Education & Philosophy

What Do We Mean By the Poetic Mind?

Musician performing at Ikeda Forum

Performance at the 2010 Ikeda Forum

Also referred to as the poetic heart or spirit, this concept is one of Daisaku Ikeda’s most original contributions to the philosophy of peacebuilding.

Inclusive of but not confined to the art form of poetry itself, the poetic mind has been defined by Ikeda as “that which fuses the pulse of the human heart with the rhythm of nature and the universe” as well as “the source of human imagination and creativity.” Connection. Imagination. Creativity. Ikeda’s assumption is that given the complex nature of our problems, coupled with our tendency as social beings to polarize, it is the qualities of the poetic mind that point the way out of what appear to the prosaic mind to be a never-ending series of blind alleys.

This is why Ikeda identified the poetic heart as the very thing that was needed in the dark and hope-starved days following 9/11. “It is the poetic imagination that can create portals of hope and discover entranceways for exchange in the massive walls that divide our world,” he wrote in a 2009 message to the Ikeda Center. “Crucial here,” he added, “is the poet’s own optimism and faith in the inherent goodness of human beings.” One could argue that this doesn’t describe every poet, but it certainly describes Ikeda’s own body of work as a poet, which often functions to encourage and to help us see the shared “primordial ‘roots’ of humankind.” It also speaks to one crucial aspect of what it means, in Ikeda’s view for non-poets to manifest the poetic way of being.