Sunday, May 18, 2014

Even This Shall Pass Away

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Often when I feel low, I end up reading Theodore Tilton’s poem “Even This shall Pass Away”. It always gives me the strength to go through the difficult times in life. I guess once we realize and accept the fact that nothing in this life is permanent, life and its ups and downs become easier to deal with.

What is life ? The life and world as we see it is an illusion. Nothing is permanent. Climates change, our body changes with time, the material things or possessions in our life increase or decrease, success and failure come and go, people in our life come and go. We cling on to our possessions, our youth and our relationships, which ultimately causes suffering.

Happiness is the acceptance of impermanence, for we need to understand that we are made of nothing, created by nothing, and have come from nothing. Life is nothing and death is nothing. Our thoughts, our body, our surroundings are ever changing. Nothing in life is permanent.

Once in Persia reigned a king,
Who upon his signet ring
Graved a maxim true and wise,
Which, if held before his eyes,
Gave him counsel at a glance
Fit for every change and chance.
Solemn words, and these are they,
“Even this shall pass away.”

Trains of camels through the sand
Brought him gems from Samarcand;
Fleets of galleys through the seas
Brought him pearls to match with these;
But he counted not his gain
Treasures of the mine or main;
“What is wealth?” the king would say;
“Even this shall pass away.”

‘Mid the revels of his court,
At the zenith of his sport,
When the palms of all his guests
Burned with clapping at his jests,
He, amid his figs and wine,
Cried, “O loving friends of mine;
Pleasures come, but not to stay,
‘Even this shall pass away.”

Lady, fairest ever seen,
Was the bride he crowned his queen.
Pillowed on his marriage bed,
Softly to his soul he said:
“Though no bridegroom ever pressed
Fairer bosom to his breast,
Mortal flesh must come to clay
Even this shall pass away.”

Fighting on a furious field,
Once a javelin pierced his shield;
Soldiers, with a loud lament,
Bore him bleeding to his tent.
Groaning from his tortured side,
“ Pain is hard to bear,” he cried;
“ But with patience, day by day,
Even this shall pass away.”

Towering in the public square,
Twenty cubits in the air,
Rose his statue, carved in stone.
Then the king, disguised, unknown,
Stood before his sculptured name,
Musing meekly: “What is fame?
Fame is but a slow decay,
Even this shall pass away.”

Struck with palsy, sore and old,
Waiting at the Gates of Gold,
Said he with his dying breath,
“Life is done, but what is Death?”
Then, in answer to the king,
Fell a sunbeam on his ring,
Showing by a heavenly ray,
“Even this shall pass away.”

- Theodore Tilton