There are various translations of the Sanskrit “mahaprajnaparamita” and the one I prefer to consider now is “great-wisdom-other-side-reached”. It may be wrong but I think we all journey toward the achievement of great wisdom and that, in a sense, it resides on another shore. In my last post, We Each Become the Rebirth of Ancient Light, I referenced the source of art as the attempt to close the gap between ourselves and ourselves. I believe the Sanskrit phrase refers to the same thing but with a difference.
Octavio Paz in The Bow and the Lyre discusses the Sanskrit phrase as implying that reaching the other shore does not necessarily mark the end of the journey and that as artists, poets, we visit the other shore via the process of making the art. It is not about a permanent achievement or death. We find the great wisdom on the other shore, we know it and although we cannot fully contain it within the boundaries of language, our art, phrases, poetry point to it and imply it efficiently enough to bring to others the knowledge that it is there and in them at the same time.
Without that outward connection, the pointing beyond, the certainty of great-wisdom-other-side-reached, the poem is hollow, a vacuum. It may entertain, be filled with attractive craft, seem deep and complex but without the genuine and felt sense of great-wisdom-reached the poem is an exercise, practice. The lightning strikes but rarely.
Despite being so, we must write the hollow, vacuous crap. That is, we must practice the craft daily if we want to be ready and able to visit the other shore. Herein is the value and cost of workshops: On the one hand they teach some craft; on the other hand they imply that craft is enough when it is not (although it is necessary). When not implying that craft is enough workshops, taken too seriously, tend to imply that the workshopped poems are better than they are, good even. This is nice but not necessarily good.
So long for now.