O Lord, infinite in Thy glory,by Nammalvar
English version by A. Srinivasa Raghavan
Original Language Tamil
O Lord, infinite in Thy glory,
I have ripened and lost myself
In Thy grace,
Do not change, I pray Thee.
I do not desire freedom from birth,
Nor to be Thy servitor in Heaven.
All the wealth I want
Is not to forget Thee.
|-- from Nammalvar: (Makers of Indian Literature), Translated by A. Srinivasa Raghavan|
So much of spiritual striving is directed toward escape: escape from imperfections, escape from illusion, escape from pain, escape from the senses, escape from one's past, escape from the cycle of birth and death. That impulse to escape is a valid, even necessary, goad to begin the spiritual journey in earnest. But it also becomes a spiritualized form of the same old attraction-revulsion dynamic that keeps us caught in the turning wheel.
In Nammalvar's poem, he shows us his spiritual courage. He declares to God that he doesn't mind the pain of birth (and accompanying death and rebirth). He declares that the delight of serving God in Heaven is not what he seeks. He knows that such attainments, when approached from greed, ultimately feed the selfish self and eventually cause one to revert back to the illusion of separation from the Eternal.
Real wealth is knowing the Eternal, knowing never to forget. God is the real treasure, not the ease of Heaven, not the avoidance of the phenomena of life. A seeker uses the desire for escape, but when spiritual practice has "ripened," you discover that you have "lost" yourself. You have lost the clinging self. The desire for unbroken awareness of the Eternal frees you even from the desire for escape.
Nothing to run to. Nothing to run from. We are finally fully present. Right here is precisely where the Eternal One dwells.