Chapter 4: The Last Chance to Rebel
The first question:
Some time ago, while asleep in the night, I dreamed I was at a lecture. In the morning I could not remember anything you'd said except the phrase -Poetry is surrender.- Since then I have been wondering what poetry has to do with surrender, and vice versa, and how poetry can be a path like love, prayer and meditation.
Poetry contains all: it contains love, it contains prayer, it contains meditation, and much more. All that is divine, all that is beautiful, all that can take you to the transcendental, is contained in poetry.
Poetry is not just poetry, poetry is essential religion. Poetry means a state of being where the mind is no longer interfering between you and existence; when there is communion between you and existence - direct, immediate; when you are suddenly possessed by the whole, where you disappear as a separate entity and the whole starts speaking through you, starts dancing through you; where you become a hollow bamboo and the whole transforms you into a flute.
Poetry is the whole descending into the part, the ocean disappearing into the dewdrop. Poetry is a miracle.
And when I use the word poetry my fingers are not pointing to the Shakespeares, the Kalidases; they are only partial poets. Yes, they knew certain moments of poetry, but they are not poets. They had a few glimpses when the doors of the unknown were open to them, they had some access to the deepest sources of life, but those moments were sheer gifts from the unknown. They knew nothing of how to reach them, they knew nothing about how the whole reached them. It was almost a state of unconsciousness. It happened in a dream, just as it has happened to you in a dream. They were dreamers.
All the so-called great poets of the world, great painters, musicians, sculptors, they were all dreamers. Yes, they had a few glimpses in their dreams: something infiltrated, here and there a ray of light was able to pass through the dream barrier, and even that single ray was enough to create a Shakespeare or a Kalidas. But that’s not what I am pointing to.
When I say poetry, I mean that which flowed through the buddhas. That is true poetry. Buddha is not a dreamer, Atisha is not a dreamer; if they are anything they are awakened people. Dreams have disappeared, evaporated. Now it is not only a glimpse of truth that comes to them unawares, possesses them, and then leaves them empty, spent, exhausted.
The ordinary poet simply hops; for a moment he is off the ground, but only for a moment, and then he is back on the ground again.