The heart of the poet is always in love with the unknown. He goes on groping in the dark for something new, something original, something untasted before, something unlived, unexperienced. A poet gropes. And sometimes he can stumble upon the unknown, he can fall into the abyss of religion.
Poetry is metaphoric, metaphorical, it lives through metaphors. The same is the language of religion. Of course, when a metaphor is used in a poetic way, it means one thing; and when it is used in a religious way, it means something else. But both use metaphors. There is a meeting ground. Their meanings may differ, but their methods are of the same family. They look like twins. Vast is the difference within, but at least in form, at the surface, they are more alike than logic and religion. Because of this likeness religion has always spoken in the way of the poet: Upanishads, Vedas, Kabir, Meera, Zen poets….
Zen poets have written beautiful haikus, so condensed that a vast poetic world becomes like a seed in the haiku. Sometimes they are very simple, you cannot even catch the significance immediately. But if you ponder over them, meditate upon them, then, by and by, the small haiku becomes a door. A few days before I was reading Basho’s famous haiku. It is very small, but if you meditate upon it, suddenly a door opens.
The haiku is:
Just visualize it – an old pond, very ancient, a frog jumps in, the water-sound. Finished. Nothing more to say. A whole situation condensed. If you meditate on it, suddenly you will feel a silence surrounding you. Something will change in you. It is objective art.
Zen pets, Sufi mystics, Hindu saints, have all spoken in the language of poetry, and even if sometimes Buddha and Mahavir and Jesus don’t speak in the language of poetry, the poetry is still there, whether they speak in it or not. If you listen to them, you will feel a certain poetic quality underneath their words. Their prose is only on the surface. The form is of prose, but the spirit is of poetry. In fact, one who is enlightened cannot do otherwise. If he must speak in prose, he can; but he cannot avoid poetry. The poetry will be there just beneath the surface – if you have a little insight, you will see it; it is vibrant and alive there. Religion and poetry have the same language: their words differ, but somewhere they have a meeting point. And that meeting point is the subject of this story.