Sunday, July 10, 2011

man does not live by bread alone

"Man does not live by bread alone," is what might be called a biblical cliche. What I mean by that is, it is quoted with such frequency that it becomes trait. No one can tell you who's by-line it comes from, or what chapter and verse. Its contextual meaning, because of its colloquial quality, is assumed. If any of you readers have knowledge of the, by-line, chapter, and verse, of ..."man does no live by bread alone," please send me the information via the comment section of this blog. I am curious about its original context. Also I should point out that its not only men that do not live by bread alone, but also women.

Richard Cory, is a character from Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem, "Richard Cory." Richard Cory was "empirically slim," "always human when he talked," "admirably schooled in every grace," he even "glittered when he walked;" yet, "one calm summer night went home and put a bullet through his head."

Richard Cory's suicide seems incongruous when thought about in terms of his worldly accomplishments and material possessions. He was seemingly such a refined and highly developed human being that simple people, "wished they were in his place." Of all his accomplishments and material possessions, none brought him true satisfaction or joy.

What has all this Richard Cory stuff to do with needing more than bread for sustaining human life? Your worldly identity is derived primarily from your relationship with your immediate environment. You are able to see, hear, smell, touch, and taste your environment each and every moment. Your perceptions about yourself are therefore based on your personal interpretation of the events occurring within your contacted environment. When you say "I," it equates to a single, separate, human form, identifiable by perceptions taken from your immediate environment: name, age, race, nationally, occupation, etc., etc., operating within a given space-time frame, causal forces, and relationships. You can pin-point yourself as to time, location, behavior, and emotional content, every moment. Yet, as objective and certain as this kind of identification seems, there is a fatal flaw.

Worldly identification is but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of human consciousness. The abode of the "I" is the physical world, and since the physical world is relatively illusory compared to the spiritual world of the "thou," the "I" is relatively detached and isolated, without a true abiding place. That is the reason there is such relatively emptiness and unsustainable joy in worldly accomplishments. Worldly identification represents a very narrow and temporary kind of perception about the human condition. It completely neglects the vast, eternal realm of the spiritual. Spiritual identification is far superior, and hits the mark dead center as to the "real" content of human beings. Gautama the Buddha describes human worldly desires:

"Human desires are endless. It is like the thirst of a man who drinks salt water; he gets no satisfaction and his thirst is only increased. So it is with a man who seeks to gratify his desires; he only gains increased dissatisfaction and his woes are multiplied."

The "stuff" you are made of is intimately tangent and interrelated throughout the breath of the Cosmos. You are the embodiment of the Cosmos: you in it and it in you. The very same principles that infuse and enliven the Cosmos, are infused and enlivened in you. Your physical body and accompanying environment are in one respect mere temporary vehicles for your indwelling spirit, and in another respect mere illusions when compared to your infinite spiritual essence. To identify yourself solely and exclusively with the physical world is a grave mistake. Richard Cory made that mistake, and in his profound despair took his precious life.

A more dramatic, yet parallel condition of worldly despair can be found in Shakespeare's "Macbeth;" listen to Macbeth's fatalistic attitude:

"And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, Out brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing"...

Don't you become caught in worldly despair. Remember your spirit, and that biblical cliche, "A man or woman does not live by bread alone."

Least You Should Forget

Least you should forget, you are spirit besides flesh.

Flesh conspires, needles desires,
then masks, and acts them out
in the Illusion Theatre of the I.

All you where, are, will be, is
given by the Breath of the First
Thought. Only your intent is let
to direct your path.

Therefore, cultivate your own Spirit.
Synchronize with your intuition.

Keep a vigilant mind, less you be
carried away, and at all costs keep
yourself whole.

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