Nov 19 2021
by Ivan M. Granger
Let the vision
of the vastness
Pilgrims will come
the grand temple
that once stood,
made this empty plain
— from Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey, by Ivan M. Granger
/ Image by Stuzal /
I thought I’d share one of my own poems with you today…
So often we imagine our spiritual journey to be one of construction. We want to build a great shining monument within ourselves. It comes as a terrible shock how much the real spiritual work is actually about tearing down our structures.
Watch a wild field at dawn. Sit among the uneven grasses and opening wildflowers. Look at that empty space all around you. It is empty, yes, empty of our own constructions. But it is filled with life. It is an inherently holy space.
The same is true of the quiet depths in the heart. No perfect construction of spirituality is needed. We need to reveal the holy life that is already the foundation of our being. With courage and supreme balance, stand back and do nothing. Staying poised, just look. Notice all those fine structures we’ve erected over a lifetime, proclaiming, “Here I am!” Look closely, look long enough, and we start to see fine cracks appear. When we don’t actively shore them up, the cracks quickly expand. And then, all of a sudden — RUMBLE — the whole facade collapses.
THAT is the moment we’re waiting for! That is when we discover the empty plain beneath our feet. And we are a part of that living space.
The saints and sages of the past, the great artists and visionaries too — we imagine the grandeur of spirit they attained. But the truth is that their greatness was attained in their own collapse, amidst the ruins… and the giddy open spaces they then discovered.
|Ivan M. Granger|
Ivan M. Granger is the founder and editor of the Poetry Chaikhana, a publishing house and online resource for sacred poetry from around the world. He is the author of Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey. He is also the editor of The Longing in Between: A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology and This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World. His poetry and translations have been included in several magazines and anthologies.
Ivan grew up in Oregon and Southern California, and he has lived on the island of Maui. He now lives in Colorado with his wife, Michele.
“Poetry has an immediate effect on the mind. The simple act of reading poetry alters thought patterns and the shuttle of the breath. Poetry induces trance. Its words are chant. Its rhythms are drumbeats. Its images become the icons of the inner eye. Poetry is more than a description of the sacred experience; it carries the experience itself.”
Poetry Chaikhana readers often ask me about myself. Who is the guy behind all those poetry emails? What drew you to sacred poetry? And just what does “Poetry Chaikhana” mean?
As a way to answer some of those questions, I thought I’d post an audio interview I did a few years ago. I talk a little about myself, and a lot about poetry — the transformational power of poetry, the ways poetry naturally expresses the sacred experience, the non-dogmatic nature of poetry. And I read a few poems.
Click to listen: Interview with Ivan M. Granger