A Philosopher-poet

         In his poem of October 28th, Sri Chinmoy presents a philosophical dilemma of surprising complexity:

By blaming the world for my failure-life
What do I gain?
I am a fool! I just strengthen
My bondage-chain.

         Here the poet does not attempt to remedy, or even address, life’s failures as such, but rather the way in which we reconcile ourselves to failure. Failure is a given and perhaps inevitable part of human life. Our human propensity, however, is to shift the responsibility for our
failures to others. If we do not accept that the seeds of failure lie within ourselves, then we invariably blame others for our shortcomings.

         The poet asks what we can possibly gain from the act of blaming others. His answer is that it only increases the chain binding us to the things of this earth. In many ways,blaming is the negative expression of unfulfilled desire. It indicates that we are still attached to the result of our efforts.

          In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishnacounsels Arjuna to work selflessly and not be attached to the fruits of his actions. By this method will he attain true detachment, which is nothing other than inner freedom. Sri Chinmoy’s poem vividly actualises the perils of attachment. He illustrates the mind’s incarceration with his wonderfully concrete compound noun ‘bondage-chain’, even going so far as to convey the impression of the links tightening around the speaker.

            Thus his admission, ‘I am a fool!’, which erupts from him in the third line like a cri de coeur, articulates his realisation that the key to inner freedom lies within himself. Whether the results of his actions come in the form of failure or success, they must be accepted equally.
By casting the poem in the first person, the entire drama, with its allusions to slavery and imprisonment, is focussed inward. The poem is immediate and personal, while at the same time remaining non-specific. This deliberate ‘scenelessness’ gives Sri Chinmoy’spoetic images the kind of exceptional dramatic power that comes when the landscape is reduced to stark outlines.

          With the imagination of his readers so actively engaged, it is but a natural corollary for them to reverse the image and imagine the chains melting away as the speaker ceases to blame the world. And imagination, as this philosopher-poet so often reminds us, is the natural precursor of reality.