Poem Knowledge is Like a Boat

 

Knowledge is like a boat.

Man-built,

artificial,

yet useful.

 

It carries us to places we want to go,

yet it doesn’t tell us how we got there.

And once we reach our destination,

we become content.

 

We praise ourselves,

our boats,

and our geniuses for building such a tool.

An useful tool but with small cracks.

 

Luckily this boat still floats.

It floats in calm waters,

wild waters,

blue waters and red waters.

Wherever and whenever our minds decide to drift away.

 

We drift and wander for days,

for months,

for years.

Still no firm land to step on.

 

All that is around is water.

Soft, transparent, emotional water.

It dances full of happiness,

with a slight touch of mockery.

 

Its soft voice gently calls us to dance with them

but we are too scared to do so.

Thus, we attach ourselves to this boat.

This boat we built with our own hands.

 

This boat has worked for us for so long.

It took us to places we wanted to go.

Why should we abandon it?

Why should we step outside, in the water, and drown?

 

Oh that tricky water,

that mysterious water,

that dances and mocks me.

I dislike you yet I want to be just like you.

 

So free,

so happy,

so naïve,

so unpredictable!

 

One day I will step out,

dance with you,

and be happy like you.

But for now I will stay on my boat and wander because I am afraid of you…

 

(This poem was written after getting inspired by the book Dao De Jing by Lao Tse and Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. Both of these authors write about the hidden teaching from observing different element from the natural world -like water and rivers. After reading these books, I started to realize how water and rivers have a sacred and spiritual component within. It can teach us many lessons only if we observe and listen carefully. I invite you to read these two books if you want to learn more about the teachings in which this poem is rooted on. Here is a free link for Lao Tse’s book:

http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/core9/phalsall/texts/taote-v3.html)

4 thoughts on “Poem Knowledge is Like a Boat

  1. Makes me think: a force within pulls you to dance in the light of the water.. a water that is life and universal consciousness, but our minds have enclosed us in our boat of safety, creating fear and innate illusions to comfort ourselves… and in fact the greatest trick that is played is the one we make on ourselves. Just a quick thought. I enjoyed this very much, thank-you.

    1. This is one unique perspective to understand this poem. It does capture the message within it. Thank you for understanding and sharing it. It does give a different yet similar way to understand the message within the poem.

  2. Yes…in our little boats…sometimes I wonder how I came to be in this boat…and when I have tried to choose and create my own path—it never seemed to last long…what was that all about??? Now…I am not sure what I am doing or WHY I am doing it…I am just learning to BE…and not DO….it is scary. You are so courageous and your words give me courage! Thank you!

    1. It is so scary to ‘immerse ourselves and dance with the water’. I am in the stage in which I see that my own boat and other people’s boats have so many leaks. From the Buddhism perspective, how everybody experiences suffering as a result of our actions (many times selfish and non-virtuous). I see so many leaks and sometimes feel down for not being able to help myself and others. I guess I need to be like water and just let it Be, like you said.

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