The Desiderata


This old Max Ehrmann poem is as relevant to me today as ever it was:

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

I posted this a few months back for fellow WordPress blogger  Shakti Ghosal, and the dialogue that followed sparked this post. I thought I’d share:

Shakti: What a virtuous nugget you have brought in here with “The Desiderata.” Great and eternal truths, but sadly we fail to articulate and germinate most of these in the hurry-burry of our lives. Consciousness of the “peace within” is what I have been striving for … with limited success.

I believe the genesis of our fear is our attachment to our perceived outcomes. How do we “let go” remains our challenge.

Bela: My thoughts as to ‘why’ we project our fear outward and/or subsequently attach (it?) to others is clear to me only in that I believe humans are great reflectors and refractors – it’s almost as if one of the main reasons we are here in this world is to recognize and marvel at its beauty; to ‘glorify creation’ which I believe is a Biblical expression. So these qualities are innate, or so I suppose. And then due to confusion and conflict, we are thrown or caught off-balance, and the dance begins between what we ‘know’ (as in the remembrance of our innate goodness) and what we ‘practice’ (as the result of our confusion).

There must be a reason humans are so attachment-oriented. If mothers did not ‘attach’ to their young; if mates didn’t ‘attach’ to one another; if families, friends and communities were not compelled toward attachment, we might learn nothing of caring and compassion – and there would be little to anchor us in the chaos of creation. On the other hand, we certainly have mastered transferring those impulses of healthy attachment onto situations, places, things and substances which no longer serve us; indeed unto those which may actually render us harm (and knowing this deep down, are we provoking our own fears?). And so discerment seems imperative – in order that we not only survive, but that we thrive and learn and grow on planet Earth.


3 thoughts on “The Desiderata

  1. Bela,

    How is it that “thought nuggets” retain this wonderous capacity to morph and reshape themselves to show up differently with new meanings and possibilities every time we ponder over them?

    As I read this post of yours alongwith our earlier exchange of comments, I start seeing so many new shades. If attachment is indeed the genesis of our fears, it also remains a fountainhead of some of the most endearing aspects of being “human”. Are our thought trails and imaginations not moored to us, our beliefs and perceptions? And if this be so, is this not reflective of the universality of attachment?

    Lovely post Bela and at the risk of getting even more attached and grounded, I believe I need to ponder some more….




  2. Shakti, yes – it is interesting to revisit some of one’s older thoughts, which is what we did, here. I had composed this post and just saved it as a draft, back when we had our exchange. Only now was I ready to put it out there (again) and re-ponder its meaning.

    It is my awareness that every feature of being human is in line with greater Creation. Even what we term ‘the bad stuff.’ If not for this push and pull, we might never evolve and grow the way we do with adversity. And so it seems we go through the looking glass, again and again – to glimpse and experience the ‘other side’ – another facet of an emotion or behavior. In the case of attachment, it seems absolutely vital to me that we explore both sides of the coin. If we become too DEtached, we are incapable of empathy – which, in my mind today, fertilizes the ground for compassion to take root. If we become too ATtached, we risk grasping at every nuance until we drive ourselves mad with desire. Allowing room for universal flow creates space in which to dance and shift with all of Creation, where no doubt we gather and reap, then observe as our fields become fallow for a time. We wait. And the dance begins again … and again.


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