Before there was a hint of civilization

by Bibi Hayati

English version by Aliki Barnstone
Original Language Persian/Farsi

Before there was a hint of civilization
I carried a memory of your loose strand of hair,
Oblivious, I carried inside me your pointed tip of hair.

In its invisible realm,
Your face of sun yearned for epiphany,
Until each distinct thing was thrown into sight.

From the first instant time took a breath,
Your love lay in the soul,
A treasure in the secret chest in the heart.

Before the first seed shot up out of the rose bed of the possible,
The soul's lark took wing high above your meadow,
Flying home to you.

I thank you one hundred times! In the altar
Of Hayati's eyes, your face shines
Forever present and beautiful.

-- from The Shambhala Anthology of Women's Spiritual Poetry, Edited by Aliki Barnstone

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

What is it that Bibi Hayati is telling us here?

Before there was a hint of civilization...

From the first instant time took a breath...

Before the first seed shot up...


These all take us back not to the beginning, but to a time before beginnings.

And it is there that she discovers divine awareness, of the soul's love for the Beloved.

From the first instant time took a breath,
Your love lay in the soul,
A treasure in the secret chest in the heart.


Most seekers secretly fear that their yearning for the Divine is anemic, and so they drive themselves into extreme practices and Herculean efforts of prayer and meditation. Bibi Hayati's truth cuts through all that: When we dig into the core of awareness, we discover a love too immense to describe. That love is the "memory," the connection to the Eternal.

And that love-memory is primordial. It is not something that is built through actions and effort. It is not dependent on one's history. It exists "before there was a hint of civilization." It is the soul's very nature.

We don't have to train ourselves to that divine love, we simply uncover it within ourselves.

This then tells us the real purpose of spiritual practice: Not so much to develop qualities we lack, but to stop obstructing the soul's true nature, to uncover it and let it take wing.

Ultimately, we don't find God's shining face where it was not before, we discover that blissful radiance is always and has always been "forever present and beautiful."



Recommended Books: Bibi Hayati

The Shambhala Anthology of Women's Spiritual Poetry The Soul is Here for its Own Joy: Sacred Poems from Many Cultures





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