Something Like the Sun

by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

English version by John White
Original Language German

The eye must be something like the sun,
Otherwise no sunlight could be seen;
God's own power must be inside us,
How else could Godly things delight us?

-- from Art & Wonder: An Illustrated Anthology of Visionary Poetry, Edited by Kate Farrell

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

We might react to a casual reading of this selection by Goethe with the thought that it's poetically inspiring, but is the poet doing anything more that just playing with pretty ideas? The answer, when we really contemplate these lines is, yes, there is something of deep insight being conveyed in these lines.

We only ever perceive what is already inside of us.

The eye must be something like the sun,
Otherwise no sunlight could be seen

In a literal, material sense, we don't have a massive stellar object burning within each of us. (Or, well... I'll avoid the many tangents I could go off on here...) Anyone with biologically functional eyes can see the sun and sunlight on a spring day. But we see that brilliant object in the sky as "sun" because we carry an idea of the sun within ourselves. The physical object is just a brightness in the sky that we could be indifferent to, but we have an intensely personal relationship with the sun. In the light and warmth and daily rhythms of the sun, we see our own potential for clarity, hope, comfort, love, life, strength, and steadiness. The object may be physically outside of our bodies, but the "sun" is really inside ourselves.

Ultimately, whatever we perceive outside of ourselves is actually an archetypal presence within us reflecting back to us.

Every relationship and interaction, everything we perceive, when we really pay attention, is actually mirroring back to us something we are trying to see within ourselves. Every person we love, every thing we desire, is really telling us about something we want to bring forth within ourselves. And everything we hate or reject also tells us about something within ourselves we fear or are afraid to discover.

Every perception and every aspiration is a conversation between spirit and material existence to deepen self-awareness and inspire greater wholeness. It's not really the experiences "out there" we want. They just tell us what we are uncovering and integrating within ourselves. One way to understand the complexity of material existence is as a dialog of self-awareness within consciousness.

This is true even of God, or our ideas about God.

God's own power must be inside us,
How else could Godly things delight us?

God is not some person or thing out there to be found. Divinity is found within, as well. The fact that we seek something eternal and true, the fact that we are elevated by kindness, compassion, creativity, beauty, purity, truth, these tell us not only that they already exist, but that they reside within ourselves. We don't need to tenuously hope to one day uncover them. Whatever we feel and perceive or even imagine already has full existence within us. We just need to recognize and embrace them, then allow them to lead us deeper within to their brilliant source at our own core.

Recommended Books: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World Faust News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness

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