Poetry and Inner Experience
On the occasion of World Poetry Day, enjoy this conversation between Sadhguru and Muzaffar Ali on the expression of profound inner experience.
During a wide-ranging conversation between Sadhguru and filmmaker, fashion designer, poet and artist Muzaffar Ali, the topic turns to certain exemplary poets of the past. Rather than trying to imitate a Rumi or Kabir, says Sadhguru, we must look at the inner experience which brought forth the poetic outpouring. On the occasion of World Poetry Day, read on as two poets discuss the expression of profound inner experience.
Muzaffar Ali: How do we understand exemplary lives? There are certain exemplary lives, which are very important from a human perspective, from an artistic perspective, from a perspective of bringing mankind closer. We need to celebrate those lives – like Rumi, Khusro, Kabir, so many – and maybe that can also be a source of illumination.
Sadhguru: When you say exemplary, you mean that it is worthy of being an example to others. But Rumi, Kabir or someone like that, we should just enjoy them. We should not try to imitate them. They are like flowers in the garden. You do not try to become a flower. You just enjoy the flower. It is nice that such people blossomed wherever they did. Many of them have blossomed.
Even today, there is someone in every village and town. Maybe they have not attained to that level of fame. Someone may attain a certain stature, someone may not – that is a social and historical matter, but that aspect is not dead, and it can never die. Somewhere, it finds expression in so many ways. Instead of making a Kabir an example for ourselves, we should go back to that experience within Kabir that makes him such an overflowing human being.
When it comes to external capabilities, we are all differently competent. What you can do, I cannot do. What I can do, you cannot do. But when it comes to inner possibilities, we are all equally capable. Why it has happened within one person and not happened within another person is only because one person has paid attention to that dimension, but the other has not.
Whatever Kabir was, whatever Rumi, Krishna or Adiyogi was, all of us are capable of it. But are we capable of the same poetry, the same dance, music, mathematic? Maybe not. But all of us are capable of the same experience. When it happened in Kabir, maybe it flowed into that kind of poetry depending upon the social and other situations that he was placed in. Today, if it happens in someone, they may do something totally different. They may not do the same thing.
The inner experience which causes this poetry, dance, music, mathematic or science is more important than what kind of expression it found in a particular person. It may find different forms of expression in different people, and it is perfectly fine. If you see something, maybe you want to make a cinema. If I see something, immediately I want to see how to create a system to make people experience that.
How it finds expression is different, and it is wonderful that it is different, but what happens within, every one of us is capable of that. It is not happening only because the necessary attention and resource is not being given. Everyone is busy with something else. So, in every generation, it is very important that we constantly make an effort to bring that experience in people rather than just eulogizing something that happened yesterday. Yes, we respect them and we celebrate them. But the most important thing is that they are only a reminder to tell us it is possible within us.
If they are absolute, and what they experienced is not possible here, then it is an irrelevant process and it will die. If it has to live, every generation has to have thousands of people who experienced it. Only then the tradition becomes alive and it lives. To bring in that experience, we have to shift people from simply believing what has been told and written, to exploring and experiencing the essence of what was said, not the word of what was said.
Muzaffar Ali: I have dedicated my life to celebrating the poetry of the mystics, and the commonality that I find is the burning. I am looking for poetry all the time and I do not find poetry that is pure enough to enter people’s hearts. In the twenty-first century, that poetry is absent because people do not burn, and therefore, they cannot give you that output that can enter into people’s hearts. That is a serious symptom of society. Maybe through your wisdom, we can address that issue, but it is a very serious thing that is happening. Poetry for me is the sacred art, it is the mother art. It is an art which is a reflection of the world, a reflection of society. You cannot buy poetry. Poetry has to come from that inner burning. Poetry leads to many things. Poetry can lead to architecture, it can lead to craft, it can lead to music, it can lead to dance, it can lead to anything, but if that burning is not there, there is no dance.
Sadhguru: Why poetry becomes significant, versus prose, is because so much of human experience does not fit into logical explanation. If you dissected a frog in your high school or college and looked into the frog’s heart, you could write a thesis on it in a very prose format. But suppose someone else entered your heart. Now, if you write it in prose, it sounds stupid because it is not logically correct. For those people who touch illogical dimensions of experience, they have to fall back on poetry because that is the only succor.
If you write poetry, suddenly the whole love affair becomes beautiful because what is illogical can find expression through language only in the poetic form. Every mystic has always fallen back upon poetry because, how to write prose? Poetry is not a choice, it is a compulsion! There is no other way to put it in words.
Muzaffar Ali: It is the essence of the essence of the essence, and it has got the rhythm to get into your heart because you need rhythm to get into things.
Sadhguru: No, it is not because of poetry that you have rhythm. Because you have rhythm, poetry may come out of you.
Editor's Note: Sadhguru's poems are available in two collections. In the DVD, “Poetic Fling”, Sadhguru recites his poems and explains the many situations that led to these outpourings. The ebook, "Eternal Echoes," has a collection of 84 poems.