I think of Bertolt Brecht as a playwright, mostly his collaboration with Kurt Weill and the often performed Threepenny Opera. But he was also a poet, and this poem of his made me laugh as well as think:
The Buddha’s Parable of the Burning House
Gautama the Buddha taught
The doctrine of greed’s wheel to which we are bound, and advised
That we should shed all craving and thus
Undesiring enter the nothingness that he called Nirvana.
Then one day his pupils asked him:
What is it like, this nothingness, Master? Every one of us would
Shed all craving as you advise, but tell us
Whether this nothingness which the we shall enter
Is perhaps like being one with all creation
When you lie in water, your body weightless, at noon,
Unthinking almost, lazily lie in water, or drowse,
Hardly knowing now that you straighten the blanket,
Going down fast–whether this nothingness, then,
Is a happy one of this kind, a pleasant nothingness, or
Whether this nothingness of yours is mere nothing, cold, senseless and void.
Long the Buddha was silent, then said nonchalantly:
There is no answer to your question.
But in the evening, when they had gone,
The Buddha still sat under the bread-fruit tree, and to the others,
Those who had not asked, addressed this parable: Continue reading “Poet, too”