Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Wonder through Guru Nanak, Kabir and Emily Dickinson's eyes

When I think of wonder, I think of Guru Nanak's Aarti:

Gagan mein thaal rav chand dipak bane, 
tarika mandal janak moti, 
dhoop malyanlo pavan chavro kare 
saal banray phulant joti.

(Notice the commas -- which are not found in the Guru Granth Sahib -- are in a different place than usual, but I believe are correct based on the meaning of these lines).

On my better evenings I hear Guru Nanak sing Arti in his melodious voice, describing how the entire sky is the platter on which the sun and moon are lamps for worship. The stars and the planets are the gems and pearls, the mythical Mount Meru, covered with sandalwood trees is the incense and the wind blowing from all directions is the grand fan for the beloved. See http://www.orissa.gov.in/e-magazine/orissareview/2012/Feb-March/engpdf/1-6.pdf for entire Aarti.

The other lines I think when I think of wonder come from Bhagat Kabir:

Sur Nar Mun Jan Kautak Aaye 
Kot Tentees Ujaana
Keh Kabir Mohe Byaah Chale Hain 
Purakh Ek Bhagwaana

Heavenly creatures have come
in thousands of chariots
As the one true Lord 
whisks me away following our wedding

Every time I read these lines, I think I understand them. But then every time I read these lines, I gain a new perspective on the wonder that is life.  I think I know but I don't.  But that temporary thought of knowing the unknown is beautiful. According to Emily Dickinson, that beautiful place, which enlivens, that is between the knowing and the unknown is wonder. She says, 

Wonder—is not precisely Knowing
And not precisely Knowing not—
A beautiful but bleak condition
He has not lived who has not felt—