

the pale ground beneath your feet,

your own way of starting the conversation.

 

You do want to listen. But listen to what? To the Soul perhaps? The Soul that beckons all the days of your life until you are ready to face that which has always been there, right in front of you, waiting…. But, do you really want to? Do you really want to hear the truth? Do you want to know the naked truth, the exposing truth? Not because you are curious but from an inner desire to understand? Like a thirsty man in the desert? If you truly so desire it, your being will become receptive for the voice of the Soul. It wants to makes itself known. It has no other wish.

The poet continues to teach us: ‘Start with the pale ground beneath your feet.’ Surrender to what you have always known – to what has been there all along, waiting. Forsake the desire for new sensations or new promises or a broader and more encompassing view. Start close in, with the pale ground beneath your feet. The pale ground provides nothing new. But look at it again and again. Devote your focus to what seems familiar and start the dialogue with yourself, your inner self. Reach for your deeper self, honest and sincerely. This is certainly a challenging proposition but that’s where you start – on the pale ground. You surrender cautiously, but also fearlessly. After all, it’s about conquering your inner resistance in which you get caught up repeatedly.

And the poet continues: Start with your own question, give up on other people’s questions, don’t let them smother something simple. Which question does the poet refer to? Which question, which life-determining question? Might it be the question that you keep avoiding? No one can help you in this. You have to discover this question for yourself and on your own. Yet there is a helping power nearby, close in, always present, the whispering voice of the soul. The dialogue with yourself. The essential question, the first question. To give space to that question is the equivalent of breathing for the Soul. The inner voice grows and the voice of the Soul can be heard more and more.

And then the poet warns us: give up on other people’s questions, don’t let them smother something simple. Other people’s questions. What does the poet mean? Do you know this phenomenon? That you get distracted from your inner dialogue because of other people’s need for attention? And if so, that in the same instant you lose yourself? Which questions distract you? Give up on other people’s questions. This assignment is intended for your inner dialogue. What does it mean: Don’t let them smother something simple? Something simple. It has always been there, yet it presents itself only very occasionally.

If you create the silence with all of your consideration and all of your being, it will present itself so simply. And so easily it may disappear again. Don’t let them smother something simple. Does this happen to you, too, the spontaneous impulse to protect something subtle from being trampled? That inner flame, that you would want to protect and to cherish? Again we hear the poet: Follow your own voice to find the voice of the other Wait until that voice becomes an inner ear that listens to another The other.

The inner dialogue, the constant conversation with yourself, gains more depth. Turn your heart towards it. Begin with what is familiar, with the true self with which there can be no compromise. Place your life in all honesty in front of you and listen to the voice of your conscience. Instead of answering with assertions or beliefs, you will then start living with a question. This question carries an answer within itself. It is the one essential question, which knows but one essential answer. The answer will be given by your own inner voice, your own soul. A voice that fills the space of the inner dialogue with her music. A fulfilling vibration, a melody of joy, endless and without measure, life itself, as the answer.

And the poet continues: ‘To find the voice of the other, follow your own voice. If you follow the true voice in your own being – not the voice of the small self-centred I-being but that of your true self – then you will find that you will effortlessly be in accord, in harmony, with the Other. And again we hear the voice of the poet: ... wait until that voice becomes an inner ear that is able to listen to another... Practise patience. Wait. That’s how you’ll learn not to expect quick results from the inner dialogue. The attention is focused on the direct surroundings. It is focused on a protective functioning of the heart, guided by an all important inner question and an answer coming from the true self, the flourishing flower in the heart.

Through patience it grows and through perseverance, just as in nature everything flourishes in colourful splendour in springtime. Then summer commences and the hot rays of the sun constantly warm the maturing fruits. And slowly its juices turn dark-red. This is also known as the ‘endura’. Having patience, holding out, without expectations, giving it all – and in the meantime ripening.

Endura… … until that voice becomes a private ear listening to another. This is not just a contemplative thought, a nice, familiar feeling. This is about a fundamental change. The voice becomes a private ear, opening up to the other. Listening with a different ear. An ear that never before was able to hear. This can only occur, if you wait. If you have adequately experienced your own voice, your own sound, your own honest question. The random nature of your considerations, learned to make way for the willingness to hear ‘the other’. To listen and to follow.

Who is this ‘other one’ Is he known to you? The beckoning Soul will show you the way and every time that it fades away and dissipates, it will wait – patiently – until your whole being has matured enough and is refined, stilled, and able to understand the whispering of the Soul, and ultimately to follow it. Only with your private ear will you be able to understand this whisper.

 

Start right now

take a small step you can call your own

don’t follow someone else’s heroics,

be humble and focused.

Start with the ground you know,

the pale ground beneath your feet,

your own way of starting the conversation.

 

Start with your own question, give up on other people’s questions, don’t let them smother something simple. To find another’s voice, follow your own voice, wait until that voice becomes a private ear listening to another.

 

Start right now

take a small step

you can call your own

don’t follow someone else’s heroics,

be humble and focused,

start close in, don’t mistake that other

for your own.

 

You are situated here at the best moment and the best spot to take the inner step that you have yet to take. Do take that step, simply because you can. The step, perhaps insignificant for the world and yet crucial for you. A first step, humble, with complete focus. A step inside, where no one may interrupt you. Don’t worry about others when you take this step. Don’t worry about their judgment, just use your own judgement. Don’t worry about their reality - just accept your own reality. Don’t worry about their truth, just value your own truth. Trust that inner voice, the voice of the soul.

There will be no comparison, no familiar example. This is the dialogue with the most inner voice that speaks ... with the most private ear that hears. The dialogue of which you are a part seems yet to be outside of you. This dialogue is so unique, yet seems to occur regardless of your ‘self’ as if it is more powerful than your small ego, more unique, but also more truthful. That self does not settle for semi-truths. That self cheers with the recognition of the true self. It is like the sound of ancient times: It is true! It is certain! It is the full truth! Within yourself. In the world. In the universe. So close. Closer than hands and feet.

 

Start close in,

don’t take the second step

or the third, start with the first thing close in,

the step you don’t want to take.

 

Start with the ground you know,

the pale ground beneath your feet,

your own way

of starting the conversation.

 

Start with your own question,

give up on other people’s questions,

don’t let them smother

something simple.

 

To find another’s voice,

follow your own voice,

wait until that voice

becomes a private ear

listening to another.

 

Start right now

take a small step

you can call your own

don’t follow someone else’s heroics,

be humble and focused, start close in,

don’t mistake that other for your own.

 

Start close in,

don’t take the second step or the third,

start with the first thing close in,

the step you don’t want to take.

 

Source: Pentagram 2016-3 (click for pdf)

 

 

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