Beyond Meaning & Rationality

Birthday of English Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge

21st October is the birthday of the acclaimed English poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He founded Romanticism (a literary movement of the late 18th century born as a reaction to the industrial revolution, rationalism and modernism.) The Romantic Era glorified emotions, intuition, individualism and nature. Coleridge is best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Christabel. These poems have given the English language vivid metaphors like an albatross around one’s neck and colourful quotes like water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. Another timeless phrase All creatures great and small is drawn from The Rime by Coleridge:

He prayeth best, who loveth best,

All things both great and small;

For the dear God who loveth us,

He made and loveth all.

Osho often quotes Coleridge in His discourses. Osho says Coleridge was authentically a mystic poet. He completed only seven poems, but even seven poems have made him one of the greatest poets that has ever lived on the earth.

Osho says Coleridge died leaving behind 40000 incomplete poems. Coleridge was often asked why he doesn’t complete these things. The poems are so tremendously beautiful, and only one line is missing. Just complete that one line and the poem will be complete! But Coleridge always refused. He said – These lines have come from the beyond, I have just noted them down. I am not the author; I am just a steno. I simply note something dictated from the beyond. I can see the one line missing and I have tried many times to add but I have always failed. It looks so ugly, so mundane, so mediocre. It does not have that luminosity. I will not complete it unless it comes from the beyond.

Osho says a great poet will not claim that he is the creator of this poetry. How can he claim it? He was not when it happened.

Life is beautiful because there is so much which cannot be explained. It would have been a disaster if life consisted only of things which can be explained. Just think for a moment: if everything could be explained, then there would be no mystery, then there would be no poetry, then there would be no secret. Then everything would be utterly flat and boring.

Life is not a boredom because there are dimensions in it that you can go on exploring, yet you can never come to explanations. You can experience much, yet even that which you have experienced cannot be translated into words. You fall in love. Since the very first man, millions of people must have fallen in love; yet love is still a mystery, you cannot reduce it to knowledge. The moment you try to reduce to knowledge, it slips out of your hands. And it is good that it is so miraculous that generation after generation, millions of people go through the experience; they know what it is, yet they cannot say what it is.

All that can be experienced is not necessarily explainable, and all that can be explained is not necessarily experienceable. Mathematics can be explained easily, but there is no corresponding experience. Science can be explained easily, but even the greatest scientist is not transformed by his knowledge. But an anonymous poet not only gives birth to poetry, he also goes through a deep revolution, a rebirth. His poetry is not just a composition of words; it is the juice of his very life.

The greatest poets have not been able to explain their own poetry. Once Coleridge was asked by a professor of literature…. The professor was teaching at the university and he came across a point in one of Coleridge’s poems where he was doubtful about the meaning. He was a sincere man. He told the students, “You will have to wait at least one day. Coleridge lives in my neighbourhood; I can ask him exactly what he means.”

The professor went to Coleridge that evening. Coleridge said, “You have come a little late.” He said, “What do you mean a little late? You are still alive.”

Coleridge said, “It is not a question of my being alive or not. When I wrote these lines, two persons knew the meaning; now only one knows.”

Naturally, the professor inferred that that one person could not be anyone else but Coleridge. He said, “So I have not come too late. Tell me what the meaning is.”

Coleridge said, “You have not yet got the point. When I wrote these lines, two persons knew the meaning — Coleridge and God. Now only God knows! “I myself have been wondering. Many times, I have read it and wondered — what is the meaning? It is groovy! — but very slippery. You feel that you are just about to catch it and it is gone just like a breeze. I am sorry. I have certainly written these lines, and I know there is some meaning, and I feel it, but you will have to forgive me. I cannot even explain it to myself, how can I explain it to you?”

It is not only so about poetry. Anything significant in life…. Picasso used to get very angry whenever anybody would ask the meaning of his paintings. And he was not an angry man. He was a very beautiful, loving person. But the moment you ask the meaning of his painting, you have touched him from the wrong side. He would immediately get very angry. He would say, “This is strange. Nobody asks a rose flower what its meaning is. Nobody asks the stars what their meaning is. Nobody asks a bird on the wing what its meaning is. Nobody asks a sunrise or a sunset what its meaning is. People simply enjoy the beauty; nobody bothers about the meaning. Why are people after me? I am a poor painter. All that I can say is that it is beautiful. But that is not its meaning, it is its impact on a sensitive being.”

Meaning is rational. And the experience of mystery is supra-rational.


Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.

Discourse series: Beyond Enlightenment Chapter #15

Chapter title: Master and Disciple: A mystery beyond explaining

17 October 1986 pm


Osho has spoken on eminent poets and philosophers like Aristotle, Byron, Camus, Coleridge, Descartes, Dostoevsky, D.H. Lawrence, Gorky, H.G. Wells, Hegel, Huxley, Kahlil Gibran, Kalidas, Keats, Tolstoy, Milton, Nietzsche, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Rumi, Shakespeare, Tagore, William Wordsworth and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:

  1. The Transmission of the Lamp
  2. The Sword and The Lotus
  3. Returning to the Source
  4. Light on the Path
  5. From False to the Truth
  6. The Hidden Splendour
  7. The New Dawn
  8. The Invitation
  9. The Secret
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