Intersecting the Timeless with Time

ts-eliotAjahn Viradhammo has sometimes reflected on this passage in “The Dry Salvages” from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets

Men’s curiosity searches past and future
And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend
The point of intersection of the timeless
With time, is an occupation for the saint—
No occupation either, but something given
And taken, in a lifetime’s death in love,
Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender.
For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time,
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts. 

This passage came to mind because of a question a friend keeps asking me “what is worth doing?”  One answer that came to mind is “change the world” and “stop global warming” and “help people realize selflessness”.  But another answer is “STOP” – stop doing – do nothing – just be.

What “use” is that, then, to just be and do nothing when so much needs to be done, so many minds and hearts need to be changed?  Perhaps the answer is in Rainer Maria Rilke‘s Letters to a Young Poet:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.