Jun 26 2009

Stephen Levine – In the realm of the passing away (Michael Jackson Tribute)

Published by at 9:34 am under Music,Poetry,Videos

In the realm of the passing away
by Stephen Levine

This is the realm of the passing away. All that
exists does not for long.
      Whatever comes into this world never stops sliding
toward the edge of eternity.
      Form arises from formlessness and passes back,
arising and dissolving in a few dance steps between
creation and destruction.
      We are born passing away.
      Seedlings and deadfall all face forward.
      Earthworms eat what remains.
      We sing not for that which dies but for that which
never dies.

— from Breaking the Drought: Visions of Grace, by Stephen Levine

/ Photo by tipoyock /

Whatever comes into this world never stops sliding
toward the edge of eternity.

Yesterday was a strange day of famous deaths. I woke up and found out that Ed McMahon had died the day before. Then I heard about Farrah Fawcett’s passing. In the afternoon, checking out friends’ comments on Facebook, I started to see messages about “Michael” and “Thriller.” Were they saying that Michael Jackson had died too? A few searches on the Internet, and I found out that, yes, Michael Jackson had unexpectedly died. To add to that, I then was told that the actor Jeff Goldblum had died by falling off a cliff, only to find out later that he had been injured but did not die.

Now, I can’t say I felt a really strong personal connection to these famous figures, but by the end of the day I could feel the world’s shock, especially over Michael Jackson’s death. It would seem strange not to mention such a significant death in today’s email.

In his personal life, Michael Jackson seemed eccentric and haunted, and accusations raised troubling questions. But frankly I don’t know enough about the private man to comment or pass judgment. His genius as a singer and dancer can’t be denied, however. I remember his performance at the Motown awards, singing “Billie Jean” wearing a single sequined glove, and sliding a smooth moonwalk across the stage. A revolution exploded in music and dance at that very moment, the repercussions of which are still reverberating through pop culture today.

Michael Jackson is one of those rare figures, like Bob Marley, Elvis, John Lennon, a defining figure for the entire world. There is a reason that we call the ultra famous “stars.” They are like the planets in astrology; they embody for the world a certain archetypal energy. But that makes normal human relationships next to impossible for these people. We relate to the archetypal aura and not the person. Culture bearers are adored by millions and intimate with none.

This archetypal role they play is also why their deaths are so traumatic to the world. Archetypes are, by their nature, eternal energies of the soul. So when a person embodying a particular archetype dies, the world feels a rupture, the planetary psyche feels disoriented and fragmented. How can that which we instinctively know to be eternal disappear from our midst? But what really happens is that the archetypal energy is released, returned back to each of us. Having seen it enacted outside of ourselves, we are again reminded to look within ourselves for those same qualities.

So, today, sing! Hooo! And dance! Maybe try a moonwalk in socks across the kitchen floor…

Stephen Levine, Stephen Levine poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Stephen Levine

US (1937 – )
Secular or Eclectic

Many of you may know Stephen Levine as the author of several classic books in the field of conscious living and dying — including A Gradual Awakening, Who Dies?, Healing into Life and Death, and A Year to Live. He is also the coauthor, with his wife Ondrea Levine, of the acclaimed Embracing the Beloved: Relationship as a Path of Awakening.

But I was surprised to discover that Stephen Levine is also a poet. As with the rest of his work, Stephen Levine’s poetry reflects a deep attention, a recognition of the immensity of the still moment and the still heart, and the opportunities given to us as we approach that unavoidable mystery, death. His collection of poetry, “Breaking the Drought: Visions of Grace” is wonderful meditation on life and death, the known and the unknown, being and becoming, and how awareness flows through them.

Stephen and Ondrea Levine live in the mountains of New Mexico.

I’ve been told that some of Stephen Levine’s earlier work can be found in the Oracle (eg. vol 1, no 9, 1967) and other underground San Francisco papers from the Sixties. A treasure hunt for collectors…

More poetry by Stephen Levine

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Stephen Levine – In the realm of the passing away (Michael Jackson Tribute)”

  1. Poetryon 26 Jun 2009 at 10:58 pm

    so, this is goodbye!
    i hate to say it…
    but i have to…

    nothing means more to me
    than anything else in the world
    than you…

    but since i have no choice..
    i just have to..

  2. Tom McFerranon 27 Jun 2009 at 10:40 am

    it doesn’t matter,
    be, commpassionate,
    love all,
    leave none out,
    open your heart,
    let the entire world in,
    whoever will may come

    All things pass but love,
    love lingers on, and on,
    and on . . . . .

    and he, as do all,
    returns to whence we came.


  3. Emma Con 28 Oct 2009 at 2:49 am


    Lovely post – I was in Indonesia when Michael Jackson died and didn’t find out about it for days.

    It was very strange to feel like it happened and I didn’t know about it…just becuase I had no TV or internet.

    I love Stephen Levine’s poetry – although I’ve only read bit of it in his books.

    Thanks for the poem at the beginning of your post. Beautiful.


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