Thou Livest

by Solomon ibn Gabirol

English version by Bernard Lewis
Original Language Hebrew

Thou livest, but not from determined time or known epoch.
Thou livest, but not with soul or breath, for Thou art soul of the soul.
Thou livest, but not as the life of man that is like vanity, its end in moths and worms.
Thou livest, and whoever attains Thy secret will find eternal delight -- "and eat, and live for ever."

-- from The Heart and the Fountain: An Anthology of Jewish Mystical Experiences, by Joseph Dan

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

This is a poem of praise to God, a recognition that the Eternal genuinely lives. But God does not live in an "experience" of life, that is, not a life that is bound by history, not a life with a beginning and an end. It is not the experience of a creature, a being of limitations. The life God "lives" is Life itself, the effulgent source from which the experience of life emerges.

And this foundation of Life can be directly perceived. When we touch this "secret," we find "eternal bliss," the inherent joy that tells us we are a part of life beyond the insurmountable boundaries of birth and death. We come to know that we are, in truth, deathless. There is often an accompanying experience of swallowing a sacred substance, and when you "eat" this, you know that the eternal one, in which we have our own being, does indeed "live for ever."

Recommended Books: Solomon ibn Gabirol

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse The Heart and the Fountain: An Anthology of Jewish Mystical Experiences The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492
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Thou Livest