On the other shore

by Haude Gosain

English version by Deben Bhattacharya
Original Language Bengali

On the other shore
Of the ocean
Of one's own self,
Quivers a drop of fluid--
As the origin of all.
But who can cross the seas
To reach it?

The root of all
Is based in you.
Explore the base
To reach the essence....

-- from The Mirror of the Sky: Songs of the Bauls of Bengal, Translated by Deben Bhattacharya

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

This short song is interesting to me.

First, we have the common Hindu image of the mind engaged with maya -- the illusory vision of life, the world, material existence -- as a vast ocean. It cannot be crossed, yet it must be crossed.

But why do we care about the other shore and some "drop of fluid," anyway? That fluid is amrita, the nectar of spiritual awakening. Even that does not explain what this liquid is. It is the oil used to anoint the initiate into realization, yes, but it is more: It is the great seed of being, the source of all things.

Does that all sound rather pointlessly conceptual and metaphysical? We are not discussing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin here. This "fluid" is real, it is actual, perceived in deep states of communion as a sweet liquid pouring down the back of the throat, warming the belly, opening the heart, clearing the vision, while utterly transforming the consciousness.

But how can we taste this sacred liquor when it is on the other shore of an uncrossable ocean? This is the terrible dilemma of the spiritual aspirant.

And the answer is given in the final verse:

The root of all
Is based in you.
Explore the base
To reach the essence....

Reaching outward, sending the mind out through the world, through the many possible experiences of life, we learn, we grow, we are delighted, we are terrified... but there is never an end. There is always more ocean, always one more encounter or experience awaiting us. The body may eventually grow old and die, but the hunger of the spirit is never fully satisfied in this way. The outer world of experience and material existence is an endless sea, yet it is the unfiltered essence of the Eternal that we truly hunger for, and that is on the far shore.

The secret truth is this: What can never be reached through an outward journey, awaits us within. This is why all the great traditions proclaim, Know yourself. This is not a statement about understanding our own psychological processes, though that is immensely helpful; rather, it nudges us to discover the root of our being, to come to know the reality of whatever this self is that I am. When we do this, an unexpected doorway opens to the other shore.

I say this truth is a secret, but it is not a secret because those who know refuse to speak of it; it is a secret because logic and our common perception of reality make it seem absurd. And it is far too simple. The secret of secrets, the root of all, the blissful drink of realization, appears impossibly distant, yet it is actually found right here, inside, at the very seat of one's being. Absurd, I know, but it is so.

Remember to forget the churning ocean. Go within. Find the root and follow it to the root of all selves. Drink the drink you discover. The far shore, the near shore, the great ocean, they all blissfully melt into one.

The root of all is rooted in you...

Recommended Books: Haude Gosain

The Mirror of the Sky: Songs of the Bauls of Bengal

On the other shore