If Darwin Meditated

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if-darwin-prayedToday I wanted to post a poem from the book, If Darwin Prayed, by Bruce Sanguin. Bruce is a member of the Beams family and has posted several articles. He's also the minster at Canadian Memorial United Church in Vancouver, Canada and I sometimes go to hear him preach during his Evolutionary-inspired-Christian-dharma-throw-downs (I find it really potent and moving stuff).


His poem (prayer, actually) below is one that speaks to my experience and understanding of meditation. I don't know if Bruce intended it to be about mediation, but there're many elements of the theme that jump out at me. At times I've even taken this poem and read it through silently before sitting, to help me adopt a right attitude and to just let go.


Here's the poem, enjoy it on your own, and if you're interested, my interpretation is afterward.


Hands Opening


We gather now

to deepen our trust,

relax our grip on life,

and let go - for one brief hour -

into a matrix of grace.


We witness

the fearful protests of the ego

as we imagine

releasing our white-knuckle grip

on life.


Show us the way, brother Jesus,

into the kin-dom of God,

which is always already present

for those who have discovered the

free-fall wisdom of the open hand.



How is the poem like meditation?:


open_handStanza 1:

We gather now

Gathering one's self to meditate: physically crossing your legs, gathering your hands in your lap, drawing-in your intention from the external world and turing inward.


to deepen our trust,

relax our grip on life,

Relaxing our grip on life and letting go requires trust, trust in something deeper than ourself. Letting go in trust, that's meditation.


and let go - for one brief hour -

into a matrix of grace.

I usually sit for one-hour blocks.

Waking-up is an experience of grace. It's not something that can be 'found', 'created', or 'forced', it comes on it's own.


Stanza 2:

We witness

The witness is a position the meditator can take in relation to her expereince, where she 'sees' her experience, but isn't wrapped-up in it.


the fearful protests of the ego

as we imagine

releasing our white-knuckle grip

on life.

A perfect description of what it feels like to consider letting go.

The ego freaks-out, grasps with white knuckles and is wracked with fear. It's scary to sit down and consider really letting go of absolutely everything.


Stanza 3:

Show us the way, brother Jesus,

into the kin-dom of God,

which is always already present

The kingdom of God - the Immanent, the Source, Nirvana - is always present already, like the poem says.


for those who have discovered the

free-fall wisdom of the open hand.

The Kingdom is (re)discovered by opening the hand, which is symbolic of letting go.

And free-falling is how my own teacher, Andrew Cohen, describes meditation - letting go so completely it's like you've jumped out of an airplane, leaving everything behind, and just falling - free falling without any ground below!


Stanza 1-3:

Together the first stanza gives the instructions for meditation, the second describes the experience, the third describes what meditation reveals: God.

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  • Comment Link Philip Corkill Sunday, 30 October 2011 18:40 posted by Philip Corkill

    One, two, three, GOd!

    Love it Bergen and Bruce. Thanks.

    The Kin-dom line. Is that hyphen deliberate - as in likeness of God - or accidental, just a typo replacing the missing g?

    P.S.: Looking forward to our first Sacred Sunday sit together;-)

  • Comment Link Philip Corkill Sunday, 30 October 2011 19:49 posted by Philip Corkill

    P.P.S.: We could work with sutras like this on those occasions.

  • Comment Link Trevor Malkinson Monday, 07 November 2011 04:19 posted by Trevor Malkinson

    Hey Phil, just to answer your question around the missing g in Kingdom, this is how Bruce has reworded/re-envisioned the Biblical phrase the Kingdom of God. As you're probably aware, Jesus' central teaching of the (already present and yet to come) Kingdom of God was a play on the Kingdom of Rome, which ruled over the Jewish lands in his time. The usage of this phrase was a direct challenge to Rome's rule.

    At any rate, in a postmodern age some church goers don't really like/resonate with the usage of a term like Kingdom. Too aggressive, too imperial sounding. So Bruce has reinvented it in a way that might have more resonance for postmodernly minded folks. The rephrasing also contains a teaching about the Kingdom actually indeed being a kin-dom, an interdependent unity, so it also voices Bruce's view that the next evolutionary/spiritual growth for humanity is to realize this type of kin-dom in a whole-Earth-community.

    What do you think of this rewording? I go back and forth. I mean, I like it and get it, but I'm also drawn to the word Kingdom too. As an integralist I feel drawn to explore these old phrases and see what power they still have, where there's truth in them that's worth retaining. However, if the word gives lots of folks a big rash, and we can still encounter the depths of the teaching with another phrase, well then, so be it, that's just good pragmatism I guess.

    But it obviously stuck out for you, I'd be curious to know what you were thinking around that, or how it landed for you.

  • Comment Link Philip Corkill Sunday, 13 November 2011 14:18 posted by Philip Corkill

    Oh, sorry Trevor, I forgot to subscribe to this one so I only just found your post. Thanks for explaining. Fascinating.

    I can relate to your back and forth. I do believe kingdoms have their merits. Especially, when there is a wise king. Can be better for all than a democracy of fools.

    I have difficulty rewording phrases form a man of the calibre Jesus because I simply don't have that outlandish calibre so how could I fathom what he meant. Also I love the challenge to Rome and, whilst I appreciate some of the sensitivity of a postmodern mind I don't believe in protecting its sensibilities, or anyone elses, from a roaring Jesus, at all. But I don't mean to say that is what Bruce is doing.

    Perhaps today Jesus he might preach The Corporation of God to challenge Wallstreet? Or preach at OccupyVatican?

    The kin-don sounds like a Co-operation of God or a collaboration of God. I like that. The 99 Percent of God. The 100 Percent of God!

    So, I like kin-dom too. I just think that the Love-power of a Jesus is not borrowed like that of old Rome, new Rome or Wallsstreet and that type of superiority, that is a self-evident fact, that causes a natural bowing to grace, courage and magnificance, might be missing in a sort of equality of Gods.

    What I initially thought, perhaps a surreal connection in my mind, was of a sort of likeness with God. The world akin to God. That's where kin-dom first took me.

    There's some quick thoughts anyhow.

  • Comment Link Bruce Sanguin Tuesday, 15 November 2011 05:18 posted by Bruce Sanguin

    Hey Trevor and Phil,

    I'm good with going with kingdom too. It's just that without stating the context every time I use the metaphor, it's subversive nature gets lost, and then we're left with an image that nobody today can actually relate to.

    Of course, when you hear the metaphor of Kingdom of God as a subtle, but powerful, challenge of the Kingdom of Caesar it's regains its original meaning. The KG is what what my personal life would look like if my authentic self and not ego reigned; what my relationships would look like if I we were consciously supportive of each other's evolution; what our social and political systems would be like if justice and compassion, not greed reigned.

    I first dropped the "g" in my book Darwin, Divinity, and the Dance of the Cosmos: An Ecological Christianity when I was highlighting the radical interconnectedness (kinship) of all in an evolutionary universe.

    Thanks for the conversation.

  • Comment Link Philip Corkill Monday, 21 November 2011 00:24 posted by Philip Corkill

    Hi Bruce, Pleased to meet the author of that Sacred Sunday Sutra here!

    I see what you mean. I think the way I related to the term as a child (when I didn't have a choice about the religion being taught at my school) was seeing a kind of heavenly kingdom unfolding on earth with God or perhaps Jesus on the throne of a BENIGN, old school, dominator hierarchy from times gone by. So I did relate to it, and I think people do, but not in the intended way. The subversive challenge to the establishment was totally lost on me.

    So, I see the issue.

    I wonder does your faith ever see you sending out similar subversive rebellious fire? This is what always strikes me about Jesus. The courage to say such things. Regardless of the consequences but connected enough to see and sweat blood, fearing the likely consequences.

    That's were, in the mirror of what I know about the man, I see my patheticness. My "sorry, contracted state" as Bonnitta puts it:-)

  • Comment Link Bruce Sanguin Monday, 21 November 2011 17:57 posted by Bruce Sanguin

    Hey Phillip,

    In terms of my own fire, www.canadianmemorial.org has all my sermons. You be the judge. :-)

    Check out Disturbing the Peace, and Occupy.

    You don't seem pathetic to me.



  • Comment Link Philip Corkill Saturday, 26 November 2011 23:33 posted by Philip Corkill

    Hey Bruce,

    I'm just done with "Occupied" and I loved it very much. It moves me to share this with you, which was my first, and perhaps only sermon, in this life.

    It was America Week in school and I was Fifteen years old. End of the week we staged a concert to celebrate all things USA. I wrote, arranged and performed the following America Rap. It's rather a black and white, just slightly inaccurate;-) and somewhat depressing, sermon but the kid was only 15:

    "America's dream seems the poverty's nightmare
    Go take a look 'cause you'd see a sight where
    The rich man laughs and the poor man cries
    It's not on TV because your TV lies
    Beverly Hills high quantity living
    But what it conceals, will not be forgiven
    Fat Cadillacs, expensive perks
    So let me tell you how America works:
    Europe once had the dangerous notion
    Along came Columbus, to sail the ocean
    Growth in Knowledge, now the earth is round
    I wish he'd drowned, for here's what he found:
    The native American, a race so grand
    In touch with Nature, living with the land
    And, understand, we claimed it Spanish
    So what about the Indian, expect him to vanish?
    "Ha haa" said Europe, "I've got a gun"
    So, lets wipe out a whole race, for fun
    America's built on such a mess
    Wiping out peoples, just like the SS!


    The White House, the President is one sad case
    But there's many more spots on America's face!
    The ugliest of white-heads enslaved the African
    And once he was free you told him to go back again!
    Texas of places, the basis for racists
    It's wrong to judge people by colours of faces!
    "Hey Sheriff, are you racist?" he says "No way!"
    "But you haven't done a thing about the KKK"
    Who tried to squash hopes with ropes around necks
    But they couldn't stop a speaker named Malcom X
    Martin Luther King tried to put things right
    But again, what a shame, he was shot, by a white!
    Never was there freedom for the Afro minority
    With land in the hand of the fascist authority
    When equal rights put prospects high
    Then evil whites had concepts die


    Which rotten apple in the world come first?
    The big apple of New York tastes worst!
    Take a small bite and see how you react
    Stars and Stripes aside as I reveal one fact:
    The richest one percent of the burger eating nation
    Owns half the money of the whole population
    Equal rights? A lie, a Joke, a creation
    The rich white boy gets the best education
    A wonderful society is what they choose
    Where one man wins and a thousand men loose
    "Everyone can make it" says the man in the Merc
    But if everyone made it, there's no way it would work!
    So poor men, who dream of the money they'll make
    Must resort to crime as their dreams turn fake
    You're surprised at ghettos with gangsters in place
    When you're spending your money sending rich men to space?
    America's broken but it feel it has the might
    To stop other countries doing what they feel is right
    I prefer to rap than to sing a lame song
    But if you don't like Rap, well you know where it came from
    Rap just expresses a minority's silence
    So it's better to Rap than resort to violence
    My message to the mislead youth:
    After five hundred years of lies

    (the last line is stolen from The Goats)

    How d'you like it?

    Unfortunately, I was unable to make the leap to integral at that age and soon found myself utterly disillusioned and occupied with (accidental) overdoses on extremely high grade cannabis. After that I found my self utterly occupied by meditation and the attempt to liberate myself from the mess I had created. And with healing my mind. Pre-Occupied with myself.

    And now, I find myself here, reading these wicked sermons and thinking:

    I must re-light the fire of intelligent rebellion! So I'm Occupying Beams and Struts to be lit up by those that kept their fire burning while I was asleep in hell.

  • Comment Link Bruce Sanguin Sunday, 27 November 2011 00:17 posted by Bruce Sanguin

    Hey Phil,

    I was groovin' as I read it. Nice lyric. "Texas of places, the basis for racists" :-)

    Yeah, integral activism. Let's find out what that looks like and do it.


  • Comment Link Philip Corkill Sunday, 25 December 2011 21:15 posted by Philip Corkill

    Yo B-ball Captain Bruce!

    I also like your "Disturbing the Peace" sermon. My sense is that Jesus was a touch more radical than we are but I like where your going.

    Do you think you could make a rap out of that sermon? That would be truly disturbing;-)

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