Your spirit is mingled with mine

by Mansur al- Hallaj

English version by Bernard Lewis
Original Language Arabic

Your spirit is mingled with mine
as wine is mixed with water;
whatever touches you touches me.
In all the stations of the soul you are I.

-- from Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems, Translated by Bernard Lewis

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

The great Sufi mystic poet, al-Hallaj, was put to death by orthodox religious authorities for poems like this, in which he seems to be equating himself with God.

This is the danger faced by most mystics. The sacred experience is one of ecstatic union with the Divine. Where do "you" cease to be, and where does the Divine begin? In mystical union, these questions are artificial since the Divine is everywhere and no tangible sense of you as a separate individual remains. There aren't two in which to have a relationship; there is only the One.

Particularly notice the image of wine mixing with water. This sounds like a passing metaphor, but it actually resonates with layers of esoteric meaning.

"Wine" here is not wine; it is the drink of divine union. It is the "water" of the purified soul, awakened and flavored with the fermenting fire of life. This is the celestial drink of initiates: the amrita of the yogis, the ambrosia of the Greeks, even the tea of the Chaikhana...

water = the purified individual soul
wine = the sweet, blissful flood of the Divine

When wine is poured into water, water takes on the nature of wine, until no difference can be perceived. This is how he comes to that final line of realization:

In all the stations of the soul you are I.

When the divine wine pours into the clear water of the soul, everything is turned to wine. God and self become indistinguishable. Rather, self is lost and only God remains.

As a result, mystics keep producing ecstatic and dangerous poems like this one, and orthodox authorities keep trying to silence or marginalize them.



Recommended Books: Mansur al- Hallaj

Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi Early Islamic Mysticism: Sufi, Quran, Miraj, Poetic and Theological Writings (Classics of Western Spirituality) Sufi Poems: A Mediaeval Anthology
More Books >>





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