Was Rabindrinath’s longing, his creative angst, the very thing that in the end became an obstacle to his enlightenment? Am I also destined to die with tears in my eyes, and a pocket full of songs?
A poet is not in search of truth. His search is for beauty, and through the search for beauty nobody has ever become enlightened. One can become a great poet, a great painter, a great singer, a great dancer; but on the path of beauty, enlightenment is not possible.
The seeker of truth, and only the seeker of truth, attains to enlightenment. And this is the miracle of enlightenment, that once you have discovered truth, then beauty, the good, and all that is valuable simply become available to you.
Beauty cannot lead to enlightenment, but enlightenment opens your eyes to all dimensions and all directions.
Rabindranath was very close to enlightenment, but his search was not for enlightenment – he was searching for the beautiful. And the search for the beautiful, deep down, is the search for expressing beauty – in words, in music, in dance, in any kind of creativity. The seeker of beauty is really seeking a vision which he can reproduce in his poetry, in his song, in his painting. Always the search is inner, but the goal is somewhere outside. And that’s the problem for all great creative people: they come to know, but then expression becomes difficult; they come to experience beauty, but how to share it? You may see a roseflower and be suddenly overwhelmed by its beauty, but how to share it? How to express it?
The concern of the artist is expression; the concern of the seeker is experience. Neither of them is able to express, but because the seeker of truth is totally concerned with experiencing, he comes to enlightenment, and he can die with a smile on his face, with fulfillment, whether he has been able to say something about it or not – that is not his concern, that is not his angst, his anxiety.
The artist also comes to know what he is seeking, but his problem is that basically, his interest in seeking beauty is for expression – and expression is almost impossible. At the most you can stutter a little bit – all your songs are stutterings of great poets. They look beautiful to you, immensely meaningful and significant, but to the poet…he knows he has failed.
All artists, either in the East or in the West, have felt an immense failure. They have tried their best, and they have produced great pieces of art – for us they are great pieces of art, but for them they are faraway echoes of their experience. Hence, they die either mad….