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The voice in the woods

I wandered far and wide. And shunning the crowds of men, I went up hills and to river-banks and secluded spots. I disappeared in a forest, in search of God. And there I heard, one day, a voice. It said: “I am with thee. Why wanderest thou? I have led thee into darkness. Through the yoga of darkness shall I lead thee into the light! I have been with thee in thy work. Remember, work is, also, an instrument of my will. And man’s work is not ‘design’ ‘destiny’ appointed by the Eternal.”

And I said: “Yes, I have wandered far and wide. And sometimes I have heard tunes but lost them! Can I recover them? And know their meaning? And what shall I do?”

And the voice said: “There is but one thing to know it is the meaning of life and its quest. The one thing, the greatest thing, is love. And love is an unspoken reality, but not unseen. And when you see love, even in the shadows and darkness of life, there is no more to ask, no more to find!”

And I asked: “What shall I do to see Love?” And the voice said: “Something better than doing. Silently gather! Each day eternity pours two treasures—light and darkness. Silently gather them! Out of the two springeth love. Through the ‘dark night of the soul’ must a man go, if he would grow in the love which is not softness but the strength of self-giving, the joy of self-renunciation. Silently gather these two treasures of eternity!”

And I heard the song of the flute! It ravished my heart. Who sang the song? He whose voice spake unto me the words of wisdom.

And I asked: “Must I not then, dwell in the forest, away from the haunts or men?” The voice said: “No! Go back to the world! There, in the struggle and tears of life, have I made my home. There shineth my love. You will not see it in isolation. Be in the world, but remain, uncontaminated. Be in the world: for in sorrow and suffering are they, my children, broken and bruised, who have not yet, alas, seen the glory of the Atman, the self! Go and serve them!”

I said: “But in service, the ‘ego’ is up. I have known men who served greatly, but great was their pride and love of power.” The voice said: “Yes, many who serve, alas, go astray, wandering in the dark maya of pride and power. Serve not like them! Serve non-egoistically! Serve with a child’s heart! Serve as serveth the flute! Serve and sing! Sing my name! Sing it on the flute of thy heart! Sing it so that others, too, may sing with thee! Sing and serve.

And I heard the song of the flute! It ravished my heart. Who sang the song? He whose voice spake unto me the words of wisdom. And he withdrew the veil and I beheld the beauty of his face I fell at his feet! I adored him, and he vanished! Sri Krishna, the king of the forest, the king of my heart! And I came back to the world and him I seek to serve—in man and bird and beast.


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