You turned and pointed, and when I looked in the direction You were indicating I saw a vast horizon of which I was unaware before. We stood at a great height and from here the distant sea was visible with its sparkling reflections of light. On the shoreline I discerned a boat waiting to set sail. You waved your hand towards the boat, becoming impatient with my reluctance to leave. Finally I began the descent to the shore but as soon as I had taken a few steps the brambles and rocks around the mountain gathered force against me and I slipped and became entangled in their relentless power of impediment. Covered in scratches and bruises I stood once again and continued in my effort to reach that waiting vessel. Gradually a path became evident and the brambles no longer held me back and I climbed right over the rocks until I reached the shore.
The ship floats on the surface of the water, content in the gentle rocking of the waves. I board the navigator of the ocean of being and discover it is You who are the sea, and its vastness, and the lands beyond.
The Sufi writes words of longing for her Beloved but she’s not a poet for she knows that words cannot contain the One. It is the spaces between words into which she dives and drowns in the clear waters of love, and it is in the pauses where the vibrant silence of the Beloved’s Presence causes her to gasp in ecstasy. These words are a poor cladding of rags for the light that enthrals the dervish but she gives with love whatever she can bring.
In this beautiful miniature painting that illustrates a scene from Nizami’s telling of the folk story of Layla and Majnun we see Majnun in the wilderness longing for his beloved Layla who he is forbidden from seeing. With time however, he begins to see Layla in all things. This story of lovers serves as a wonderful metaphor for the soul and its longing for the Lord, the One Beloved in which all are united. The Names of Allah can be seen manifested through all creation and the sufi seeks to be constantly aware of this in the same way that Majnun sees Layla everywhere in the wilderness. Sometimes when this world appears to be a wilderness I try to remember that “All things pass except the Face of God”. It helps to remember and what better way is there than to do dhikr (or zikr), simply remembering all the time that we are all contained within the Mercy and Compassion of the One.
To read more on Layla and Majnun see this post here
I recently put this in my Facebook notes and then thought that readers here might also enjoy it. Just a few thoughts on the experience of the dissolution of the nafs (ego matrix) that is the aim of the Sufi path.
The soul dwells amidst the utmost silence of total awe and the secret heart expands in space, knowing itself, knowing the Beloved. All is abandoned. Entirely. In savage nakedness veils are torn and slip noiselessly back into the created universe. Light pierces this being and excises every remaining trace of space and time. Stars, galaxies, universes are but sparkling jewels set in the dark mystery of the Unmanifest.
‘I was a hidden Treasure and desired to be known; therefore I created that I might be known’ (Hadith Qudsi)
This is a re-posting that was originally on my other blog, The Sufi Book and Music Blog but I thought it worth posting it here too as I get more readers here and contemporary Sufi poetry is definitely worth bringing to a wider audience.
If you do a Google search on Sufi poetry the results will most likely bring up a wealth of sites with information and examples of the masters of the art. Honoured and respected poets on the Sufi path who wrote about what they experienced and ‘tasted’ on the journey of return to unity with the One. It is a journey of longing and struggle in which all things are seen as the signs of God, including our own selves. Metaphors of love are commonly used in such poetry where the lover longs for union with the Beloved. We see this in the images of the nightingale singing to the rose or the moth drawn to the flame. There are many translations from the original languages in which this poetry was written, Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Urdu, to English. Some of these translations are more like free interpretations attempting to capture the spirit of a piece for contemporary readers. For example, the thirteenth century Sufi poet/mystic Jalaluddin Rumi is one of the most widely read poets in the United States today. But what about Sufi poetry written today by contemporary students on the Sufi path?
Very little contemporary Sufi poetry is published for a mainstream readership. There appears to be little publishing interest in contemporary Sufi writing. Yet many of today’s dervishes, like Sufis of old, still feel compelled to allow words to flow and the recent phenomenon of the blog provides a structure for that expression. Try some of the following blogs for poetry from the heart written today. Just click on the titles.
Knocking from Inside
Poems from the Edge of the Continent
The Wandering Troubadour
Court of Lions
Gathering of Thoughts
I just watched a bird taking a bath in the hedgehogs drinking water. We have a whole family of hedgehogs here and my landlady puts out water for them and feeds them every evening. During the day though the drinking water is a free for all and with the first bit of sunshine in a week our regularly visiting lady blackbird was not going to miss out. She plunged in and splattered water all around her as she performed her daily ablutions with gusto. May she fly high and sing beautifully and bring some cheer to Winchester as it experiences a very patchy summer weatherwise. Life and beauty is all around us no matter what the weather is doing. A lesson in keeping my eyes open to the wonders of the universe.
Further reading: Conversation with a Hedgehog