Poem 76

Nothing into nothing, and a chasm created by grief!
Pour wine, Beloved, for your lovers lest I strain their belief.

Drunkenness is the only effective and lasting mind cure;
Only he who has drained the Beloved’s cup can be called pure.

Kill the mind so that the ears of the heart can listen, and hear;
So that the heart’s lips can kiss truth and its song be free from fear.

Kill the mind which has caused us every color and shade of shame –
And the best weapon for the slaying is the Beloved’s name.

Man is born of the dark wave, and so he is always seafaring.
But to take the way to the Beloved’s door needs greater daring.

We have crept shoreward for a billion years, brother; would it not be our crime
If now we did not break free from the wave and await the Beloved’s Grace-time?

For Name-singers, who prefer song and silence to weeping and wailing,
God’s tears have already flooded the chasm; they await only His whim for sailing.

This poem follows on from the previous one. The awareness of our nothingness crushes us with our distance from the All and Everything. The exit from our mind’s dilemma is divine intoxication.

We are swept along by the underlying serenity of his faith, in the teeth of what seems like indefinite separation. Any single poem however bleak should be read as part of the Divine Comedy, the great assurance both cosmic and individual of the saving purpose of creation.

Whereas in the previous poem it is the lover’s tears that fill the chasm, here it is God’s tears.

They are the same and also not the same.

The wave that washes us finally to shore as life’s castaways is also that collective wave of bubbling sanskaras which bears our collectivity of individual drops of being ceaselessly on until, to use a Buddhist and Christian metaphor, we reach the farther shore.

It is important to place these poems in the context of the sacred poetry of Saint Francis, Tukaram and Sufi masters. There is a nice tension here between what Baba calls hama doost and hama az oost A quotation from Listen, Humanity, p. 164, follows:

Progress is more realistic and enjoyable when there is an ample play of love and devotion to God. This postulates temporary and apparent separateness from God and longing to unite with Him. Such provisional and apparent separateness from God is reflected in the Sufi concepts of the states of “Hama az Ust” or “Everything is from God”, and “Hama Doost” or “Everything is for the Beloved God”.

In each of these concepts the individual perceives that his separateness from God is only temporary and apparent, and he seeks to restore this lost unity with God through intense love, which consumes all duality. The only difference between these two is that, whereas the individual who follows the concept of “Hama Doost” rests content with the will of God as the Beloved, in the concept of “Hama az Ust” he longs for nothing but union with God.

This drama is shared with us by Francis with his own contribution of some laconic and laid back Aussi humour and self-mockery. It gives the poems a dynamism and lack of final closure. The longing is there but it defers to a humble bowing before the Master. Strange stuff for an age of individualism to have to stomach.

We can see how this resignation does not result in a passive quietism. Effort is still essential, to ‘kill the mind’, and to avoid plunging back into the dark wave of unillumined existence. The dark wave is the swelling dynamism of evolution which bears us along.

Notice the fine cavalier swagger at the end of the next poem. An oblation is a sacramental offering, a linking of Christ’s sacrifice to Francis’ God intoxication in offering his acceptance of the suffering of apparent separation from the one real Divinity.