I came across this poem by accident while browsing the internet a few years ago, and immediately felt drawn to it.  It has stuck in my mind ever since.

Samurai Song, by Robert Pinsky

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had
No mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.

The heart of this poem is a great acknowledgment of the deep and mysterious lessons of suffering, of loss. When we find ourselves in a situation of great loss or hardship how are we to respond? This is the fundamental mystery of human life. In my humble opinion such experiences of great suffering are invitations to us to try to penetrate to a deeper level of meaning, to find a new level within ourselves that is deeper than that at which the suffering occurs. So how do we penetrate into a deeper level of meaning in that experience? By inquiring into it. And the spirit of our inquiry must be clear, direct, unsparing, and absolutely relentless. And we may find that it is the activity of this inquiry itself, and not the result of the inquiry, that is the most sincere expression of our real nature.  This is my own personal interpretation of the poem and some of the cascade of thoughts that it sets off in me.

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