Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Stones Stand Cold

Sisyphus is tired.

Too clever by half, inevitably

He draws the gods' revenge.

Things are the way they are

For a reason.

But he never learns.

Teachers teach.

And they all agree

A quiet colloquy may be desired, maybe needed.

But the fire calls them

To their calling

And they go.

The stones stand cold

As he waits,

Angry and alone.

And the gods have their revenge.


Dennis Sibley said...

A very moving poem Ken - thanks for sharing it.

Reading it, I immediately thought of Milarepa's ordeal under Marpa's tutelage, which has something in common with Sisyphus legend I feel.

I don't presume to understand why you posted or how it speaks to your situation just now but I'm pleased that you did.


Glowing Face Man said...

I wonder what would happen if Sisyphus gained enough awareness and "woke up to his life" enough and gave up on the dumb rock ;)

Leslie said...

Sisyphus come home
Come home to love
Open your heart and dissolve the stone
So when the fire calls you
Aloneness will be the radiance of love

Anonymous said...

Sisyphus , yes, the line "things are the way they are For a reason",
yes I still want that reason.Ken.

and so the gods do have their revenge because I am still putting my energies into the belief that
the world revolves around me.
Thanks for the post, Ken.

and Leslie thanks for the reminder to open your heart.

Anonymous said...

Camus, who wrote a considerable amount about Sisyphus, concluded that "one must imagine Sisyphus happy."

Happy with things are as they are.
Acceptance of everything, even the misery. This is not so different from the buddhist perspective of no preference for nirvana or samsara. So the gods got their revenge. If Sisyphus accepts his lot then the revenge is moot. If Sisphysus can whistle a happy tune then who has what revenge?

Ken said...

Dear Anonyous,

Camus' thesis is unlikely given the mythology of Sisyphus. See

He was arrogant, crafty, and deceitful, rarely qualities that induce happiness in a person condemned to futility for eternity.

I think the gods had their revenge.

Leslie said...

piPerhaps you are right. Happiness will elude Sisyphus until he can see his own beauty and realize that arrogance, craftiness and deceit are not necessary to get what he needs. It all awaits him when he sees the stone more clearly, in the warmth of love that is always available to him when he opens and allows himself to receive it, knowing, like everyone, he deserves to be loved. And when he knows this, he will be love and he will find his way to love in this world. There is no enemy and thus no revenge, only pain that when seen clearly, helps us to let go of what we no longer need to carry.

Sisyphus come home.

Anonymous said...

The stones stand cold, like his stony heart I suppose.
Is Sisyphus teachable?
Plato believed ignorance was the root of all evil; and that when you are ignorant of your own ignorance, you are a hopeless student. Morover, you project your stony heart onto others and cause them to suffer.
Forcing Sisyphus to own his stony heart is divine justice.
We should leave Sisyphus to the Gods.


Anonymous said...

Ken wrote:
I think the gods had their revenge.

And does this make you happy?

Revenge does not seem like much of a buddhist virtue. I prefer Camus' interpetation. It allows Sisphysus although condemned to construct his own attitude towards his circumstances. It does not see him as a victim of the gods. Can happiness be created with ones own mind in spite of circumstances? As a buddhist I certainly hope so and see that as an essential tenet of being a buddhist. It seems to me that condemnation is its own cause of a 'stony heart'.

Greg said...

The gods need pity, their revenge notable. Sisyphus is a symptom of meddling in the affairs of mortals. Gods and their mediators self righteous by their calling, in asserting the sacred, become the profane.

No, this is not only a story about deceit, arrogance and craftiness, human qualities that have potential. It is a story about gods jealous of what they cannot freely have, Aegina for instance.

Zeus, prideful, steps into the profane, no mortal dare challenge his superiority. As a lesson to mere mortals Sisyphus, caught in his own devices, becomes a victim and immortalized nonetheless just as the gods. The clever Zeus made him immortal and equal.

It is an interesting fable, but there is the verse that tags the teacher, quite colloquy [fearsome they may be] and calling into the mix; mere mortals that through righteousness accorded them become mediators of the gods. The teacher, a quite colloquy needed, but when mistaking their own needs for responsiveness it is lost. Do they wait, angry and alone, unable to show fault to the world; await Persephone to give them another chance while a ferryman passes unseen.

I read a powerful subtext in this poem of Sisyphus, Ken.

Teachers teach.
And they all agree
A quiet colloquy may be desired, maybe needed.

But the fire calls them
To their calling
And they go.

Did Sisyphus confess to Persephone?

The beauty of the Classics are they do not have to be interpreted by Western thought since the qualities and faults expressed are human. Sisyphus and the gods are in each of us, each a cause and result of the other, hand in hand we extract our inner revenge endlessly pushing stones since we have become so clever in creating falsehood. From the classical perspective there is this play of good and evil, sacred and profane. From a different perspective we are both, the darkness of ignorance and illumination of wisdom.

Why do teachers teach?