The Epic of Consciousness
by Swami Krishnananda

Part V

The soul does try to rise to pristine light
Which light is soul which is the being-all.
But soul that seeks exit for wide domain
Is held in check by chain of restraint’s grips
The sight, the sound, the touch and smell and taste
Which order action through the hands and speech
And feet and windows that behold their prey
As well the catch of hunger, thirst and cold
Which hard harass with tightened raging fists;
Lo, even breath that swallows air in gulps,
The mind that loves and reason ego’s flame
Do all like hounds threaten to tear the soul
Which ere believed the body as itself.
Much more than house, it was the soul’s essence.
So goes the fate of souls that search in vain
For freedom which the body’s love abhors.

To tame the wild impulses ego spurts
The pose of friend and goodwill sages teach,
No harshness Nature in its work deserves
For all creation Nature constitutes.
Who can with war the facts of Nature curb
Since all effort enfolded Nature holds
The one who battles with the urging calls
Forgets that these compounded form the man
Who cudgels raises ‘gainst his own being.
The wisest way to treat the torment’s cause
Is not the crushing deal on one’s own skin
But graded feeding for the fast to rise
As satisfaction with the consumed love
To then behold the beauty higher still.
By law-abiding blend of matter-mind
Come home, one’s food and love of progeny.
In early years till budding twenty-five
The frame is built by tough austerity.
Then comes the age of forward-pressing youth
Which seeks to run out from its filled-in store
By roaring gush to what it sees outside
As all-gayness and beauty in the world
Of male, female, of beast and plant and stone.
To sell itself in loss of itself, which
The dying self as moth in tongues of flame
Feels gain of life and all felicity.
To give wisdom to moth of blinded eyes
Is life prescribed as household discipline.
This grant of lease is for the joy restraint’s
And not permit to enter perdition.
The life in house of subject-object tie
Blazes the third which lies between the two
As soul of theirs while both as arms combine
To ignite spark which hidden therein sleeps.

In life ethic’s great role intuition plays
As artist brings the scattered pieces whole
To form a living, glorious beauty art’s.
Knowledge, perceptual or of concepts
Is meeting ground of subject and object.
The Truth is not the property of one,
Not even of another, or of both,
But transcending both in their union.
Ethics is not mathematics of soul,
Nor love a science of engineering.
The progress soul’s is soul-uniting’s work,
Not height physical bricks when laid up make.
The greatest souls who live divine morale
May look unwise or unmoral to crowds
Who stand on conventions and frames of steel
Which moral look when unseeing behold.
The inward calls defy outward mandates
When soul within the world of forms enshrines.
The inward truth is not propriety mob’s
The soul is not to barter with the shells.
The one that shines surpassing men of earth
Incurs their hatred, for he earth transcends
We honour leaders and our ablest guides
By crucifixion or an unkind cut.
So is the way the world has worshipped saints
And paid its debts to service they rendered.
The heroes who are sincere honestly
Make fools of themselves in the eyes of men.
Nonconformists did build this art of life,
Not moral masons who the stones well count.
Man is a soul and not machine or tool
Which do’s and don’ts can handle as a spade.
Personal problems are not general terms
Which moral worth decide by plebiscite.
Life, love and suffering are not earth’s formals
But rise from deeps that lie afar from time.
Each situation is a unique field
And does not stand comparison with mass.
No lowly work or toilsome drudgery
Or vilest passion can obstruct the soul
When motive Spirit’s is its driving spring.
Transcendence stressed to excess Godly life’s
Lends disrespect to immanence of God
In austerity harsh to mind and soul
Dwelling in form though wrongly arrested;
While utter sink in what is visible
Destroys Spirit for sake of body’s shape.
The profane and religious exist not,
For that which stands fitted to cosmic whole
Is holy and religious adored.
What struts about as independent stuff
Is what is dark and profane, evil called.
Varna and Asrama, the systems framed,
Collaboration in one’s outward life,
And progressive rise from matter to Self,
Sum up the rule of life in all levels.

The budding and the grown virility
In lads and lasses sprung in freshness morn’s
While seeking goals for which it does abound 
Is anabolic, till its goal it finds.
Marriage is kin with ruling politic,
Since sans a system that restrains the greed
And impulsed passion of the stuff of man
The end-result would be the death of all.
Thus rules arise and laws societies make
For tantrum’s sake and local custom’s norm
On urges based that strong erupt in climes.
The local rules engendered by the hordes
Relate to stages and degrees of love
Which marks the cultures world-history proves.
Criminal laws that countries frame for them
Do indicate the height of culture reached.
Some kill the killer, some in hate exile;
Some close in bars. some flog the helpless frame,
Or maim the limbs in legal wrath unleashed.
Who on this earth is faultless rid from guilt
That stone can throw on kindred heart’s struggles
To freedom gain which soul in all does seek.
There is so much good in the worst of us.
And so much dirt in those the best of us,
That it does ill behove any of us
To cast aspersions on the rest of us.
Which act is there which one day well approved
Was not on other sorely got condemned?

The rise of morals has precarious roots,
When seen with eyes of sharp circumspection.
Time’s waves when rise do not as notions float
But hardened rock reveal themselves as earth;
As water, fire and air and solid things,
As persons, beasts and plants and trees awake,
Does time exist as objects senses seek,
Or does it pass as concepts’ abstractions?
The secret people call as Nature’s ways
Is hidden in the core of thinking’s forms.
The ego’s substance wild as tempest grown
Is vibration that holds to points in space.
Which are the sources fit for shunning here
If achievement from its opposite starts?
To overthrow one has to exalt first,
To take one has to give and then begin,
To weaken forces first do strengthen them.
It is the king who can renounce the all
For all he sees before he all rejects.
The world is not a prison house to flee,
The field of one’s own body is the world.
Who can beyond the body up arise
Can also rise above the world of things.
The whole of earth and heaven woven stand
In this tabernacle where one is lodged.
To heaven grasp the earth is not to fly
For heaven itself grossened is the world.
The world of forms gets rarefied above
In graduated transparency’s shades
And shines itself as heaven’s glorious bliss.
Who art thou then to have the one on hand
And cast away others as undivine.
The soul and body are as light and shade,
Where one abides the other too resides.
The ‘this’ is also ‘that’ and ‘that’ is ‘this’,
The ‘this’ and ‘that’ are not two opposites
But stand as one with twofold phase perceived,
What is affirmed carries its other too,
No one can bend unless he stood erect,
But standing firm is not to bend below.
The vacant one is also full to brim
And what is full looks as non-existent.
Non-action is not keeping quiet lone, 
But total act which holds creation’s grip  
In total thought wherein the One alone
Does think and act as single being’s throb.
Avoiding things is tension’s secret heart
For none avoids what clings to what one seeks.
To be a god is not to just be good,
But grapple good with what it hates as foe  
To turn the two as strands of spirit’s rope
By which to rise to height of perfection,
Hate not, love not, but be spontaneous
As supple child of inborn innocence.
When hungry eat, when tired sleep and rest.
When gay do walk, with friend be loving friend.
To lower oneself is a sign of strength.
To search for Truth indeed is mystery
As riding horse to find where horse has strayed.

Imbalance breeds the wars of history
Which reshuffle the components of life
And put them in their proper positions.
The Veda hymns, the ancient divine lore,
Beheld the One in all the varieties
In sun and moon, in stars and sky above,
In morning’s smile and evening’s sinking look;
In rain and thunder, lightning and the storm,
In day and night, in wind and earth below,
In fire here which warms the hearth of homes
And blazes hot in noon-meridian.
It was the eye which wholesome saw the soul
As living life in movement and statis.
The Veda’s god was not in temples or symbols
But spoke the daily language Nature knows;
The God was all, and everywhere his eyes
With caution see the minutest of grains,
The world ensemble twain divided though.

Truth, then, succeeds, but what is truth to man?
The meting justice is a form of truth,
Which is the due that each one claims as right.
But, what is due except what keeps alive
The frame of web which all environment is,
The two, the all, the world and universe?
And speech and thought and act which correspond
To actual facts as events in the world
Are truth perception’s on which conduct rests.

Yet, facts of world are set relatively
To contexts housing individuals.
Truth eternal, then, is not of this world
Though in this world as soul of things abides.
The social good, perception’s fact are both
Dependent on the timeless truth of truths,
Which speech defies and thought confounds by awe,
And ranges high as Self of space and time.
The needs of life are Lakshmi, Glory God’s,
And needs are neither loathe nor indulgence
But force of balance God inviting in
By life that loves not, hates not things of life,
Which is to live in things, not see them there
As objects senses’ or of mind’s concepts.

Those not blessed but pressed by fiery loves
Or hatreds reap varying fates at death.
The grossly craving physical realms’ delights
On death are born in regions mind directs,
To joy or grief as impulse gravitates.
The thought at death is cream of life’s regime
As butter churned from milk of career
Which whole of life’s desires constitutes.
The thought at end is fruit of tree of life,
Not one of links in chain of myriad thoughts.
The whole of soul is wrung out from the world
And total mass wrenched out to distance flees.
Here what you thought and what you felt or did
Will blossom forth as future destiny.
Suddenly deaths of even babes from womb
Are forms of action intense earlier done,
For birth and deaths are chains continuous,
With causes endless back of every breath.

To hell the worst do go that tortured lives;
To earth return the greedy longing souls;
To heav’n ascend the good and virtuous ones
But come hither when virtue’s forces dry,
To live again the life of drudgery
On plane of earth which Karma’s land they call.
On death the henchmen lord of justice sends
Escort the soul to universal judge,
The dread Yama who sans relent decides
The consequence of each one’s acts and thoughts.
As flies and gnats or beasts that roam in wild,
As birds and wolves or such subhuman shapes
The wretched lives of brutish souls enter
On death that wrings the last of farthings due;
Lo, man, beware, the sword of law has eyes.
On reaching throne of lord of justice hence
The soul queried does fumble memory lost.
When rod of justice comes on head in court,
The soul remembers, pleads guilty and sobs.
But justice cares not rheum from the eyes
And sentenced goes the soul to reap its deeds.
The works of gift and sacrifices made
In name of discarnated soul that wails
Do great assist in cleansing well its sins;
Else each for oneself left alone with deeds
Is shocked with strictness laws there operate.
When freed of debts by Karma’s rigoured tolls
To Rudra’s light the soul is lifted high,
From whence to Brahma’s realm eternal passed.

The greatest blest to solar brilliance go
By stages led by great divines does reach
The hallowed region Brahmaloka called,
But greater still are those who melt down here
And now in sea of heart of Absolute;
Such blessing rare indeed is gained by souls
Attained when tuned to every atom’s core
In all the cosmos; who can reach that state?
Who speak with leaves, with stones who do converse,
Who streams befriend, who sun and moon indwell,   
Who touch the stars, who wear the skies as clothes,
Who move with air, whose mind is world’s purpose,
Whose soul is centred in the universe,
‘Tis they alone, who Brahma’s Light attain.

How hard this thought, how toilsome this practice,
Since men, women and things do no more count,
And no one’s deed is more than frolic’s fun,
In this a dread reverberating field
Of living, throbbing universal sea!
Despondency in this, the path, has none,
Since sincere asking world’s abundance brings
And austere thoughts heaven’s perfection rain.
Did not the Lord as parent kind assure
That those who love and feel Him as the all
Shall He protect and them provide with means?
All wealth and blessing went with Kuchela,
The ill clad, famished, when the Lord him owned.
Whom Brahma loves the sands and stars embrace  
In firmness love’s, and all creation melts
To bathe him in immortal nectar sweet.