He draws four circles in sand and names them: 
To learn, to love, to leave, to leave what’s left. 

“To learn,” he says, “wash in someone else’s river 
far from home for twenty five years until you’re clean 
for what is to come.” 

“To love,” he laughs, “force lust to exhaust itself
with your lover, raise children, and have them all 
earn you grey hair.” 

“To leave,” he cries, “go to the forest and trade
your house for a hut, your pleasure for prayer, 
and notice the rain.”

“To leave what is left,” he sighs, “act no more. 
Sannyasa, you have no home, no lover, no coin.
You are unbound.” 

Before his next student arrives, my teacher whispers, 
“Break from circling birds before they begin circling.” 

Is there perhaps a better way to go beyond? 
Behind me, he draws four circles in the sand.


-Dedicated to S. R.