Friday, December 09, 2005

How High?

"I am not less poet; I am more conscious of all that I am, am not, and might become."
(Jean Toomer, Writer-1894-1967)


Jean Toomer was an American writer during the Harlem Renaissance. He would become famous for his book, Cane in 1923. It consisted of short stories and poems that was inspired by his 4 month stay as a Teacher/Principal in Sparta Georgia.

Jean Toomer was born December 26, 1894 here in Washington, DC. Although Toomer's racial mix included Dutch, Native American and a couple of other spices from the mixing bowl he was classified Black by law because that mix also included African blood. This little racial misunderstanding would bug the hell out of Toomer for the rest of his life, but that's another blog. Today I want to briefly touch on Toomers quest for higher consciousness under the teachings of philosopher, George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff (click title for more info). In 1926 he had an out of body experience on a New York City subway platform. Yeah, I know that doesn't sound too out of the ordinary for New York, but this experience gave him a sense of higher consciousness. In other words, he became acutely aware of his spirit as something completely separate from the physical. He had a sense of becoming one with his spirit while navigating through his physical body. He compared it with being his own puppeteer that was controlling his every move. He also became aware of others who were experiencing the same level of consciousness (I know that this sounds a lot like some really good "smoke" or weed but it isn't). 


He could quickly pick them out of a crowd and the two spirits would connect for that moment. He described it as a strangely wonderful feeling. This is something that is often experienced by different people on different levels, but Toomer's experience lasted 2 weeks. I challenge anyone to attempt to see themselves and others beyond the physical. I've done this on occasion and, for a moment, it makes me forget about color and ethnicity. It was weird because I began to see the body as simply a host to something that is beyond my comprehension.

Works Cited
Toomer, Jean, and Frederik L. Rusch. Jean Toomer Reader: selected unpublished writings. Oxford University Press, 1995.
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