STLT#183, The Wind of Change Forever Blown

It may be lack of coffee.

It may be lack of ease with Buddhism.

It may be lack of sleep.

But whatever it is I am lacking seems to be keeping me from understanding what the heck this lyric, written by Sarojini Naidu, the first female president of the Indian National Congress, is saying.

It feels mostly like it’s saying ‘life sucks and there’s nothing we can do so just give up already.’ Which I am certain isn’t true and maybe it’s in there but that’s not the point… but dammit, meaning is eluding me today.

So instead I’ll nitpick about bad rhymes, like ‘won’ and ‘throne’ and ‘flight’ and ‘infinite’ (grr) and wonder at the combination of a very Buddhist poem and a very German hymn tune.

The wind of change forever blown across the tumult of our way,
tomorrow’s unborn griefs depose the sorrows of our yesterday.
Dream yields to dream, strife follows strife, and death unweaves the webs of life.

For us the labor and the heat, the broken secrets of our pride,
the strenuous lessons of defeat, the flower deferred, the fruit denied;
but not the peace, supremely won, great Buddha, of the lotus throne.

With futile hands we seek to gain our inaccessible desire,
diviner summits to attain, with faith that sinks and feet that tire;
but nought shall conquer or control the heav’nward hunger of our soul.

The end, elusive and afar, still lures us with its beck’ning flight,
and our immortal moments are a session of the infinite.
How shall we reach the great, unknown nirvana of your lotus throne?

I’m missing something big here today…for which I apologize. Although I guess it’s okay if not every piece speaks clearly to every person – that whole pesky 4th principle thing, eh?

Now go have a day – stay dry if it’s raining, stay warm if it’s cold, cheer up if you’re a Gonzaga fan.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: STLT#300, With Heart and Mind – Notes from the Far Fringe

  2. I’m doing a service in a few weeks on Thich Nhat Hanh’s work “Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers”, and have been pondering worship pieces that weave both Christ and Buddha together. Considering this hymn as a “Sung Meditation” for the middle of the service. I’m struck by how, after listing an almost despairing series of all we lost, it suddenly says, “but not the peace, supremely won, great Buddha of the lotus throne.”

    I’m reminded of the serene peace on the face of Buddha-images, especially those where he has a subtle smile in the corner of his mouth. The song goes back into it’s since of lost-ness, of lament, but there’s that moment of peace. A peace “supremely won” that cannot be lost. And the last line is a question of how we can attain the peace in that serene Buddha smile.

    That’s how I experience this song. It’s sober and honest to me.

    My Fellowship has experienced a lot of death and loss lately, so I’m considering this song. I could probably do a whole sermon just on that one image in verse two alone.

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