Category Archives: spiritual awakening

John Masefield and Our Hidden Riches

Poet John Masefield, the British Poet Laureate from 1930-1967 wrote a sonnet which I always think of when I read Shakespeare’s 46th sonnet which I blogged about two days ago.  Masefield also grasped the presence a hidden dimension of reality which is usually overlooked in a world where only the superficial is valued.  In his words, “like lame donkey lured by moving hay, we chase the shade and let the real be.”  Enculturation deprives us of our connection with the real, a necessary step of “joining the human race.”  But often enculturation is so rigid, or our lack of courage is so pronounced, that we spend our lives clinging to the “fig leaves” our culture has provided us and neglect the hidden realm of true Value.

But Masefield’s sonnet noted that this hidden resource, with its immense power, is always there and often is not accessed until the accumulated duress of living on the surface accumulate in our heart and bring us to “our straitened spirit’s possibility.”  But having our spirit, or soul, subjected to “straits” is painful and it is easier to find another escapist amusement to take our attention away from the pain that is necessary in going beneath the surface and drinking from the “well of living waters” that Jesus spoke of.

Before I share this sonnet, I’d like to quote W. H. Auden on a relevant topic, “And Truth met him, and held out her hand.  But he clung in panic to his tall beliefs and shrank away like an ill-treated child.”

Man has his unseen friend, his unseen twin,
His straitened spirit’s possibility,
The palace unexplored he thinks an inn,
The glorious garden which he wanders by.
It is beside us while we clutch at clay
To daub ourselves that we may never see.
Like the lame donkey lured by moving hay
We chase the shade but let the real be.
Yet, when confusion in our heaven brings stress,
We thrust on that unseen, get stature from it,
Cast to the devil’s challenge the man’s yes,
And stream our fiery hour like a comet,
And know for that fierce hour a friend behind,
With sword and shield, the second to the mind.


ADDENDUM—This is one of three blogs that I now have up and running.  Please check the other two out sometime.  The three are:


Symptoms of Spiritual Awakening

I’m going to share a list of 12 symptoms of spiritual awakening that I found on Face Book, formulated by David Avocado Wolfe in “” But I’d like to focus briefly on three of them which pertain to the subject of judgment: 9) A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others; 10)A loss of interest in judging others; 11)A loss of interest in judging self.

Philosophy posits the notion of “the faculty of judgment.” My take on this notion is the necessary function of interpretation of our environment and even of our own subjective world. With this “function” we carve our world up into “categories” which is much related to the task of assigning words or “names” to things. And in so doing, we are accomplishing what my background in clinical work describes as “object separateness.”

But this very important and necessary function of our psyche sometimes can run amok and we use it to isolate ourselves from life, hiding behind these “categories” even to the extent that we even know our “self” only in terms of “categories.” We have subscribed to the cultural demand to become “objectified” and in some sense lose our very soul. We become an “idea” and cease to be a fluid, dynamic, subjectively alive spirit.

My life has been a fine example of this problem. I will soon wrap up a 20 year career as a licensed mental health professional in which I utilized my “diagnostic knife” to help the “mentally ill.” And this role in our culture was, and is, a valuable and necessary role. But I realize now even more than then that this clinical detachment was present in my life from my earliest years and that I’ve used to “stand up there” and make detached observations about people, my world, and even my self. I sometimes call it my “god complex.”

W. H. Auden once noted, “We drive through life in the closed cab of occupation.” I still have that “closed cab” of detachment but, having gained this insight, it is much less “closed.” I have gained insight to what I’ve been doing and am much better at just turning it off, recognizing that whatever I am observing “just is” and does not always need my labels or interpretation.

Here are Mr. Wolfe’s list of “Symptoms…”

  1. Frequent attacks of smiling.
  2. An increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
  3. Feelings of being connected with others and nature.
  4. Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
  5. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience.
  6. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
  7. A loss of ability to worry.
  8. A loss of interest in conflict.
  9. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
  10. A loss of interest in judging others.
  11. A loss of interest in judging self.
  12. Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything.