In this book I attempt to make sense of our reality, using the latest scientific understandings along with the collected wisdom of the ages. I steer a middle path, avoiding the extreme of scientific materialism, but also avoiding the extreme of dogmatic assertion of the literal truth of any specific revealed religious tradition. I draw on the deep well of philosophical and religious traditions from all over the world, including from Athens, Jerusalem, the Indus, the Ganges, the Yangtze, and the Hwang Ho. I insist that insights from these schools of thought be compatible with modern science, or at least be not incompatible. The objective is to explore the human psyche, how it came to exist, where it might be going, and most especially, what is the meaning of it all.
The book stems from a lifelong contemplation of the mysteries and paradoxes of human existence. As I write I am 70 years old, and while most of the book has been written over the last 12 years, the earliest parts of this book were written when I was a teenager, and other parts during each decade of my life, so indeed the book represents more than 50 years of effort. I have made considerable efforts to condense and edit every part of the work, in order to avoid wasting the reader’s time.
The book is not a mere collection of short pieces, but rather a unified whole. Some may be put off by the fact that half the book is in the form of poetry, but in that case one could begin by reading the closing “Meditations” section, which is in prose. The poetry is used to compress the message into as compact, efficient, and effective a form as possible. But the prose of the “Meditations” tells the same story and communicates the same underlying message.
While the order of presentation has been carefully chosen, with a coherent thread running from beginning to end, it does not have to be read in that order. After all, it was not written in that order. You are encouraged to read and experience it in any way in which the spirit moves you, and in fact it is hoped that you will come back again and again to parts of it.
Some major influences on the work come from three sources, the King James Bible, translations of classical Chinese poetry into English, and the vast and fabulous treasury of poetry written in the English language. Other influences include the Greek and Latin classics, the books of Teilhard de Chardin, Frank J. Tipler, Cervantes, and Dostoevsky, as well as twentieth century popular song, especially that of Bob Dylan.
The book is made up of four parts. "New Psalms" are lyrical poems that explore the existential questions of human life, and are similar to and somewhat inspired by the Book of Psalms in the Bible. They are concerned with the core philosophical questions that are at the heart of human life.
"Analects" are short poems and aphorisms in the tradition of such poems from classical Chinese literature, as read in translation into English. These poems delve into the more personal and intimate aspects of ordinary life, often leading to thoughts and emotions that are anything but ordinary. If you are short on time or attention, you might read these first. Not just bits and pieces, each verse focuses intently on an essential quintessence of reality.
"Manifesto" is similar to "New Psalms" but the poems are more assertive and aggressive, looking into the same themes but with a sharper edge to them.
"Meditations" are prose pieces including prose poems, prayers, parables and essays. These explore similar issues to those explored in "New Psalms", but with the kind of added depth, clarity and straightforwardness facilitated by the use of prose. To those who abhor poetry, try this section first!
Again, this is not a mere collection of articles, but rather, in order to respect the reader’s time, it is a highly curated, collated, edited and condensed work of communication.