Jun 24 2016

Rabindranath Tagore – In one salutation to thee

Published by under Poetry

(103) In one salutation to thee, my God (from Gitanjali)
by Rabindranath Tagore

English version by Rabindranath Tagore

In one salutation to thee, my God, let all my senses spread out and touch this world at thy feet.
      Like a rain-cloud of July hung low with its burden of unshed showers let all my mind bend down at thy door in one salutation to thee.
      Let all my songs gather together their diverse strains into a single current and flow to a sea of silence in one salutation to thee.
      Like a flock of homesick cranes flying night and day back to their mountain nests let all my life take its voyage to its eternal home in one salutation to thee.

— from Gitanjali, by Rabindranath Tagore


/ Image by Muffet /

What a lovely outpouring of the heart to God by the great Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore.

Imagine the courage it takes for a poet, a singer of songs, to say, “Let all my songs gather together their diverse strains into a single current and flow to a sea of silence in one salutation to thee.”

When a poet wants fame, he wants each line to make a great noise and proclaim his name. But when a poet is truly great, he wants each strain to lead to silence, the lines washing away all noise, even the voice of the poet himself!

That is the way, the only real form of prayer: One all-encompasing salutation to the Divine that leaves us utterly empty of self, that leaves us standing in spaciousness and silence. Such a pure yielding turns all of life into a voyage that continuously returns us to our eternal home.

In one salutation…


Recommended Books: Rabindranath Tagore

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Gitanjali The Lover of God The Fugitive Lover’s Gift and Crossing
More Books >>


Rabindranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore poetry, Yoga / Hindu poetry Rabindranath Tagore

India (1861 – 1941) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu

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Jun 24 2016

remember

Our awareness is too often
separated segmented, disunified.
Return every part of yourself to a single wholeness.
Re-member yourself.

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Jun 22 2016

Kelsang Gyatso – Little Tiger

Published by under Poetry

Little Tiger
by Kelsang Gyatso

English version by Thubten Jinpa and Jas Elsener

The honey bee, a little tiger,
is not addicted to the taste of sugar;
his nature is to extract the juice
from the sweet lotus flower!

Dakinis, above, below, and on earth,
unimpeded by closeness and distance,
will surely extract the blissful essence
when the yogins bound by pledges gather.

The sun, the king of illumination,
is not inflated by self-importance;
by the karma of sentient beings,
it shines resplendent in the sky.

When the sun perfect in skill and wisdom
dawns in the sky of the illuminated mind,
without conceit, you beautify
and crown the beings of all three realms.

The smiling faces of the radiant moon
are not addicted to hide and seek;
by its relations with the sun,
the moon takes waning and waxing forms.

Though my gurus, embodiment of all refuge,
are free of all fluctuation and of faults,
through their flux-ridden karma the disciples perceive
that the guru’s three secrets display all kinds of effulgence.

Constellations of stars adorning the sky
are not competing in a race of speed;
due to the force of energy’s pull,
the twelve planets move clockwise with ease.

Guru, deity, and dakini — my refuge —
though not partial toward the faithful,
unfailingly you appear to guard
those with fortunate karma blessed.

The white clouds hovering above on high
are not so light that they arise from nowhere;
it is the meeting of moisture and heat
that makes the patches of mist in the sky.

Those striving for good karma
are not greedy in self-interest;
by the meeting of good conditions
they become unrivaled as they rise higher.

The clear expanse of the autumn sky
is not engaged in the act of cleansing;
yet being devoid of all obscuration,
its pure vision bejewels the eyes.

The groundless sphere of all phenomena
is not created fresh by a discursive mind;
yet when the face of ever-presence is known,
all concreteness spontaneously fades away.

Rainbows radiating colors freely
are not obsessed by attractive costumes;
by the force of dependent conditions,
they appear distinct and clearly.

This vivid appearance of the external world,
though not a self-projected image,
through the play of fluctuating thought and mind,
appears as paintings of real things.

— from Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Buddhist Poems of Insight & Awakening, Translated by Thupten Jinpa / Translated by Jas Elsner


/ Image by chefranden /

It has been a while since we last explored a poem from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. I love the wisdom poetry from that rich tradition, but to the casual reader they can feel rather technical. Often they are declarations of enlightenment through precise delineations of the nature of reality and perception. For the seeker who has been struggling to conceive of subtle and elevated concepts or, better still, who has begun to experience heightened states but doesn’t yet have the language for them, the poems of Tibetan masters are a delight of lucidity and elegance. But how to enter that world for the first time? I thought this poem might feel more approachable, inviting deeper exploration.

…when the face of ever-presence is known,
all concreteness spontaneously fades away.

I love that line!

There is a lot being explored in this wisdom poem…

In so many ways the “vivid appearance of the external world” can become a trap for the distracted mind. Through the intensity of contact we get caught in constant reaction, running after pleasure, running from pain.

But this poem reminds us that such experiences are not inherently ‘real.’ It is not so much that things are unreal; rather, we tend not to see reality directly and, instead, see our own mental reproduction of reality. It is like looking at “paintings of real things” without realizing it.

This vivid appearance of the external world,
though not a self-projected image,
through the play of fluctuating thought and mind,
appears as paintings of real things.

What we call “experience” is really a story we tell ourselves, a story reflexively created by “fluctuating thought and mind” when it reaches out and touches an object that it perceives to be outside of itself. “Experience” is a mental overlay, and not the thing or event itself.

In the truly natural state, the awareness is at rest, perceiving without tension, encountering reality without an overlay of stories, without attraction or repulsion. In that pure awareness, life becomes a flow of events and interaction, not pushed by the self-will of likes and dislikes. We no longer imagine, “I have done this” or “I have experienced that.” We are simply as we are, in our pure state. Actions are done, but we do not do them. Events still occur, but they don’t happen to us, they simply unfold. We are no longer addicted to the “hide and seek” of life experience; its “waning and waxing” is simply its natural flow.

Then we become like the sun, illuminating and beautifying “without conceit.” We are rainbows, not obsessed by our “attractive costumes,” yet beautiful nonetheless. And like the honey bee, the “little tiger”, we are fiercely true to our nature, gathering nectar, not because we are addicted to its sweetness, but because that is what is in our nature to do.

The honey bee, a little tiger,
is not addicted to the taste of sugar;
his nature is to extract the juice
from the sweet lotus flower!


Recommended Books: Kelsang Gyatso

Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Buddhist Poems of Insight & Awakening


Kelsang Gyatso, Kelsang Gyatso poetry, Buddhist poetry Kelsang Gyatso

Tibet (1708 – 1757) Timeline
Buddhist : Tibetan

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Jun 22 2016

see

See for yourself.

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Jun 17 2016

Wislawa Szymborska – The Camel

Published by under Poetry

The Camel
by Wislawa Szymborska

English version by Joanna Trzeciak

Don’t tell a camel about need and want.

Look at the big lips
pursed
in perpetual kiss,
the dangerous lashes
of a born coquette.

The camel is an animal
grateful for less.

It keeps to itself
the hidden spring choked with grass,
the sharpest thorn
on the sweetest stalk.

When a voice was heard crying in the wilderness,

when God spoke
from the burning bush,

the camel was the only animal
to answer back.

Dune on stilts,
it leans into the long horizon,
bloodhounding

the secret caches of watermelon

brought forth like manna
from the sand.

It will bear no false gods
before it:
not the trader
who cinches its hump
with rope,
nor the tourist.

It has a clear sense of its place in the world:

after water and watermelon,
heat and light,
silence and science,

it is the last great hope.

— from Miracle Fair: Selected Poems of Wislawa Szymborska, by Wislawa Szymborska / Translated by Joanna Trzeciak


/ Image by Al-Shamary /

I like this poem because it gives us an opportunity to consider the energies embodied by the camel, what it represents, what we can learn from it.

The camel is one of my favorite symbolic representations of the spiritual seeker.

Don’t tell a camel about need and want.

First, the camel is a natural ascetic. It can survive on so little in the harshest desert environments.

The camel is an animal
grateful for less.

As such, the camel represents a purity and essentialism, needing nothing extraneous. It is a being complete and capable within itself.

It is also a good symbol for conservation. What little it needs it carefully gathers and stores within itself, wasting nothing.

And, of course, the camel is the quintessential journeyer:

Dune on stilts,
it leans into the long horizon…

It travels through the hidden and forgotten places with endurance and persistence, practically becoming part of the landscape it passes though.

The camel’s special gift is that, unlike other creatures, it discovers the desert’s secret places and hidden treasures, unrecognized and unappreciated by others.

It keeps to itself
the hidden spring choked with grass,
the sharpest thorn
on the sweetest stalk.

The camel is a knower of secrets, an imbiber of secret sustenance.

And let’s not forget that the camel has attitude. Unlike the docile horse, camels are famous for their rebellious nature. The camel is no meek follower of rules. The camel is an independent thinker.

It will bear no false gods
before it:
not the trader
who cinches its hump
with rope,
nor the tourist.

The camel knows itself and doesn’t try to conform to the demands and expectations of society.

It has a clear sense of its place in the world:

after water and watermelon,
heat and light,
silence and science,

it is the last great hope.

Seeker, become like the camel, a journeyer, far seeing, at ease in the open, solitary, silent spaces, drinking from secret springs, content and whole in yourself.


Recommended Books: Wislawa Szymborska

Poems New and Collected Miracle Fair: Selected Poems of Wislawa Szymborska Nothing Twice: Selected Poems Here Sounds, Feelings, Thoughts
More Books >>


Wislawa Szymborska, Wislawa Szymborska poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Wislawa Szymborska

Poland (1923 – 2012) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

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Jun 17 2016

world at rest

The happiest moment is when you discover
the world at rest
in your heart.

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Jun 13 2016

Rumi – (Orlando) We are the mirror as well as the face in it

Published by under Poetry

We are the mirror as well as the face in it
by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

English version by Coleman Barks

We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
We are tasting the taste this minute
of eternity. We are pain
and what cures pain, both. We are
the sweet, cold water and the jar that pours.

— from Open Secret: Versions of Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks / Translated by John Moyne


/ Image by vanillapearl /

How dare a man call himself a Muslim or a Christian or a person of any faith with such hatred in his heart?

One man turns to mass murder and we rightly condemn such hideous actions. Yet his unbalanced mind and heart drank in the hatred served up by people who call themselves religious. I am tired of people justifying their hatreds by citing scripture or ancient tradition.

I will say bluntly what religious leaders of all faiths should be saying loudly: God does not condemn gay and lesbian people. I don’t care what you can quote from the Bible or the Quran or any scripture, the truth is the truth. Homosexuality is not a sin, it is not evil, it is not amoral, it is not against nature, it is not against God. Homosexuality is. Gay and lesbian people are. They are our brothers and our sisters, fellow children of God, made by God as they are. They have a place and a purpose in the world, bringing their unique balancing perspectives and energies and life into society.

All of my life I have had friends who are gay and lesbian. Some of the finest people I have been blessed to know are homosexual. I would go further still and say that some of the wisest and genuinely enlightened souls I have known are gay and lesbian.

The LGBT community, like any community, covers the whole range of human possibility and character. One can be gay and entirely in alignment with God. I say without any hesitation that one can be homosexual and holy — and without denying one’s homosexuality. I have been lucky enough to know a few such elevated souls. But we don’t have to reach for such heights, either; one can be profoundly good and moral, though still flawed and human, and be gay or lesbian. Why aren’t more religious voices speaking this obvious truth?

I will not sit by and listen to so-called religious people say with one breath that, of course the Orlando shooting are terrible, yet with the next breath say that the gay victims of those shootings were still sinners in the eyes of God. Unlike humans, the Eternal One sees clearly, completely unconstrained by history, prejudice, or religious dogma. The Eternal One sees the goodness of the heart wherever it exists, paying no attention to labels or the social categories of people.

Hatred, cold-heartedness, these are not the ways of God. Caring for the vulnerable and welcoming the stranger, keeping an open heart and a questioning mind, these are the ways of God. Enough religious justification for hatred of gay and lesbian people. Enough justification for cruelty and murder. Enough.

We are the mirror as well as the face in it.
We are tasting the taste this minute
of eternity. We are pain
and what cures pain, both. We are
the sweet, cold water and the jar that pours.


Recommended Books: Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom Open Secret: Versions of Rumi
More Books >>


Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

Afghanistan & Turkey (Persia) (1207 – 1273) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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Jun 13 2016

alien

Walk through this world
as an alien being
with curiosity and wonder
and constant questioning.

No responses yet

Jun 10 2016

Bulleh Shah – Bulleh! to me, I am not known

Published by under Poetry

Bulleh! to me, I am not known
by Bulleh Shah

Not a believer inside the mosque, am I
Nor a pagan disciple of false rites
Not the pure amongst the impure
Neither Moses, nor the Pharaoh

Bulleh! to me, I am not known

Not in the holy Vedas, am I
Nor in opium, neither in wine
Not in the drunkard`s intoxicated craze
Neither awake, nor in a sleeping daze

Bulleh! to me, I am not known

In happiness nor in sorrow, am I
Neither clean, nor a filthy mire
Not from water, nor from earth
Neither fire, nor from air, is my birth

Bulleh! to me, I am not known

Not an Arab, nor Lahori
Neither Hindi, nor Nagauri
Hindu, Turk, nor Peshawari
Nor do I live in Nadaun

Bulleh! to me, I am not known

Secrets of religion, I have not known
From Adam and Eve, I am not born
I am not the name I assume
Not in stillness, nor on the move

Bulleh! to me, I am not known

I am the first, I am the last
None other, have I ever known
I am the wisest of them all
Bulleh! do I stand alone?

Bulleh! to me, I am not known


/ Image by firdausmahadi /

Bulleh Shah has given us a riddle to unravel today.

Bulleh! to me, I am not known

Ask yourself, What or who is not known when he keeps saying that he is “not known”? How can he say to himself that he is not known?

The little self, the ego, the self of attributes with a place in the world, the self that answers to the name Bulleh (“I am not the name I assume”) — that self can’t know the deeper Self. Why? Because the True Self is far too immense. The True Self is “not a believer… nor a pagan.” The True Self is not involved “in happiness nor in sorrow.” The True Self is too big to be contained by those definitions; it permeates them and encompasses them, without being caught by them.

Not from water, nor from earth
Neither fire, nor from air, is my birth

The True Self is not hemmed in by beginnings and ending.

From Adam and Eve, I am not born

One’s True Self is eternal.

I am the first, I am the last

And utterly whole and all-encompasing, with nothing external.

None other, have I ever known

No surprise then that the little self that clings to definitions and boundaries cannot know the Self Bulleh speaks of. The great, flowing vastness one is, well, it is perceived, but it is not ‘known.’

Bulleh! to me, I am not known

To encounter the deepest mystery, we have only to look in the mirror.

Ivan

PS- A blessed Ramadan to all of my Muslim friends. Ramadan Mubarak!

PPS- And also let me quickly acknowledge the passing of Muhammad Ali. He gained fame as a boxer, but it was his greatness of spirit that made him an international icon. He was a verbal poet, a social activist, a courageous man nobly living with a debilitating illness. He was a genuinely kind and wise man… and, less well known, he was a follower of the Sufi path. His presence was a gift to the world. RIP.


Recommended Books: Bulleh Shah

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi Bulleh Shah: The Love-Intoxicated Iconoclast (Mystics of the East series) Saint Bulleh Shah
More Books >>


Bulleh Shah, Bulleh Shah poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Bulleh Shah

Punjab (Pakistan/India) (1680 – 1758) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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Jun 10 2016

masks

Even our masks reveal us.

No responses yet

Jun 03 2016

Yunus Emre – Knowledge should mean a full grasp of knowledge

Published by under Poetry

Knowledge should mean a full grasp of knowledge:
by Yunus Emre

English version by Namık Kemal Zeybek

Knowledge should mean a full grasp of knowledge:
Knowledge means to know yourself, heart and soul.
If you have failed to understand yourself,
Then all of your reading has missed its call.

What is the purpose of reading those books?
So that Man can know the All-Powerful.
If you have read, but failed to understand,
Then your efforts are just a barren toil.

Don’t boast of reading, mastering science
Or of all your prayers and obeisance.
If you don’t identify Man as God,
All your learning is of no use at all.

The true meaning of the four holy books
Is found in the alphabet’s first letter.
You talk about that first letter, preacher;
What is the meaning of that — could you tell?

Yunus Emre says to you, Pharisee,
Make the holy pilgrimage if need be
A hundred times — but if you ask me,
A visit to the heart is best of all.


/ Image by Amosb /

Knowledge should mean a full grasp of knowledge:
Knowledge means to know yourself, heart and soul.
If you have failed to understand yourself,
Then all of your reading has missed its call.

Sages of all lands keep reminding us that the spiritual journey is a journey of awareness, and specifically self-awareness. It is not a journey of acquisition. Or intellect. Or adherence to rules.

It is not a matter of how many books we’ve read. Or how many times we’ve read them. The only question of any value is whether we’ve yet recognized their truths… within ourselves.

It is not a matter of how often we pray. Or how perfectly we enunciate each prescribed word. The question is, have we discovered how true prayer wells up within us of its own accord.

This poem is clearly a mystic’s critique of the religious rule-follower, typically someone who favors a rigid understanding of religion that lacks depth or real insight. But, as I think about it, the words of this poem can also be turned around and cause us to question elements of our own spiritual seeking, as well. We may not approach the spiritual path as a matter of superficial actions or brittle creeds, but we also can become swept up in endless new ideas, new flashes of insight, new pathways, new teachers. This can lead to a culture of lifelong seeking that becomes our comfort zone — we seek and we seek, and perhaps we deepen and gain insight, but we can forget to actually find.

I think that is Yunus Emre’s real criticism here, not just directed at the superficially religious or the rigidly minded, but this idea of a culture that takes on the form of religion (or spirituality) without actually discovering the true center that gives it all meaning.

Make the holy pilgrimage if need be
A hundred times — but if you ask me,
A visit to the heart is best of all.

Follow each prescribed step of the journey, and bring books, but what we seek is found only and always in the heart of the heart.

A heart-healthy nudge to us all…


Recommended Books: Yunus Emre

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems Quarreling with God: Mystic Rebel Poems of the Dervishes of Turkey The Drop That Became the Sea: Lyric Poems of Yunus Emre
More Books >>


Yunus Emre, Yunus Emre poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Yunus Emre

Turkey (1238 – 1320) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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Jun 03 2016

the greatest gifts

We don’t get the greatest gifts,
we give ourselves to them instead.

No responses yet

Jun 01 2016

A few updates

A while back I had mentioned that I am working on two new books — a new poetry anthology, which I plan to publish in the summer, and also a collection of the ‘thoughts for the day,’ which I hoped to publish even sooner. I will still be publishing both books, but I have decided to focus on the anthology first and complete the book of sayings after. The tentative schedule for the two books now is to release the anthology late summer or early autumn, to be followed by the book of sayings by the end of the year. Although I haven’t been as swift as I hoped with preparing them for publication, I am pleased with how they are coming together… and I hope you will be too.

Also, I forget to mention it, but I have been doing some behind-the-scenes work on the Poetry Chaikhana. I recently updated the database software I use to manage the website along with the extensive library of poetry, biographies, and commentaries. You are not likely to notice any changes as a visitor to the site, but these updates to the software mean that I can avoid several technical issues and I am now in a good position to continue to manage the Poetry Chaikhana well into the future. Some of the humdrum details that only a nerd can appreciate, but they help me to keep the extensive Poetry Chaikhana resources available to everyone.

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Jun 01 2016

Paramahansa Yogananda – O Spirit, reveal Thyself as Thou art

Published by under Poetry

O Spirit, reveal Thyself as Thou art
by Paramahansa Yogananda

O Spirit, Thou art just behind my vision, with which I see Thine outward beauty. Thou art just behind my hearing with which I listen to the medley of earth sounds. Thou art just behind my touch, with which I feel the objects of Thy world.

Thou art just behind the veil of Nature’s splendors. In the sympathetic glances of flowers, in the zest of sustaining food, and in all Thine other bounties lies hidden the essence of Thy Being, Thine eternal sweetness.

As I invoke Thee, Lord, Thou art just behind my awe-trembling voice. Thou art just behind the mind with which I pray. Thou art just behind my deepest feelings. Thou art just behind my sacred thoughts. Thou art just behind my cravings for Thee. Thou art just behind my meditations. Thou art just behind my tender love.

Wilt Thou not come out from behind the screens of human feelings and creation’s elaborate displays? O Inscrutable by Mortals! open my divine eye that sees Thee as Thou art.

— from Whispers from Eternity, by Paramahansa Yogananda


/ Image by Garrett Charles /

A prayer-poem for us today from one of the great spiritual ambassadors of the 20th century, Paramahansa Yogananda.

O Spirit, Thou art just behind my vision, with which I see Thine outward beauty…

Yogananda seems to be describing a divine game of hide-and-seek. The Eternal Spirit is there, everywhere right there, just barely hidden behind “the screens of human feelings and creations elaborate displays.”

It’s not that we have to find the right place to look. It’s that we have to find the right way to look.

O Inscrutable by Mortals! open my divine eye that sees Thee as Thou art.


Recommended Books: Paramahansa Yogananda

Whispers from Eternity Autobiography of a Yogi The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam Explained


Paramahansa Yogananda, Paramahansa Yogananda poetry, Yoga / Hindu poetry Paramahansa Yogananda

India (1893 – 1952) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu

More poetry by Paramahansa Yogananda

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Jun 01 2016

wound

Your most secret wound

is the doorway.

No responses yet

May 25 2016

Hildegard von Bingen – O ignis Spiritus Paracliti

Published by under Poetry

O ignis Spiritus Paracliti
by Hildegard von Bingen

English version by Ivan M. Granger

O Spirit of Fire, O Guide,
life in the life of all life,
holy are you,
      enlivening all things.

Holy are you,
      a healing balm
      to the broken.
Holy are you,
      washing
      blistered wounds.

O Holy Breath,
O Fire of Life,
O Sweetness in my breast
infusing my heart
with the fine scent of truth.

O Pure Fountain
through which we know
God unites strangers
and gathers the lost.

O Heart Shield, guarding life
and hope, joining the many members
into one body;
Belt of Truth,
wrap them in beauty.

Protect those ensnared
by the enemy,
and free the worthy
from their fetters.

O Great Way that runs through all,
      from the heights,
      across the earth,
      and in the depths,
you encompass all and unify all.

From you the clouds stream
      and the ether rises;
from your stones precious water pours,
springs well and birth waterways,
      and the earth sweats green with life.

And eternally do you bring forth knowledge
by the breath of wisdom.

            All praise to you,
you who are the song of praise
      and the joy of life,
you who are hope and the greatest treasure,
      bestowing the gift of Light.


/ Image by Tommy Clark /

This week I have been translating some songs by the great Medieval mystic, Hildegard von Bingen, and I thought I would share this meditation on the universal flow of life today…

This song of praise is a beautiful vision of God — a maternal vision of God, earthy, yet transcendent — flowing with life, permeating all things, exuding a good and holy greenness everywhere.

This Spirit of Fire, the Holy Spirit, is “life in the life of all life.” It is the vivifying life behind all of life. This is the “Holy Breath” that breathes through all of manifest existence, everything in nature, every form, enlivening it, making it holy, sharing its divinity. Life and all creation emerges from Spirit. It is not created in some mechanical sense but flows naturally, organically, fluidly, like breath from the body or water from the spring.

Through this divine animating spirit, all separate things are actually one: “you encompass all and unify all.”

Especially notice the lovely lines:

From you the clouds stream
      and the ether rises,
from your stones precious water pours,
springs well and birth waterways,
      and the earth sweats green with life.

Throughout this song tangible, physical reality, the earth itself streams, pours, exudes, and permeates. All of physical reality, even in its most solid forms of earth and rock, all of ‘solid’ reality… flows. Nothing is as fixed or stationary as it may superficially appear. All forms possess a sort of divine inner ‘sap’ — the fluid Essence — that is its true being which shows itself as life:

…and the earth sweats her green life.

We have delightful language of both water and fire, and yet they seem complimentary. Why a “Spirit of Fire”? In Christian mysticism, the Holy Spirit is often associated with fire. In deep ecstasy, the awareness is flooded with a rising, blissfully searing heat, quieting the mind, opening the heart, filling one’s whole being with a sense of the interconnectedness of life. Adding to this, the inner vision is dazzled by a radiating golden-white light — “bestowing the gift of Light.” Paradoxically, amidst this inner fire of the illumination, there is the simultaneous descent of a trickling honey-like sweetness down the back of the throat, making one drunk on bliss and beauty. Thus Hildegard gives us images of water and flow and secret springs, as well. And throughout the mystic’s grand vision we find ourselves bathed in the most profound knowledge. This is not data or information necessarily, but in some indescribable way the living breath of knowledge itself, gnosis, fills us.

And eternally do you bring forth knowledge
by the breath of wisdom.

Yet clearly this is not a solitary vision confined to the mystic’s solitary self. This same spiritual vivification is taking place throughout the earth, through its good green life, through all things and all people, and we are all, in truth, one in that life and in eternal outpouring of that life-giving Spirit.

…wrap them in beauty.


Recommended Books: Hildegard von Bingen

Symphonia: A Critical Edition of the Symphonia armonie celstium revelationum German Mystical Writings: Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, Jacob Boehme, and others Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works with Letters and Songs Women of Wisdom: A Journey of Enlightenment by Women of Vision Through the Ages The Book of the Rewards of Life: Liber Vitae Meritorum
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Hildegard von Bingen, Hildegard von Bingen poetry, Christian poetry Hildegard von Bingen

Germany (1098 – 1179) Timeline
Christian : Catholic

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2 responses so far

May 25 2016

religion is technology

Religion is not a fixed collection
of beliefs and rituals.
Religion, properly understood,
is a living technology
for experiencing God.

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