“To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.”
Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err. It passes my comprehension how human beings, be they ever so experienced and able, can delight in depriving other human beings of that precious right.--Mahatma Gandhi
The following is an inspirational poem from my book Footprints Along the Shore of an Incoming Tide. Today is the Fourth of July, a time in the United States when we celebrate our independence, our freedom. But after over two hundred years have we really achieved independence, have any of us really found freedom? How many people live free of fear? This poem I wrote when I was living in Los Angeles during the L.A. Riots.
Here I sit in a burned out Los Angeles, curfew imposed upon my movements. Besides a few sirens shrieking in the distance, the city is quiet. A few days ago, a hundred fires raged, consuming people’s hopes and dreams. People in cars, all of a sudden, pulled from their armored shells, beaten, not knowing why. Looters like rats roamed the streets, smashing into shops. People shot. The asylum got out of control. Now the authorities try to bring things back to “normal,” as soldiers walk the streets with loaded guns. Some say the riots happened because of racism. Others say due to economic inequality. True, no doubt. But what was the cause of these symptoms: racism and economic inequality?
Foolish are those who are content with crumbs
When the Kingdom’s treasure chamber lies open.
Foolish are those who fight for the largest icicle,
To clutch in their fiery hands.
Foolish are those who tear down the walls
In the name of freedom,
Only to build another four walls,
Perhaps a little farther apart.
Foolish are those who clutch at their possessions:
All those heavy things bought with gold,
While they cross the muddy swamp of the world.
The Master is as light as a feather,
No worries troubles his mind,
And nothing he carries to bend his back.
The Master is a pilgrim.
Wherever he goes he treats with reverence.
He holds onto nothing,
And forgets the place the moment it is left behind.
Nowhere is there home for the Master,
For like the turtle the Master’s home is his Self.
What can be taken from the Master?
What calamity can shake him?
When nothing exists that he calls his own.
Not even his body he calls his own,
So what does death have over the Master?
But the sleeping spirits, ever they seek to improve,
And to possess more of what they would call theirs.
Even if they achieve their dreams,
How much greater is the fear;
For more is there now to lose.
Behold the stingy gods,
Even they are fearful:
Fearful are they of mere mortals,
Lest they lose their powers
By the granting of some boon.
Fools are the gods as well.
But the Master,
He is free.
Even the lure of Heaven’s delights
Can move not the Master.
He owns nothing.
And thus no thing can possess him.
Not even thoughts does he own.
And without thoughts
Where can fear lurk to possess him?
Fools try to improve the world,
And everyone in it.
The Master loves the world as it is now,
Seeing the world as his very Self.
Fools are ever seeking ways of finding peace,
Or finding happiness,
Or finding love;
And ever do they search.
The Master is Peace.
The Master is Happiness.
The Master is Love.
Never is there a need for him to search.
Fools try to figure out why,
Writing and reading books of causes.
The Master has no cause,
And thus seeks no cause,
And thus is the Cause of causes.
Footprints Along the Shore of an Incoming Tide: Impressions of a Fellow Traveler
Do you have a great poem that has inspired you? Share it. It could be yours or another poet's. Is there a story behind the poem? How has it influenced your life? Remember, your sharing can help another get through some challenging time.
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