How utterly amazing is someone who flees from something he cannot escape

by Ibn Ata' Illah

English version by Victor Danner
Original Language Arabic

How utterly amazing is someone who flees from something he cannot escape
     to seek something that will not last!

"It is not the eyes that are blind,
     but the hearts in the breasts are blind."

Do not travel from phenomenal being to phenomenal being.
You will be like the donkey going around at the mill.
     It travels to what it set out from.

Travel from phenomenal beings
          to the Maker of Being.

"And the final end is to your Lord."

-- from Ibn 'Ata' Illah the Book of Wisdom/Kwaja Abdullah Ansari Intimate Conversations, Translated by Victor Danner / Translated by Wheeler M. Thackston

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

How utterly amazing is someone who flees from something he cannot escape
     to seek something that will not last!


It's easy to miss that the poet is making a joke and laughing hugely (at us? with us?)

What a strange and incomprehensible thing is the human being! We run from the Divine Presence and desperately seek fleeting things: wealth, passion, fame. Can one flee from what is eternal and all-pervasive? Absurd! Yet we believe it. And what do we run after? Things that are subject to time and the laws of physicality and therefore undeniably impermanent. Yet we convince ourselves that these phenomena are what is actually "real" and lasting. Tangible reality is fleeting and, in the long run, not tangible at all. Only that inner blissful Reality endures, only that intangible reality can be continuously held.

I suspect the joke is on us! :-)

This is not to say that there is not meaning in the normal human pursuits of love and relationship and family, work and career and financial stability, it is just that we have to understand them for what they are and what they are not. Their true value is discovered in how they all fit within the larger picture, and how they fit us within the larger picture. We can become transfixed by the goals and desires of life, or we can, with gratitude, recognize in them a reflection of something deeper... and lasting.

Travel from phenomenal beings
          to the Maker of Being.


--

It's a lovely spring day here. A good day for a walk to enjoy the passing phenomena and, perhaps, to catch a glimpse of the lasting smile beneath them. :-)



Recommended Books: Ibn Ata' Illah

Ibn 'Ata' Illah the Book of Wisdom/Kwaja Abdullah Ansari Intimate Conversations





How utterly amazing