Psyche in Breath

“Breathing is our very first teaching—a silent teaching—in the way of interdependency, continuity, relationship, giving and receiving. Our first teaching is one of perfect integration, harmony, non-duality. Breathing comes naturally; it is so rudimentary that it requires no action of volition, no attention or thought. But, for that very reason, the wisdom of breathing is the most difficult, and the very last to be learned.”
– David Michael Levin[1]

Do not put a butterfly in a bell jar,
She is no rose.
No still whorl of petals,
No silent standing stem
To be gazed at from without,
To be denied an inner landscape
From within.

What is this translucent glass,
This invisible barring shield?
Does it keep her safe,
Preserve her from decay?
While a rose’s petals will fall,
A butterfly’s soul
Will not stay.

A life’s breath is finite
When thus closed in.
A life’s breath is finite
When one is shut in.
When all the air’s depleted
What new may

Each wing beat a breath,
Each breath a wing beat
In her fluttering breast.
Count each beat,
Count each rest,
Count each moment,
For Self begins in breath.

Breathe deep, wingéd soul,
Sing your heartfelt song.
Expand this element
That you are,
Expand your heart
Beyond the confines
Of this bell jar.

Two images I see
When I say “glass blown”:
A shattering crash
Of splintered glass,
As air forces through
And you fly to the

Or softer yet, though dangerous
A warmth, a temperance
Melts the glass from within,
Melting out, melting forth,
Melting away
Oh, begin.

Each wing beat a breath,
Each breath a wing beat
In her fluttering breast.
Count each beat,
Count each rest,
Count each moment,
Now Self begins in breath.

Butterfly in Bell Jar

Work Cited

Levin, David Michael. “Logos and Psyche: A Hermeneutics of Breathing.” Research in Phenomenology 14 (1984): 121-147.

[1] David Michael Levin, “Logos and Psyche: A Hermeneutics of Breathing,” Research in Phenomenology 14 (1984): 129.

4 Replies to “Psyche in Breath”

  1. While listening to one of your father’s talks on writing, it occurred to me to turn my attention to your most recent blog, which happens to be a poem. I’ve yet to read it, actually I’m still in the process of listening to your Father’s recording. On an intuitive level I feel that there is some kind of connection that has to be made, not for me, but for you. At this point of my writing & listening, a man steps up to the microphone and questions your father with what might look to be very long run-on sentence should it come to you in print, here it is in part:

    “I’m very curious,” says the man, “to hear you voice the joys and bliss that sustain your writing process… over that writing process from earlier years to now, what are those things that sustain you in those dark times, that keep you going?” The man’s voice is deep and respectful. There was a certain pre-meditation that permeated the tone of his request. Richard immediately responds with an affirmative ahm, and like Plotinus you can tell there’s a whole lot of Intellectual happening all at once. You get a feel that he wants to get to the One without any of the other Hypostasis, Logos or Logoi clinging to it.

    Your Father says that he didn’t intend on being a writer and that he spent his 20’s as a lead guitarist, at 28/29 Saturn comes into play, he has an epiphany. His visit with a psychic at the age of 24 stated some things that have come to pass, such as becoming a writer but the inspiration didn’t really come until the age of 29 & with force. However there was a time when he felt weak, as though he couldn’t live up to the challenge of writing what he felt he had to say. What I sense that your father wishes to convey in this reply is exactly that, what needs to be said, rather than providing a showy display of literature. That is a relief for me, for I really don’t believe that I’ll reach a point in my writing where I’ll be able to be counted among the greats, that kind of pressure disables me. But knowing that I can avoid the Queens English allows me to focus and share what I feel inspired to put forth in this life.

    Now then, lets take a look at your poem!

    Ah yes, a very pleasant way to start the poem, with conscious breathing, now I am settled and ready to enter into your world.

    The first stanza brings to mind a struggle with a lover who is self willed and determined to put into the universe his own mark. However one must allow that inner beauty breath and the freedom to grow.

    In the second stanza the veil is discovered, yet consciousness penetrates the surroundings. The masculine arms may break the invisible but should it remain in its protective state, it will only take away from the autonomous spirit.

    Here in the third, it is air’s depletion that renders death, for our life is thus fleeting and short lived as the blades of grass.

    The forth stanza brings one closer to that divine of sorts, harmony constructs to make ether into wine.

    Surely the Pythagorean 5th transcends the all.

    The paragraph found in the 6th is the tainted star dust coming undone so that the soul might know its home in the sun.

    And the 7th feels the warmth of the sun who abides its time suspended in the ether, awaiting Becca that she might come undone.

    We conclude with the 8th paragraph, it’s universal symbol as the wings of the butterfly, as above so below.

    Wonderful Becca, it was a pleasure to sour with you in poetry and blend my soul with yours, surely friendship is a mutual endeavour and through it we realize ourselves in the reflection of another.

    Si vales bene est ego valeo…

  2. Now for a quick follow up from yesterday. Upon rising this morning at 5:30, I bypassed my laptop and grabbed Rick’s ‘Cosmos and Psyche’ instead. Went downstairs to the dining area, poured up some coffee and sat in my regular spot. Took a few deep breaths and opened the book to a random page. There before me was a story relating to a maturity that comes into play at the age of 29. The other details appear frivolous in comparison to the gravity and significance of that number. Enough said, the rest is for you to decipher, synchronicity is not my speciality.

    For my part, when I turned 29, a whole new world opened to me. My first full bloomed mystical experience rendered me on my knees for hours with tears of joy flooding down my face. In this new light, the compulsion (in the form of questions) that plagued my 20’s became the most ridiculous thing. In hindsight I see that my illusionary concerns were more of a dis-ease than a necessary aspect of my individuation process. It is a strange and alien thing that we succumb to heavy loads that could be easily lightened should we exercise a rigorous practice of being honest with ourselves and another human being.

    Warm regards Becca

    “With every ‘blue moon’ comes a rising tide
    That brings to surface all that which we hide
    For it is in our brokenness, ignorance and shadow
    We grow wings & come to trust our inner guide”
    Youngman – Oct 25th, 2013

  3. Twenty-nine

    Richard Tarnas – Cosmos and Psyche – Page 120

    “It happens often in the twenty-ninth year of life that all the forces that have been engaged through the years of childhood, adolescence and youth in confused and ferocious combat range themselves in ordered ranks – one is uncertain of one’s aims, meaning and power during these years of tumultuous growth when aspiration has no relation to fulfillment and one plunges here and there with energy and misdirection during the storm and stress of the making of a personality until at last we reach the twenty-ninth year, the straight and narrow gateway of maturity and life which was all uproar and confusion narrows down to form and purpose and we exchange in great dim possibility for a small hard reality.” (Taken from Gertrude Stein’s early work Fernhurst.)

    Until the next blue moon,


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