Sleeping with Sophia is a truly remarkable book of poetry. It is difficult to write well about the deeper currents of belonging that exist between two independent human beings, let alone the larger emotional and spiritual contexts, but Henk Brandt has not only brought those elemental currents alive, he allows us to live and breathe in these depths, to understand, to appreciate, and to be thankful for them. Read More...
David Whyte, Poet, Teacher, and Author of The Heart Aroused
“Henk Brandt’s book of poems, Sleeping with Sophia represents the culmination of an old soul’s conversations with all that is eternal. It is a long drink of presence and resilience, to be sipped slowly.”
Mark Nepo, Best-selling Author of The Book of Awakening
"In a time of economic and political distress and spiritual drought, Sleeping with Sophia descends upon us like a fresh thirst quenching water. Henk Brandt, through his illuminating and thought provoking poetic style, nurtures and empowers the human spirit towards soulful remembrance and courageous action. This is not an ordinary collection of poetry. Read More...
Dr. Angeles Arrien, PhD, Cultural Anthropologist and Author
PURELY OF HERSELF
by Henk Brandt
No one knows
how I have struggled to become simple
as I aspire
to wade amidst the colors of the day
and be content
For I would have myself be humble
and spend whole days
simply watching with my heart
so that when a woman speaks
when my love speaks
I could be a mirror
she would wish to stand before
to see something
that did not come from me
but a glow, a tint, a flare, a firmness
that could only be her gift
so thoroughly received
simply being there
in that moment
she would taste purely of herself
without knowing how it happen
only knowing that it did.
From the Preface to Sleeping with Sophia:
This book addresses how Wisdom itself is changing rapidly before our eyes to include the breathtaking emergence of a decidedly feminine form of consciousness that by its very nature seeks to dramatically expand the frontiers of conventional wisdom. The contrasts can be stunning. Sleeping with Sophia seeks to give voice to some of the identifiable themes that characterize this emerging consciousness.
The Feminine archetype, referred to by Dr. Jung as anima, meaning soul, has awakened our imagination to the many possibilities of soulfulness, especially in terms of human development. One hears new terms and expressions in the public domain that had hardly any currency at all a few decades ago. A short list would include splendid idioms such as: heart-work, soul-work, breath-work, Gaia, world-soul, sustainability, social justice, sacred sexuality, awakening, embodied awareness, grounding, earthing, birthing, intersubjectivity, unity consciousness, interconnection, hook-up, transpersonal, felt-sense, think globally-act locally and so on. All of which articulates in its own way a very necessary and essential shift away from egocentric, greed-based aggression and domination to more evolved forms of Earth-centric, globally conscious values that are only now becoming recognizable.
For example, the concept of Embodiment, as it is used today, does not just refer to the human body but to our bond with the Earth as a living system of which we humans, other creatures, plants, the moon – all things that are of Earth – exist as integral parts of an interdependent wholeness. Our self-centered preoccupations become exposed as symptoms of our immaturity as individuals and as a species. Embodiment in this context alludes to a depth of soulfulness and full-heartedness that honors the innate intelli-gence of the Life Force that animates all bodies. Indeed, the verb “animate” derives from the Latin anima, equating life with soul. Thus, the gentle reader will find parts of this book that address not only the awakening of our human potential but also our under-belly of disrespect for the sanctity of Life and the ‘growing pains’ of our struggles with personal development and collective evolution.
Sophianic Wisdom is associated with the archetypal Feminine because of its emphasis on Eros rather than Logos and immanence rather than transcendence. This emerging consciousness seeks to expand our minds and open our hearts regarding the most pressing issues that threaten Life on Earth. It seems that only when we allow our hearts to open will we care enough to intercede on our own behalf and grow ourselves into the potential human. This is Sophia, the Wisdom, that is asleep within us. This is the Sophia with whom we are becoming intimate.
We currently find ourselves in the vortex of the most complex planetary dilemma in human history, where, consciously or unconsciously, we are actively or passively making decisions that not only affect the fate of our own species but the continued existence or extinction of countless other species as well. The existential wall we currently face evokes the stern admonition that we must mature as a species or risk our demise. Indeed, various aspects of this realization resound throughout Sleeping with Sophia.
As a man writing about women and the archetypal Feminine, my aesthetic temperament has had to be especially sensitive and responsive to the fact that the rise in the status and empowerment of women globally has increasingly brought into our collective awareness the historic abuses and excesses committed by patriarchy—not to be confused with the archetypal Masculine, which is in my mind an entirely different topic. In Sleeping with Sophia it has been important to me to allow these issues to influence my art. Resisting that influence eventually proved unsustainable for me on many levels. I felt it increasingly unwise, un-Sophianic, to politely ignore the ensconced planet-imperiling idolatry of greed and violence perpetuated, oftentimes under the banner of righteousness, by my tribe of fellow men.
On a more stimulating note, it will perhaps come as no surprise that the theme of Eros does indeed run throughout Sleeping with Sophia. From my point of view, Eros describes the Life Force as we experience it in our bodies, in Nature and very importantly in the relationships we have with each other and our surroundings. The rise of Femi-nine addresses the crucial need for large-scale 'unity consciousness’ that subsumes motifs of collaboration, consensus, oneness in the face of diversity, the web of Life and an Earth-centric perspective that expands our Awakening to its broadest limits. Of course, much of this process requires becoming liberated from the old mindset that created the problems and rapidly learning instead to embrace a new ‘heartset’ capable of awakening not only a new orientation for our minds but also developing calmer, gentler minds in service to Life, rather than the usual deluded plots of self-aggrandizement that characterize so much of our personal and collective histories.
In my view, any worthwhile lingering over the topic of Eros must necessarily serve up heaping helpings of the soul’s alchemy as expressed in the dazzling kaleido-scope of Love, especially when it comes to deeply caring and passionate expressions of loving. I have had to be rather insistent with myself not to dodge the ripe area of Eros in Sleeping with Sophia. My observation is that modern men and women tend to arrive in adulthood with various levels of emotional deficits, wounds and insecurities, often compounded by trance-like mindsets of social privilege or social disability. Many of us have to clear these hurtles, sometimes quite painfully, by developing emotional intelligence grounded in self-awareness. In our often insular, fast-paced and rather crazed Western societies, few people are left unscathed. Nonetheless, I whole-heartedly believe that relationships, especially intimate ones, have now become the egalitarian frontier for enlightenment. Which is to say that by its very nature intimate relationship can provide us with an intensely effective crucible for becoming the possible human. With all of this in mind, the theme of Eros plays an essential role in Sleeping with Sophia.
The overarching theme of this book concerns our struggle for Liberation. It emphasizes the inner journey, shared, as it were, with our inner-deity, in order to provide a dialogue with that depth in us that might otherwise remain naggingly unconscious. I also explore a particular form of ecstatic embodiment I call Sacred Creaturehood—that un-self-conscious state of awareness referred to as élan vital by the Romantic poets. I view an embodied form of Awakening as the indispensable ingredient in the process of soul-making in the Keatsian sense, because Awakening itself is predicated upon the soul’s success at attaining its fullest and most thorough measure of embodiment (by definition, the soul’s incarnational assignment).
In our modernity we seem to be working our way through a rather thoroughgoing, madcap stage of cerebral development that impels us to dwell too much in our heads. This usually leads to a fractured state of disembodiment, psychological dissociation, disconnection with Earth and, all-to-often, a shocking absence of the type of Wisdom that Buddhists refer to as bodhichitta—the Big Mind and Big Heart needed to grow us out of our addiction to materialism and ego-centrism. One way to cultivate this type of Awakening is to revive the Indigenous Archetype inside ourselves capable of rooting our hearts and minds into our own interior ground of Being—a latency we have actually grown to revere, at least somewhat, as we familiarize ourselves with the state of Nature in which Original Peoples have lived…and still do live, where they manage to cling to survival despite the near certitude of extinction or assimilation. Indigenous mythical consciousness wends its way into some of these passages, as does the Buddhist concept of adi-budhi, the indwelling Buddha Nature that potentiates all sentient beings with the innate capacity for becoming Buddhas or Awakened Ones.
Being raised Catholic, I had the good fortune to be indelibly marked for life by the loving, mystical codes of the Sacred Heart and the Sacred Feminine in the form of Mary. So very deeply rooted in me are these influences, they might as well have been genetically grafted into my DNA at birth. These inner-sources have contributed powerfully to my conviction that the shifts in consciousness I write about do have supremely unifying, sacralizing effects, opening the way for genuine Liberation.
The global rise of the Feminine is more than just a vision of an unfolding reality. It is also that singular necessity that can transform our species. If this perception is even partially true, then we might all begin to envision the ways in which the ascendance of the Feminine might rapidly change our entire worldview as well as our life circumstances. Surely such a hope deserves a cornucopia of beautiful writings, much less this very humble offering.