The Vale of Soulmaking…John Keats


“I will call the world a School instituted for the purpose of teaching little children to read—I will call the human heart the horn Book used in that School—and I will call the Child able to read, the Soul made from that school and its hornbook. Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a soul? A Place where the heart must feel and suffer in a thousand diverse ways!” Keats

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Nothing is so beautiful as spring



Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

Source: Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)

About our minds and emotions


. “It is
in the second half of the book, however, that Donaldson asks herself that
‘very important question’: do the emotions develop in parallel with the

She takes as her starting point the fact that many people report intense
emotional responses to works of art or to nature and, further, that many
also report having powerful ‘spiritual’ experiences. These kinds of experiences
interest her because, like the thinking of the advanced intellectual modes,
they seem relatively free of entanglement in ‘narrow personal goals’.

But such experiences are rarely the subject of scientific scrutiny.
So to study them, she is forced to look at how they have been perceived
in the past and how the world’s great religions, especially Buddhism, evaluate
and attempt to cultivate them.

She concludes that there are indeed advanced modes of development for
the emotions. Since these emotions are deeply significant for the people
who experience them, she calls them ‘value-sensing’. She identifies a ‘value-sensing
construct mode’, which is the realm of the arts and of religious myth and
ritual, and mirrors the intellectual construct mode with its scientific
thought. And then there is a ‘value-sensing transcendent mode’ which is
the realm of spiritual experience, and mirrors the intellectual transcendent
mode with its mathematics.

She describes these modes as ‘advanced in the developmental sense, in
that you can’t get them in the early stages of living. They are also perhaps
advanced in another sense, in that they have to be cultivated more than
the early ones. There may be flashes of either emotional or intellectual
insight, but to cultivate them you have to be systematic and disciplined
and you rely more heavily on teaching.’

Her ideal is to be able to move from one mode to another at will. We
may choose to think logically about a problem, for example, when that is
useful to us. In the same way, it can be useful to have transcendent emotional
experiences. ‘They put our personal goals into some sort of perspective.
By being more aware of our emotions and valuing them more, we might live
more happily and society might work better.’

She concludes by speculating on the possibility of a ‘dual enlightenment’
in which intellect and emotion are equally valued. If that happens, ‘we
may come to feel less embarrassed about and suspicious of transcendent emotion,
seeing it as no more ‘weird’ than the capacity for mathematical thought’.
Each of these, she says, is ‘a normal, though generally ill-developed, power
of the human mind’.”