Just finished The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry edited by Stephen Mitchell.
This book accompanied me during my trip to India, and I must say, it added a layer of inspiration to the whole experience. The thesis of the anthology is that the experience of spiritual awakening is the same regardless of time and place, so the editor has compiled poems from different eras and regions that all point to this single truth.
Being contextualized in this way seemed to make each poems’ timeless profundity readily accessible, and I found myself stricken and moved by many in the collection. Actually, I would say reading these diverse expressions side by side helped bring into focus elements of my own Zen practice–and spurred it on.
Poetry may be ideal travel reading for me. Poem-sized moments of waiting abound during travel, and there’s something about being in a transitive situation that makes opening up to a poem easier. In India in particular–whether it was in a train station, waiting for the group to mobilize or at the end of a busy day– dropping into a poem dealing with something universal challenged me to see the aspects of Indian culture that seemed superficially different as a reflection of a shared human experience.
In general, I really enjoyed the short anthology format with something specific uniting the poems. Will be on the look-out for similar publications to sink my teeth into.