Tuesday, March 17, 2009
This morning on the train I was reading Kabir Ecstatic Poems, versions by Robert Bly. It looked like I was going to be comfortably on time for teaching my 7am class. Then I looked up from a particularly absorbing poem and the doors were closing at my stop. I had missed it! So I got off at the next one, and luckily there was a taxi at the corner and a man with a hardhat and big lunch box was getting out.
Soon I was on my way back. I told the smiling driver what had happened to me. And then I read the poem for him. Here it is:
Student, do the simple purification.
You know that the seed is inside the horse-chestnut tree;
and inside the seed there are blossoms of the tree, and the chestnuts, and the shade.
So inside the human body there is the seed, and inside the seed there is the human body again.
Fire, air, earth, water, and space—if you don’t want the secret one,
you can’t have these either.
Thinkers, listen, tell me what you know of that is not inside the soul?
Take a pitcher full of water and set it down on the water—
now it has water inside and water outside.
We mustn’t give it a name,
lest silly people start talking again about the body and the soul.
After I had finished reading it, I was grateful to see that we were almost there. I was going to be right on time! The cab driver really enjoyed the poem. “That’s so true!” he said.
And I enjoyed telling this story and reading the poem to yoga students today. If given the chance to re-do this morning, I wouldn’t change a thing!
This poem is pretty far out. Its imagery transports me to another place—which explains how I missed my stop this morning. Poetry can be an elixir, somewhat intoxicating.