Discipleship – an idea worth ressurecting?

The dictionary says that a disciple is ‘the follower of the doctrines of a teacher or school of thought’. But this doesn’t really convey the experiential flavour of that ancient institution. In days gone by, when you took up a trade or a course of study in guild, church or university, you were apprenticed to a master. You followed their teaching in craft, curriculum or philosophy closely. No doubt you were aware that as a human being they were far from perfect, but you knew that your future success in life depended on learning as much from the master as possible in a very broad sense. This aspect of education and human development is something we have largely lost in the modern world. In the Buddhist movement I am part of we are taking some steps to reinstate this ancient tradition, in ways that suit these times. I think we have a long way to go. Not everyone likes the idea. This may be because the second, religious, meaning of the word ‘a follower of Christ’ has been widely used by analogy in our times to apply to the often gullible devotees of eastern or new age gurus. This usage tends to imply a complete self surrender to the teacher on the part of the disciple. The result is that the more ‘secular’ meaning, of being a follower of someone’s teaching, which only implies a reasonable human respect for the teacher, has been drowned in the colourful, melodramatic history of religious and esoteric cults over the last hundred years or so. Think of the Golden Dawn, Madam Blavatsky, Rajneesh – all had their so called disciples – but how much did these followers really learn? Continue reading “Discipleship – an idea worth ressurecting?”

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Cantos for a Post Modern age: Mark Tredinnick

Just posted to our literature pages: a review of Mark Tredinnick’s, Bluewren Cantos (Pitt Street Poetry) by Colin Pink

Colin Pink says:

“Tredinnick’s poetry combines the personal, the spiritual and the natural worlds into one intricate web of meaning. There’s a richness to his work that resonates from bringing these perspectives together. One might say, rubbing them together creates the friction that ignites these poems into a pure and memorable flame.:

Read the full review here: TREDINNICK REVIEW

Mark Tredinnick
Mark Tredinnick

Geoffrey Hill: Broken Hierarchies (collected poems 1952-2012)

Hill reading in Leeds last year
Hill reading in Leeds last year

 

Any would-be reviewer of this large volume is in danger of falling into abashed silence. What can one say about the life’s work of the person who is without doubt England’s greatest living poet, the only authentic carrier of the torch lit by Pound and Eliot? I imagine that those who first held the collected poems of Yeats in their hands must have felt the same way. As Yeats was the brilliant last, late flowering of the entire Romantic tradition in poetry, the same might be said of Hill as regards the hieratic high modernism of Pound and Eliot. Continue reading “Geoffrey Hill: Broken Hierarchies (collected poems 1952-2012)”

Editor’s Blog – thoughts on art, life and everything

In memory and celebration: Seamus Heaney

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Seamus Heaney died on August 30th this year at the age of 74 after a short illness – he had taken a fall outside a Dublin restaurant. Physically he had been weaker since a stroke in 2006, but his last collection Human Chain (2010) showed no dimmunition in his powers of sensitivity and reflection. It was described by Ruth Pardell, poet and judge of the Forward Prize, as ‘a collection of painful, honest and delicately weighted poems… a wonderful and humane achievement’ (Human Chain was the first of his collections to win that prize – perhaps the only major poetry award he had not so far received.)

His previous collection District and Circle (2006) likewise contained several intensely moving poems with an elegiac mood. It was characteristic of the man, loved by so many – poets, writers and millions of others around the world – to have been preparing us, and himself, for his expected departure, with down to earth images of both mortality and on going life. Continue reading “Editor’s Blog – thoughts on art, life and everything”

Editor’s Blog – notes from an English village

A summer evening in Granchester

 

There have been times when I well might have passed and the ending have come–

Points in my path when the dark might have stolen on me, artless, unrueing…

Thomas Hardy, ‘In Tenebris’

Granchester Meadows - a grey and cheerless dusk which Hardy would have appreciated.
Granchester Meadows – a grey and cheerless dusk which Hardy would have appreciated.

It is cooler now and the meadows have lost the smouldering Tuscan gleam they had last week. As if to reinforce the changed mood the farmers have been around and mowed flat the long grasses and the dry thistles that baffled even the tough lips of the Redpoll herd. No doubt this will lead to fresher and sweeter leaves to eat for the cattle as the summer days shorten to Autumn. For the moment however, it is a somewhat dreary sight. Last night at dusk there was a grey wash over the sky as I walked out into the meadows. It was one of those summer evenings which are nonchalantly non-descript – the air was warm and thick with the sweet peppery smell of newly mowed hay, and a few a slightly darker rags of cloud banded the uniform grey above. Continue reading “Editor’s Blog – notes from an English village”