Poetry is the fine art of using imagery to inspire a universe of feelings within, which draw a response from our psyche. It the language of the mystic, the path towards seeing that beyond the seen, the opening and bridge that allows an opportunity for a deepening, the ability to go beyond the boundaries of the mind and logic. It is a going within to explore the richness of our unique inner physical, emotional and spiritual lands. Because literalism has no space within spiritual texts; to see, perceive and understand the esoteric, one should be able to read the text not literally.
Poetry allows us the deepening through its the metaphor, which touches and awakens our poetic soul, the eye of the mystic. As we are being immersed into ourselves deeper and deeper, we flow unresistingly filling the spaces unseen before. All art is attempt to shape and capture feelings and emotions. Through poetry, we shape feelings, movements and experiences into something tangible – into words – into something to be seen and engraved through time.
And while words are limiting, poetry is actually the finest of all writing, and perhaps the most difficult of all art forms. This is precisely because words are limiting – because words are very naked and vulnerable – and yet simultaneously, challenging our mind immensely, because how could one ever shape a giant moment of love, unnamable, into something as tiny and limiting through the borders of human made letters. But through this challenge, our mind opens, expands, and this is what spirituality is as its essence: an expansion of perception.
Poetry is the expression of mysticism and the mystic’s inner experience. By nature, a mystic is able to access a state of consciousness beyond the usual awareness of the humanity. Mysticism embraces the unknown and in fact, mysticism is what is unknown.
And each mystic knows that as human beings we’ll never know it all; the humility of this deserves to be treasured. Nurturing the great mystery of God, and life, is what is treasured safely in our hearts; while of course, our poetic soul, our inner mystic, still longs to understand and seek what is allowed to be unveiled to us.
Mysticism negates the rational as it explores beyond the veil – an expression of a state of mind which cannot be communicated but can only be felt. At a certain point, all mystics and seekers find it impossible to describe this full yet unseen experience – an experience which is not merely to transcend and annihilate the rational, but to allow for a new awareness and perception.
Once I read a story about The Necklace of Indra. This refers to the concept of interconnectedness of all things in our world and universe, as per Mahayana Buddhism. It is an extrapolation of the concept of Pratītyasamutpāda, in which all things emerge together at the same time in an interdependent web of cause and effect – as a jewel necklace of the net of life.
“Far away, in the celestial mansion of the great god Indra, there is a fabulous net which was woven and hung by a cunning craftsman in such away that it extends infinitely in every direction. To appease the extravagant tastes of the deity, the craftsman placed a shining jewel in every one of the net’s holes. Because the net is infinite, the jewels are infinite. The jewels hang in the net like shining stars: a fantastic image to behold. If one were to arbitrarily pick one of these jewels and closely inspect it, they would discover that upon its shining surface are reflected all of the other jewels hanging on the net, infinite in number. Each of the reflected jewels then reflecting each of the other jewels, and so there appears an infinite number of reflected reflections.”
In the hadron bootstrap, all particles are dynamically composed of one another in a self-consistent way. And in that way it is as if they contain one another. This is the Necklace of Indra – a network of precious gems – a necklace of pearls – in each pearl is the reflection of the other. In the same way – each object in our world is not merely of itself but it involves the other, and in fact is everything else. In every grain of sand is the presence of God consciousness. Everything around us comes from the same but it is manifested in a different shape and form – with its own intelligence. But we are all connected nonetheless.
In each is the other and is everything else.
Words are just strings of letters. The only meaning is what we give them through our own perception and feeling. And the more worlds we have opened within us through growth and self awareness, the more we seek, the more we perceive.
Wisdom always protects itself. This is why esoteric and spiritual texts, such as the Bible, are written mostly in parables. Because it is a knowledge not meant for everyone; only for those who can perceive it and are ready for it. The spiritually impure will never perceive the spiritually pure; they think they can, they say they do, but they can’t, and they don’t.
This is also why you’ll find that you may re-read a book ten years later, and suddenly new insights, new feelings, new understanding will happen; and you’ll think, “wow, it’s as if I am reading this for the first time.” The truth is that all information is already out there; it’s just that we all have our own timing to perceive it and see it.
I’ve always loved the depth of the simple things. I can be quite realistic about the big things and deeply romantic about the little things. Poetry challenges me to shape these universes into words, into a string of letters, like the necklace of pearls. And as someone with infinite imagination and curiosity, I love the creation process. It is sort of like entering into a relationship with the otherworld; with the mystical and unseen, as if I am entering into liminality. You know these moments? Maybe it was a song on the radio or a dream that wraps around us for the entire day. Or a sudden feeling during our most ordinary moment of folding the laundry.
And then it’s as if we enter a door through a feeling, scent, touch, thought or sensation. And it’s as if two worlds touch one another; as if they kiss and we’ve witnessed their love. And we find that love is not just felt in the hearts but it is known in the hands too; like ink on paper, engraved moment through time to offer us the magical potential of a door.
These liminal experiences have their own terrains and lands, and they are never straight or direct. This is similar to ours. No matter how many man-made concrete roads we build, our life’s paths have many twists and turns. And that’s okay. It allows us the unknown white spaces where unexpected miracles can touch us. That’s the creative process; allowing life to unfold through our bodies and mould us naturally.
As creatives we listen and follow the melody on the very edge of our hearing and separate into many selves to enter imaginative landscapes from where we observe life and/or ourselves. As if in a dream, the scenes unveil and paths rise from our body parts: arms, legs, ears, nose and eyes. Some parts will trace movements along the hard edges beneath cotton shirts, while others chart the uncharted roads. Some parts are housekeepers weaving faithfulness of lace, while others follow instincts deep into the woods by the scent of vanilla.
Poets are seekers who walk the leafy paths, following these many selves as our minds become the lighthouse of perception. The roads may appear and disappear but the soul of our feet will continue to walk anyway; weaving and spinning the ever-creating necklace stringing letters together. And stories unfold like braids of yarn. I love creating because it allows me to experience myself in ways I couldn’t otherwise.
Poetry is like magic. The alchemists described magic as “the ability to turn lead into gold” or in other words, it is the ability to turn something mundane into extraordinary. This is what poetry does – it allows us to perceive the world in a different way and fall in love with it again. It turns the ordinary into extraordinary and this is the key to living a more fulfilled life.
The higher meaning of poetry is its spiritual purpose.
Because every day is a God, and the holiness unfolds itself through the years.
Everything in life is a relationship. Life has its own pulse. It inhales and exhales in its breath; it expands and withdraws in its chest, like the ebbs and flows of waves. Like us. And in itself, each breath is purposeful and needed, each aspects of nature is needed too. To see the face of God, we walk with a kindness and patience of rhythm along the cycles of the land. Within the ice is God, within the lively fragrant rose is God, within the quietness and unmoving is God also.
Even when we can’t see something, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. And as much as we’d like to know the answers to all of our questions, even those we haven’t asked yet, we are conditioned to the human existence and limited by our perceptions to fully understand or realize higher consciousness. We were never meant to know it all anyway – and learning to feel comfortable in the unknowingness is a humility to be treasured.
This is something that poetry teaches us very well; that while it allows us to reach the bared bones of human condition with words, we are also allowed the undefined to be felt as we travel in the terrains of our psyche. We have the opportunity to step outside of our boundaries and limits by enriching the experience of our inner world.
We also learn to accept the cycles of the land. No matter what is seen or unseen, there is always something shaping behind the scenes; something of meaning and worthy of our attention in our now – for the rest asks us for patience. Like how snowdrops grow in shades. Even in the emptiest and coldest of months, there is always something shaping beneath the surface, beyond the seen, and in time, will reach its hands through the soil for merging; tempted by water, tempted by air.
Poetry allows us to hold space for life, for the natural state of being, while continuing to be fully present and attentive with the open hearts to see and appreciate our present moment. Worlds within words; and we deepen into a drop containing all of our intimacies. Poetry is the mystic’s soul, the lover’s soul, the art of loving; the opening towards that which is held while untoucheable, known while always remaining mysterious, felt in tangible ways in our body while unseen; spoken while without tongues, a language only a heart may understand, like the song of lovers beyond time and space.
For more of my writings, browse through my Art of Love.
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Cover photograph by me from our wild roses garden.