Guernica: Are there particular friendships in your life that you would point to?
Coleman Barks: I had a teacher who came to me in a dream, and then, I met him about a year after that. That was a pretty good conversation that we had. [Laughs] He said to me, when he first met me, “Will you meet with me on the inside or on the outside?” I didn't know what I was meeting. In kind of a tricky, intellectual way, I said, “Isn't it always both?” I should have said, “Inside, now.” I didn't know what he was offering me.
This man's name was Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, he was a Sri Lankan teacher, who came over here in the early '70s, and I met him in '78. I read him a few [ of my translations]. He said this work has to be done. I claim that he's helping with it, even though he died in 1986.
From Different Ways of Laughing: