the ecstasy of list-making

By: alexanderlewin

May 06 2016

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Category: Lists

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As a human being, Shams, I feel, is in the area of Gurdjieff, Bodhidharma, Rinzai, Osho, Jonathan Swift, Dostoyevsky, Mark Twain, Nietzsche, Robert Bly, Pascal, Bawa Muhaaiyaddeen, Thoreau, Cervantes, Henri Corbin, Socrates, Brando –here I drift into ecstasy of list-making– Sophocles, Galway Kinnell, D.H. Lawrence, Picasso, Van Gogh, John Cage, Beethoven, Emerson, Henry Miller, Oscar Wilde, Timothy Leary, Herman Melville, Nabokov, Patrick Kavanagh, Basho, James Joyce, Jim Morrison, Ishmael Reed, Richard Wright, Dionysus, Zarathustra, Hanshan, Bill Murray, Bernard Shaw, Mauvine Betch (the beachlady), Black Elk, Thomas Hardy, Mary Oliver, Plotinus, Gary Snyder, Franz Wright and his father James, William Blake, Hafez, Coleridge, Emily Dickinson, Janis Joplin, Georgia O’Keefe, Susan Sontag, Gertrude Stein, Willa Cather, Ibsen, Knut Hamsun, Samuel Beckett, Robert Hass, Hieronymous Bosch, Woody Allen, Stravinsky, Cormac McCarthy, Walt Whitman, Van Morrison, Hakim Sanai and his teacher Lai-Khur, James Hillman, Kharraqani, Mark, Meister Eckhart, Philip Levine, Milarepa, Lorca, Machado, Vallejo, Chuang-tzu, Nanao Sakaki, Carl Jung, Shirdi Sai Baba with his brick, and my friend Ed Hicks. There are many others that I am forgetting –Lao Tze, William Stafford, Dogen, Ramakrishna, and others that I don’t know about yet. Throughout my life I have felt excited and nourished by finding the new forms that this energy, the soul fury creativity, takes.
So what to make of this crazed crowd of names? Nothing. They are magnificent individuals who don’t care about belonging to any tradition. And they don’t want followers. Shams Tabriz is one of those. These are iconoclastic, crowd-dispersing loners. They come, they do their work, and they leave.

Coleman Barks
from Rumi: Soul Fury
Rumi and Shams Tabriz on Friendship
HarperCollins 2014

Great list! A few of these characters I am unfamiliar with, but many of them have inspired me also.
As I’m sure you are aware, list-making is contagious, and I have found myself conjuring up names of equally inspiring yeasty folks…those who created sparks, marked out trails, uniquely voiced things
that mattered, caused astonishment or stopped
the mind-machine (for a spell)…

Neem Karoli Baba, The Beatles, Nikos Kazantzakis, Leo Tolstoy, Kabir, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Bob Dylan, Alan Watts, Baal Shem Tov, Gabriel García Márquez, Charles Bukowski, W.G. Sebald, Jed McKenna (whether he exists or not!), Isaac Bashevis Singer, Ikkyu, Andrey Tarkovsky,  Nisargadatta Maharaj, Todd Rundgren, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Jesus, Joni Mitchell, Antoni Gaudi, Ryokan, Herman Hesse, Santoka Taneda, Eckhart Tolle, Sufjan Stevens, Werner Herzog, Annie Dillard, Jorge Luis Borges, Lieh Tzu, and of course, last (for now) but by no means least… Mr. Coleman Barks himself!

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