Prophet of the day (according to Ibn 'Arabi): Joseph
Lunar phase: Crescent - Expansion (Phase names and keywords from Dane Rudhyar, The Lunation Cycle)
The Sun is in 27 Leo (in my 12th house): Having infiltrated an enemy installation, a secret agent finds his whole worldview changing, and decides to escape through an underground tunnel. (Symbol for 28 Leo from Martin Goldsmith, The Zodiac by Degrees, 2nd ed.) Many little birds on a limb of a big tree. (Symbol for 28 Leo from Dane Rudhyar, An Astrological Mandala)
About an hour after Isha (Jacija), the Moon will transit my natal Sun (in my 2nd house). Overnight, the Moon will enter my 3rd house. In the morning, the Moon will transit my natal Neptune (in my 3rd house).
While I have posted an away message indicated that I will be away from university email until August 24, I have been checking it occasionally to see if there is anything urgent or interesting that I might want to consider dealing with. During this past day, I had the pleasant surprise of finding out about a review of my recording from 2013 of which I had been unaware. It was a strongly positive review, which helped to allay some of the misgivings I had had about the outcome of the project. I had been planning to distribute my CDs more widely this academic year anyway. Having a review to send along for reference may help to bring more attention to the recordings. My previous recording had a review, and now the newer one does as well. This will also be useful, of course, in documenting external recognition of my work for purposes of evaluation at my university.
My father and I headed down to New Haven and had pizza with one of my former students. While I was there I picked up a recently published biography of poet James Merrill. After my recent purchase of John Ashbery's latest volume of poetry, I have been reflecting on the ways in which I discovered modern American poetry in college, and how this has continued to return to me periodically as an interest outside of my work with music. Among the poets who have left the strongest impressions on me--and who have been among the most praised of their respective generations--are Wallace Stevens, John Ashbery, and James Merrill. Two of the three have strong Connecticut connections. Stevens was an insurance executive in Hartford, and the path that he walked to and from work every day (during the workweek) is marked with plaques, one for each stanza of his famous poem, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." I have not yet done the Wallace Stevens Walk, but would like to at some point. Merrill and his partner David Jackson lived for a time in Stonington, Connecticut. After visiting Stonington a couple of times I have located where their place was. It is now a gathering place for poetry readings and a temporary residence for poets who receive fellowships to live and work there. In addition, my university has a Wallace Stevens series to which poets are invited to read their work. Merrill was among the poets who read there, back before I was aware of his work. Even though I don't know anyone personally who reads the work of these poets, I can think of worse ways to spend my reading time than to continue to explore their work.
In general, I find myself making decisions about where to invest my time and energy, based in part on unfinished projects from the past. I am getting to the point where I realize that I will not live long enough to pursue every interest I have explored, even tentatively, so I am beginning to put my ducks in a row to hopefully complete a few of the projects I have set for myself, or at least to make some more progress with them, before death or declining faculties prevent me from doing so.
I am beginning to feel similarly about my spiritual pursuits. My momentary questioning about a possible return of interest in Kali has resolved itself slightly by my considering that--even though I only met him once in person--Nur is probably the largest single influence on my spiritual interests. As I have indicated previously, by associating with the Amma org, it seems that I was hoping to explore more deeply the Ramakrishna/Kali tradition that I had learned about through Nur's work. What I seemed to find out instead was what it feels like to be in a cult whose primary interest seems not to be to lead its members to fuller realization of themselves, but rather to perpetuate itself at the expense of anyone who is willing to participate to the level of significant expenditures of time and other resources. In terms of a spiritual "curriculum," it feels right at this point to return to Nur's books, reviewing or completing my reading of them. If there is to be another living shaykh for me in the future, perhaps Taner Ansari will fill that role, at least for a time. It may be, however, that I am past the point of looking to establish myself in an org in the ways that I did when I was in my 20s, 30s, or 40s.
Having viewed the Vissarion video, I was reminded of the way in which cults can bring to the surface feelings associated with the first flush of romantic and/or sexual feelings as experienced in adolescence or early adulthood. Who wouldn't be charmed by the return of such feelings, and by seeing them evidently present in others? I was also struck by the interviewer's statement, early on in the video, that he felt that he wanted to be like the people in the org. I think that one of the hooks for me in the Amma org was that I felt a sense of admiration for the apparent intensity of devotion of X and of others in the group, and I wondered what it would feel like to develop a similar intensity. After some time in the org, however, I came to consider that, with so little else going for them in their lives, some people might try to fill themselves up with devotional intensity. My relationship to the org--besides becoming at times very painful--gradually came to feel stale and even a bit boring. The last time that I considered going on a retreat, I found myself contemplating escapes, such as reading alone in my room or going on nature walks in nearby parks. I decided that, if what I ultimately wanted time alone for contemplation, I could explore that for free at home rather than go through the expense and inconvenience of a retreat.