Bring all of yourself to his door

by Hakim Sanai

English version by D.L. Pendlebury
Original Language Persian/Farsi

Bring all of yourself to his door:
bring only a part,
and you've brought nothing at all.

-- from The Walled Garden of Truth, by Hakim Sanai / Translated by David Pendlebury

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

These few lines from Sanai aren't particularly poetic. They aren't filled with exotic and lovely imagery. Reading this short verse we don't get that boost of uplifting energy we often seek in sacred poetry. Yet it resonates, doesn't it?

I think these lines get to the core of what spiritual seeking is all about. What does it mean for us to bring all that we are to God's door? If you prefer less theistic language, how do we stand fully before the Eternal Presence? This is the fundamental dilemma of every seeker.

The truth is that we are always before the Eternal Presence, but most of the time not much seems to be happening. The problem isn't that God isn't there, it's that we are not there. Not fully. But what then does it mean to bring all of ourselves to that meeting?

We begin to wrestle with our own reflexes, trying so hard to be fully present, trying to bring our whole selves to the threshold -- and yet we still hold back.

We each have a deep seated instinct to hide. We feel protected when we hide. To not be seen is to be safe. This is the entire purpose of the ego; we create a social mask behind which we hide ourselves. We gather our experiences, stitch them together with a narrative, and present that patchwork creation to the world, saying, "This is me. Don't look any further." The formulation and modification of this ego-mask becomes the primary work of most of our lives, and we too easily forget that we are not that mask, that we are, in fact, something much bigger and less easily defined. The act of hiding becomes institutionalized in the awareness. Only a rebellion can overcome this entrenched pattern in the awareness. But before that revolution can catch fire and spread throughout the psyche, we need to recognize the effects of this dynamic and we have to really decide that we don't want to hide any more.

Now, we need to be clear with ourselves that there may very well be reasons to present a specific image of ourselves in social situations. Some parts are emphasized and others necessarily held back. Some aspects of our lives are appropriately private or sacred or vulnerable, and not to be casually shared.

Here's the thing: That same valid self-protection mechanism becomes spiritually toxic when we try to hide aspects of ourselves from our own awareness... or from God. We need to drop those fig leaves that were a childish attempt to hide parts of ourselves from the All-Seeing.

The fulness of all that we are is much bigger than any neat story we want to pack it all into. We can't truncate parts of ourselves to force a snug fit into the story we want to tell ourselves. We must dwell in our entirety. Anything else becomes self-dismemberment. We must claim all of our history, all our feelings and thoughts, the painful and the celestial all together.

And then we step up to the threshold. Hesitant, naked, vulnerable, we step up to God's door, we enter the eternal present moment. That's when the magic happens. The large, unwieldy collection of victories and wounds we've brought with us comes into focus for the first time and we have a vision of ourselves, our whole selves, alive and immense, integral within the living immense universe. That which we were hesitant to look at within ourselves becomes an image of beauty and, yes, majesty blissfully melting into the majestic Beauty all around us.

We all, on some level, crave this encounter precisely in order to heal the deep pain of separation. If we come with less than our whole selves, if we come with only fragments of our being, how then can we find healing?

Bring all of yourself to his door



Recommended Books: Hakim Sanai

Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi The Walled Garden of Truth
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