By Moomookshoo
The inspiration for this poem comes from Swami Vivekananda’s  talks on Maya given in the second volume of the Complete Works and King Yudhishthira’s answer to Yaksha’s question given in the Mahabharata.

Do you sometimes wonder
What is the greatest wonder?
The ancient world had its seven wonders;
The modern world boasts its own wonders;
The future may bring even greater wonders.
But, curiously enough, we miss the eternal wonders!
Isn’t this  the greatest of all wonders?

We look around and find a world of constant change,
Nothing ever remains the same, except that things change.
Yesterday’s child is today’s  young man,
Only on the way to be tomorrow’s old man.
What we today  fondly call “mine”, many in the past called  “mine”,
And many more will do the same, in the relentless march of time.
The present undoubtedly  is ephemeral,
Yet it feels  reassuringly  eternal!
Isn’t this a wonder eternal?

This is one of the eternal teachings of the Gita,
And also of  sages like Shankara and  Kabira –
Those who have come, weather a king or a pauper,
Must also leave, sooner or later.
Of each  and every creature,
Whether a mighty king or a feeble pauper,
Each ticking breath
Is counting down the relentless march toward death.
Yet we feel we have bodies internal!
Isn’t this a wonder eternal?
[cf. Gita 2.13 and 2.27, and King Yudhishthira’s answer to Yaksha’s question]

Man is born a billionaire (*),
But he tries hard to become a millionaire!
He pursues the ephemeral world, and forgets his eternal soul,
God becomes his means, and this world, his goal.
The life that could have “bought” the eternal,
Is “spent” on things that are ephemeral.
Isn’t this a wonder eternal?

As a man goes through life,
Acquiring wealth, children and wife,
His phony “I ” grows, and seems nearer
Than his  real “I”,  which he shuns like a stranger.
He remains glued to his phony “I”,
But has no time for his real “I”!
He may call it a phone and speak through it,
Or wear  it on his wrist and keep time with it,
Or wear it on his eyes and look through it,
Or call it a home and live in it,
Or pride himself on driving in it,
Nevertheless, it makes up his phony “I”,
The cloud of  “your” and “my”.
He eagerly listens to his phony “I”‘s ephemeral tunes,
But fails to catch his real “I”‘s eternal tunes!
The ephemeral crowds out the eternal,
Isn’t this a wonder eternal?

“To err is human” is a very old dictum,
But, alas, we remember it seldom!
The human mind has always been
An amazing amplification machine –
Where one’s own virtues are glorified,
And others’ faults are magnified!
Why? This remains a conundrum eternal.
Isn’t this a wonder eternal?

Those who help him in achieving his worldly ends,
Man welcomes them as dear friends.
Those who remind him of  his goal eternal,
He shuns them like enemies infernal!
The ephemeral seems dearer than the eternal,
Isn’t this a wonder eternal?
[cf. poem number 174 in Goswami Tulsidasji’s Vinaya Patrika]

In the Darwinian world of competition,
Of survival of the fittest and others’ extinction,
Man is constantly told
To be  selfish and cold.
Every impulse in the realm of logic and reason,
Instigates him to selfishness and competition.
Yet,  from a realm beyond  logic and reason,
Comes an impulse for unselfishness and compassion –
Giving a glimpse of the realm eternal,
The abode of Existence, Knowledge and Bliss eternal.
Isn’t this a wonder eternal?

(*) Assuming a person breathes once every three seconds and lives for 100 years, she/he breathes approximately one billion times during her/his lifetime.  So, we can say that a person is endowed with a fortune of one billion breaths at the time of her/his birth.