A few days back, I posted some of my favorite poems. Now is the time to append that list with stuff suggested by others, and some that I mistakenly left out. This selection will be somewhat more spiritual and self-reflection oriented than earlier, just so you know before you tread further 🙂
I loved the Song of Six Perfections by Milarepa, which I came across through Nisheeth’s blog. Reproduced below, it is a concise, practical expression for enlightened living.
A Song on the Six Perfections, by Milarepa
For generosity, nothing to do,
Other than stop fixating on self.
For morality, nothing to do,
Other than stop being dishonest.
For patience, nothing to do,
Other than not fear what is ultimately true.
For effort, nothing to do,
Other than practice continuously.
For meditative stability, nothing to do,
Other than rest in presence.
For wisdom, nothing to do,
Other than know directly how things are.
Dhaarini was kind enough to remind me of the beautiful poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. It is another gem of love and wisdom, that begins with these simple lines:
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
We all go in to the noise and haste, and get caught up. But to go placidly, and to remember the peace that there may be in silence… is the essence. To me, “remember” here does not mean to keep thinking about silence, but to go in to the world, with a deep-seated inner peace, and let the external stay confined to waves on the surface of a deep ocean. I could go on meditating on these lines, each one for some time, but well… Here is how the poem ends:
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
It is still a beautiful world. In the 13.7 billion years of the cosmos’s known existence, we are born in the one tiny window of time where we can comprehend, travel, witness, communicate, share, love and celebrate. Most of all, a fact that is often forgotten, we are in the best conditions that there have ever been to live.
Gibran‘s Prophet is another favorite. It is a poem with chapters on topics like work, love, self-knowledge and more. In one of the chapters, Gibran shares brilliant insights on Good and Evil:
You are good when you are one with yourself.
Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil.
For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is only a divided house.
And a ship without rudder may wander aimlessly among perilous isles yet sink not to the bottom.
I have not read much of Rumi, but here are the verses that I found very close to my own reflections on cosmic unity.
A stone I died and rose again a plant;
A plant I died and rose an animal;
I died an animal and was born a man.
Why should I fear? What have I lost by death?
I begin to digress, but the work below is another testament to the genius of Rumi — from a poem on love: Like This
If anyone wonders how Jesus raised the dead,
don’t try to explain the miracle.
Kiss me on the lips.
Like this. Like this.
Kabir‘s couplets bring the esoteric to the confines of our comprehension. Brief and subtle, they have a haiku-like feel, their essence somewhere far beyond the words. I’ll reproduce two of them here (translations from Rajender Krishan):
Bura Jo Dekhan Main Chala, Bura Naa Milya Koye
Jo Munn Khoja Apnaa, To Mujhse Bura Naa Koye
I searched for the crooked, met not a single one
When searched myself, “I” found the crooked one
Chinta Aisee Dakini, Kat Kaleja Khaye
Vaid Bichara Kya Kare, Kahan Tak Dawa Lagaye
Worry is the bandit that eats into one’s heart
What the doctor can do, what remedy to impart?