Saturday, December 9, 2017


I was reading Milosz this morning before returning to three hymns to Rudra in Rg Veda. I take notes to myself. They may or may not make it into that book, or _those books_ I keep promising. Who would care? I ask myself this in single every word.
"Reader, be tolerant of me. And of your- self. And of the singular aspirations of our human race… I insist on the freedom, on my right to browse at will among the basic texts that are the inheritance of centuries . . . "
---Czeslew Milosz

IN the great mythos Rudra and Siva become RudraSiva. We are prepossessed of that compound. We cannot see both at once;that would reduce one to the other, to monism. There is not one of anything in nature and nothing worse than oneness if there is to be a “culture” that permits us our differences and insists on freedom. Rudra and Siva appear in fractals and fragments because that is what we can see. It is at once rage and beauty, terror and auspiciousness. We call that Nataraja.

To see Nataraja we learn to recognize his terms as our own. Symmetry would reduce RudraSiva to simplicity; oneness may not be wholly forsaken--- How would we know? Why would we pretend to know?--- but we will never see it again. That is not what is in store for human life. We are too terse, too pithy an expression of nature’s great engagement. Culture will never triumph over nature nor will human life advance into harmony with nature. That is precisely what can never happen. Nature demands nothing of us even if life insists from this source of being to persist, to survive, yearning to flourish when it enjoys the luxuries of freedom.

Rudra is indifferent to his own cataclysmic force, Siva emerges to organize freedom so that we might see the need to create culture’s raw possibilities. We study Rudra as the patterns of existence to penetrate these possibilities of our identity with Siva. Rudra is, as Milosz puts it, “nature’s reckless indifference” and Siva our irreconcilable desire to fulfill an essential human need: to situate all things on a field of dreams we do not control but must somehow claim as our own, just to live. 

For this we will need both Rudra’s myths and Siva’s rituals; Rudra without Siva leaves us like bare trees in winter, withdrawn into an icy slumber that rages inside without appearances. But Siva’s promise in return isn’t merely the lush fecundities of spring or summer’s prodigious indulgences. There can be tender sensibility only in the embrace of a beloved indulgent of every flaw. Rather Siva is met on his terms when we enter the chaos of forest’s trees and a complexity so rich that it cannot be counted, for he like the leaves on the forest’s trees, there are too many and each reaches for its own light without regard for the whole.

Little by little the simple becomes complexity, RudraSiva does not need our permission. We have been brought along for the brief, confounding journey of self. We are here to see him as Nataraja, possessed by a dance that he does not control anymore than we fathom what occurs as we are pulled inexorably by the whirlwinds of that dance.