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RE: RE: Wisdom-Sea: The poetry of Sri Chinmoy

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  • mahiruha_27
    Tejvan,   Thank you for your generous comments.  One thing I like a lot about Sri Chinmoy’s poetry is its epic tone.  Take this poem for example, from
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 18, 2013
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      Thank you for your generous comments.  One thing I like a lot about Sri Chinmoy’s poetry is its epic tone.  Take this poem for example, from volume 11 of “The Wings of Light” :




       O sweet Lord of my unconditionally
       Surrendered heart,
       O sweet Pilot of my life-boat,
       O sweet Speed of my soul-river,
       O sweet Smile of my Goal-shore,
       Just tell me the difference
       My lustre-drop and Your lustre-sea.

       "O sweet child of My Vision's Immortality,
       The difference is very simple and clear.
       With your lustre-drop I body forth
       And feed the birthless and deathless hunger
       Of the entire universe;
       And within My lustre-sea I claim you,
       I own you as My only
       Fulfilling and manifesting


      If you take the first stanza, it’s interesting to see how each sentence starts:


      O sweet Lord
      O sweet Pilot
      O sweet Speed
      O sweet Smile


      That could be a Zen koan all by itself!

      If you take the second half of each sentence, you get:


      …my unconditionally surrendered heart
      …my life-boat
      …my soul-river
      …my Goal-shore

      There’s such fervor, such conviction in these lines.  It reminds me a lot of that wonderful line from Chekov’s “The Cherry Orchard” where Ranevsky says:

      “Oh, my darling, my precious, my beautiful orchard!  My life, my youth, my happiness, goodbye…goodbye!”

      The lines are so rich in imagery, that I imagine the speaker, the narrator, to pause between the first and second half of each line, almost as if he is trying to find the right words to express his soulful feelings:


      “O sweet Lord… of my unconditionally surrendered heart
      O sweet Pilot… of my life-boat”

      The second half of the poem is also extraordinary:

      “O sweet child of my Vision’s Immortality”


      Here I imagine God, the Inner Pilot, also pausing between the first and second clause.  He knows what He wants to say, of course, but He pauses to give his declaration more intimacy and surprise.  The supplicant is actually the child of His Vision’s Immortality.  God is the Lord of his heart, the pilot of his life-boat, the speed of his soul-river and the smile of his Goal-shore.  But he himself is the child of God’s Vision- but not just God’s Vision:  His Vision’s Immortality.


      I would think God’s Vision would be automatically immortal, but here Sri Chinmoy says, specifically, “My Vision’s Immortality.”  So the seeker is not the child of God’s Vision, but the child of whatever it is that makes that Vision immortal.  What is it?  Love?  Compassion?  I can only wonder.


      The last part of the poem stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the most exalted lines of the Bhagavad-Gita:

      The difference is very simple and clear.
       With your lustre-drop I body forth
       And feed the birthless and deathless hunger
       Of the entire universe;
       And within My lustre-sea I claim you,
       I own you as My only
       Fulfilling and manifesting

      These lines are so simple, so affectionate, and yet so deep, I can imagine the seeker sitting on the lap of the Supreme Father, gazing out over the Cosmos, as His Beloved Supreme clarifies His secrets and Purposes.


      Take the first half:

      With your lustre-drop I body forth
       And feed the birthless and deathless hunger
       Of the entire universe;

      Wow!  That’s some ‘drop’, I must say.  It goes back to Sri Chinmoy’s oft-repeated analogy of the drop and the ocean, about how we can believe that the Infinite can hold the finite, but we cannot believe that the finite can contain the Infinite.  But that connects also with the idea of a spiritual Master.  Sri Ramakrishna used to say that the ocean looks blue from afar, but when you are in the ocean itself, it is clear.  Speaking on Krishna, Sri Ramakrishna noted that people now see him, Krishna, as blue, possessing the infinite consciousness.  But his contemporaries, who were right next to him, saw nothing extraordinary in him.  Only four people recognized who Krishna was!


      The phrase “I body forth and feed the birthless and deathless hunger” echoes Lord Krishna’s declaration to Arjuna:


      “O Arjuna, whenever righteousness declines
      And unrighteousness prevails,
      Myself I embody
      And manifest.
      For the protection of the good,
      And for the destruction of the wicked,
      And for the establishment
      Of the inner code of life,
      I come into being from age to age.”

      But here, in the poem, the Supreme is speaking to His Avatar, His “drop”, saying, I body forth through you, My drop.  The drop is indispensable.


      When I read the phrase “…the birthless and deathless hunger of the entire universe” I recall the phrase at the top of the stanza “O sweet child of My Vision’s Immortality.”


      That which is immortal is birthless and deathless, it precedes time and even Eternity.  It is life itself.  And hunger, in this context, is another name for vision.  In other words, Vision is the truth or the dream yet to be manifested, it is something to be aspired or striven for.  So, it is a kind of hunger, unsatisfied until it is fully manifested.  Therefore, I have the answer to my earlier question.  What is it that makes God’s Vision immortal?  Hunger.  If God’s Vision, or hunger, is immortal, it must be ever-transcending, or else it could not be immortal.  Life carries the message of self-transcendence in every field.  I know many people who look forward to retirement.  They feel that when they retire, their life will really begin, they will enjoy life.  But the vast majority of the people I know who are retired, do nothing with their time.  When the urge for self-transcendence stops, life stops.  Immortality is life, and life is a never-ending quest.


      The last phrase is very soulful and intimate:


      “And within My lustre-sea
      I claim you,
       I own you
      As My only
       Fulfilling and manifesting


      I like the words “I own you,” here uttered by the Supreme to the seeker.  Not only do I claim you, but I own you, you are integrally Mine.  Such beautiful assurance!  I also like the sound of these words, they seem to recall the flow and ebb of the ocean.


      This poem provides me with a privileged view into the inner life of God.



      --- In Sri_Chinmoy_Inspiration@yahoogroups.com, wrote:

      Mahiruha, thanks for your insightful comments. Very interesting to read.

      With Sri Chinmoy's poetry, there are different volumes depending on the mood we are in.

      If I need some practical spiritual instruction, a solution to a problem or even if I want to give myself a mild scolding (very rare!) - I like to read Sri Chinmoy's Service Trees. I find these short instructional poems can often bring to the fore both a problem we have within us and the solution at the same time.  

      But, sometimes, I just love to read poetry for the pure devotional feeling it creates. For this, I love to read the poem translations of Sri Chinmoy's Bengali poems. For example, a few selected poems here.



      It doesn't matter how difficult life is. When we read these poems, we can just melt into the simplicity and humility of a real seeker. That is the breadth of Sri Chinmoy's poetry. It can be both like a talk from the Highest, but also there is the ability to empathise with the struggles and challenges of any seeker.



      --- In sri_chinmoy_inspiration@yahoogroups.com, wrote:

      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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