When a mystic is a poet an Upanishad is born, a Shrimad Bhagavad Gita is born, a Koran comes to the earth. But it is not always so. So many times it happens that the truth has to find the way through the poet because the mystic is not available.
That’s what happened with this small document, Desiderata. No mystic seems to be available who can sing this song; hence Max Ehrmann is chosen to be a vehicle – but he is an unconscious person. He thinks he is writing a poem of his own; it is not his own, it has nobody’s signature on it. And as you enter into this small document you will understand: it cannot be from a poet. It has the same quality as the Koran, the same quality as the Upanishads.
It is also a strange document because in such a small space it says so much. It is really made of sutras – just a few hints. Nothing is said very solidly: just a few hints, fingers pointing to the moon. It is so small that after Adlai Stevenson’s death in 1965 it was discovered that he had intended to send out Desiderata as a Christmas card to his friends. It can be printed on a small card, a postcard, but it contains infinity – a dewdrop that contains all the oceans.
It can be of immense help to you on the path; hence I call it Guida Spirituale. It begins:
Hear then the wisdom of the wise…
Jesus used to say to his disciples again and again: If you have ears, hear. If you have eyes, see. He says it so many times, as if he was not seeing people as having ears and eyes. And that’s my experience too: you all have eyes, but very few people are capable of seeing. You all have ears, but it is rare, very rare, to come across a person who is capable of hearing – because just to hear the words is not hearing and just to see figures is not seeing. Unless you see the meaning, the content, unless you hear the silence which is the soul of the words, you have not heard.
One has to listen in deep silence, in deep agnosia. Remember Dionysius’ word agnosia: a state of not-knowing. If you know, your very knowledge is a disturbance. You cannot hear. That’s why pundits, scholars, are incapable of hearing: they are too full of rubbish, their minds are continuously chattering inside. Maybe they are reciting shastras, scriptures, but that makes no difference; what is going on inside is of no value.
Unless you are absolutely silent, not even a thought stirring inside, not even a small ripple in the lake of consciousness, you will not be able to hear. And if you cannot hear, then whatsoever you think you hear is going to be wrong.