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25935Wisdom-Sea: The poetry of Sri Chinmoy

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  • mahiruha_27
    Jul 31, 2013
      Dear Friends,

      I would like to introduce a new thread to our Inspiration Group, a discussion of spiritual poetry, focusing mainly on the poetry of Sri Chinmoy. I am calling it "Wisdom-Sea", as I feel Sri Chinmoy understood better than anyone the power of poetry to teach and to uplift.

      With his one hundred thousand plus poems, it is difficult to know where to begin. Perhaps I can begin by discussing the technical aspects of his poetry. The simplicity and sweetness of his poems actually belie a surprising technical mastery.

      One technique he used quite a lot is something I will call `inversion'- in which he will take one idea or phrase and then reverse it in order to discover all of its hidden implications.

      Here are three examples:


      O emptiness of ages,
      I eat your silence-food.
      Therefore, to you
      I offer
      My gratitude heart.

      O silence of Eternity's Vision-Dawn,
      You fulfill your sound-manifestation
      Through my life's inner cry.
      Therefore, to you
      I offer
      My certitude-soul.

      (The Golden Boat, Book 2)


      O Dream-Boat
      Of my joy,
      Ultimately you will reach
      The Reality-Shore.
      O Reality-Shore
      Of my joy,
      Ultimately you will make me
      Another God.
      Therefore, you ask me to check
      My tornado-impatience,
      And to enjoy
      My earth-transformed
      And Heaven-born

      (The Golden Boat Book 2)

      O dawn of life,
      You I need
      To run and fly
      Into the unknown.

      O life of dawn,
      Beautiful you are,
      Soulful you are,
      Fruitful you are,
      God's Eternity-Dream you are.


      In the first poem, O Emptiness, we have just two sentences. All of these poems have just two sentences, which I suppose is because two things are being compared. In the first sentence, the writer is addressing the "emptiness of ages". He says he is eating "the silence-food" of this emptiness. I do not fully understand what this means, except that in some Buddhist texts, Nirvana is described as a state of utter emptiness and also utter fullness. It is interesting that he is offering his "gratitude-heart" to this emptiness.

      I just like the roll and flow of this language: "O emptiness of ages, I eat your silence-food. Therefore, to you I offer my gratitude-heart." For some reason it makes me think of Mother Kali, the supreme Shakti, dancing on the chest of Lord Shiva, the supreme Silence. Maybe Sri Chinmoy is saying that the silence, the emptiness of the ages, supports spiritual Masters like him who try and strive for God-manifestation on earth. In other words, he needs that vacant emptiness in order to have room to perform the herculean feat of establishing divine light on the material plane.

      In other poems and writings, Sri Chinmoy identifies silence with life. He says that God Himself came from His own Silence, so silence is another word for Immortality. He might also be saying that past ages are still vibrant and alive in a way that the human mind cannot understand. We perceive the flow of time as going from the past into the future. But perhaps when you reach a certain height of consciousness, time functions in a different way. When I listen to some of Beethoven's late string quartets, I get the sense that the composer was tapping into some different source of time than the kind of time we see and utilize in our day to day lives. When I listen to Sri Chinmoy's immortal cello performance from 1996, entitled "The Promise of a New Dawn" I also feel that sense of transcendent timelessness.

      In the second stanza:

      O silence of Eternity's Vision-Dawn,
      You fulfill your sound-manifestation
      Through my life's inner cry.
      Therefore, to you
      I offer
      My certitude-soul.

      This is the first stanza turned on its head! The first line of the poem began with "O emptiness of ages". The first line here is "O silence of Eternity's Vision-Dawn". In the first stanza, he devours the silence of the ages. In this stanza, the silence of Eternity fulfills itself through his inner cry. In the first stanza, we get the feeling of endless centuries, stacked one upon the other, going back millennia after millennia, a gulf of silence beyond all reckoning. But here, we have gone beyond even the ages, to the source itself: the silence of Eternity's Vision-Dawn. It's as if the Dawn of Eternity, although supremely primeval, is also forever new, forever full of life and hope.

      I like the idea expressed in the lines:
      You fulfill your sound-manifestation
      Through my life's inner cry.

      It's as if whatever the silence of Eternity has to say or express, it wants to express it only through our life's inner cry. So, when I live strictly on the surface and pay no attention to any deeper reality, I am not revealing the truth or light of Eternity. My outer expression, or sound, is meaningful only when it is a pure expression of the "silence of Eternity's Vision-Dawn".

      In order to offer something valuable to the world, something eternal, I have to have an inner cry, at least an unconscious inner cry. Then, my sound embodies that breathless silence, and I become a conduit for the highest Will, for the truth. Without my soulful participation, without my willingness to voice that silence through my surrendered sound, the silence of Eternity's Vision-Dawn will never be manifested.

      I will discuss the other two poems soon, and warmly invite other people to share their thoughts on these poems and other poems by Sri Chinmoy.

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