The Cloth of Gold Beneath the Sackcloth of Ordinary Reality


Everthing About Me Was Screaming to Be Recognized

There are lots of ways to describe what this website is up to. It’s about somehow or other getting “an intense vision of the facts,” as the poet William Carlos Williams called the process. The philosopher Pierre Tielhard de Chardin said “to see or to perish” is the bottom line for every single sentient being – such as us humans. Or you could call it finding a way to focus “the beam of attention” as much as possible every day all day. So how to pull that off? My English students at Diablo Valley College used to try strategies for that. Their reflections, which they shared with each other, often described their results. One of them delighted me with what he said about his trip down to the tide pools around Moss Beach on the Coast.

Here’s the part that struck me:

Just Waiting to Be Understood and Have Recognition

But to my surprise everyone and everything was beautiful when I got to the beach. The sun was shining and the tide was out. The place was truly waiting for us. It knew we were coming and had a fabulous show waiting for us. I could hardly wait to get to the bottom of the hill and look around in the water. The life of the sea fascinates me. There are strange and beautiful things there just waiting to be understood and have recognition in our world. Well, I don’t pass them by. I stop and say hello every time I’m down there. —  Mike


I Stop and Say Hello

Well, as they usually did, students read each others’ reflections, and Gary wrote that Mike’s reflection had triggered an epiphany!

Here’s his response:

Ah, The Center of a Different Kind of Universe!

It’s the wildest idea I have ever had in my life. I had considered the idea that all things derive their meaning a purpose from man, for he defines them. This is the concept that man is the measure of all things. As I perceive things, they are to me just that. That puts me in the center of the universe, MY universe, whose boundaries extend as far as I desire them to go and include those objects and people I make significant to me.

Screaming to Be Recognized and Be Given Meaning

Mike put a completely new twist on the theory, and it was like turning on the light and finding that I had always been in the dark before. It was simply a new angle I had never considered before, but once the bend was made, everything became straight. It was a case of putting an old idea into a new arrangement and coming out with a new one. It is a whole new set of vibrations. It is like discovering a whole new set of frequencies that I never new existed before. Everything around me is screaming at me to be recognized and given meaning and to be freed from non-being. Everything is reaching out to me, straining and stretching and pleading. I gain a completely new and real importance, and I think for the first time I have really became the center of my own universe. — Gary

A Feeling of Ownership

And my own reflection?

Well, thanks, Mike and Gary. You remind me there’s a feeling of ownership in realizing that when I get up this morning I get to make the sun come up, just like Orpheus, not yesterday’s cliché of a sun but this new one, this sun has never, ever been in existence till I laid eyes on it, till I laid my full beam of attention on it. I’m in charge, and everything lights up with my attention and thanks me by making my world larger. And the stronger my beam, the more illumined that being becomes. It’s up to me, isn’t it? It’s my job. My cereal, my milk, my fly buzzing where it’s not supposed to be – I get to liberate them from non-being. I’m in charge. “Does anyone ever realize life, every, every minute?” asks Emily in Our Town. “The saints and poets maybe. They do some,” she is told. Well, why should saints an poets have all the fun? Move over, here comes my sun.

How about you, reader of this post?


A Problem of Making Connections


Line Drawing of a Box.  Which of the two views on the right is correct?  See commentary in next post.

Line Drawing of a Box. Which of the two views  is correct?










One had a lovely face,
And two or three had charm,
But charm and face were in vain
Because the mountain grass
Cannot but keep the form
Where the mountain hare has lain.


Here’s my problem:

I included Yeats’s “Memory” in a recent post because I saw it connected to several things that had come up in other postings, things as separate as the question of time and timelessness and a poem by William Carlos Williams.  I see the Yeats poem connected with how things fit together in the universe, connected to  the zero-point field that physicists spend a lot of their time reflecting on.  In the Yeats poem, the grass retains the impression where the hare has lain.  That remains.   The impression is what endures. So I wrote that up rather quickly and cleverly I thought, and then Ruth, my wife,  didn’t get it at all, and she gets upset because she wants to be supportive.   I’m thinking, What the hell?  Why isn’t this perfectly obvious?

Physics and the Ground of Being

Then as I was writing this reflection a connection popped up from a couple of autumns ago when  I went up to Pinecrest in the Sierras with my son-in-law.  Dave and I were up there and we’re sitting around the campfire, and I’m starting to tell him about my philosophy, and then I get into this particle-physics, eternal time, aspect of it.  He says, “Well, that’s physics.”  I said, “Yes, Dave, that’s physics, but that’s where it’s at.  It’s not something out there with some scientist.  It’s the basic ground of being we’re talking about.  That’s physics. ”

A Box Is Not Only a Box

So the issue for  people who haven’t  thought about it very much is that what they see is what they get.  A box is a box.  They don’t realize that that very box they’ve just looked at  is an impression they took of that bit of the universe.  It’s no longer “out there,” but what their sensorium has allowed their bodies to carry away from “out there,” a residual impression gleaned from the nerve endings that has permanently modified their world picture.  If they don’t reflect on it, though, they probably don’t “get” it.  I’ve given myself the job of constructing this site so that they do get it.

Both Worlds Simultaneously

In the classes, it was easy.  We’d do something together, maybe look at a Bruegel painting  or a Zen koan and we’d play with them.

Bruegel, Children's Games

Bruegel, Children’s Games

What happens is that your mind goes back and forth.  Over here is the physical world, and then here’s what it really is.  If you’re alert, you go back and forth.  What Frost toyed with is, Can I get both of those simultaneously?  Can I be in eternal time as well as in sequential time?

In my classes, it was easy to draw on the chalkboard a  box that you can see in more than one way. One way, its base is here, but blink again, it’s over there.  Then, we might read “Memory” and I might say, “Oh, this is just like that box up there. The poem is all about the box.”  We’d mess around making connections and pretty soon it would start to click.  That’s fun, but what’s really great is when someone would say,  “Oh, yeah, that’s like what Salinger’s Teddy said:  ‘My little sister was drinking milk, and I saw she was pouring God into God.’” So  then you have the illusion, which we call reality, and the non-conscious that  it’s a manifestation of.  And so on, all these connections lying around all over the place and all you have to do is pick them up.

So, any ideas of how I can set up this website so that you’ll be making all sorts of connections?  That’s really what this website is all about. How do I get you to apply any of these ideas to your daily life?  After all, sure, you have your morning cereal but how to get you to have the experience of having it, a change of awareness of what you’re doing while you’re doing it?

One sure way it do is to write out your reflections.  And as I described in earlier posts, you can hold steady to your cereal by noticing surface features.  Write what you notice, notice what you’re noticing, notice what that reminds you of.  You don’t really need more guidance than that.  Your Self will take over, and it will feel like you’re taking dictation.  When that happens you will feel like your time has been well spent.

For me reflective writing  illuminates things so rapidly you can’t believe it.  It’s a wonderful tool.  If you try it out, it will  work for you, too.  In the classes I could make reflective writing a recommendation, a suggestion – not a requirement, because it really is their choice to do this.  If they had to do it, it would be just another composition exercise.  But sometimes some would start out acting like they had to and then would find themselves doing it productively and liking the process.

You might recall a connection, for example, with the idea that you are the place where creation works on itself. That was from a poem by Tomas Tranströmer   I quoted in an earlier post.  It means we are all working out, in our own way, a picture of our Self that we would like to match up with what’s going on within.  We’re trying to get it right.

A World Too Full to Think About

Chalk in Hands

Sidewalk Artist

One way to say it is that through our reflections, through reflective writing, we get in tune with the clock with no hands. I’ve tried to set up posts to be like experiences that require you to tune in.  In my classes, we used to mess around with some activity or other, maybe chalk drawings on the walkway outside our classroom, and we’d be on our knees absorbed in our drawings and we’d fall into that realm of timelessness.   Enough of such experiences, and they begin to catch on, like riding a bike. Reflective writing gets you into that mode quite quickly.  You know when it happens; some inner voice begins to speak, uncensored, free to say whatever it damned well feels like.   I’d like to be able to pull that off with you here.  Maybe  some genius reader will give me some tips!

Rites of Passage — Reflective Writing

Anyway, if you see some little girl drinking her milk and you realize she is pouring God into God, you’ll know you’ve tuned into the eternal world.  Lots of societies have rites of passage to trigger that awareness.  If you’re up for it, reflective writing could do it for you, too.  At the very least, it’s refreshing.


Pouring God into God, a la Salinger’s Teddy



Books About the Realms of Gold

Clark's BooksAll Things Are Connected


Let us not look back in anger,

nor forward in fear,

but around us in awareness.”
― James Thurber

That all things are connected  is pretty obvious if you think about it a little.   Your intelligence, for example, isn’t set off all by itself in the cosmos; it’s an aspect of the whole thing, completely interwoven with the whole thing. There is a life force flowing through the cosmos.  Step back and you will see that the cosmos is itself that force — what’s more, you yourself are that force.  All things are connected.   If you think, that’s the cosmos thinking.  Realms of Gold: Excursions in the Sea of Intelligence is designed to explore how all this fits together.

Looking back, it’s easy to see  my books, written over several decades,  were times-out for a look at all this wonderful interconnectedness  that’s so often taken for granted.  If you look at the descriptions below of some of them, you’ll see they were pointed to this present look around.   The Sea of Intelligence is on one thing going on, and we humans are an aspect of it.  This website, Excursions in the Sea of Intelligence, will make that clear. Realms of Gold is about why it matters.

  • Montage, Investigations in Language, which I wrote with William Sparke decades ago, was an interactive book long before the internet. It is full of quotes and stories, and poems and essays and puzzles and photos and science and math and music and grass and sky and air and God knows what. It was designed to engage the mind in thinking about how the world works and how a human being works. If there were any bored readers, I never encountered them.

Montage is all about language too, of course, and how language can imprison the spirit or free it. You can’t read Montage without realizing that prison or the open road is our own choice, to see or to perish, as Chardin rightly said.

  • Image, Reflections on Language traces the emergence of selfhood from before conception to after death. Who were you before your mother conceived you? In the beginning was the Word. What are some productive ways to think about that? How can a spiritual being live in a world of settled ideas? It’s the job of every one of us to disturb settled ideas. How can I take out life insurance without injuring my soul? Where do I live? Is it possible to live where I live? How much of my day is spent on what has happened; how much on what’s up ahead? What’s left?

Image, Reflections on Language does not solicit answers; it simply holds the door open. Reflection on such things enriches our lives, and we don’t care if school keeps or not.

  • Thinking About Thinking sets up explorations into our own minds, using the mind to think about the mind. How does thinking actually work; what is the physics of it, the chemistry, the coding and decoding? Where does metaphor fit in, logic, love? What about the genetic code?

Thinking About Thinking isn’t a how-to book. It’s a playground for messing around with ideas: Whatever you say a thing is, it isn’t. What are some ways to look at that as being true? Whatever you say a thing is, it is. How about some ways that that’s true, too. Can something be true even if it didn’t happen? What are some perspectives from which that idea makes sense? We think by feeling? We feel by thinking? Make both of them true.


If you aren’t smiling, are you really thinking?


There’s so much gained and so much lost in words, in the Word. And there is always Why bother in the first place? Can’t we just memorize the rule book and avoid the pain of figuring things out on our own?

The point of these explorations is not to get answers, which after all are only placebos, but to get a good look at this infinitely large and infinitely small universe. Wonder isn’t an answer. It’s an experience.

  • Teaching Human Beings: The Role of Language in Education is about a way to involve students in this journey no matter what discipline is being investigated. If you are looking at a clump of grass in a biology class or examining the periodic chart in chemistry or the subatomic field in physics or Ode to Joy in music, it’s always about getting a clearer picture of one’s own world, not merely about storing masses of information in the left-hemisphere of the brain. Ask Walt Whitman or Richard Feynman. It’s also about the feeling of wonder that sometimes comes over us on a bus in San Francisco.

Bon Voyage.

The Website That Thought It Was Going to Be a Book

Clark  12 18 11There’s More to Anything

Realms of Gold started as book, but it has a mind of its own and now it wants to be a website.  So I have to segue into this mode.  To give you the feel of it,  here’s the preface of  the manuscript that thought it was going to be a book.


  • I’ll be posting entries several times a week, not too much at a time, maybe  700 to a thousand words at a time.

This preface of the ms that thought it was going to be a book is in the form of a poem because I was using language with more intensity than we  commonly run into every day.

 These posts  will look like prose, usually, but there’s more to anything when you think about it, and when you do, you’ve turned it into a poem.

It’s like this: On your way to the post office, you may see what appear to be people going about their lives.  But sometimes everywhere you look are  bunched up bundles of starlight.  The people are the illusion, albeit a very convincing one, as Einstein put it.  The bundles of starlight are what’s really going on.  We do need to go to the post office.  We do need to see people, but our spirits demand that we also see bundles of starlight.  So that’s what I’ll be working on in Realms of Gold:

The spine of this website is

the integration of logic and metaphor,

the integration of the language of science
with the mytho-poetic way
of talking about that-which-is –
pulsating frequencies
in the quantum field
with fields of daffodils.


Getting the Juice Out of the Morning

Villancourt-Fountain.jpgI’m reminding you here in this Realms-of-Gold website of a wonderful method for approaching daily life.  What we all want is intensification of our everyday moments.

Here’s a recent comment from a friend and former student:

Also, Clark, I know your book, Get Your ‘A,’ etc. is aimed at students, but the truths in it are really more inclusive–they apply to more than students . . . they work no matter what you’re doing, where you are, your age, etc. I find myself inserting thoughts like “not only in class…hmm, that applies to life outside of school….etc.” It’s really a book about “perspective–investigating beyond the obvious.” You’re addressing “getting your “A” out of life.”


In the next few postings, I’ll remind you of how you can use the Mess Around Method to do just about anything at all and  several specific things you can do to deal with dumb stuff they require you to put up with in college and high school.  What you may not know is that you can do it on purpose and  cut through huge piles of wasted time, time that you can use to get all the juice out of your day.

If you are in a college or high school, you can use the Mess Around Method to:

  • Read textbook chapter quickly and well.
  • Memorize easily and have fun at it.
  • Minimize time spent on assignments.
  • Write to please teachers of  freshman English.
  • Ace a test even if you didn’t study for it.
  • Pulverize unreal school anxieties.


I’ll show you how that works after a little demonstration for you to try out.

     The Mess Around Method

Conventional wisdom has it that good thinkers approach problems logically and  systematically, and with their conscious minds.  That’s flat-out wrong.

                    We never solve problems with our conscious minds.


Solutions “come to us” and then we nail them down in language or in mathematical symbols or in a painting or a poem or in what’s causing the sewer line to clog up.  That’s just the way the brain is set up.  We have a fantastic problem-solver in the not-conscious part of the brain.  If we use the conscious part appropriately, communication opens between the two parts.  Data flow to the non-conscious, which gets to work and sends back exactly the solution you need.  When that happens, you feel tingly all over.  It’s downright delightful.  I don’t have to prove this to you.  You’ve experienced it lots and lots of times.  Maybe you thought it was an accident.  It isn’t.  When you understand how it works, you can do it on purpose any time you feel like it.

Serious Play

When you were a little kid, you used this capacity with total confidence and with elegant efficiency.  It may have looked to grownups as if you were playing.  But if you look closely, you will see that playing is  serious business.   Ask lion cubs.  In the sandbox, you were getting the knack of using that wonderful mass of jelly in your skull.  I don’t know how schools got it so wrong, but they sure did.  Even in the 21th century, they still have it upside down, and kids in most schools are taught to doubt their powers.

Matchstick Puzzle

   A Bar-Fly Puzzle

To demonstrate your mind in action, here is a little puzzle for you to try out.  Watch what happens as you work on it.  You will feel the solution before your conscious mind can make it concrete.  It will “come to you.”  Watch.

Here’s the puzzle:

Get the olive out of the cocktail glass in the attached photo by moving one matchstick  once and another matchstick once.  Don’t move anything else.

I’ve  given photos of the two moves in a later post .  I want you to have to experience of solving it yourself first.  In that later post I’ll explain the mechanism you used to solve the puzzle.