A rhyming play, based on The Seeker-Writer, by Sri Chinmoy. Performed for Sri Chinmoy’s students in Albufeira, Portugal, on December 27th 2013. The actors played their parts behind large masks on sticks, while their lines were read aloud off-stage.
Once there was a seeker who’d developed much sincerity.
By writing books he’d also gained considerable prosperity.
His first book was a comprehensive study of zoology,
His second was a very famous tome on anthropology,
His third one was his favourite: it was autobiographical,
His fourth was his most lofty, and was largely theosophical.
Animals, humans, self and God: each subject he’d applauded.
So by the greatest in each realm he hoped to be rewarded.
Each book that I have written, let me go and read aloud
to the best in each field. They will certainly be proud!
The first one I will offer to the king of beasts: the lion,
The second to my country’s king: the highest human scion.
The third unto the highest in myself I shall address,
The last to God: my loftiest is certain to impress!
[Exits, and re-enters a forest scene. Enter lion.]
Lion, lion, your life-force and power all admire!
Your mane so rich, your eyes so deep and wise yet full of fire!
Your poise, your grace, your speed and all deportment so majestic!
Your paws so lithe, your teeth so bright, your pouncing so elastic!
You are noble, for you only kill when you are hungry.
Ah! and so it’s written, only roar when you are angry!
How dare you roar at me you rude and most ungrateful beast?
I sing your praise, and what? You want to make of me a feast?
[Enter Writer and King]
Majesty! Your royal highest height of human highness!
This fine work of prose I bring to you, despite my shyness.
In it I explore the farthest reaches of humanity,
And in you I see the heights of goodness, grace and sanity,
So to you I offer my research on human nature.
Your kindness and compassion bathe this continent in rapture!
Faith and certitude arise in everyone you meet!
Bravery and wisdom just two puppies at your feet!
Blessèd are your people since your pure and noble birth:
In you we see the representative of God on earth.
‘Thank you’? ‘Thank you’? Well my ears must need a clean.
How could it be that one so fine and noble speaks so mean!
I offer my own heart in words, all praise and admiration.
Is `Thank you’ all he has to say for such appreciation?
So for nought this life is spent in wordy adoration.
What can a humble writer do, when doomed by his vocation,
but weep into the night and seek the solace of his soul.
Yes! Let me read my third book, it is sure to reach its goal!
This, my favourite work of prose is all about myself,
How can I sit and let it gather dust upon a shelf?
Soul, my soul you are the brightest, dearest of possessions,
The purest and the best in me, imparter of great lessons,
To your beauty, this my earthly body is no parallel
You are the fastest whitest horse upon my life’s carousel!
Fifteen minutes solid, soul, I have admired and praised,
And all you do is smile? Now I really am amazed.
Of all the aspects of myself I thought you were the best,
But you are much more mean and more ungrateful than rest!
[Soul stops smiling. Exit Soul]
But wait, my finest literary work I shall reveal!
If not beast or man or soul, then God will surely feel
The meaning of my words; their depth and clarity.
If no-one else, then God will see my brilliance and rarity.
God, I stand before You now in grateful, warm elation
Reflecting in amazement at Your vast and grand creation
Upon your little Finger-Tip the planets make their dance.
Your Grace is in the eye of Time, of Mystery and Chance.
Throughout the universe Your fond Compassion reigns supreme.
I am glowing with delight to play my part inside Your Dream!
It is all right.
‘All right’? ‘All right’ only? No! Alas!
My finest and most lofty work waved off like so much gas?
How could God Himself be so devoid of love and gratitude?
To think I hoped to be like him! Well I don’t like His attitude!
I hoped at least my Heavenly Father could say something nice,
But in Him instead I found a heart as hard as ice.
I found only disappointment in so-called superiors,
Let me teach them something! I’ll visit their inferiors!
The tiger stands in second place for bravery and might.
I’ll choose my words to cunningly assure him of his height.
[Exits, and re-enters a forest scene. Enter tiger.]
Tiger, tiger burning bright! Your markings are the oddest,
But in the forest hierarchy, surely you’re too modest!
With your deft skills and courage all lions you’d defeat!
Such claws! such teeth! You’d mangle any hero into meat!
Lions are just pansies, all strutting, pompous fluff!
All they really do is roar to make themselves look tough!
Yes. Yes! Thank you little human! Now I see!
I’m Top Cat, I’m all that, it’s all about me!
[Tiger struts around, then finds a gold ring on the ground and carries
it in his mouth]
What’s this? Let’s see, is it something nice to eat?
Yeuch, it’s made of gold! What use is anything but meat?
[Drops the ring by the Writer, and exits]
O! Such a fine, expensive, jewelled, golden ring!
Such gratitude the tiger has to give me such a thing!
At last someone has felt my love, my efforts were worthwhile!
So much more one ring is worth than just one measly smile!
With pride and joy abundant now I’ll carry on my quest!
One realm adores me, now I’ll seek the praises of the rest.
If the tiger loves, then let the dumb lion abhor me.
If not the king, then let his minister adore me.
[Exits, and re-enters a palace scene. Enter minister.]
Minister, do you see you are much greater than the king?
Your humility is greatness, I am not just flattering!
Your selfless life in service to your country will pay off,
Every pauper, every lord to you their cap will doff.
With your virtues, wait and see, in time you’ll take the throne;
All the riches of this realm are sure to be your own!
You do all the work, and still the king gets all the glory,
But wait and see, in time it’s sure to be a different story.
[Minister looks around, gives Writer a big bag of money, then exits.]
A thousand rupees! I was right, and here’s the proof!
The so-called highest do not know and do not care for truth.
Those below them really see the wisdom of my mind.
In spiritual height I see they leave superiors behind.
Heart, my heart, you are so nice, to everyone so kind.
They say the soul’s the highest, strongest, deepest, most refined,
But where is that fickle rogue? You’re here for all to see.
Your love so steady offers shelter like a generous tree.
Even doctors know you, and I feel you with each breath.
When you stop, I cannot live, and follow you to death.
[Heart starts to cry]
Never! No! Words like that come only from a fool.
Have you not learned the ABCs yet at your inner school?
How can I ever match the divine beauty of the soul?
I am simple as a child, and earthly is my role,
I am honoured all my earthly life the soul to serve,
And praise for higher virtues I never shall deserve.
[Exit heart, crying]
In passing on my lavish praise the heart was O so hasty
And to my soul, ungrateful, undivine and O so nasty!
How my heart is melting at my own sweet heart’s humility.
The heart’s the greatest part of me, the source of all nobility.
[Exits, and re-enters a Heavenly scene with a flower. Enter a cosmic god.]
Cosmic god, I come to offer you all my devotion;
I found that God is empty of all Fatherly emotion.
I spent my life in serving Him with each breath of mine.
‘It is all right,’ He said! How very cold and undivine!
God does nothing well! I made of Him a lovely fuss,
And did He even thank me? How can the world be thus?
‘All wrong,’ I say. My praise was lofty and immense!
I think He has grown old, and is no longer speaking sense.
Your beauty and your wisdom are remarkably superior.
You need not be suspicious that my motives are ulterior;
I see in you the future God, and offer my obeisance.
I bow to you. In you I hail divinity’s renaissance.
I place the flower at your feet that God did not deserve.
In my undying service, I shall love without reserve.
Idiot! Get out with your foul words to the Supreme!
I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes when He lets off steam!
How can you appreciate the love He has for all
With such a craven attitude and with a mind so small?
You fool! You think that I deserve this kind of fancy thing
He is the Lord, the ultimate and universal King
[Enter God. Cosmic god places flower at God’s Feet]
Supreme, I bow to Thee, to Thee, Supreme I bow and bow.
[Exit God and Cosmic god]
Respect is due, I say again, if not before then now!
All of my devotion for himself he could have kept,
But he gave it all to God, I swear I could have wept!
Now I know for certain that the highest are inferior,
And that the so-called greatest are in no way superior!
In so many ways I put my theory to the test
And now I think it’s time for me to take a well-earned rest.
[Lies down to sleep. Enter Saint]
Is it a dream? Are you a saint or do my eyes deceive me?
A vision and a saint I am, I hoped you would receive me.
You’re a fool. Your silly theories only tricked your mind.
You tried to seek the highest, but you left the truth behind.
God sent me to you, and with some exasperation.
When the lion roared it was with joy and inspiration!
Your love brought him new courage so he spoke his mighty thunder.
It was his way of thanking you, and showing you he’d heard.
What did you think, he’d dance a jig? Or twitter like a bird?
What of the king? You think he likes verbose appreciation?
He thanked you, and you felt such vehement indignation?
He hears praise from many who are greater, more refined,
Less long-winded than you are. To thank you was most kind!
You were lucky that he let you ramble on at will.
From him a nod is praise indeed. A ‘Thank you’, greater still!
And from your soul you think a smile is such a common thing?
Did you hope to see it jump for joy or start to sing?
Your soul is God on earth, and its smile is His Divinity!
To know that you have pleased your soul is to receive Infinity!
Talking of God, there is one more thing I have to say.
‘It is all right’ means that you are right in every way!
God told you to your face your words were all perfection.
You became disgusted, but you missed His true Inflection!
For God to give such praise means all your words are ratified!
Much more than you deserved, but still you were dissatisfied!
Only a fool would choose self-pity over glory.
Your call, your life, your progress, end of story.
The highest are the highest, but those who won’t believe
Are missing out on blessings they could easily receive.
If we are earnest, pure in faith, and true unto the soul
We may let the greatest lead us to the highest Goal.