What Was

by Ala al-Dawla Simnani

English version by David and Sabrineh Fideler
Original Language Persian/Farsi

Once I was here,
but now "I" am not:

If there's really a "me,"
     it could only be you.

If any robe warms
and encompasses me now,
that very robe --
     it could only be you.

In the way of your love,
nothing was left --
neither body nor soul.

If I have any body --
If I have any soul --
then, without question,
     it could only be you.

-- from Love's Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition, Translated by David Fideler / Translated by Sabrineh Fideler

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Once I was here,
but now "I" am not


Do you feel it? That sense of "I" and "me" how thin and intangible they are when you really look?

We spend most of our life energy asserting that this thing, this "me" is IMPORTANT. The problem is that that "me" is not real. The more we look for it, the more it retreats. When we finally corner it, it simply fades away, dispelled like a trick of light. What are we left with?

There is a self, but it is not a limited or selfish self. To some it borders on blasphemy to call this real Self a self at all, implying some personal possession of something so all-inclusive. Some prefer to call this center of being not "me," but You -- the Friend, the ever-present Beloved. While the "me" struts and shouts and grabs, it cannot make of itself a real and lasting thing. But that You remains, always there, waiting patiently for the braggart self to tire of its own voice and step aside.

In the way of your love,
nothing was left --
neither body nor soul.


Everything we thought we owned, everything we ascribed to that "me,"
even the body itself, they all ceased to be limited objects of the mind when the me itself is recognized as unreal. Body, self-- these are seen, not as things that "I" am or possess, but as part of a fluid continuum of the greater You. Everything stops being things, and is, instead, a grand embodiment of the Eternal.

If I have any body --
If I have any soul --
then, without question,
     it could only be you.


Have a beautiful day enrobed in the Beloved.



Recommended Books: Ala al-Dawla Simnani

Love's Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition The Throne Carrier of God: The Life and Thought of 'Ala' Ad-Dawla As-Simnani





What Was