My quest is the quest of a one-eyed man Whose vision oft deceives him; He depends on his poor eye not because he trusts it, But because people who offered to lead and show him the way Did not earn his trust.
Dimly-remembered voices from a past So distant that it is doubtful Whether it existed at all Echo in my skull Half-voices, half-noises… Disturbances in a cave of unknown depth.
With the tips of my mind I seek out the cracks
Between wakefulness and sleep
Where I hear these voices loudest,
And glimpse faces that I recognize –
Faces not of those living
Nor of the dead I know.
Fleetingly with forceful gestures they speak.
Seeking to grasp their words, I awaken
Only to find my awakening empty
Bereft of the meaning of what I saw and heard.
Something I knew and trusted was lost
And so I grope at the cracks in the walls of my life, furtively
Hoping by happy chance to find it.
But my groping is subdued by the need to preserve
That civilized veneer that keeps my life from coming unwound
And keeps me from becoming entirely mad
Or… who knows…
If my prayer were true, Lord, methinks I could force your hand.
I struggle to remember a forgotten prayer
That would make two halves of me clap whole again.
Remember me, my Lord. Look at me: I am the monk who was sent out And did not return. I am the doubting monk Who questioned everything and took nothing on faith.
I am the one who cried that the monastery had nothing of value That the rest of the world did not have. I am the monk who wanted the love of woman and child And the care of a parent, and the worries of a man in the world.
I am the monk who lusted, The monk who dishonored the sacred cloth Who blasphemed and asked with arrogance To be cast out… and yet was not.
Alone, unloved, despised was I and The Truth that I clung to Was a lonely Truth That seemed like blasphemy.
They loved the Truth, they said. Well, the Truth they loved was Not my Truth And I was sworn to embrace and cleave to my Truth, not theirs.
Forgive me, Lord, my arrogance And if I am untrue, spill me.
Pitambardas… Gokulnandandas… Names that I awoke with one morning long, long ago, Knowing that they belonged to me… Why did I ask then to be addressed with these names?
And why does something rise from within, Seeking to wrap a cloth over my shoulders Seeking to seduce me to become… a monk? Is that part of me calling? Or is there something else?
No, surely the way of the bhikshu is not my path. My lust, passion, temper, vehemence, love… They forbid monkhood. No, I cannot be whole if I make myself half-man again.
No, my Lord, but maybe there is something that I swore Something I forgot in the midst of the varied seasons of life Something without which, no matter how good it all gets All of it is of doubtful worth.