Spiritual

Canonized For Love

John Donne was a prominent 17th century Metaphysical Poet.
Poster design by Jagriti Rumi.

Love is pure truth, a divine experience, a way to live more and surpass even death.

It is a sublime fantasy that is real and better than the material world. Love is life’s paradox.

This is the idea that John Donne is expressing in the poem The Canonization. It is a reply as well as a declaration that the poet makes to the world- a world that treats lovers harshly.

He scorns the worldly, he questions the inquisitive, he proves the myths true, he places his love high and announces it as canonized.

The sudden change in his tone doesn’t bother if one recognises the powerful and apt imagery he has used in the poem.

The very first line ‘For God’s sake, hold your tongue, and let me love’ hits hard, but certainly in a good manner. In fact, it catches the interest of the reader at once.

The poem is like a necklace, beaded with beautiful and grand images like –

‘What merchant’s ships have my sighs drowned?’

‘And we in us find the eagle and the dove

The phoenix riddle hath more wit/ By us; we two being one, are it’

‘As well a well-wrought urn becomes/ The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs/ And by these hymns, all shall approve / Us canonized for Love.’

Countries, towns, courts: beg from above/ A pattern of your love!

‘And if unfit for tombs and hearse/ Our legend be, it will be fit for verse’ (Stanza 4)
Image by Prawny from Pixabay

These are not empty expressions as every word in the poem is linked with the central theme – love.

If we randomly pick one word from each stanza, it will still be related to the poem.

For example, ‘improve’ (stanza 1) – one who is in love grows as an individual and improves by learning to be selfless; ‘remove’ (stanza 2) – when in love you cannot dwell on hatred, and so the negativity is removed to make space for hope; ‘Mysterious’ (stanza 3) – love is an easy mystery; ‘legend’ (stanza 4) – we all remember love stories as legends, sadly these are mostly incomplete ones; ‘mirrors’ (stanza 5) – love is as reflective as a mirror.

Love is closely related to asceticism in the poem, which is one of the conceits (an ingenious or fanciful comparison or metaphor) used by the poet.

He proves it with great subtlety that the lovers need nothing from the world; they complete each other and hence, know inner peace.

The poet says that the lovers rise to such a level that they become one and enter a divine world, thus leaving the material world behind. They dwell in each other’s simple presence.

In the last stanza, after canonizing himself and his lover, the poet says that his pious canonized love would be celebrated in the world by one and all.

He ends by completing the canonization of his love, placing it on a high pedestal, and separating it from the worldly pleasures.

‘And if no piece of chronicle we prove/ We’ll build in sonnets pretty rooms’ (Stanza 4).
Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Canonization, the title of the poem, seems to be a question and an answer at the same time. As one wonders about how love can be canonized and attain sainthood, the divine nature of the poet’s love presented in the poem gradually justifies the same.

The poet shows that his love is spiritual not merely physical, that his union with his lover has made them blissful and assures that it will radiate amongst the others.

His canonized love is not against the world rather it is for the world, acting as an inspiration. His love is not harming anyone but is a liberating force, just like a saint’s.

John Donne’s The Canonization is a smart poem with brilliant use of wit, the quintessential quality of a metaphysical poet.

He celebrates love in a simple, forthright tone that makes this 17th-century poem wondrously alive in today’s world as well.

‘Alas, alas, who’s injured by my love?’ (Stanza 2)

‘Call her one, me another fly/ We’re tapers too, and at our own cost die’ (Stanza 3)

There is a message hidden in this poem and the title ‘canonization’ is the key to unveil it. Donne wants to share that every one of us, whatever be our rank in the society that runs according to the man-made rules, has the ability to reach the divine state.

Sainthood according to him is not reserved for some but is achievable by all.

What we need is to rise above the material world, to resurrect ourselves through true love. Here the beloved represents anything- a person, God, nature, the entire world.

Love is the best, the all-embracing way to reach the sublime state as it is love that makes a person truly selfless and compassionate.

Even today if someone pursues this path, they will know that they are canonized, for they are in love.

Love is to be selfless and compassionate.
Image by Nika Akin from Pixabay

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Transient Permanence

Anicca (Impermanence).

That the dark clouds will pour heavily and ceaselessly, that the rainbow will nurture joyous moments, that a true feeling is there to stay forever, but only to forsake rudely with lessons to accept and time as a remedy, making a revelation that such is life, does this change what is transient into eternal?  

Incessant thoughts enjoying the make-believe forget what is real and adhere to what is smooth and comforting and familiar and dear and satisfying.  

Transience is a reality, but is this the reason for its permanence?

The world says a yes, the individual says a no.

This fleeting life knows the truth. It lives and dies to prove it.

Buddha in meditation forever.
Image from Pixabay.

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I wish to SEE Tibet

Certain things are meant to be, but while we are living a moment, we rarely understand this beautiful phenomenon.

I am calling it a beautiful phenomenon because sooner or later we are able to gauge its magnanimity and purity. Everything simply falls into place.  

Early last year, I bought a book from a second hand street bookshop. The cover page captured my attention and reading a few lines here and there, I told myself that I am in for a treat. And happily, I wasn’t wrong.  

The last time I saw Tibet’ took me to the land of the gods, to an eternal pilgrimage, to witness the serene beauty of the pious land and gave me a humbling experience.

Yes, the book is magical. There were times when a mere description of the icy winds blowing in a small village, Thokchen, at a height of almost 15,700 feet, made me quiver and a few lines about the picturesque valley that the author gazed upon left me in a trance.

His visits to the ancient and grand monasteries – Drepung, Sera and Ganden, to the fabulous Jokhang temple in Lhasa, to the royal palaces – Potala and Norbulingka – of His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and especially his journey to the Kailashnath and Mansarovar offered me a spiritual spectacle, a chance to feel the presence of the Supreme One.

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This fabulous travelogue by Bimal Dey along with presenting the reader with the wonderful scenic beauty of Tibet talks about its rich culture, about the mystical Lamas, about the simple, poor but happy people of Tibet.

What makes his journey to Tibet an immensely special tale is the fact that he traveled in the year 1956, when he was only 16, along with a group of lamas and theirs was the last group of pilgrims to do so until the dawn of the 21st century.  

The book cover. [Source – goodreads.com]

The glory of Tibet, the land that accepted Buddhism wholly and spread its enlightening knowledge everywhere in the world, is now a tale of the past. With the Revered Dalai Lama living a life of a refugee in India since 1959 and the maximum number of Tibetan lamas either living in India or abroad, the spirit of Tibet has weakened.

Tibet, under the rule of China, is not what it was. Can development now seen in Tibet be acknowledged when the soul of the land is quietly being crushed every day?

The number of monasteries destroyed in the past, the so called Cultural Revolution that took place in Tibet, the bloodshed of countless monks and nuns, the sudden disappearances of the religious leaders, the number of Tibetans who have given into self-immolation will shock you, it will dishearten you.  

I was aware about the plight of the Tibetans before I read this book. Reading about their on-going fight troubled me as I felt helpless. But slowly something brought a change, my efforts to understand Buddhism through whatever means possible, made me realize that Buddhahood is present in everyone, it cannot be conquered, it cannot be oppressed.

Rather, if one starts recognizing it, such a person can achieve complete freedom. And I concluded and told myself that Tibet is free.  

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Prayer flags. [ Source – Pixabay]

‘The last time I saw Tibet’ was meant to be read by me because after finishing this book I again felt that Tibet is free. How lovely this feeling is, how empowering! Such is the positivity with which this book has been written.

All the facts will defy this statement at the moment, but Tibet, its culture and its religion is not about facts, it is about the spiritual connection with the Ultimate One, with the Lord Buddha, the enlightened one, whose blessings are always there with every free mind.

Caught in the political drama some may not be able to understand this, Tibet –the roof of the world, where gods reside- is, was and will remain free.

Time, no matter years or decades, will seal this thought with grandeur that the peaceful land of Tibet deserves.

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Tibet… picturesque, peaceful and pious. [Source – Pixabay]

Also, read about the history of Tibet here.  


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IF

Let us all think of sunshine!
Image from Pixabay.

If we believe that life reflects what is in our mind, let us all think of sunshine. We should then imagine a colourful picture.

Red-red flowers, blue-blue sky and calm green grass and happy air all around us, with a touch of music in it.

We can all be dancers, dancing nonstop. Our body will be caught in action and rhythm and our soul in peace.  

We can also think of meditating; every one of us on Earth meditating; sending sublime vibrations in the universe and connecting with this marvel.

Our planet will then glow. We’ll be like the sun. A passing alien might confuse our planet for the Sun. Nevertheless, we’ll welcome others to join.  

The best thing is, we all can think of holding hands, the whole humanity, a never-ending long chain. And then we’ll move round and round. We’ll sing and dance and move round and round.  

Why don’t we think so? Why don’t we think? It’ll be fun if we think, I promise that it’ll be.


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I heard you say the Truth

I heard you say the Truth.
 
They say it ends. Everything that begins will have to face it. It is the ultimate truth, yes, death is. But is it really?
 
Why does one hope then? Why is there a belief, a truth that empowers one to rise whenever they fall?
 
That what has gone, does it fills the emptiness?
 
An empty road on a hillside seems endless and you hope.
 
The sun sets down and the brilliant golden colour makes the eyes wet and you believe.
 
You see a butterfly loving a flower, a laugh nearby and then you share the smile…and you breathe in the truth of lifetime.
 

 

Orange black butterfly, orange love.
Image by JL G from Pixabay

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