Thursday, September 3, 2015



Lead us not into temptation
And deliver us from evil.

We blame a class, a race or other group—
There are professions that are often blamed.
But it’s the nature of the human beast
That’s still the culprit for the mischief done.

For every virtue, every angel-trait,
We’ll find a vice, a sort of devil’s taint,
That mars the soul within a human or
Perhaps within all beings sentient.
If we had only virtues, then perhaps
We might be far too boring.  Light and shade
And vice and virtue, good and evil are,
Like yin and yang, in constant interplay.

So some might say that vice gives virtue place,
As hunger gives to plainest food its taste.
Without the sins that sinners multiply,
Could even saints be duly recognized?
And what, to me, is virtue could be seen
As vice to one whose values are reversed.
And yet, there still are basics that appear
To be the common ground on which we stand.

So save for prophetesses such as Ayn,
You’ll rarely find that people disagree
That selfish actions lead to evil ends,
While love and caring make for brighter lives.

For this, we might invoke a spirit that
Is root and essence of what’s seen as good,
And all that’s evil might be then ascribed
To visions clouded—or to a spirit dread.

But others might look back at what we were
When we were closer in our lives to apes
But rose and flourished from that sharing which
We still perceive as good—which touches hearts.

So "good", to them, is that which served us well
In eons past, when mind and body formed
To suit the circumstances then—for though
The times have changed, we still remain the same.

I will not enter into these debates.
I’ll only say that instincts old and deep
Respond to kindness—and that meanness brings
Yet other, meaner instincts into play.

To strive to be as supermen is fraught
With danger. We are always what we are.
We should be cognizant of what’s within
And seek a balance that sustains us all.

For when that balance is disturbed, we see
The sorrow that is not of earth or air
Or water, but is made by acts of men
And leads to yet more sorrows, turn on turn.

The earthquakes and the storms and floods may leave,
But fires rage and droughts and famines come.
Yet all of these, by men and all, are borne
With lesser pain than monstrous deeds of Man.

A fire may burn a forest down and yet
It leaves a part of it—and then with time
That forest lives again. What Man has touched
With devil's hands, no heaven can restore.

Be watchful then. Remove yourself from that
Which leads to conflicts with your inner god,
Who then is either silenced, leaving sin
To flourish, or cries out in pain within.

The ones, who cannot silence conscience, live
With ceaseless war within themselves, unless
They speak and act to change what often is
Impossible when others shrug and sin.
It wasn’t Adam or his partner, Eve,
Or a serpent leading both of them astray.
It’s we, who look to God to salve our sins,
Forgetting god and devil are within.

We lose our way and cannot find the path.
We lose our reason and we close our hearts.
It later seems that we were not awake
And so committed acts we shouldn't have.

The heart expands with kindness and with love,
Which spread like blessings when they’re acted on.
The heart contracts with meanness and with hate
And all our words and deeds of violence.

It’s difficult, within the fire, to be
As cool of temper as we’d like to be.
It’s hard, when we are stressed and desperate,
To be as kind and patient as we should.

So what are we to do?  Perhaps it’s best
To move away from all that meanness breeds—
To distance selves from where it’s fear and greed
That drive the engines of economies.

Although that’s easier said than done, to see
The source of evil, of disturbance, is
To step away from it, towards that calm
That gives us time and space to see and love.

We come like water and like wind we go.
So said Khayyam, Fitzgerald’s paraphrase
Purports.  If we should pray, perhaps we need
To ask for courage and for innocence.

So let us then release the things, to which
We hold, that rob us of our clarity.
That freedom might be difficult to reach,
Until we see we’re sullied by our vice.

There’s anger, greed and hate and jealousy.
And each of these, and even pride, has place
Within the workings of the mind that lives,
But each of these can lead us into sin.

For sin is not the thought that comes and goes
Or even stays awhile.  For thoughts may rise
And feelings too.  It’s when they’re nurtured and
They’re acted on that sin is birthed and born.

So let us heed what Buddhas past have said
To free ourselves of what some others call
The burden that we carry of our sins.
Let’s set it down and go upon our way.

We recognize a thought, a feeling and
We see, perhaps, its provenance as well.
We watch its rise and then we watch its ebb.
We do not ask that it should go or dwell.

We do not fear the feeling that we have,
And even fear, we know, has time and place.
We come like water, and we go like wind.
Forgive us, for we know that we have sinned.

And knowing this, we then might lose, perhaps,
Our hubris and might also find the strength
To heal from wounds that others might inflict,
Forgiving them, in our humility.

Lead us not into temptation
And deliver us from evil.

2015 September 3rd, Thu., 2:30 am
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York


Pansy Browne said...

Good job
I enjoyed it

Arjun Janah said...

Thanks for reading and for the kind comment, Pansy.