Headache this evening, and rheumatism in my hip. So I did my meditation sitting upright in a chair in my room. Perhaps because of the headache, concentration was much easier than usual. My mind soon became calm. Sitting with closed eyes in the darkness, I suddenly ‘saw’ a strip of carpet, illuminated by an orange light. The carpet was covered with a black pattern, quite unlike anything we have in the house. But I could also ‘see’ my bed, standing exactly as it really stands. My field of vision wasn’t in any way distorted.
As I watched, I ‘saw’, in the middle of the carpet, a small dirty-white bird, something like a parrot. After a moment. It began to move, with its quick stiff walk, and went under the bed. This wasn’t a dream. I was normally conscious, aware of what I ‘saw’ and anxious not to miss no detail of it. As I sat there I felt all around me a curiously intense silence, like the silence of deep snow. The only sinister thing about the bird was its air of utter aloofness and intention. I have caught it going about its business – very definite business – as one glimpses a mouse disappearing into its hole.
Christopher Isherwood, Diaries, Volume One: 1939-1960
Photo credit:Sonia Guzzo
“In a sense, Vedanta proved to be a natural elaboration upon the training he had already begun by himself as and observer and recorder of his fellow man. On July 14, 1940, Isherwood set down in his diary a ‘prayer for writers,’ which, despite a tone of self-mocking bathos towards the end, makes clear that his religion and his art were in his own mind, part of a single endeavor, and that he wants the same power of love to inform the practice of both:
Oh, the source of my inspiration, reach me to extend towards all living beings fascinated, unsentimental, loving and all-pardoning interest which I feel for the characters I create. May I become identified with all humanity, as I identify myself with these imaginary persons. May my art become my life, and my life my art. Deliver me from snootiness, and from the Pulitzer Prize. Teach me to practice true anonymity. Help me to forgive my agents and publishers. Make me attentive to my critics and patient with my fans. For yours is the conception and execution. Amen.”
Katherine Bucknell introducing ‘Christopher Isherwood, Diaries, Volume One: 1939-1960’