Amidst a conversation with a friend today about the kind of lives we want to have, I tried to explain why I wanted to live and work somewhere other than the US with a snippet from Gary Snyder’s ‘What You Should Know To Be A Poet:’


hunger, rest.

the wild freedom of the dance, ecstasy

silent solitary illumination, enstasy

real danger. gambles and the edge of death.”

It was the juxtaposition of ecstasy and enstasy that caught my attention.

According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, ecstasy is “(Gk., ek-stasis, ‘standing out of’). The experience, common in all religions, of being carried beyond ordinary, everyday experience into moments of extreme and intense transcendence. The word is used of such a wide range of such experiences that no common core can be identified.”

Enstasy, in contrast: “(Gk., en-stasis, ‘standing into’). The experiences, or abolition of experience, arising as a consequence of those meditational, etc., techniques which withdraw the practitioner from the world, and even from awareness of the self.”

The twin concepts of standing into and standing out of, paradoxically applying to both terms, made the world move a little sideways for a minute.