Posted by: Upāsaka | 10/20/2015

Putting Prose to Good Use

For most of my adolescence and adulthood I have been attracted to narratives which claim to be nonfiction. In fact, even though I have a master’s degree in Italian literature I never felt quite at home with the fiction of D’annunzio or the great romances of Manzoni and others. To me, art for art’s sake had always seemed worse than meaningless. And so, for a long time, I have been averse to anything that was even vaguely reminiscent of poetry.

But, throughout the years, I have discovered every now and then, intimations of the poetic in the suttas, parittas and certain phrases used as parikamma in meditation. Such was the case this morning when I was working with different metta phrases and adjusting them to see which elicited the best response in the moment. And it sends to me that it is here that true poetry lies and where it may have a use: the denotation of the phrases never changed but their arrangement and subterranean connections changed how they were felt with each breath. It seems to me then that when we work with directed thought and evaluation we are always already enmeshed in the complex web of kamma we have created from the infinite past.

May I learn to see faults first in my own understanding before imagining them to exist in the world. May all beings be free from suffering.

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