The Day Is Short
This article is based around Mira’s devotional poem entitled ‘The Day is Short’. Mira was a royal princess who, when she was eighteen, married a handsome prince. She seemed to have it all – jewels, land, palaces – all the trappings of full royal life. One might imagine that she wanted for nothing!
But then it all fell to pieces. This can happen to anyone of any position: no one’s security is guaranteed in this vale of tears. Her husband and father both died in battle and her father-in-law was murdered; most commentators suggest he was poisoned. Mira must have been full of confusion; her life as she knew it was falling apart. But just when the despair was deepest and life had probably lost all meaning, Saint Ravidas appeared on the scene. It is an old saying that when the disciple is ready the guru appears. His divine being and his simple teachings penetrated deep into Mira’s heart. However, she experienced a barrage of criticism and slander because Ravidas was a cobbler and Mira a royal princess. But for Mira these harsh words were nothing when compared to the wealth her Master had bestowed upon her. This tension between her worldly responsibilities and position, and her love for the cobbler saint became rich and fertile ground for spiritual growth. Thankfully Mira shared her unfolding spiritual nature in the form of devotional poetry.
This is Mira’s poem ‘The Day is Short’:
Foolish wayfarer, why do you delay?
Take heed, the day is short and long is your way.
The sun in the East has lit the torch;
Now is the time for your homeward march.
Move swiftly, reach home before the sun turns pale.
The hours are fleeting and long is your trail.
Treasure the chance, don’t falter or lose heart;
Be free of all cares and make a start.
Reach home, and from fear and doubt be free;
Loitering midway, you will come to misery.
Foolish wayfarer, why do you delay?
Long is the way and soon will end the day.
Foolish wayfarer why do you delay?
Long is your way and soon will end the day.
O kind Lord of Mira, Thou in Thy grace
Gave her a path, short and easy to pace.
Mira, The Divine Lover
So why are we foolish? Why do we delay? Is it that we don’t want peace of mind? Don’t we want a resting place beyond the madness and troubles of the world? Imagine if you can find a place that knows no death, pain or sickness: a place where beauty is beyond description.
The saints try their best to give us an impression of this place but they always concede that words are useless.
Saints and mystics from every country and culture have spoken only to encourage us. They want to share the wonder. They want us to join them in that ocean of peace, bliss and absolute love.
So knowing all this and being encouraged at every opportunity by the Master, why is it that we delay? Why do we continue to be fools? The answer is simple and stark.
Because we are slaves, we are not free. If we were free we would go and see for ourselves right this moment. When we see a lovely place in a holiday brochure we can make arrangements and be there the next day. But the place we really want to go and see somehow eludes us.
After only a little study of our condition we are forced to admit that the senses have us over a barrel. They have us running this way and that. And the senses themselves have made the mind a slave to them. The mind desperately seeks peace, contentment and fulfilment but unfortunately the mind’s search for peace outside is doomed to failure.
Each reincarnation of the soul is given a measure of energy. When that is used, a new cycle is necessary for the soul. When the soul gets weary of its rounds of pleasures and pains, then it seeks an answer to this riddle of life and its merry-go-round. And like the prodigal son of the Bible, it finally remembers the Father’s house and its high calling as his son.
Realizing its true identity, it turns all its energies to the homeward journey instead of towards outward sensual pleasures and achievements. Then ways and means are opened to the soul by the gracious Father, by which the soul can find its way to the distant home it left long, long ago.
The soul’s earnest longing is rewarded by the Father’s helping hand of guidance and by his love. He calls his children home at the end of the cosmic journey, and there is great rejoicing and bliss in daily growth of consciousness until the soul becomes one with him, as it was in the beginning. Only now it is richer in experience of humility and love for him.
A sincere seeker will find the true teacher and the way. The return process is slow and steady. Love guides the way when the soul sets the way toward home. Inner progress will blend into outer changes until all is one in his love.
Mira advises us to “take heed” but the reality is that the Master has chosen us and we are compelled to take heed. The feeling is such that we just can’t miss. Something in us recognizes this supreme opportunity.
It is only in the present moment, in the now, that we can begin to channel our time and energy to the eye centre. We begin slowly, gradually to re-direct our energies toward that focal point in the forehead, and the growing force of this increasing energy will one day be enough to pierce the veil of the inner worlds where our Master awaits.
There is a great adventure ahead of us. When we repeat the holy names, we find that the great adventure is life itself. It is not some far away goal to be reached; it is right now! The great adventure is living right now. Simran makes all of this an adventure. Simran enables us to find pure light and understanding in every moment of living.
Mira urges us on at some pace and with some eagerness: value this human birth, time marches on relentlessly. The mind is the faithful servant of its master, Kal. It will do its best to keep our attention out, moment after moment, day after day. We are old before we realize it. Our sun turns pale; our energy allowance may soon be used up.
Mira warns us the hours are slipping away. We know that turning the mind’s currents around is the most difficult task and will require our constant vigilance.
So we must not delay – we must do what the Master asks of us.