Do not let me fall prey to the mechanical animal in my brain that calls me away from you. It looks and acts the same in me as it does in any caged creature. This beast is always ready to sever links with its human family, being altogether in pieces already, at the mercy of the crashing seas of circumstance. It cannot remain at home on its own shores, nor can it bask for long beneath the strong rays of another’s sun, for it lacks both an anchor to hold it steady, and an ark to take it safely across the river. Hone this loss-addicted, lusterless machine. Release the cold hand from panicked demands for another’s warmth, so the man can remember whose hand holds the key. Though I am eons from any final clarity, let disparity itself become fuel. Do not let the mud of confusion bury the blessing, but let the perishing puddles evaporate into the western wind; and, as the sun begins to set, let the spirit of beauty spearhead my inward evolution.
Let me not deplete my strength attacking the thick vines behind which my head, bed-ridden with the sickness of words, hides from the living world. Instead of seeking peace by means of increasing violence, let me breathe deeply into the heart’s vaulted silence. Let the work be accomplished in this private canyon, which the clean red rivers in my veins continually carve. Let the refined Will find me upright and still: quiet enough to hear the cries of a crumbling spirit for guidance and clarity; honest enough to number myself among the hungry, the fearful, and the helpless; humble enough to fling myself at the feet of my Lord and beg, Please, let me sing.
Love, kill now my best intentions. Will me into your presence, with gentle guidance or with firm control. Place the bread on my plate and forgive my hesitation, my demand for something else to eat, my rejection of your gift, my abandonment of your tender touch that never abandons me. Grant me the clarity not to avert my eyes from the unrelenting stare of my dying, but rather to widen my heart to include both sides of the balanced scale. Let the events of the day be the daily pill I take to make me well. Help me to hold both the precious dove resting on the olive branch, and the hungry vultures circling the charnel grounds, inside your balanced heart, which cannot grow bitter, which cannot be harmed.
Inside the clarifying whisper of a bare room, I carry the gift of total engagement with a loose grip. I ask the god of clarity to open the ears of my heart, awaken the eyes of my mind. I surrender my conditioned hatred of trivial irritations, and I rivet my attention on a particle of dust a ray of light enlightens. I watch my soul return to the lake it swims in at dawn, and I watch dawn rise to the challenge of my chosen task. And I ask my master: may Time in its violent density lie down naked with Eternity in its eloquent silence. And out of their intangible union, from the annihilating depths of love, may the man’s true nature arise.
You overlook me but I see under your looking over. I see how you only ever look over; I see how you do not look in. I see how you do not see me when you look out at me; you will never see me by looking out at me. You look out and over, and you see less than you look at; I look in and under, and I see more than can be seen by overlooking.
Do not think you are special in overlooking me. I do not think I am special in being overlooked by you. You overlook most people, and most people overlook me.
To overlook is one thing, to be overlooked is another, but neither causes me suffering anymore: neither your overlooking nor my being overlooked. To be overlooked in this world is reason to rejoice. To be overlooked in the world above is to be freely given by no one the invisible keys to the underworld, where things are seen truly and appreciated for what they are, where no one is seen for or forced to be someone they are not.
To be overlooked is to begin to look into, to become an under-looker. It will seem at first to the under-looker that being overlooked locks him out of the world. It is true that, in being overlooked, he is locked out of the outside world—where everyone is locked in. But now, locked out of the outside world, the under-looker is free (though initially it will not feel like freedom, for it is not at all like the so-called freedom of the locked-in world where freedom is not possible); now the under-looker is free to discover the unlocked world. “The objective situation is repellent,” how true, so now the in-looker looks under, now his deep gaze locks-in on the underworld, the only place he can and must go to shorn the heavy locks that bolt him to the outside world—where everyone is locked in.
To be overlooked, then, is to become (or to realize that one already was) an alien, an eternal wanderer in and an outsider to the outside world, to come to the understanding that one’s home can only be found inside the underworld. Only if the outsider finds that home, and is true to it, can he learn to be at home in the alien world above, but the important thing for the under-looker, what is first and foremost, though it is unseen by all and of no importance to most, is finding his home in the underworld.
I am more at home in the underworld; in fact, only in the underworld am I at home, for there nothing is overlooked. Everyone there sees into, and already there everyone is under, which is where everyone is above, though this is not seen.
But I go to the underworld alone. There is no ‘everyone’ there. There is only the one who goes under. Only where there is the one can I see. Only in the underworld, in the seeing under, in the in-sight, do I see myself for who I am. Only when I see myself for who I am can I see another at all. This is why I must go to the underworld, and why I must go alone. Look for your own way out from under those who look over you.
The over-lookers who look out may say to the outsider and the under-looker: ‘you are selfish, self-absorbed, indifferent to others.’ The over-lookers will say this fully believing themselves beyond reproach. They are not concerned with themselves, so how could they be selfish? Yet what those with such an out-look lack is a sense of the damage they themselves cause by their overlooking. They do not see what they do, for they do not see at all. They believe looking under is selfishness, but they do not see the selfishness involved in their own blindness. They are blind to what they cannot see, whereas those who look under see what the blind cannot. The under-looker sees the blindness of the over-lookers, he sees the damage this blindness causes to what exists invisibly but is no less true for that—what is truer when it stays unseen, what remains distinct when it stays hidden. To the over-lookers what does not exist above does not exist at all. In their blindness they wipe out the underworld.
To wipe out the underworld—what could be more selfish! What could be more selfish than looking over the under-lookers! For it is these very under-lookers—each in his own way, each in her own way—who see a way beyond selfishness, beyond the absorption with the self that the over-lookers, being who they are, cannot help but overlook in themselves. It is the under-looker who sees a way-out, while the over-lookers see nothing but what is already out, believing that by seeing what is already out they see the way out. But this is no way out. Absorbed as the over-lookers are with the surface that locks them in, they see nothing, not even what absorbs them! For there is much more to what is already out than can be seen—looking out. What is out is nothing without what spurs it out from under. If what spurs it out cannot be seen, nothing is seen, for what makes nothing into something grows out from the inside. The most distinct essence of the under-looker the over-lookers do not see, for the over-lookers see only what looking out lets them see, and the essence of the under-looker lies under, lies in looking in.
And what is the way-out the under-looker sees? Again, let me stress that no one under-looker sees the same way-out as any other. This is of the highest importance and must be made clear. It is not “a way out on which we can all absolutely agree.” No. It is a way-out for that particular under-looker, that ‘I’, and though another might not agree with it (because the other cannot truly see into it), it still remains a way-out for that ‘I’ who does see into it and can act out of it. But only that under-looker, who is not the same as any other under-looker and certainly not the same as any over-looker, can see into it.
Looking-under and seeing-into is not self-preoccupation, as the over-lookers would have you believe. In looking-under one locates precisely the faculty to see out of the inward self and into the outside world in a way true to the underworld. This is the very faculty that those with the overlooking outlook do not possess, for they know nothing of the existence of the underworld. By looking out, they lock themselves into the world above and so are necessarily selfish, though they might call their selfishness ‘real-world wisdom’ or they might call it ‘religious servitude.’ But how can the over-looker serve anyone? He has nothing to give because he sees nothing (though he believes he has everything to give because he sees everything), so his giving is no better than the most violent taking away; he has no wisdom to share because he does not look under (though he believes his wisdom lies in the very fact that he looks out without looking under), and so the wisdom he mechanically dispenses is on the level of the pez dispenser.
The over-lookers look out, and whoever looks out without having seen into is selfish, whether that over-looker believes he is a humble servant or whether other people look up to him, as he looks over them, and believe he is a cultural giant; whether the over-looker concerns himself with alleviating poverty or whether he concerns himself with amassing wealth. Either way he does not really concern himself at all, for if he were at all concerned with his self and with the way he lives then he would look under. If nothing else, what he would find there would be sure to give him reason for concern! If his outlook is such that he does not look under, he will overlook all those he claims to assist, his cultural prowess will have no lasting significance, the wealth he amasses (though it might all be gained in the name of his future progeny or to distribute to the poor), will only serve to keep him out of touch with what can truly be gained and cannot be lost. All gains that do not come from making contact with the untouchable in the underworld cannot last and will be lost. I have no interest in gaining what will be lost; I look always for what lasts, so I look under.
The preoccupation of the under-looker is with seeing into the self and seeing into the world in a way that sees both the self and the world clearly and does not overlook either. This is the only way of seeing that can lead to “a sense of brotherhood with something other than man,” as an under-looker once wrote. This ‘brotherhood with something other than man’ is the only type of brotherhood the under-looker longs for, as he has long existed as an eternal outsider and exile from the outside world of outward men. To be an outsider to the outside world—this is to begin to look inside, to become an in-looker and an under-looker. To become an under-looker, to find one’s home in the underworld—this is the only way-out.
“Dare only to believe in yourselves—in yourself and in your inward parts! He who doth not believe in himself always lieth.” Thus spoke Zarathustra. Honesty means looking out at and into the world in an undistorted way that is utterly one’s own. The under-looker knows that looking at the world selfishly is looking at the world through distorted, unseeing, over-looking eyes. To see totally without distortion—to see oneself as one is, to see every other person as that person is, to see reality as it is—this is only possible by looking under.
Put it this way: The under-looker looks into so he can look out of without overlooking, so he can truly see into and under everything that exists above and outside. Those who habitually look out cannot believe that anything more exists than what is already out, for they have not looked in. If they looked in, they might see more in themselves than what had seemed to them to be their self, or more likely they would see a great deal less. Either way they might begin to look under rather than overlook. But I doubt the over-lookers will have read this far, and if they have read this far they have probably overlooked everything I have written. How typical of the over-lookers, those who look out but cannot see past their own self-importance!
Self-importance begins with overlooking (though the overlooking ones believe the under-looker is self-obsessed and self-important), for the overlooking ones do not see the importance of anyone but themselves. In looking out without having looked into, they can do nothing but overlook. They do not see anyone; they do not even see themselves, for to see is to see under the surface, and the overlooking ones define themselves by their superior capacity to look out, to see what is above the surface. They call themselves practical, sensible, reasonable; they are the realists, the shakers and movers. Perhaps they even call themselves far-sighted. But, in reality, what does it matter if you can see far out if you have not seen deep into, if you see far out only in the world of what seems to be, and you have never seen into the underworld that truly is?
The over-lookers see what is above, which is far from all there is. They look at what is already out, what locks them in, without seeing they are locked in and in need of a way-out; they do not see what lies under what they overlook because they do not look under at all. They look only out; they do not look in.
I am not one of them. I am an under-looker. I look in.
Those who feel the most confusion are typically also those who are able to express their souls’ struggle most clearly, while those who are without much confusion have little need or desire to express their own relative lack of struggle. If the latter group, the larger one, were to express their lack of confusion or struggle in a work of art, would-be appreciators would perhaps struggle not to be confused by it; the piece of art would likely lack the clarity the artist feels in life. Creative work is borne more from confusion than from clarity. It is the need to find clarity, to make sense of things, which spurs people to create. If someone is already sure of his life, if he already has a clear and well-constructed identity, then attempting to create will perhaps bring him face-to-face with the confusion he had heretofore avoided, could if he is lucky make him question whether his life is really as clear as he thought, whether looking in the unclear waters might be more in line with his no longer easily discernible purpose.
But that wouldn’t be lucky at all.
I am here to better understand why I am here
I am here to come nearer to what cannot be understood
I am here to suffer through three or nine unclear years
I am here to recover the silent knowledge for good
I am here to hear why I am here
I am here to be steered by the voiceless and lost
I am here to wait until a voice becomes clear
I am here to dance ’til the spirit stands aloft
I am coming to say less
Coming to mean more
I’m leaving to remember
What it is I’m living for
I came to marry memory and hope
I left to seek the unexplained
I returned to listen for the unheard note
When I leave,
All I’ve strived to gain
I am here to better understand how I got here
I am here to stand still, listen to the creek flow by
I am here to let go of an illusion I’ve held dear
I am here to hold on to a truth that is not mine
I am here to see clearly what else is here
I am here to return, to remain, and to move on
I am here to look for home, like a dispossessed seer
I am here to turn towards an ever new dawn
I am coming to say less
Coming to mean more
I’m leaving to remember
What it is I’m living for
I came to listen for silence,
I left to speak softly with rain,
I returned to marry stillness and chaos,
When I leave,
I’ll have lost
All I strived to gain
I am here to better understand why I am here
I am here to give shelter, here to bring storm
I am here to feel the sun as the clouds disappear
I am here as the snow melts, as it loses its form