Bob Schwartz

Tag: light

Constellations

Constellations

Constellations are useful
when we see through them
to the stars

We are occupied with connecting dots. We study and follow the pictures emerging from these dots. Like looking in the night sky and telling stories about people and things there. They are there but distract us from the stars themselves. Our systems of religion and psychology and society have power only fueled by the dots as constellations have power only fueled by the simple points of light.

Light On

Gyokusei Jikihara, Ten Ox-Herding Pictures, 4. Catching the Bull

Light On

As I lay waking in bed
Listening to the Zen poem
Verses on the Faith Mind by Sengcan
The reader said
“The illustrator Gyokusei Jikihara, sensei,
is a Japanese master of calligraphy and nanga painting.
Still painting and teaching at the age of ninety-nine,
he will celebrate his one-hundredth birthday on August 1, 2004.”
Then the ceiling light came on spontaneously
Like a sun rising
With no one at the switch.
Sengcan died in 606.
Jikihara died in 2005.
If I live to be one hundred
I will remember this.
Sengcan says
“Don’t waste your time in arguments and discussion
attempting to grasp the ungraspable.”
I don’t think
I will

©

Fake Candle, Real Light

I keep a flameless LED candle on a table. I frequently light the candle, by a switch on the bottom (it also has a timer). It is not the kind that is meant to look like a wax candle, or one that hides the obviously fake plastic cutout of a flame. It is what it is: a battery-powered white plastic cylinder that lights up and “flickers.”

Someone came by and suggested I might better have a real candle with a real flame burning. She called the candle “ersatz.” My first answer is that keeping real candles burning unattended is unsafe and possibly messy. But that’s not my real answer.

The light from this candle is real. When I walk into the dark room, it lights the way. When I light it, it brightens. When I turn it off, it darkens. True, if I were expecting the candle to warm me, it won’t do that, although a single candle isn’t much good for that anyway. I don’t know what more I could ask of this candle (remember, it has a timer, and so can even turn itself on and off).

That light is quite real enough for me.