Yoga is often thought of as a physical practice, but it also has a rich tradition of poetry that explores the deeper spiritual aspects of the practice. In this article, we will explore two or three poems that offer insights into the journey of self-discovery that yoga can provide. These poems offer a window into the inner landscape of the yogic path, and can inspire us to explore our own inner terrain.
1. “The Guest House” by Rumi
Rumi was a 13th century Persian poet and mystic who is revered for his deep insights into the human condition. His poem “The Guest House” is a classic example of his ability to express complex spiritual ideas in simple, accessible language.
This poem invites us to view our emotions and experiences as guests who come and go in our lives, and to greet them all with openness and curiosity. By cultivating this attitude of welcoming, we can learn to navigate life’s ups and downs with grace and equanimity.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Source: The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
2. “Song of the Soul” by Kabir
Kabir was a 15th century Indian mystic and poet who blended elements of Hinduism and Islam in his writings. His poem “Song of the Soul” expresses the idea that the soul is the ultimate reality, and that by recognizing our own divinity, we can overcome the illusions of the ego and experience true freedom.
Song of the Soul
I have dived deep into myself,
and found the ocean of love.
Now I am trying to make a boat of my body,
to sail in that sea.
In the freshness of early dawn,
I am tasting the nectar of life.
The world is sleeping,
but I am awake.
I have thrown away all belief,
and am now seeking only the truth.
Source: The Kabir Book: Forty-Four of the Ecstatic Poems of Kabir, translated by Robert Bly
3. “The Radiance Sutras” by Lorin Roche
“The Radiance Sutras” is a modern interpretation of an ancient text known as the Vijnana Bhairava, which is considered one of the foundational texts of the Tantric tradition. In this book, Lorin Roche offers a poetic and accessible translation of the sutras, which offer insights into the nature of consciousness and the practice of meditation.
One of the most beautiful and accessible sutras is “The Joyous Dance of Life,” which invites us to celebrate the beauty and mystery of existence, and to approach each moment with a sense of wonder and awe.
The Joyous Dance of Life
Look into the depths of your own being, and enjoy the dance of life.
Be bold and daring, allow yourself to experience the full range of human emotion.
Take risks and explore new territory, knowing that you are always safe and protected by the radiance of your own being.
Open yourself to the beauty and mystery of existence, and allow yourself to be swept away by the joyous dance of life.
Source: “The Radiance Sutras” by Lorin Roche
In addition to “The Joyous Dance of Life,” “The Radiance Sutras” contains many other beautiful and inspiring poems that explore the depths of human consciousness and the nature of reality. This book is a testament to the power of poetry to illuminate the most profound and mysterious aspects of our existence.
In conclusion, the poetry of yoga offers a powerful lens through which to view the spiritual journey of self-discovery. By exploring the rich tradition of yogic poetry, we can deepen our understanding of the practices and teachings of yoga, and gain new insights into our own inner landscape. Whether we turn to the ancient wisdom of Rumi and Kabir, or the modern interpretations of Lorin Roche, the poetry of yoga invites us to embrace the mystery of existence and celebrate the beauty of the human spirit.