Chapter 1: Fear Is a Beggar
There is no end to His virtues,
Nor to their narration.
There is no end to His works and His bounty,
And endless what He sees and hears.
There is no knowing the secrets of His mind;
There is no beginning or end to it.
So many struggle to know His depth,
But none has ever achieved it.
No one has ever known His limits;
The further you look, the further beyond He lies.
The Lord is great. His place is high,
And higher even is His name.
Nanak says: One only knows His greatness
When raised to His heights,
By falling under the glance
Of His all-compassionate grace.
His compassion is beyond all description.
The lord’s gifts are so great He expects nothing in return.
However great a hero or warrior, man keeps on begging.
It is difficult to conceive the countless numbers who go on asking.
They indulge themselves in desires and dissipate their lives.
And others receive, yet deny it.
They go on suffering from their hunger,
Yet will not take to remembrance
O Lord, these too are Your gifts.
Your order alone gives freedom or bondage.
Nobody can debate this fact.
He who indulges in useless babble
Realizes his folly when struck in the face.
He alone can know Himself,
And only the rarest can describe Him;
He bequeaths the quality of His state to whomever He chooses.
Nanak says, He is the king of kings.
There is no end to his grandeur. Whatever we say about it is so little as to betray our utter incompetence.
Rabindranath Tagore lay on his deathbed. An old friend sitting by his side said to him, “You can leave this world satisfied, you have accomplished whatever you wanted to do. You have attained great respect, you wrote many songs, and the whole world knows you as the divine bard. Really nothing is left undone.”
Rabindranath opened his eyes, looked sadly at his friend and said, “Don’t say such things. I was just telling God that all I wanted to sing is still unsung. What I wanted to say is still unsaid. My whole life has been spent merely tuning my instrument!” He felt he had not yet begun to sing his praise and already the moment to leave had arrived.
Rabindranath had written six thousand songs, all in praise of God. Yet he felt he hadn’t sung a single word of his glory. Nanak also says the same thing and this is the experience of all the rishis who have known. Whatever is said about him is only like adjusting the instrument; his song can never be sung. Who will sing it? How can one limited personality contain the boundless expanse? How can you hold the skies in your fist? All our efforts prove futile and only after trying totally can we realize our incompetence.
Only when you realize how insignificant you are can the understanding of his greatness take root. Fools always think themselves great; wise men are aware of their smallness. As understanding increases the feeling of being too small, too insignificant, parallels the sense of his vastness and all-pervading presence. A moment comes in this quest when you are completely lost, and only he remains.