Allen Ginsberg 1985 Naropa transcription continues
AG:”Why are we writing poems?” (and) (for) what purpose does it function?”
I think we.. I.. tend towards the view that its the bodhisattva vow, which is that “sentient beings are numberless, I vow to enlighten all” – you know..does everybody know the bodhisattva vow? – how many don’t? -[Allen elicits a show of hands] – the majority – the traditional thing (I think it applies to art, but that’s my.. I don’t know if it’s my real motive but it’s my rationalization). I don’t know if that’s really what makes me write but I do think consciously it goes over too but it seems to be about the best reading that I can give that relates to what we’re all talking about. So the four vows of bodhisattva – “sentient beings are numberless, I vow to liberate all” (or enlighten all, or liberate all, clarify for everybody). “Obstacles are countless..” (it is my own daydream, my own anxiety trips, my own misinterpretations, my own ignorance or passion or aggression, nuttiness, lust, anger, are endless, inexhaustible, my own stupidity, my own fuck-up is inexhaustible. I vow to cut through it (or work with it, or relate to it, or constantly, you know, not to let it take over constantly.) .. So “Obstacles are countless, I vow to uncover all of them”. “Gates of dharma are endless, I vow to go through every gate” (or situations in which to be awake, and alert, and open, and perceptive, are endless – this class is one dharma gate – we’re all at a situation where we can be awake and figure out where we’re at, actually, where I’m at, where you’re at, why we’re here, what are we actually doing for real (besides believing, making believe, we’re taking a poetry class). So “Dharma gates are endless, I vow to enter every gate” (and the path of existence is endless, you know, the path of wakened mind is endless, limitless, and I vow to follow through). There’s no end to it, unfortunately – In other words, you know, you can’t walk a block and say “ok, that’s over”. Keep going until you get on to you’re grieving cancer or something). So that provides some sub-structure, or some ground, for Buddhists to practice art as a proclamation, or manifestation, of awareness and clarity of perception, and in making a model or objectifying that clarity for other people to glimpse so that other people can stay out of trouble and not create more trouble. It’s, like, the bodhisattva view is that you can’t really yourself be saved by yourself until everybody is awake and saved, because otherwise somebody’s going to be stirring up trouble, somebody’s going to be, you know, a fly in the ointment. There’s always going to be some problem. And there are a continuous creation of problems, until everybody is on some kind of open beam where they’re not consciously… where they’re not fantasizing the wrong thing and laying trips on each other. Like the classic example is the guy who shot John Lennon. (He) loved John Lennon, really hung up on him. He just had it upside-down or something, had it wrong you know, and some kind of fantasy that destroyed the very thing that he thought he was hung-up on (and) admired – (or admired it for the wrong reason – wanted to be it? jealous? – or whatever it was he had in mind – he had some kind of big daydream). So Lennon really couldn’t be free, unless he was really able to clarify everybody’s mind. So the Buddhist view is you don’t go to heaven, or you don’t go to nirvana, don’t go to nirvana unless everybody’s there (so, finally, you renounce nirvana just to be here with everybody else and try to work it out together, because nobody is getting to suffer alone.
Audio for the above can be heard here beginning at approximately one-hundred-and-ten-and-three-quarter minutes in and continuing till approximately one-hundred-and-fifteen-and-three-quarter minutes in