The branches of my life-treeI have been a poet all my life. At the age of four or five, I started trying to rhyme in Bengali. Then, at the age of seven, I was able to dictate poems to my brother Chitta.
A seer-poet is one who has a vision of the whole universe. I have expressed some of my highest realisations through poetry. But although I have said lofty, loftier, loftiest things in The Absolute, in Revelation and in other poems, the highest realisations cannot be expressed on this plane of consciousness. When we try to express these realisations in words, we come down considerably.
In Revelation I have written:
My Form I have known and realised.
The Supreme and I are one; all we outlast.
Again, Immortality begins:
I feel in all my limbs His boundless Grace.
If I could express all these lofty realisations on a plane infinitely higher than the English language or the Bengali language, then only I would do justice to them. But when we try to express the highest truth on the earthly or material plane, we can only do it according to the receptivity that we have at the moment or according to the receptivity that the world has. We try to offer the highest vision, but the higher worlds that we express through poetry or songs can never reveal the highest worlds that we have envisioned or become.
My spirituality was inside my poetry long before I became a serious artist, long before I was a musician, long before I took up weightlifting, long before I wrote so many books of philosophy. There was a time when I wrote:
A sea of Peace and Joy and Light
Beyond my reach I know...
And God knows how many times I have recited my poem The Absolute:
No mind, no form, I only exist;
Now ceased all will and thought;
The final end of Nature’s dance,
I am It whom I have sought...
Now that I am in America, I write different kinds of poems. In India, I would not have appreciated the kind of poetry that I now write — not because it is not rhymed, but because it is more modern. But I have not gone so far as the Japanese Haiku poets. They leave so much to the imagination.
Many, many of my poems will touch the inmost depths of your aspiring heart. If you can dive deep within the heart of my poetry, you will see that you can get so much out of three or four words. Just one line of my poetry, in some cases, can give you such unimaginable joy — much more than ten pages of my prose. And this joy may last for a few hours, whereas a whole book of my prose may give you joy or a kind of confidence that may last for only fifteen or twenty minutes. If you want to get inner experiences very fast, then it will help to read my poems.
Prose comes as power, but poetry comes as sweetness, tenderness, softness, soulfulness. A philosopher and a poet may be saying the same thing, but when the poet speaks, his words will not only attract the attention of many people, but also will give them tremendous joy. On the other hand, when the philosopher or prose writer says the same thing in different words, it may be more difficult for some people to get joy.
In Indian tradition, there is a saying that can be translated, “In front of you is a piece of wood.” A prose writer or philosopher will simply say: “In front of me is dry wood.” But the poet will see that same piece of wood in his imagination as a huge tree. He will say, very sympathetically, “In front of me there is a tree that right now, unfortunately, does not have any sap.” When the poet speaks about the sapless tree, everyone’s heart melts.
I do not deny that many prose writers produce very great works. But most of the time their writings are in the mental world, whereas poetry, most of the time, is in the psychic or heart-world.
Poetry just runs towards the goal like a deer, whereas prose walks towards the goal like an elephant. If you want to march towards the goal with confidence, then read my prose. Again, if you want to just run towards the goal, faster than the fastest, while your entire being is flooded with softness and tenderness, then you can read my poetry.
Whether it is my poetry or my prose, I am begging my disciples to read my writings for at least half an hour daily. Two hours I do not expect, and fifteen minutes is too short. But if you read my writings for half an hour, definitely you will get joy. In my writings I have touched on practically every subject. Since you are all seekers, my writings are bound to give you abundant inspiration.
Each individual’s life-tree has many branches. In my case, my absolutely highest branch is my God-realisation. Some people will be satisfied with the poet, the artist, the musician or the singer in me, but the aspiring world will be satisfied only with my God-realisation, which I received from God. It was His Gift, and this Gift I can offer and I am offering to mankind. My poetry, my music, my art, my philosophy and even my spirituality will not be eclipsed but will be far, far surpassed by my oneness with God.
Again, my art-world, my music-world, my poetry-world, my philosophy-world and all my other worlds are also branches of my life-tree, and each of these branches has produced many leaves, flowers and fruits. A tree that has many branches will be able to offer more to mankind than a tree that has only one branch. A God-realised person cannot express or manifest his God-realisation from the highest branch, because most people cannot climb high enough to see, feel and realise it. According to their capacity and aspiration, people are able to climb up to some extent. That is why spiritual seekers will derive much more benefit from the realisation of a spiritual Master than ordinary people. But even seekers of the highest order will not be able to reach the highest flowers and fruits of the topmost branch. They will only be able to reach some of the lower branches, and from these they will derive considerable spiritual benefit. Again, if someone is not aspiring at all, he will hardly get any benefit, no matter how many times he reads my writings or sings my songs.
It is my wish that some disciples of mine should devote themselves to different branches of my life-tree. These various branches can feed abundantly your aspiring hearts. I will be so happy if some disciples can distribute to the world at large some light from my poetry, music, art and weightlifting worlds. My God-realisation, which has reached the highest, is more than enough. It alone will cover the length and breadth of the world. Again, if all my branches can be utilised, then their leaves, flowers and fruits will offer much benefit to the aspiring world.
Some disciples should come forward and write things about my poetry, my artwork and my other activities. Also, you can read out my poems and stories to the public. You may not be able to tell others about my God-realisation, but when you read out my poems and stories to the public, you are not only helping the listeners, but you are getting tremendous spiritual benefit yourself.
You should also write and express yourself. At the moment, you are expressing yourself through your aspiration, through your prayer and meditation. Now I am saying that you should also express your other qualities and capacities. At the Sri Aurobindo Ashram there used to be people who wrote excellent poems. Among my disciples, those who write poems can invite their friends to listen to their poems. Your friends may not be poets; they may not have the capacity to write poems, or their laziness may not be permitting them to write poems. But listening to your poems will definitely, definitely help them. And those who have the enthusiasm to write poems and share them with others will definitely benefit. This also applies to those who want to write songs and sing them for their friends.
You all have plenty of time, especially in the evenings. If you want to watch television for half an hour or an hour to get relaxation, that is all right. But if you are watching television for hours and hours, then you are only delaying your spiritual progress. It will be infinitely better if you can express the poet or artist or singer inside yourself and share your achievements with others. And if others are wise enough — not kind enough, but wise enough — to listen to these poets, singers and writers, I will be very happy. If your host or hostess has time and energy to compose and write, he or she can also spend a little time and money-power to offer some refreshments. And if the host cannot give the guests refreshments, then those who come to listen can bring something or share in the expense.
In this way you can form some secret and sacred clubs where you can share your poems and music with each other.