Rabindranath, the houseboat, the moon and silence

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“Unless something is your experience, don’t go on deceiving yourself,” comments Osho.

boat on the lake in the night

While he [Rabindranath Tagore] was writing Gitanjali it was his usual practice to go on a small houseboat and live on the river, moving alone, and wherever he liked he would stop the boat. Those were the days when he would compose his poetry.

One full moon night he was writing about the full moon, the beauty of the full moon… sitting inside the small room in the houseboat, not at all aware that outside the full moon was there. He was in one of the best beauty spots of the river – for miles there was nothing but silence. Once in a while a water fowl would disturb the silence, but after this disturbance, the silence would become even deeper.

He was completely unaware; just by candlelight he was writing about the full moon, its beauties. In the middle of the night, feeling tired, he blew out the candle, and as he blew out the candle – he writes in his diary – “a miracle happened. I was shocked, because as the candle was no longer there, from every nook and corner…” The hut that was on the houseboat was made of bamboos as they are in Bengal. So from every gap in the bamboo the moon started showering in.

For a moment he was struck dumb. He had never seen so much silence. He came out, he saw the moon and he wept. He went back and tore up the poetry he had written about the moon and the light of the moon and the beauty of it, and wrote in his diary: “I was very unfair to the moon, to the silence of the night. My poetry was just rubbish; it could not represent even a thousandth part. The moon was outside just knocking on my door, but I was so much involved in writing my own book, I didn’t hear the knock. I was talking about silence in my poetry and the silence was so profound outside – I have never before come across such silence, nor since. I would have missed it if I had gone to sleep without blowing the candle out. That small candlelight was enough to prevent the moon from coming in.”

These people are full of books and words which are not their experiences. And unless something is your experience, don’t go on deceiving yourself.

Osho, From Ignorance to Innocence, Ch 12 (excerpt)

Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales

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