Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The ant and the preacher

A cavern on stilts
Storehouse of wealth
With pearls of knowledge
Written with golden letters

Six legs
Duty bound to the end
Trudging steep paths
Hauling sweet crystals

A comfortable rise
Of abundance and rest
Softens the flesh, resting on
An inflexible scaffold

Head to the ground
With determination and focus
A monotonous daily crawl, negotiating
Grains of sand big as boulders

Wisdom’s slow ooze carries danger
Of watering seeds of narcissistic admiration
The grotto fills with thoughts idolizing
Invincibility in the mirror of self worth

Instinct has no free will
Seeing no right or wrong
It’s strength renders all action innocent
All for a mysterious higher cause

Visions of freedom are fleeting
When happiness is bound
The ego sees no limits
Revelling in ocean of thought

Born without a veil
A unique benefaction
But lacking precious insight
Impulse holds sway

The will gauges tests
When it senses depleted resolve
Any suggestion of retreat
Fails to build inner strength

Inching up a rock
A heavy load on it’s back
Seeing a predatory world
Fatigue is never displayed

Empty the storehouse of theological tenets
Discard the dribble of adulation
From the masses
Long is the journey to the breath of life

An ant is a giant
In the eyes of the soul
Even if its steps are small
It carries the spring of life

A preacher’s life
Is his spoken word
It may bring its own anguish
Without the reflection of experience

Footprints may be invisible
But each step is measured well
Uniformity pervades
An ant’s limited movements

Ego craves desire’s sugar
Over the bitter pill of detachment
Strengthening eyesight
To the spectacle of the world

Even with a compound vision
An ant’s life is simple
A hidden urge keeps
Every moment afresh

Lives of the ant and the preacher
Divergent as
Night and day
Share the moon and the sun

The emperor of contradictions
Sizes them as equals
When they arrive
At another sphere

The vastness of the preacher’s knowledge
Unfathomable to the insect’s tiny head
The ant’s life spent in ferrying sugar
A waste of time in the cleric’s mind

The emperor of contradictions
Faced with a dilemma of his making
Who would he let in
Into his precious world?

The preacher’s habit of speaking first
Burst forth at his ego’s nudge
His last sermon was heard
By the inconsequential ant

While clouds cover a blue sky
Does the sun shine only when clouds part?
While a safe guards a worldly loot
Does knowledge need a lock and key?

In this world or the next
My words ring true
Oh ant!
You are blessed to hear these river of words

Wants and needs of life are many
The eye needs light to satiate its hunger
In the house of craving, sorrow is an unwelcome guest
Happiness is the soul’s lost companion

Lips may hide a pearly smile
The heart always beams for one without fangs
Avoid the melancholic valley with slippery slopes
By clinging to the mountaintop abode

The swells on the surface
Depend on the currents below
Waves of happiness bank on an inner spark
Murky and deep, difficult to see

Lighting the lamp of knowledge
I have unclouded many an eye
How can this knowledge of man
Bring happiness to an ant?

Tentacles brisled
Searching the air for words
It’s tiny head struggled
To enter this exalted argument

The emperor of contradictions
Felt this silent plea
And broadcasted words
For the inarticulate ant

The human condition is a puzzle to me
Meaning of life is hidden, I’m told
I would have sought the answer
Had I the power of the mind

Getting a piece of the world
And expecting happiness to be whole
Consciousness is distributed among
Love and hate

The madness of war
Wounding hearts, leaving them raw
The world is one, but you see it not
The sun sets in the west for both rich and poor

The wealthy seek even more gold
Unburdened by this goal
The poor are given a treasure
From the humble soul

The mind longs for fruits
Commanding hands to work
Desires bind
Coin and toil

An idle mind is a deadly pest
More dangerous than my vermin cousins
Where work is shunned
And profit worshipped

The future is a worrisome thought
Not for an ant that has no mind
Everything’s the present
By instinct’s grace

You may enter first
Who I am to judge?
Not one for money and rank
Work well done, is all that counts

The emperor of contradictions
Opened the gates
On which hinged
The path to freedom

Hearts are pristine  
On entering earth
Kind souls are given
The ticket back

The preacher was sure
His knowledge would win
In the debate on the clouds
His pride showed

Offering its last sugar crystal
To sweeten the preacher tongue
The humble ant
Had given everything it had

The prisoner of pride
Bound by a chain of books
That clouded his eyes
And burdened his heart

His cries were heard
But to no avail
Time would offer another chance
But he had to unfasten his knots

The ant was free
To see a new land
Would it be careful to avoid a trap?
If it was given a mind

- N. Seshadri