Notes to Poem:
Home Is The Centre

Peter Y. Chou

Commentary on Poem "Home Is The Centre":

Google Images for "Home & Family"
showed 138,000,000 results
Searching for a photo to represent
"Home is the center for families",
I found 138,000,000 of them in
Google Images by real estate agents.

After writing the poem "Why Creation Begins at the Centre?" (11-12-2014), I compiled Notes for the poem with images for each stanza (11-22-2014). For the fourth stanza, it was easy to find images for Foundation of Empire State Building, Tomato Plant in Pot, Seeds at Center of Orange. However, for the line "home is center of all families", I typed home and family in Google Images. 138,000,000 results showed up. Most were posted by real estate agents touting houses and condos in their area. Numerous photos showed parents with children in front of lawns and their house— a happy family (sample). Photo Source:
Screen Shot of Google Images: "Home & Family" (

But the photo I chose was quite simple—
no happy family posing on the lawn,
no Tudor or Victorian house behind them,
just four hands forming the shape of a house—

Happy Family in Front of House

Tudor House

Victorian House
Photo Sources: Happy Family & House (; Tudor House (; Victorian House (;

"Home Symbol" formed by hands
sloping fingers tilted to make a rooftop,
square-shaped fingers for walls and floor.
Behind are clouds in the blue sky above
and green grassy field below— how perfect!

After looking over a few dozen photos of happy families in front of their houses, I chose the photo that was quite simple— just four hands forming the shape of a house. The sloping fingers on top tilted to make a rooftop, the square-shaped fingers on the bottom for side walls and the floor. What an ingenious set-up! With the clouds in the blue sky and green field in the background, this photo is just perfect for the "Home Symbol". It inspired me greatly to write this poem. Photo Source: Home Symbol (

Here we have heaven & earth in harmony,
yang & yin balanced, centered in the Tao.
No wonder it's the place everyone returns
for it's at home where we sleep and rest.

Mount Fuji from Lake Kawaguchi
as Symbol of Heaven & Earth in Harmony

Yin-Yang symbol
Tao Te Ching 42

Young Man Sleeping in Bed
Photo by Jim Jordan
Yin-Yang in Chinese philosophy is used to describe how seemingly opposite forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world. Yin and Yang give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Many natural dualities (female & male, dark & light, water & fire, life & death) are thought of as physical manifestations of the yin-yang concept. Yin and yang are actually complementary, not opposing forces, interacting to form a whole dynamic system (Tao circle) greater than either separate part. Everything has both yin and yang aspects, such as shadow cannot exist without light. Image Sources: Heaven & Earth in Harmony (; Yin & Yang (; Young Man Sleeping (

Home is the place of comfort for its shape
is made of letters Alpha (A) & Beth (()—
Creator of the Soul and its container,
bountiful bowl that houses the universe.

Greek letter Alpha
resemble the roof of a house

The Platonic Lambda
"Soul of the Universe"
Plato's Timaeus 35b

Hebrew letter Beth rotated
90o clockwise forms house

Symbol for House made from
Greek Alpha & Hebrew Beth
In Hebrew Aleph () is the "father" of the Aleph-Bet. while Bet () means house. The letter A symbolizes first principle— Ain Soph Aur (infinite light) of the Kabbalah. "A" is then non-being or ground of our being, out of which being arises. The Greek letter Alpha "A" resembles Λ "Soul of the Universe". B (Beth) is the house or container of the Lord (Aleph). I recall attending a lecture by Carlos Suarès, author of Cipher of Genesis (1970) in Cambridge, Massachusetts (circa 1974). He said that Bayt (Beth) is the container, archetype of all dwellings, the bowl housing this universe. The Hebrew glyph Bet () resembles a house constructed of three Vav (). When rotated 90o clockwise, resembles the house in the "Home Symbol" with Λ as its roof. Since Home houses the universe, all our needs are fulfilled here. Image Sources: Greek letter Alpha (; Platonic Lambda (; Hebrew letter Beth (; House Symbol (

At a Poetry Workshop in Asilomar,
Robert Bly had the class enact out
"The Judgment of Paris" with three women
playing goddesses Venus, Athena, and Hera.

Asilomar's Merrill Hall
Pacific Grove, California

Robert Bly's Poetry
Workshop (1988)

Peter Paul Rubens, The Judgment of Paris (1639)
Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain
I first saw Robert Bly at his poetry reading at San Jose State University in 1988 when I was learning to write free verse poetry. Bly read his poems as well as translations of Rumi while strumming on his guitar. Later, I went to two of Bly's Poetry Retreats at Asilomar (1988-1989) as well as his "Mythical Thinking Workshop" in San Francisco (1988). I was also fortunate to be in Bly's Stanford Poetry Workshop (spring quarter 2008). Zeus appointed Paris, son of Priam (King of Troy), as judge in the beauty contest of three goddesses, Venus, Athena, and Hera. Paris chose Venus, who promised him Helen, the most beautiful woman. Photo Sources: Asilomar's Merrill Hall (; Robert Bly (; Judgment of Paris (

We had to choose one after their speeches—
Venus promised love to those joining her circle,
Athena granted wisdom to those who came to her,
Hera said she'd provide a home of peace and rest.

Venus of Arles (Louvre)
(End of 1st century BC)

Athena Farnese (430 AD)
Museo Archeologico, Naples

Hera Campana (Louvre)
(Roman copy of Hellenistic original)
Bly asked each of the women who represented Venus, Athena, and Hera to give a speech. Venus said
"As the Goddess of Love, I promise you the love of any man or woman you desire, so come to me."
Athena said "As Goddess of Wisdom, I'll grant you sacred knowledge and wisdom, for this is the greatest treasure." Finally Hera said "As wife of Zeus, and Queen of gods, I'll provide you a home of peace & rest."
Photo Sources: Venus of Arles (; Athena Farnese (; Hera Campana (

A dozen students chose Venus for love,
another ten went to Athena for wisdom,
I and two others joined Hera for home,
like Odysseus returning home to Ithaca.

Odysseus Sailing Home to Ithaca
Mosaic (300 AD)

Maid Recognized Odysseus
who came home in disguise

Odysseus & Penelope (1802)
by Johann H. W. Tischbein (1751-1829)
I had planned on choosing Athena's wisdom, for while on the spiritual quest, Paul Brunton's Wisdom of the Overself was my guide book to enlightenment. However, I recalled Odysseus's journey home after a long ten-year Trojan War. It took him ten more years to reach Ithaca to be reunited with his wife Penelope. Odysseus avoided the temptations and enchanting songs of the Sirens, and escaped the clutches of goddesses Circe and Calypso who promised him immortality. His goal was to reach home where he'll find his wife, son, and peace. That's why I chose Hera's Home above love and wisdom. Image Sources: Odysseus Sailing Home to Ithaca (; Maid Recognized Odysseus (; Odysseus & Penelope (

Home is where the heart is— at its center
is OM— the mantra to summons the gods,
for OM is Supreme Consciousness or Brahman
the Creator God who gave everything their birth.

Om Symbol
in Devanagari scropt for Sanskrit

Om Symbol
Supreme Consciousness or Brahman

Brahman, the Creator God
Carving: Halebid in Karnataka
Aum or Om is a mystical or sacred syllable in Indian religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It is placed at the beginning of most Hindu texts as a sacred incantation to be intoned at the beginning and end of a reading of the Vedas or prior to any prayer or mantra. The Mandukya Upanishad is entirely devoted to its explanation. While it is the shortest of the Upanishad, it is perhaps the most profound, consisting of 12 verses expounding the mystic syllable AUM, the three states of waking, dream, and deep sleep, and the transcendental "fourth state" of illumination (turiya). Joseph Campbell explained to Bill Moyers in Power of Myth that turiya is the silence between the AUM's. It's so interesting that OM is at the center of the word "HOME" for it's a truly sacred space where we find peace and rest.
Image Sources: Om Symbol (; Om (; Brahman, Creator God (

— Peter Y. Chou
    Mountain View, 12-3-2014

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