The Poetics of Enlightenment: Indo-Tibetan Siddha Tradition

School of Consciousness and Transformation PARA 7340 3.00

In this course, we will explore the dynamic, creative play of the Enlightened State, according to the Mahasiddha traditions of India and Tibet, with a focus on caryagiti (songs of experience). This adventurous play was memorialized in story and song, retold in Indic vernacular dialects, and translated into classical Tibetan. We will engage this literature and compare “ancient” (Vedic), “traditional” (Buddhist), and “modern/postmodern” (20th century American and European) poetic praxis. Such poetic questing gives rise to these questions: How can enlightenment be seen as a performance of continual creativity and not a bounded mode of quiescence? What does it mean to say that there is an “enlightenment realm", some mode of being from which creative and spiritually transformative energies emerge? How are saints or great adepts emblematic of such modes of being? We will also explore these questions: What is the moral purpose of such works of art, and how does the study of spiritual biographies of these poetic artists engender an environment that invites creative responses?

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