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The Hour Yields, with Mythologist Joanna Gardner, Ph.D.

Viewing 6 posts - 16 through 21 (of 21 total)
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    Stephen, and Everyone,

    I have so much enjoyed this Mythblast and all the responses to it–this mythic exploration of time and space is really at the heart of so many hearts–and maybe of all matter, as Richard’s posts explore, or as yoga, as Chris’s, and as Shaheda’s description of experiencing this feeling or sensation.

    Thank you, too, for your question, Stephen, which sends my mind rolling right now into a passion of the heart. When questions like this come along, I think they can be a place where mind and heart–thinking and feeling meet–transcending that gap between thinking and feeling–and when both happen at the same time, it is another bridge or transcendent “stillness,” even as our minds and heart are moved–for a moment we are standing in the middle of a bridge from here to there–from mind to heart and from heart to mind. I think/feel (because I am feeling all the words of what you and others are saying in these posts deeply–it seems we are all hitting upon some truths of the heart that Joanna inspired) that yes, that suspense can be “aesthetic arrest”–this is one of those aha! moments for me–we are suspended for a moment or for a “time-being” in that web of beauty–it somehow does go to that center people have mentioned here and spins our thoughts out into outer space or the outer spaces as well as into the inner spaces at the same time. It is like the inner and the outer worlds folding together–or unfolding together, depending on which way we look at it.

    Thank you, All, for the winds of inspiration set into my sails today!



    Thank you, Joanna, for your kind response–I deeply appreciate your thoughts about the difference between a transition and transcendence, in answer to my question, which provides such a clear explanation and definitions. I love how you pinpoint attention as the key–this has given me a lot to think about as I reflect on various experiences of my attention or lack thereof. This may be my own idiosyncratic interpretation of this concept (among other interpretations I might add), but it immediately comes to mind to me now how there have been times in which not paying attention to what was going on in different transitions in my life led to making some errors in decision which turned my direction off my “true” path when the experience might have otherwise been transcendent; however, I am not sure if what I am asking here would be so naturally built-into in these time periods of change. What are your ideas on that–I am wondering if, if there is indeed any “real” material/matter here in my question, or any sensible question at all, if you could offer some opinions or ideas on this? I am not sure I asked the question well–I mean, it is probably not that we can turn on transcendent experience as if it were a lightswitch. However, perhaps exercises such as yoga and archery and such can help us experience more transcendence more of the time, or as Stephen mentions, to experience more of Nirvana here on earth. Then again, sometimes the failures to make the right decisions have turned into transcendent experiences when going backwards from a dream, for instance–not paying enough attention to answer the call, times when we are afraid to answer the yes to the hero’s adventure…we return home then before we have ever left–and even this experience in all its deflation of a hope may that yet be transcendent in the sense that in that still moment of sadness or even disbelief we stop almost dead in our tracks feeling that failure to launch?–can that moment of turning backwards from a dream still be transcendent because it is still?  I have done that a few times in my life when I felt I was not up to a certain task. I wonder at times about that type of suspension–being half-way out in the middle of bridge and instead of looking and going forward going backward in fear or trepidation–fear of the unknown, fear of (as mentioned above) not being up to the task, etc.  But the main question for me through all this wonderment is, perhaps, how much “say” do we ourselves have in whether an experience makes for one that is either transcendent or transitional–and is there even an in-between bridge for those in which it can be almost half and half? I did hear in what you wrote about the attention–about paying attention–I gather that being more mindful in general would help–I am thinking that many of the still moments I have had that were pleasurable or of that “artistic arrest” have been surprise moments, unexpected–kind of like synchronicity but not always could be categorized as such per say…but maybe contained a hint of synchronous experience just in that synchronicity seems another still time when two worlds meet or inner and outer. I am going to have to re-read Campbell’s Inner and Outer Spaces–Maybe I will have some coffee with that half-and half as I keep reading about your Mythblast, the responses. Thank you so much.




    I find what you write so beautiful:

    In my own experience, it was in the odd, in the most unimaginable, yet very  real and true —  that weird, impossible, improbable thought took over my entire being.  And when the beloved image looked back, there was no effort to hold the gaze, the gaze was held by an energy far stronger than any other energy before this.  As if time stood still?

    In that moment of stillness, my image of myself changed. Previous images of self  dissolved, and the information gathered through that one gaze, permeated my neural pathways.

    When you say, “When the beloved image looked back” is so very akin to Indian viewpoints in viewing art. In India, when the art object is viewed, it is viewed with the notion that as we gaze upon the object, the object is gazing back at us. As we see it with our eyes, it sees us with its eyes, and we see ourselves through the object’s eyes as it sees itself through our eyes. It seems as though this notion and way of viewing and seeing ourselves reflected in the eyes of the art object comes naturally to you–for me, it was an exercise I had to do for a class I was in. I suppose this may however come naturally to many others–when we put ourselves into the frame of a film through our identification with a character, or put ourselves into the photo of the house seen on the border of the forest, or see ourselves on a sunny tropical beach in the middle of a northern winter storm…yet that is still seeing ourselves in the frame and not necessarily seeing it looking at us–we are busy projecting ourselves into the frame but not always thinking about how the frame is regarding us…I love that phrase you wrote.

    I wrote a poem about this for a class I took in which we viewed slides of Indian art and then were asked to be mindful of the image looking back at us as we looked at it. Thus, there is transcendance. And stillness in the eyes, I see. I will include the poem in the forum where we can share our own work. In viewing the slides, I was pulled to the slide of the deity Ganesha, and wrote about Ganesha; in much of it I project myself and my own ideas onto Ganesha (as this idea of being seen by the artwork was new to me and as I was getting used to it) and then in some parts in the poem I do acknowledge Ganesha looking back at me. It was a wonderful exercise by instructor Al Collins at PGI.



    Thank you for bringing up Eliot’s “Burnt Norton” – a compelling poem. You may be aware Joseph Campbell quotes the same lines as you, and a little more, in his discussion of the Still Point in The Inner Reaches of Outer Space (I find myself capitalizing “Still Point,” as if to emphasize the archetypal aspect of this image, congruent with the axis mundi).

    From a couple other replies, seems I’m not the only one to appreciate your post.


    Thanks for that. It’s been twenty-some years since I read The Inner Reaches of Outer Space. It must have stuck with me better than I know. I’ve been reading Eliot since I was a freshman English major in the late 60s and the odd phrase will pop into my head when least expected.  The business about yoga came from something that registered from one of Campbell’s lectures in The Transformation of Myth Through Time when he was discussing the Yoga Sutra.


    Marianne, your question and comments remind me of Rumi’s lines:

    Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
    there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

    When the soul lies down in that grass,
    the world is too full to talk about.
    Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
    doesn’t make any sense.

    I do believe we can cultivate those moments, even if we seem to be knocked off the path from time to time. One of the joys of the adventure is finding the path again, which couldn’t happen if we never left the path. So in an esoteric sense, losing the path is the path, and it’s impossible to fall off.

    Here in the field of space and time, every “Yes” we say is also a “No” to something else. For me, the practice is choosing our Yes-No’s with increasing attention and consciousness as much as possible.

    Coffee with half-and-half is the perfect beverage to accompany your rich reflections!

    Blessings to you,


Viewing 6 posts - 16 through 21 (of 21 total)
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