As Buddhists insist, it is an amazing good fortune to be granted a human body, let alone one capable of hearing the dharma and serving the God-Man. It would be folly indeed to wish to return it as not up to scratch, particularly in the light of all the bodies we have used and ‘burned’ (consumed their energies).
One great boon is to feel capable of service of the Beloved. In the poet’s case it is the verses before us, but praise includes anything done in a spirit of grateful worship – prayer, song, building, charity and any selfless service.
Our loss of independent volition after surrender to the Master is like an immobilisation into stone. But stone can still sing in praise and in offering itself to be ground into a dust fine enough to respond to the wafts of the His passing by.
In the last two stanzas ‘Song’ becomes more than praise, it is the same miraculous consciousness and energy that propelled all souls out into the dawning of creation. And what is even more astonishing, it is the very means of making a communion between our conditioned world and the infinite and absolute world of the God-Man.
The song of the dust is its real function. This poem to Baba is an acknowledgment of that.
To acquire this body for you, millions of others have I burned;
So there can be no question of my asking for it to be returned.
I crave not union, but service: to usefully fill in the days.
I ask you not to take away my occupation of praise.
I have no complaint at all about having been turned into stone —
So long as I can still sing, no matter how dull the tone.
In order for my soul to become dust at your dear feet
The stone-crushing must go on until the job is complete.
And I’m all for it: for only pure dust truly sings
As it awaits the fan of your dress, when you pass, to give it wings.
Born of your Song, singing I went out in the long-ago,
And the stream of my praise for you has never ceased to flow.
I have given myself to you, Beloved, but do not deny
Me the service of praise — for without that love is an empty cry.
Asking for service not union is the keynote of the poem. Faith without works is dead.