In its nativity, water is motion, circulation of a primal life-force that can cloud the window on a drizzly October day and leave reason to suffer its illogic. In both its gross and subtle bodies, water is change, the only constant, and so is like love in its constant inconstancy. Let’s return a moment to the source, on the hillside, and listen to how the spring emerges from under its canopy of ferns. There is song, mirth, ease, and a godly contentment in the inconstant sound. Its play on the human nervous system has had a similar effect for millennia. Imagination opens and grows lyric. The longer one lingers, the more abundant grows the story. There is also danger in a mortal’s spying on Diana’s bath. The emergence of life’s stream from its secret place sets in motion certain obligations, easily forgotten but nonetheless unremitting. One disobeys at one’s own peril. I am dimly aware now that the lover has similar ones and that they are not onerous to discharge, no more so than stroking the beloved’s skin. They have to do with the tactility of knowledge, that the intelligible realm is known by sensation, and that, negatively, one must eschew abstraction for what touches the flesh, down to and including the heart. Neglect of one’s philosophy may anger the goddess so that she will undo one’s human form save for longing. What could be more painful than Echo’s bodiless yearning? Never to leave off the feel of things: that is what obliges us. The feel is also audible, the creek babbling in the woods. Words speak the subtle sound as it were in spaces they leave. I would listen for it now. Aladdin’s hand that stroked the lantern simulates that sound. These words stroke the belly of the pool, and water whirls and readies itself to speak.
But the whirl must have right pitch and tempo. Too little and there is a haunting murmur, a bodiless nymph adrift in a purgatory. A story hangs in the spray above, just out of focus. Too much and you beget a whirlpool, a maelstrom, violence and cacophony. There the story roars and imagination shows itself in extremis. Let me quell my fear and try to understand. In primordial speech, whirl engenders storm, turbulence, trouble. A too forceful movement brings disorder and confusion, anathema to knowledge, yet its womb. The storm’s dazzle and fury are both beginning and end of knowing. Heraclitus uses the lightning flash, emblem of the storm, as sign of the birth of knowledge. So if the storm is caused by excessive enthusiasm — the hand swirling the pool to vigorously — excess must strengthen love of thought, the way water tempers the reed and leaves it supple. This is a paradox since pure intellectual love that Spinoza admired, seems a calm unruffled surface, the pond in stillness. There, the excess is a hidden depth since what could be more excessive than the infinite? A philosopher of moderation might ask how thought can restrain itself from excesses like self-indulgence. But then he or she forgets the birth of the search is always the storm of wonder. That stops the world and in a fit of imagination, mid-wife of knowledge, tells a new story.
One fear is love in excess. Too much love leads to assault or rape, far from the beauty that turns a humble ear toward the beloved. But I have no wish to turn the meadowside stream into an idyll. To romance water is to leave the primal terror out of the account. The hurricane is also the face of the god. Excessive love or forced union pits strength against weakness, and so in the story of the storm, we learn of the gradient of desire and its regenerative force. Perhaps any union of god and mortal teaches the same imbalance is the beginning of things. From Leda’s rape by Zeus came a new race and in a different way from Mary’s womb, a new faith. Such love by force, whether divine muscle or angelic annunciation, brings the terror of the storm. I see Mary in a continuous state of inward prayer to restore calm to herself. And Leda, whose depths had been scoured in the onslaught of desire, was a vessel empty but for the echoing terror. That echo heard as the walls of Troy fell. Do we not also hear? Struck, our imagination reverberates in two ways: in how it gives new form to the material of experience and in how it provides new material to ready-to-hand forms of experience. The first is knowledge, the second, being. The shrieking storm evokes a primal terror that fecundates the story. In these two dimensions again we find the quiet stream, first touching thought, then opening the heart. Terror has been allayed as life returns to human form.
It is magic that transforms the storm. A kind of magic began it, and we later find both are in the service of love. Prospero, a mage whose servant is an efficient sprite, makes the waters whirl. This much is obvious to his much beloved daughter Miranda who observes:
If by your art, my dearest father, you have
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them. [I.ii]
He complies happily for the tempest is a ruse, a contrivance by which to bring love to her life. The terror of the shipwrecked passengers is real yet in the service of the imagination. It, the magic, and the lovers unfold a story that shapes our heavy sensibilities and returns it to a form as vaporous as Ariel. As if it were not enough to maintain the connection between the human level and the divine, imagination also shows the substance of our too human love. Plying between heaven and earth, earth and heaven, Plato says, imagination takes us by storm. This is the only way to awaken being.
The storm is release. The storm releases water to its velocity. It is the catharsis of water, after substance has become quickened, heated, and vaporized. We speak of the storm’s fury or wrath, but that is not really it. The Furies can call forth a storm, whirling water to madness, as when they pursued Oedipus. Instead, the storm’s ardor is the heart of sorrow’s opening. The rash of grief inundates all those in its path. We appreciate this on a human level and give the mourner our pity and a wide circle. It is that way on a divine level also. Think of the storm that overtook Golgotha after the crucification. Such unremitting weeping can befall only the death of love. There are those who speak of undying love, but realists know love dies and must be reborn. To weep at the leavestaking is a natural means of purification. All purification involves a recognition of change. Things are not the way they once were and that is sadness, but they will not stay sad, which is joy. Pained by the tragic sense of life, the pained heart opens the tear ducts when the hero or heroine undergoes a transformation. To cry is to express the bitter-sweet taste of metanoia. The weeping clouds thus embody water’s knowledge of impermanence. It is great knowledge. For this reason, Lao Tzu called water the softest thing.
In a woman’s labor, there is storm and tears and gnashing of teeth. We enter thus, just after the breaking of waters, unless we happen to follow Caesar’s example and by-pass the violent expulsive contractions of birth. If we do, forever we will seek it out, by force and conquest, for we will have missed the weeping that heralds our human presence. In the story of the garden, our labored birth was given as a sign of remembrance. Each of us was asked to pass through the storm of tears signifying the beginning of responsible existence. Before that, we belonged to the deity’s. This is the mystery, how we came to be given the possibility of self-mastery. While we were the gods’ children, we had no reason to ask, ‘How did we come to be?’ For the eternal simply is. To this day, our children ask, ‘Where was I before I was born?’ and most often we fail to meet the question. We should tell the clever child the whole story of the vale of tears and the meaning of liberation. To the rebellious one, we should respect his Caesar-like rejection of our task and turn him to his own way. To the dull child, a simple tale will do: we must pay in advance for the life loaned to us. And to the one unable to ask, a great patience, one that befits a human entry into the place of enlightenment.
To return to my first thought, it is the whirl of water that yields the storm. In the storm, water surpasses what it is and assumes its height and velocity. How can a force go beyond itself? In this case, since the turbine of water is the wind, the storm actually represents a marriage of two unequals. The same is true of any turbulence: two unequal forces have been wed. Water itself in elemental form embodies a turbulent domesticity. At a crucible of fire, the most prevalent atom (hydrogen, literally, ‘source of water’) attaches itself twofold to one sixteen times its mass (oxygen.) The resulting liquid contains a unique bond that reflects the desire of the two atoms to keep one another at arm’s length. The so-called hydrogen bond provides the chemistry that makes the liquid denser than the solid. If this singularity were not the case, ice would sink to the bottom of the beaver pond, which would soon be frozen solid, top to muck. One could say the situation is repeated at the most primal and cosmic level. The supreme masculine and feminine forces, Zeus and Hera, enjoy a troubled marriage and are the yin and yang of each other, turbulently circling one another around the still point at center, the ch’i. The world is a product of that vortex, and appropriately symbolized by the uroboros, the snake chasing its own tail. For in essence the reptile is a watery current driven by an obsession to completely encompass itself.
At least that is how visionaries see the essence of things. Descartes was not the first but one for whom the first things of the universe were vortices, intersecting, countering, pirouetting about each other. From their turbulences, this magnificent creation arose, part mind, part matter, another uneasy marriage. Try as we may, can it ever be patched up? For, though mind can be taught to love matter, can ‘dumb’ matter learn to be loved? This is another way of speaking of our modern uneasiness with beginnings. Rather than answer the question, ‘How did the world begin?’, we make no assumptions but speak of things, like Descartes, already made. We need to look much more closely at the neglect here. Why do we follow the trickle of water back only so far? What do we lack? Even Descartes is incredulous enough never to mention the connection between a visionary dream — that watery medium — he had of vortices and his intellectual discoveries. In it, the storm picked him up and bodily laid him down on the path of philosophy. Asleep in his bed, Descartes symbolizes the troubled marriage of the vortex. The nature of the trouble at least comes clear. The night mind keeps secrets from the day mind rather than providing instruction in self-disclosure. Does this condition not speak of the absence of love, for whom intimacy is the field ripe for education? So it is with us moderns, incredulous beings that we are, we lack the patience of love in finding the beginning of our deeds and deliberations.
Neglect also is a beginning of sorts. It breeds monsters in deep bodies of water, the sea, lakes, and our own minds. Their monstrosity derives from references back to primeval creatures of an earlier age. Our embryonic development shows us the same fact: that neglected beginnings, being unloved, need also to be embraced, as water does, for any body introduced into it. The law is absolutely rigorous in this instance. It says that the more our avoidance, the more hideous the face. If we remember the first speech that babbles freely in the woodlands, it is plain that monster is related to admonition and that the connection is providential. Monsters that lurk in darkened waters are striving mightily to warn us — of our ignorance of them, which is, of ourselves. That exercise of love — our attentiveness — is a preventative against fear, the fear that freezes us in the face of the other. It is the same exercise practiced by water, the way it clings to any surface, beautiful or ugly, evil or good. The intelligence of dreams is like this also. By such practice, neglect is placed on an altar and transformed.
Is there any reason to think that neglect is only human? A maleficent facet of our awareness alone? How can this be when monsters abound up and down the scale of creation? Envious and jealous of one another, the gods are not of one mind and play off of each other’s passions to their own advantage. The mightier the feeling, the deeper the shadow of neglect. Troy is a graveyard of duplicities. Jehovah too is not immune to a similar display; hurler of fire, sender of plagues, drowner, and avenging executioner. To some, all of creation is a monstrous aberration of uncreated cosmic perfection. It would seem that monsters abound not only to warn humankind of its blunted purpose but the divine also. Perhaps the memory of water is infallible. The divine is divine, not because it never forgets, but because of the quality of mercy it shows to its own lapses. The enigmatic emblem of that unstrained quality, the monster.
The monster of neglect, the storm of passion, and the secret beginning are all united in the typhoon, gale of the Orient. That the whirling wind could inseminate monsters of classical proposition seemed logical to the ancients, and so, Typhon (whose name comes from the same stock as the storm wind) fathered a brood that included Cerebus, the Chimaera, and the Sphinx. These guardians of secret doorways owe their powers to their monstrosity. None is greater than theirs, even the power they serve, death. It must have been this in them that Socrates worshipped. For he in his ugliness and ugly ways was a worshipper of monsters. Did he not confess that Typhon lived within him? That a sage admit to harboring a monster should give us pause. What could better warn him when, as he tells us, he is about to take a wrong turn? That man would stand stock-still in snowy fields or on stoops to listen to Typhon and other monsters within, sometimes for a whole night, to rouse himself at dawn for another day’s wrestling. If I listen closely, I can hear the prayer of Socrates. ‘May you seek out the sacred monster in yourself, so that you might learn to love it and also be stilled.’ So too in fairy tales, when the beautiful princess learns to love the toad-prince.
In the storm’s eye, which is its heart, water returns to its birth. Since that eye is blind, water is without lore regarding its beginning. All things other, it can remember. Itself, not. So too it is with life and its beginning, which is ours. Like the eye, we cannot see ourselves, which is the reason why we are always seeking out an honest man. It is the same thing to say we are constantly in question. When the monster sleeps (perhaps after Odysseus has fed it some sops), the pond is quiet and we, nearer to the infinity of infinites. That is not illusion — it is the opposite of illusion — but it also is not ours to own. Perhaps the warning concerns that. We are summoned first to attend to the storm within, that shows itself in fits of judgment, rages of indignation, furies of injustice. Not to quell, but to heed its admonition, to heed it, period. If words would suffice, the storm would speak, as Jehovah from the whirlwind. There is no grasping to contain that endlessness, only to avoid being annihilated by it. Yet are we not to be, if we are to gain an understanding of the storm’s eye? There again is the riddle of water, that seeks to dissolve and assimilate all things while remaining its own utter particular.
Mist is water whose body has grown elusive, even subtle. The body’s circumference is everywhere, its center is nowhere. Mist then is the anti-God. Is it any wonder then that the gods like to shroud themselves in mist? Then they possess a ubiquity which at the same time is tangible. Mist is water taken to the extreme point of tangibility. Take it another notch and it is gone, like vapor, able to exert an action (like spirit) but no longer body (like soul.) Coming at things the other way round, mist is the first point of the manifest, just after water breaks the cocoon of the unmanifest and grows, as the ancients say, sensible. If imagination corresponds to the initial ‘coagulation’ of intelligence, we are surely prompted imaginatively by mist. Inchoate form and primitive matter all rolled into one. Or perhaps a neutral screen on which to project the archetypes of the higher mind. Perhaps. On a windless day, mist is well-behaved, a refuge for a being who is to issue a fiat of creation or display the works of imagination. But our senses respond differently to a mist that runs with the wind. Let the swirl of air stir the mist. The stationary, invisible screen through which meaning enters is replaced with the image of change. That image — God moving over the face of the waters — is divinity itself. It is an image of constancy, since change is the only constant, and, therefore, of the Unmoved Mover. In the season of mists, a heavy mist drapes the beaver pond, and then the breath of an October breeze. In that shift, the phantoms that illuminated the mind are exchanged for an impression of the beginning. The way the world began was by mist setting in motion.
There is enchantment in the subtle body. This derives from its proximity to the ether, the fifth element. Inasmuch as nature abhors a vacuum, we can call the ether the unnatural or supernatural element. Because the mist trades with the intangible, insensible, it shares in the power of enchantment. Enchantment is release from responsibility. Responsibility dogs our path for we have been chosen and summoned. It obliges us to construct ethics and seek after virtue and goodness. These are good things and return us, as the Stoics taught, to our nature and to the greater nature, the abode of the gods. But they weigh on our minds and hobble our feelings with their dictates, precepts, prescriptions, and righteousness. Mist defuses the ethical impulse, which is its danger. But it is not back to savagery, brutality, or bestiality that enchantment takes us. Those forms are dispersed in the play of mist, which is like Prospero’s magic spirit, Ariel. Their boundaries waver and yield to the ambiguity that belongs to the creative imagination. That is the ultimate danger once the conventional morals dissipates: one is in contact with a source of meaning beyond what society agrees upon and over which the individual exerts no control. The mist lurks and irks. Yet what it hides that remains concealed until the moment of disclosure, is never totally disagreeable. Though it may have little to do with one’s vision of things, enchantment ultimately brings delight. That is its story.
New form unfolds not from the old forms we know but from vague margins of our perception. Take the mist-enshrouded corner of the eye. Infinitude enters there rather than in the well of finiteness belonging to the macular region. We see the dimmer stars with our peripheral vision. As soon as we turn our head to face them, they disappear. The mist works that way too. Whole worlds begin and end in its unfurling. Mesmerized, the will grows passive. When we cease projecting the world according to our concept, the world appears. That is how the imagination functions, that delicate butterfly (like the soul, like mist) that perishes from too rough a wind.
Mist speaks in the first language, a speaking that brings existence to things. To listen to the subtle body of water calls forth our inner ear. That organ, as the word ear suggests, more attuned to oracular hearing. In mist, our senses blend and cross, a kind of synaesthesia. Words are perceived as charged with power. It is the same power that can brings things to be. We know it in our dreams, where saying something makes it happen. A proper phenomenology of mist would have to include how sounds seem to involve sight and how seeing grows audible. In this dissonant state, our customary springs to action grow paralyzed. A rapture takes hold, for when the sharp edge to things is blurred, the emergence of new form entrances us. Enchantment is our undoing because it undoes the will to do. We are returned to a primal energy — which is eternal delight — and to ourselves. What could be a greater danger?
As to the connection between water’s ethereal form and love, that should be obvious. Love or Aphrodite was born of the mist and sea foam (which is just water aswim with mist.) Into that womb, the ejaculate of Zeus, while he was in the embrace of Demeter, fell to the ocean and from that, the goddess appeared. That gentle story makes use of the fact that mist, matrix of imagination, patiently calls forth the archetype of desire. For mist and desire are similars, which explains why the ancient physicians valued water condensed from mist as a cure for disorders of desire. Like mist, desire wishes for nothing more than wrap itself around its object, envelop it, and keep it all to itself. The erotic character of mist has long been valued. No higher form of eroticism exists than the free flow of imagery. Await the next autumn mist and go out into it. Its mellow fruit has for eons been home of sylph and satyr, nymph and shepherd. The lyric, supposedly invented by Hermes, is a poem of mist for mist. The lyric comes from mist and is sung for its beloved, the mist. One could even say that the early poets were simply scribes. They wrote down the sounds they heard in the misty fields and forests and those articulations, enthralling to lovers, became the pastoral lyric tradition. Such sounds are not lost on us even now, nor the urge to write them. One can do the same nowadays and wear the same shoes that Archelaus wore.
In the mist is a muse. That would be Euterpe, whose instrument evokes song and loosens the fetters on desire. Dance follows, and drama and the bacchanal. Theatre and the orgy have a common origin, as many upright church goers have claimed. They both are enticed by the workings of mist. Theatre in an obvious sense since the curtain, essential to define a space for the imagination, is simply a fabrication of mist, even down to its acoustical properties. But the orgy also since Dionysios — first embodiment of the prime god figure — derives his power from the grape, which is brought to its sugary fruition by the action of mist. Its misted skin is testimony. To this close circle, of lyricism, the play, and the bacchanal fiesta, should be added a fourth, which we must not forget: philosophy. We must not think that love of wisdom is a filial love, brotherly, sisterly, paternal or maternal. Those loves are important for the establishment of family, community, and mesocosmos. But the love that is philosophy wishes to envelop its subject, and like a lover his beloved, keep it all to himself. No, philosophy and eros are inextricably entwined. To separate them leads only to pathological wants and bad reflection. And worse, blocks the path to the imagination, which is to say, causes a disenchanted, scholastic philosophy.
This brings me to say something more. The music of mist, its en-chantment, is an intoxicant, to be sure, the substance of which is a rhythmic repetition of an nearly silent sound. You need to let yourself be absorbed by a mist to hear for yourself. The toxin operates by numbing the analytic strain of consciousness, relaxing its embodiment, and inviting a background oneness to be felt. Contained by mist, everyday preoccupations quieten and an appreciation of immediacy, of what actually touches oneself, asserts itself. Some, Marcus Aurelius for one, would say that the unstrained condition is our true nature. It would seem that mist enjoins us to obey that, which is why mist should not be compared with a veil or a cave. In the cave or behind the veil, we are kept from the enchantment of ourselves. Opinions of convention and mass-produced beliefs serve as touchstones of a disenchanted reality and imprison us in the brute fact of things. Stagnant and in stasis, we are then far from nature, which means literally ‘that which is about to be born.’ We give no ear to the light wind that brings the mist back to the marsh and invites us in.
Still, it might seem odd that the mystic sings a return to nature. Quitting the cave or rending the veil, we find ourselves rejoined with ordinary things, but now enjoying their aura of the inexplicable. News of the passage out from illusion — behind veil or in cave — is mysticism, which offers its own ethics and epistemology. Even the word speaks of an ethereal and aquatic origin. It comes from the Greek muein, which means ‘to close the lips,’ and derives earlier from an imitation of an inarticulate sound — the sound of mist! The mystic’s remembrance is of the mist-bound condition. In that, the story of who we are, our true nature, is retold in muffled, muted sounds, sounds on the margin of the articulate. It is true that it is told for whose with ears to hear. But it is told mainly to our bodies, for imagination is through and through corporeal nature. Mysticism as a school inducts us into the experience of being enrapt by mist one October dawn, when the world we know all of a sudden flashes off, boom. The inarticulatable presence, God’s body, is there, and love and purpose and . . . ourself.
To the muteness of a secret corresponds the mist that comes over the eyes during the throes of remembrance. Psychology recognizes two classes of feeling, one that contracts us, the other that opens and expands. The mist I speak of overtakes our vision when we are recalled to our original nature. The momentary shucking of our shell awakens gratitude of a special kind: a thankfulness for being rather than not. In this, we acknowledge the accidental nature of our provenance. We are not necessary beings but ones whose contingency has been likened to a dream. It is through the enchantment of form and the making of images that we come into being, and through disenchantment and world-weariness that we leave. Appreciation of the play of life, this ‘stage,’ energizes us through delight — as no other recognition can. For then we behold the ephemeral and the eternal with one eye; the part we are given to play and the timeless self in which we participate. The rare and misted delight of this great secret — our one-foldness — is touchstone to our humanity. Strip it away and we are brutish. Add it to the mix and the prescient dream is deemed most important.
From the feel of mist to the feel of a dream is one easy act. That dreaming has a feel, a texture, a text, to it can be ascertained in the moments after waking, even if no particular content can be brought to mind. Other systems translate the difference as an altered state of consciousness, for the body of the dream possesses a density and consistency different from our ordinary body. Much the same, water’s ethereal body, mist, is other than its gross one. Speech of the one, being bodily, is dissimilar to that of the other. What a dream murmurs can be heard only by reentering the misted state. That dreams are tales of the underworld is a constant theme since prehistory. There, form is on the verge of transmutation, denying boundaries and escaping visibility. The enchantment of Hades is manifest in that one can speak with heroes of other ages, review one’s own life, and serve the gods. A mood of serious play — where one’s words are not other than the object — prevails. Consciousness misted over, which is to say dream consciousness, possesses an untold power of discovery, penetration into ethereal realms. For mist like water enjoys the privilege of permeating everywhere and everything.
In ether’s realm, the realm of the fifth element, the signature of things is written. In former times, when people knew better the essence of water and moved with the subtlety of the subtle body, much of reality was uncovered. The medicinal powers of plants, the domestication of animals, cultivation of grains, and use of basic machines like the lever and wheel, all came through a consciousness of the ethereal. In the domain of mist, there is a mingling, one things with another. In a like manner, knowledge mingles with substance. What is obscure in the mist one moment the next moment leaps into view. It is this way with all real discovery, which is why a logic of discovery lies hidden in a suspended state of water. That many thinkers believe the age of discovery is past is proof of our disaffection with mist. We fear it, ignore it, or avoid it, but rarely enter into its dewy cloak to meet a cloud of unknowing.
The cousins of enchantment — fog, dew, haze, and clouds of all kinds — seem to deepen the impression that mist is benign. I think we can dispel the misapprehension if we remember the blood-mist that rose over Troy after Agamemnon’s men slaughtered the male population in their beds. Blood is water adapted to serve animal intelligence, and when it is let, a little mist will rise. Odysseus knew this when he poured blood out for the souls in Hades to feed on. The astral beings gathered round to relish the taste of life and lap the blood. But from blood-mist to blood lust is another easy step. The blood-red mist that comes down over the eyes may render the person berserk, thirsting for another’s blood at all costs. The warrior’s rage, Achilles for instance, is ire raised to the boiling point of blood — the temperature at which blood turns into mist. Stupendous feats of courage or malice have been accomplished in this misted state. The wars of the world and the ransoms, the murders and the rescues, owe something to this phenomenon of water.
The neuter quality of mist cannot be overstressed. Mist is a screen. What plays upon it, a love scene or a rape, has a value, but we must resist attributing it to the screen. Just so with the imagination. Monsters and dragons, nymphs and witches, knights and hermits, all inhabit that region. Mist inherits from water the primal condition of universal solvent: from mist come all things. Likewise, imagination, the prime matter, bears an incoming form, sometimes higher, sometimes lower. We do not often think of the imagination as a materiality, but its neutrality guarantees that it is. For form is always encumbered with value; it is better for worse, truer or falser, modest or indiscreet. The beauty of mist is its faceless quality. You stare at it and feel that you are staring at yourself. The same is true of the voice of mist, which is where we began. What I hear in its sounds is the murmur of myself, the faint outcry from a secret abode. I do not often listen to the place seemingly behind my ear, yet that is the home of the mist and the obscure, mist-enrapt entity called the soul.
It is small wonder then that when the Upanisads sing of the world they celebrate the primal mist. ‘In the beginning, the One was dispersed as countless droplets over All.’ For a new self is a new world. This we remember each time we remember to ask after our origin. From the mist, in sequence, each sense of a cosmic person established itself. The eye saw the sun, the ears heard the wind, the nose smelled the pines, the mouth tasted the dew. Gradually, that is, each sense separated itself from a misted state and grew discerning. The world was reborn when the person gained sentience. Even with the splendor of the outcome, the gentle story is a reminder of the first condition, from which all renewal proceeds. Our discerning, practical minds have made much of everything and continue to. Reason peers into the darkened cave and offers explanations without prayer. In fact prayer coincides with acceptance of the unlit surrounds, where form burgeons from obscurity and fear, an omnipresent antagonist. The mist teaches of the limitations and dispensability of the rational mind, and the lesson feels difficult until the effects of enchantment take hold. Then spellbound, we feel our senses withdraw from their objects and we become again Prajnaparmita, the cosmic one, whose heart like mist, is everywhere.