Mysticism

by Farid ud-Din Attar

English version by Coleman Barks
Original Language Persian/Farsi

The sun can only be seen by the light
of the sun. The more a man or woman knows,
the greater the bewilderment, the closer
to the sun the more dazzled, until a point
is reached where one no longer is.

A mystic knows without knowledge, without
intuition or information, without contemplation
or description or revelation. Mystics
are not themselves. They do not exist
in selves. They move as they are moved,
talk as words come, see with sight
that enters their eyes. I met a woman
once and asked her where love had led her.
"Fool, there's no destination to arrive at.
Loved one and lover and love are infinite."

-- from The Hand of Poetry: Five Mystic Poets of Persia, with Lectures by Inayat Khan, Translated by Coleman Barks

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

"The sun can only be seen by the light / of the sun." The sun here is, of course, a reference to God. But then, what does it mean to say that God can only be seen by the light of God?

One doesn't perceive God as a separate, objectified reality. There is no place 'outside' of God to stand in order to observe God as something exterior. In fact, there is no eye in the common sense that can view God.

The only way to see God is by the "light" of God. That is, instead of looking, looking everywhere, we must stop looking and notice the divine radiance already present, right here, right now. We are drawn to that radiant presence, growing closer to it until we are "dazzled" -- confounded by the scintillating wholeness that is beyond the mind's ability to conceptualize.

Entering the radiance more deeply, we are finally swallowed by it "until a point / is reached where one no longer is." "Mystics / are not themselves. They do not exist / in selves." The little self that imagines itself as a being separate from others and the world around it no longer exists in the fluid unity of this radiance that fills and connects everything.

At that point there is only the "light of the sun", only divine radiance, within and without -- everywhere! When the light is recognized as being all-pervading, nothing separate or left out, that is when the Divine is truly witnessed in wholeness and unity.

But have we gotten anywhere? No, that implies we have left one place or state of awareness and entered another, which is still a sense of separation. Instead, we have recognized the unlimited nature of Reality. And we are individual (but not separate) points of awareness within that wholeness. "There's no destination to arrive at. / Loved one and lover and love are infinite."



Recommended Books: Farid ud-Din Attar

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems The Conference of the Birds
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Mysticism