Apr 19 2013

Andrew Colliver – Good Medicine

Published by at 9:00 am under Poetry

Good Medicine
by Andrew Colliver

Unbelief is good medicine, undoing belief
      better:
all beings free to leave their being
      and enter silence.

The nameless tree with its forest
      of green,
the endless expanse called
      sky, beaks and

feathered wings with their urgent
      conversations;
all around, the light that sets the vital body
      to humming,

and the dark of re-creation:
      the world held for us in promise
until it is loosened from
      our thinking.

- From the unpublished manuscript A Day of Light, by Andrew Colliver


/ Photo by kim-e-sens /

The rebel in me really likes this poem, especially its opening line–

Unbelief is good medicine, undoing belief
      better:

I don’t take this as a commentary on belief vs. athiesm or agnosticism or any of those artificial dichotomies of thought. This is a commentary on thought itself, our perception of reality, our relationship to reality.

All belief, whether good or bad, orthodox or unorthodox, is a window we set in the mind. Its frame defines the boundaries of what we perceive and what we are blind to; its tinted glass colors what we see and how we understand it. That window of belief often serves the important purpose of helping us to focus, training us to see what is not commonly recognized. But, at a certain point in our self-awakening process, the very notion of belief becomes a problem. All belief, no matter how elevated or pure or accurate, is only a thought about reality. What the soul ultimately craves is direct perception of reality — which requires dropping all perceptual filters, including belief itself.

This is how we get to the poet’s second line:

all beings free to leave their being
      and enter silence.

To enter that state of direct perception requires deep silence. The distorting vibrations of mind must quiet. Get quiet enough and even the sense of ego fades, along with all its demands that it be seen as the center of existence.

The various tugging and tremors of awareness melt away and finally, finally we see things as they are, without labels, without artificial separations:

The nameless tree with its forest
      of green…

Seeing clearly, we see that everything flows into one another, and it is all filled with a living, glistening light — even within ourselves. Seeing this light, feeling it flow, feeling the heart overflow, we are filled with a quiet glee. The very sense of who and what we really are is transformed. We feel alive for the first time…

all around, the light that sets the vital body
      to humming

That is when new possibilities emerge, the promises within the ourselves, within our interrelationship with reality are freed to find fulfillment. For that to happen, we must first move beyond belief and free ourselves from the filter of the chattering mind.

the world held for us in promise
until it is loosened from
      our thinking.






Andrew Colliver

Australia (1953 – )
Secular or Eclectic

Andrew Colliver is a psychiatric social worker working in rural New South Wales in Australia.

His major influences in writing are Mary Oliver and David Whyte, “with a dash of Rumi’s exuberance.”

When asked about the transcendent themes within his poetry, he says, “Poetry has always been a part of my reading, with occasional forays into writing, but for my own eyes only. Then, in 2006, the experience — now happening to thousands across the globe — of consciousness awakening to itself within the human form, began to up-end my life, and also to seek expression in words. Poems suggest themselves from the more profound experiences of awakeness, and what I do is then sculpt and refine them into something that I hope is intelligible to others. Ideas and words come most frequently when I’m in nature, but any setting can be seen at any time for what it is: the expression of undivided consciousness.”

More poetry by Andrew Colliver

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Andrew Colliver – Good Medicine”

  1. Yvonneon 19 Apr 2013 at 10:50 am

    Apophatic theology at its finest. A very good poem, and a great commentary.

  2. rosellen little, new nameon 19 Apr 2013 at 2:44 pm

    i love this poem. because of ADD or aging I can’t read real long comments. but thank-you for this.
    rosellen

  3. Sobhanaon 19 Apr 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Hi Ivan,

    How are you?

    Beautiful and deep, the poem Your thoughts are excellent Loved both Thank you

  4. old oakon 19 Apr 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Wonderful poem – I look forward to more from this writer. Your commentary Ivan, as always, so heart felt.

  5. Pegon 20 Apr 2013 at 6:31 am

    Hello all, I am not sure about the cohesiveness of this poem. The individual thoughts are touching and beautiful, but I don’t believe that Colliver put them together with a strong enough connecting thread.

    The reader is pulled from ruminations on belief, then to silence and trees, then to the harsh sounding “beaks” and flapping wings. The reader just can’t settle into a rhythum or cadence because there is an intrusion disrupting the flow of the poem–the magnificent infinite to startingly specific.

    This poem has competing themes of belief, silence, nature, health or cosmic womb. I recommend the poet pick one and weave that through the poem. If the poet is discussing the intruding thoughts that new meditators have difficulty with then choose a simple discordant rhythm and repeat it throughout the poem to replicate the poems topic into the vocalizations of the reader.

    Again, the individual thoughts are poetically beautiful like “The nameless tree with its forest of green” or my absolute favorite “the light that sets the vital body to humming.”

    I apologize to Mr. Colliver is I have been too tough on him. However, he has made my day with that one line making the whole poem worth it to read:

    “The light that sets the vital body to humming.”

    Life just doesn’t get any better than this. Thanks, Peg

  6. ebrahimon 22 Apr 2013 at 8:58 am

    Empty freedom!
    … Satisfaction awaits contentment.
    Where is the blameworthy imperfection?
    That was only imagined.

  7. M.C van Wevelingenon 23 Apr 2013 at 1:33 pm

    [Quote:] “What the soul ultimately craves is direct perception of reality — which requires dropping all perceptual filters, including belief itself.”

    “I believe” that, when dropping those filters, one only becomes aware of one’s being and not of one’s becoming, like most animals do, like all that we deem to be unaware do: they evolve in unawareness, with dropped filters !!
    In us the Goddess is aware of Herself, if/when one has realized That.

    The more sophisticated the filters the clearer one sees the further She evolves through us.

    Just residing in Her Blissfull Being will arrest the Mind and all Her Becoming through us will be a Dead End. Wake up from and not back into !!

    Shirogitsune.

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