Preface— Mountain: Symbol of the Soul

New Zealand 198: Mt. Egmont
3 shillings (issued 5-1-1935)

    In Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Climb Every Mountain" from The Sound of Music (1965), Mother Abbess sings to Maria— "Climb every mountain / Ford every stream / Follow every rainbow / Till you find your dream". During this Project-Based Learning class, I've used this song to inspire me in finding my dream— completing first chapter on Mountains of my book Platonic Lambda: Soul of the Universe. Below are descriptions and links to 14 poems written (2010-2018) on the "Platonic Lambda". Irish sage Wei Wu Wei says "an awakened sage lives & thinks vertically"—
no wonder the Platonic Lambda Λ "Soul of the Universe" is shaped like a mountain.

    On February 3, 2010, at London Sotheby's auction, Giacometti's Walking Man I sold for $104.3 million, new record for an artwork. It inspired two poems— Giacometti's Walking Man and
"Every Step You Make". Platonic Lambda Λ described in Timaeus 35b as "soul of the universe" seemed quite abstract. When I noticed the man's legs walking by Giacometti's Walking Man at Sotheby's Auction, it suddenly struck me that the soul's shape (upside "V" or Greek letter Λ ) is right before our eyes manifesting itself whenever we are walking or alive! A similar epiphany occurred on August 20 when a flock of Canadian Geese flew in V-formation to Stanford's Lake Lagunita (above photo). Suddenly I realized that the geese were flying not in the V but the Λ-formation, inspiring the poem "The Spring Geese Are Flying North" (9-27-2010).

    Dobyns' first Stanford poetry class was to write a sonnet. I wrote "Platonic Lambda Sonnet"
with Notes and Cornford's diagram of Plato's "Soul of the Universe". While writing this sonnet, I realized that Plato's "World Soul" is not something abstract and invisible, but quite tangible when we're walking and breathing, since its shape is our nose in the center of our face! The Platonic Lambda is shaped like a upside-down letter "V" or "Λ" suggesting that the Soul is found on a mountaintop. Most cartoons show spiritual aspirants ascending a mountain looking for a guru
to teach them the mysteries of life. Geoff Martin's "Burgundian Vineyard" (2009) inspired my Notes to poem "Vanishing Point" showing roads narrowing to an apex at the horizon.

    "Mountain of Bliss" was inspired by the image of Giacometti's Walking Man in the Swiss 100 francs banknote that Steve Gould sent me. It led to a 1914 China $1 banknote showing a landscape transporting me to Omei Shan and meeting Chinese poets Wang Wei & Su Tung-po. The poem "The Mountains Are Calling" (5-19-2014) was inspired by Patrick McDonnell's comics Mutts (4-25-2014) quoting John Muir "The mountains are calling and I must go." Poets & sages are attracted to mountains because its shape resembles Λ, that Plato calls "Soul of the Universe". "What Do You Ride?" was inspired by a query in Lew Welch's Ring of Bone (1973) on what do you ride in the mountain.

    After moving from Pamela Drive to Sierra Vista Ave in Mountain View (3-30-2014), it would take me two months to notice four beautiful trees on Montebello Ave (Photos) that inspired the poem "Four Friends on Montebello Ave" (7-13). A week later on the block "A Pepper Tree Stops Me Cold" (7-20), since its sharply bent branch formed Λ that Plato called "Soul of the Universe".

    "The Soul Must Remain Hidden" was written (11-11-2014) after spotting a Platonic Lambda Λ ("World Soul") in the sheared-off branch of a Pepper Tree, that later became covered by growing leaflets. The Platonic Lambda Λ in the CREΛTIVE Labs logo struck me like lightning out of the blue during my Coyote Creek hike on Christmas Day (December 25, 2013). However 323 days would pass before the poem "Why Creation Begins at the Centre?" flowed out spontaneously in one day (11-12-2014) without consulting any books or the Internet.

    A photo in Palo Alto Daily News, December 25, 2015, page 41 Tree at Versailles by David Massolo made me go to Gallery 9 to meet the photographer. I gave David my poem "Trees at Versailles"
(1-2-2016), and he thanked me for introducing him to the Platonic Lambda Λ image. He has this photo on his business card. I asked whether he waited a long time to capture this image without visitors walking around. He said there was a chain preventing people roaming around the trees.

    I met Coleman Barks at his Stanford talk "Three Poems of Rumi" (5-13-2009), and was fascinated by his story of Cappadocia. When I saw the Platonic Lambda Λ shape in the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia and that Coleman Barks was born in Chattanooga (etymology: "rock rising to a point"), this poem "Coleman Barks & Cappadocia" was born (2-16-2016).

    "Seeing the Soul Everywhere" (8-21-2017) is one of many poems on the Platonic Lambda (Timaeus 35b) "Soul of the Universe". The artworks of Giacometti and Leonardo showed the Λ-shape whenever we're walking or breathing. Now, I see this "Soul-Shape" in the flowers by my courtyard, and in the trees down the street, gathering 9 photos showing its occurrence.

    "Platonic Lambda Business Cards" (10-30-2017) was written after realizing the business cards
of Sean Headrick (CEO Aerotestra), David Massolo (photographer), and Stephen Wolfram (CEO
Mathematica), that I carried in my wallet all showed the image of Platonic Lambda Λ "Soul of the Universe". Six auto logos with the Λ image were included illustrating this poem along with American Airlines & AAA.

    When I realized that the Chinese ideogram
shan for mountain is made of kun and k'an (container), I recalled Carlos Suarès 1973 lecture (whose notes I just found) that the Hebrew letters Alef and Beth mean "infinite energy" and "container of energy". That's how this poem "Chinese Ideogram Shan for Mountain" was born (1-22-2018). Writing these Notes refreshed memories of meetings with sages with mountain-top visions and spiritual quest for cosmic consciousness.

                                                              Peter Y. Chou
                                                              Mountain View, June 26, 2018

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (12-16-2014)