Come meander with me on the pathless path of the Heart
in these anecdotal,
sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of Life...

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Unknown Self - John O'Donohue...

“So much of what delights and troubles you
happens on the surface
you take for ground.

Your mind thinks your life alone,
your eyes consider air your nearest neighbor.
Yet it seems that a little below
 the heart
there houses
 in you an unknown self
who prefers the patterns of the dark,
and is not persuaded by the eye’s affection,
or caught by the flash of thought.

[This “unknown self”]
enjoys contemplative patience

is never drawn to break into light
though you tangle yourself in unworthiness
and misjudge
what you do
  and who you are.

It presides within like an evening freedom
that will often see you enchanted by twilight
without ever recognizing the falling night.

It resembles the under-earth of your visible life:
All you do and say and think is fostered
deep in its opaque and prevenient clay.

It dwells in a strange, yet rhythmic ease
that is not ruffled by disappointment:
it presides in
 of time

Free from the force of cause and sequence
that otherwise shapes your life.

Were it to break forth into day,
its dark light might quench your mind,
to all your known mind would avoid.

Thus it knows to dwell in you gently,
offering you only discrete glimpses
of how you contruct your life.

At times, it will lead you strangely,
magnetized by some resonance
that ambushes your vigilance.

It works most resolutely at night
as the poet who draws your dreams,
creating for you many secret doors,
decorated with pictures of your hunger.

It has the dignity of the angelic
always awaiting your deeper befriending
 of want,
where all your diverse strainings
can come to wholesome ease…”

© John O’Donohue
“For The Unknown Self”
From: Bless the Space Between Us

Check out her unique artistic expression!


I took the liberty of reconstructing the format for emphasis…
The brackets on the line [This “unknown self’] indicate my
paraphrase of the original line… “It is a self that”….
 What O’Donohue speaks of as “an unknown self”
 I understand as our True Self, or Divine Nature,
not a separate self residing within;
but of course that is my interpretation.

I also find it interesting that he gives “it” a location in the body
”a little below the heart.” ?
Would love to have been able to ask him about this…
In any case, the poem spoke to me
and wanted to post it.
Hope you enjoy it too…



A ribbed glass container
catching the mid morning light…


  1. John O'Donohue is one of my favorites. Nice to read his words -- barbara

  2. always refreshing to read J O'D's words. thanks for the link too.

  3. I believe in Hinduism the atman/Self is believed to be thumb-sized and reside in a space inside of the heart...or maybe slightly below...hmmm...
    I love John O' Donohue too! Ok, off to Sanskrit class... : )