It speaks to me in the silence of this one

by Fakhruddin Iraqi

English version by William Chittick and Peter Lamborn Wilson
Original Language Persian/Farsi

It speaks to me in the silence of this one
then through the words of that one speaking;

it whispers to me through an eyebrow raised
and the message of an eye winking.

And do you know what words it breathes into my ear? It says,

     "I am Love: in heaven and earth I have no place;
     I am the Wondrous Phoenix whose spoor cannot be traced.

     With eyebrow-bow and arrow-winks I hunt
     both worlds -- and yet my weapons cannot be found.

     Like the sun I brighten each atom's cheek;
     I cannot be pinpointed: I am too manifest.

     I speak with every tongue, listen with all ears,
     but marvel at this: My ears and tongue are erased.

     Since in all the world only I exist
     above and below, no likeness of me can be found."

-- from Fakhruddin Iraqi: Divine Flashes (Classics of Western Spirituality) , Translated by William Chittick / Translated by Nasr Seyyed Hossein

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/ Photo by Gabi Agu /


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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

It has been nearly a year since I last featured a poem by Fakhruddin Iraqi -- far too long! I feel a sort of personal sense of discovery, since, for some inexplicable reason, he is not widely known in the West.


You know what I like about this poem? It suggests to me that the facade of daily experiences and physical reality is really a game of hide-and-seek with the Eternal Beloved. Anything, everything, when we really pay attention, reveals a hint of the Beauty playfully hiding beneath the surface.

We seekers think we are "It," searching for those hidden glimpses, then we realize, no, we are the ones being hunted, we are the ones doing the hiding, and that stunning Smile will eventually claim us. The Beloved whispers to us--

With eyebrow-bow and arrow-winks I hunt
     both worlds -- and yet my weapons cannot be found.


Each glimpse brings us closer to capture.

I think one of my favorite statements in the poem is the next couplet:

Like the sun I brighten each atom's cheek;
     I cannot be pinpointed: I am too manifest.


Why is this game even taking place? Why can we not see the One we seek... or Who seeks us? The reason is that we are not looking in the right way; to catch that full vision requires a profound shift in how we look.

The Beloved, God, is not a thing among things. The Eternal is not an object or being to occupy a specific point in space or time. All objects, all things are a part of that Whole, and it is the fullness of reality that is the Face we seek. Yet every person or thing, no matter how small, does indeed reflect some spark of that divine presence, as each mote of dust floating through a shaft of light reveals something of the sun.

In other words, the Beloved is everywhere present, always, including right here and right now. We inhabit the Eternal, we breathe the Eternal, we endlessly touch the Eternal. The Beloved we seek is so present, so obvious, that we don't see. We reflexively filter out the interconnected and the hugely obvious in order to function effectively in the mundane world.

You know how to win this game of hide-and-seek? Allow yourself to be caught! And how do you do that? Relax, yield up the internal monologue, give up the stories you tell yourself about the reality immediately in front of you. Stop filtering. Stop imagining even what "God" is. Just fall silent, and see. Finally, the vision becomes a great wholeness, and it wraps itself around you, whispering in your ear, "Gotcha!"

Since in all the world only I exist
     above and below, no likeness of me can be found.



Recommended Books: Fakhruddin Iraqi

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry Fakhruddin Iraqi: Divine Flashes (Classics of Western Spirituality) Love's Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition





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