Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Prabuddha XXIV

Straight to the tavern he went. =
‘Shhhh!  Waiter!  Two drams!’
and a packet of Bristols.’

There’s intermittent rain outside
and he felt sad.
But was it sorrow that he felt?
He could not say.
The murmur of the rain
articulated his thoughts
he felt
but in another tongue.

Trooped in revelers
from the carnival
and drank their fill
to be rid of the great insanity.

Members of Parliament
ministers and the Government
drew their ire
tables were turned into drums
as they sang
slept some dreaming happy dreams
opened eyes at times to weep.

The cacophony grew in the tavern
more intense too was the rain
and now nothing was clear
everyone together
spoke the truth
and for this reasons
everything was obscure.  

It was past midnight
when Prabuddha reached the station.

‘Great man destined to become Buddha
with hands thrust deep into a dustbin
stirring up polytene, plantain leaves and waste paper
what truth dost thou seek?’

‘I seeketh a bit of rice
a crust of bread and fish-bone
to sustain today
the great man
to become Buddha
so destined!’

Heard a cuckoo call
turned to look
and what did I see? 
only the faded moon
in the early morning sky.

There were beggars in the verandah 
under the long roof
of the Fort Railway Station
close to and facing the walls
stretched out on old newspapers
curled up in rags 
hand thrust under head as pillow.

One of them got up
hearing Prabuddha’s step.

Keen eyes, thin fingered hands
wrinkled cheeks and brow
long bodies
white-hair on his chest
the frayed rags that wrapped him
were in places torn
and brown in color.
white beard in curl and knots
and his locks were made of grace
and countenance calm.

‘Nidukaanani, One Without Sorrow, tell:
Who are you?  
Are you one attained enlightenment?
When could I obtain 
a composure and contentment 
such as yours?’

The beggar smiled
his smiles distilled from moonlight.

Those who speak are ignorant
those who know, are silent 
and you of these qualities
are a Pacceka Buddha

The beggar smiled
as though endorsing 
in the language of silence.  

He spoke nought
but spoke all
felt Prabuddha.

He asked like a mendicant, sure
but his was in fact an offering
Prabuddha felt.  

And thus did the two recognize
and understood one another.

‘If only I too
could with him
take to the streets
there could be no greater joy,’
Prabuddha thought.

But the pure mind so much like a mirror 
could capture not any of this
and yet neither did it reject.
Took and yet did not keep.

The mind is of singular focus
when craving a song or image;
as such times it is pure
Lust then entwines with art  
and yet if art was elevated somewhat
in that degree does diminish lust.

Is not heightened appreciation a vessel
a craft that transports to the eternal verities? 

The cat purrs between feet
in the bliss of warmth
Prabuddha sleeps 
his feel unmoved,
ignoring discomfiture 
does not change position
fearing the cat
in fear may flee.  

The art lover
empowered to create 
empowered to feel 
will not suffer
art that is not soft,
is only touched
by art of the highest realm
and when this quality 
to the maximum is honed
he lets go
both creation and its appreciation.

‘Art is a silly, childish thing,
he then feels.
Art is a silly, childish thing,
and so is it abandoned.  

Thereafter he is but a vehicle of the aesthetic 
a treasure trove of the grandiose compassionate,
it is the ultimate yield of art

and it is a long journey.  

poem 'Prabuddha', an exercise that has the permission and blessings of the immediate family of Mahagama Sekera. 


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