For Just a Penny or for Naught
|Maula Baksh Shah or Maula Pagol,|
a sadhok-singer in the Baul-Fakir
lineage of Delbar Sai
Who's keeping count of all the good we do
And taking note of all the evil too?
The answer, though we wish it otherwise,
Is "No one's watching over me and you."
Who watches, when the ant or spider dies?
Who cares that wars begin and end with lies?
And yet, we humans hold to that conceit –
That only adds, to falsehoods, more deceit.
For when we're young, our elders, teachers see
The things we do, at least to some degree,
And others too might notice, while we age,
And at our actions cheer – or shrug or rage.
And when we work at jobs, our "bosses" see
The work we do – perhaps – and let us be,
Or often don't, or see a part – and so,
In time, their pleasure or their umbrage show.
But most of what we're doing still remains
From others hidden, be they losses, gains
To other humans or to all of life.
So saints are crucified for all their pains.
So rascals mount the ladders to the throne,
And few are they, who ever will atone
For all the misery their climbing wrought,
And all the work their malice set to naught.
So some believe that there's an eye divine
That watches over actions – yours and mine.
But this, I think, is just a fiction sweet
That gives us solace that we sorely need.
So when we care, as others shrug or sneer,
And when we see, despite the fog of fear,
We then will act, although we'll get what's due
In punishment – and none will this review.
For when you're caught within the lanes that speed,
Although you're mounted on a slower steed –
If then, from kindness, you should try to slow,
You'll pay – and swiftly – for your gross misdeed.
Who doesn't need, at times, a friendly glance,
A pat upon the back, a word, a chance?
And if we get this, then we're blessed indeed.
But if we don't, we still will fill the need.
To work for payment, now or later, might
Be fine at times. At other times, the sight
That comes from mind and heart will tell us this –
"To do what's right, provides enough of bliss."
There's bliss in doing – in creating things.
The painter paints, the minstrel stands and sings.
And surely, if they're paid, they're grateful, yet
They'll paint and sing, no matter what they get.
There's no accountant, working in the sky,
Nor judge, who's waiting for the time we die.
The only judge we need is that within,
The one that is our watchful inner eye.
And so the parent, so the teacher too.
And so, the angel that's in me and you.
"For just a penny or for naught," it says,
"Proceed." The one, who cares to hear, obeys.
But when we're tossed within the pit of snakes,
Our devil wakens and of soul partakes.
For all we do is turned to dust and worse –
And this remains the mortals' dreaded curse.
The one, who hisses with the viper's sound,
Is then the one, who still will be around,
When he or she, who was by nature kind,
Has long been lost, in body or in mind.
No matter. Give the snakes but little heed.
They know not what they do or truly need.
Go quietly upon your chosen way,
Reward, rebuke should not deter the deed.
|Maula Pagol, on a very cold January |
morning in Alamdanga, Bangladesh.
He passed away on 16 August 2012.
2015 February 14th, Sat., 10:49 pm
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York