Are you Grumbling or Singing? Reading Robert Bly's Wanting Sumptuous Heavens

Today I am meditating upon a poem by Robert Bly -

Wanting Sumptuous Heavens - A poem by Robert Bly

No one grumbles among the oyster clans,
And lobsters play their bone guitars all summer.
Only we, with our opposable thumbs, want
Heaven to be, and God to come, again.
There is no end to our grumbling; we want
Comfortable earth and sumptuous Heaven.
But the heron standing on one leg in the bog
Drinks his dark rum all day, and is content.

Are you Grumbling or Singing?

This poem carries a profound message that resonates with Guru Nanak's wisdom of surrendering to the divine will and finding contentment through simplicity. It draws a stark contrast between the human tendency to grumble and yearn for more, symbolized by our opposable thumbs that can create and manipulate, and the creatures of the natural world, who seem content in their simplicity. In Guru Nanak's teachings, the act of singing, or devotional expression, is seen as a way to connect with the divine and find peace in surrendering to the divine will. Bly's portrayal of grumbling as the antithesis of singing underscores the idea that we often choose to complain about our circumstances rather than embracing them.

Bly's poem suggests that, unlike these "lesser" animals, we, as humans, possess the unique ability to ponder the nature of heaven, desire comfort, and seek divine intervention. However, this very capacity can lead to our restlessness and dissatisfaction. The heron in the poem, standing on one leg in the bog and sipping its dark rum, represents the simplicity and contentment that can be found in embracing the present moment and the natural world. In juxtaposing our desires with the heron's contented existence, the poem challenges us to reflect on the wisdom of accepting what is and finding contentment within ourselves, echoing Guru Nanak's message of surrender and devotion as a path to peace and spiritual fulfillment.

The poem also reminds me of what Mirza Ghalib said about Heavens: I know that it is a lie; its just a way to keep the heart happy: Humko Maloom Hai Jannat Ki Haqiqat