WILLIAM EDELEN: Mornings with Heraclitus



The Contrary Minister

I have a regular morning ritual that starts my days with great Joy… it is a habit that I cherish. Sitting in front of my wood burning fire, with my pre dawn coffee, I read pages of Heraclitus, or other great literatuare. It starts my day on a noble plane. I would not wilt the freshest part of the day with the littleness and banalities of morning television and news.

The wood in my fireplace is REAL wood, not the gas fed artificial wood, real wood from a stack in my backyard where a friend brings in several a day and puts them by my living room fireplace. Growing up in West Texas, with real wood, for real fires, there could be no other kind for me.

In front of the fireplace is a hooked rug of Indian design with a sun burst. My two four legged soul mates adore curling up on it, two Shih-Tzu’s, and with me in my chair experience this magic time of the day. I live alone and this is a very precious time where silence and peace, tranquility and vision become present and clear.

Erasmus wrote: “The muses love the early morning, as that is the perfect time for thought and study.” Thomas Jefferson wrote that he always arose at first light to enjoy “the freshness of the new dawn.”

How well I remember the week I spent with Buckminster Fuller. He stood silently every morning at first light, facing East, for his moments of meditation.

There is harmony at this magnificent time of the day. You will never see any painting more spiritual than dawn breaking. The first hour of first light… is the rudder of the day. And Erasmus reminds us: “The dawn is always a friend to the muses.”

My dawn now, is sitting in front of my wood burning fire with one of the recognized mental giants of civilization, HERACLITUS., who was in his prime in 500 b.c., the “golden age” of Greece. Geniuses like Heraclitus have always pushed against orthodox and received traditions. They are always light years AHEAD of the knowledge curve. They prod sleeping minds to awaken… they elevate minds to a higher level of consciousness. He confronted the dullness and archaic thinking of Ephesus.

His observations are treasures. He was twenty-five hundred years ahead of Einstein. He said “energy is the essence of matter”.

“All things change to fire, and fire exhausted falls back into things.”

The prophet Zarathustra, lived earlier in the same century as Heraclitus and Zoroastrian teaching saturates Christian dogma.

Jewels from Heraclitus: “People dull their wits with gibberish and cannot use their ears and eyes. They lack the skill to listen and speak.”

“By cosmic rule… all things change.” (By the way, Heraclitus can be found all thru the writings of Emerson)

“The river where you set your foot just now is gone.”

“Applicants for wisdom do what I have done, INQUIRE WITHIN.” “People ought to know themselves.”

There is no sloppy emotionalism in Heraclitus… he would have little to do with much of the “New Age” fans.

Heraclitus appeals to artists and writers because he recognizes clearly and crystal sharp the constant TENSION between the Heart and Mind. “How, from a fire that never sinks or sets, would you escape?” Thomas Jefferson would totally agree with his classic letter “My Mind and my Heart.”

Heraclitus constant message was: ALL THINGS CHANGE, ALL THINGS FLOW, THE WORLD IS REVEALED ONLY IN QUICK GLANCES. Heraclitus influenced philosophers through Nietzsche, Whitehead, Heidegger and Jung.

With my pre-dawn coffee now, in front of my wood burning fire… I am spending time in the company of one of the giants of civilization, Heraclitus.

First light with Heraclitus, it starts my day on a noble plane. My morning has not been wilted with the banalities of the television gibberish.

My two little four legged soul mates, have awakened on the rug before the fire place… and barked at me for their morning food bowl. Far more important to them than Heraclitus. So until tomorrow first light… I move on into the rhythms of the day.


The beauty and magic of that sacred time have been so profoundly expressed. You have awakened the memory of the gift of early rising.
Thank you.

Speaking of “littleness and banalities”, I recall a visit by Buckminster Fuller to my college campus back around the first Earth Day, when he was guest of honor for an event in the Architecture Department. Some sort of “Happening” was going on in a large cavernous space, with loud music, light shows, and a big bunch of stoned kids. He stood there in the middle of it all, wide-eyed and in a mild state of shock. A different kind of “new dawn”.