Aug 26 2009

Lalla – Intense cold makes water ice

Published by at 8:13 am under Ivan's Story,Poetry

Intense cold makes water ice
by Lalla (Lal Ded)

English version by Coleman Barks

Intense cold makes water ice.
Then the hard ice turns to slush
and back to water, so there are three
forms of consciousness: the individual,
the world, and God, which in the sun
of True Awareness melt to one flowing:

Lalla is that.

In meditation, I entered the love furnace,
burned impurities away, and as the sun
of a new knowing rose, I realized
that the words “Lalla” and “God”
point to this peacefulness.

— from Naked Song, by Lalla / Translated by Coleman Barks

/ Photo by net_efekt /

I spent most of my growing up years in Los Angeles — endless city, and no winters. I remember the one time as a child when the temperature dropped down to 30 degrees, and I implored the weather gods for snow. But it was not to be. It was Southern California, after all. A little more bundled than usual, I still had to go to school.

So when I moved to Colorado as an adult, you can imagine my sense of wonder at the snow each winter. In fact, I lived in some places up in the mountains where the snow would build up until it literally covered part of the ground floor windows. One more reminder for me that, no matter how much we humans construct our own environments, we are still residents within the world of nature, and that natural world is immense, stunningly beautiful, and ignored at our own peril…

Intense cold makes water ice.
Then the hard ice turns to slush
and back to water…

Lalla is giving us a simple spiritual metaphor, but although the intellect can quickly comprehend what she is saying, it’s important not to rush past it. Sit with the metaphor for a bit, let the imagery and meaning ferment quietly in your mind.

Water becomes solid ice when it is cold enough. It becomes almost rock-like: impenetrable, graspable, tangible… an unavoidable ‘thing.’ With a little bit of warmth, it starts to melt and becomes a slushy mixture of states, in some ways still seemingly solid, yet a hand can pass through it. When it has fully yielded to the warmth, it is liquid again, fluid, ungraspable, less a ‘thing’ and more of a filling of space.

Even so, all are the same substance: water. There has been no essential change other than the form perceived by the witness; it is a continuum that only appears different.

…so there are three
forms of consciousness: the individual,
the world, and God, which in the sun
of True Awareness melt to one flowing

And Lalla is reminding us that the individual and God are the same, separate only in apparent form, but in essence it is all one continuum of consciousness. The individual, the world, and God, when seen clearly in the warming sunlight of True Awareness are seen to “melt to one flowing.”

Lalla is that.

Her insight: In that instant of true seeing, we cease to identify ourselves as the individual or ego, and instead recognize ourselves as “that” — the flowing that moves through the entire spectrum of existence.

I realized
that the words “Lalla” and “God”
point to this peacefulness.

Reread those last lines, but insert your own name for Lalla’s.

Have a beautiful day!

Lalla (Lal Ded), Lalla (Lal Ded) poetry, Yoga / Hindu poetry Lalla (Lal Ded)

India (14th Century) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu : Shaivite (Shiva)

Lal Ded, also affectionately called Lalla, Lalli, Lal Diddi (“Granny Lal”), or Lalleshwari, was born near Srinagar in Kashmir in northern India.

Little is known with certainty about her life, other than hints that come to us through her poetry and songs.

She was a young bride, married, tradition says, at the age of twelve. After moving into her husband’s family home, she was abused by her mother-in-law and ignored by her husband.

A story is told about “Lalla’s Lake” — one day when returning from the well with a clay water jug on her head, her husband lost his temper over her delay and struck the jug in his anger. The clay vessel broke but, miraculously, the water held its shape above her head. This becomes an important symbol of the heavenly nectar that rains down from the crown.

Finally, Lalla could endure no more mistreatment and, in her early 20s, she left. She became a disciple of a respected saint in the Kashmir Shaivism tradition of yoga and she took up the life of a holy woman dedicated God in the form of Shiva. Lalla began wandering about, village to village, going naked or nearly naked, and singing songs of enlightenment.

Lalla’s songs are short, using the simple, direct language of the common people, yet she touches on complex yogic techniques and the most elevated states of awareness.

The name Lalla can be translated as either “seeker” or “darling.”

Lalla is deeply loved by both Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir today, even amidst the terrible fighting ravaging the land. There is a saying that in Kashmir only two words have any meaning: Allah and Lalla.

More poetry by Lalla (Lal Ded)

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Lalla – Intense cold makes water ice”

  1. Karen Hastingson 26 Aug 2009 at 11:33 am

    This poem really moves me by its simplicity.To me,meditation is the real thing,not being bothered with a lot of dogma.You just go within and feel God’s presence.Bravo again,Ivan!

  2. Jim Atwellon 26 Aug 2009 at 11:43 am

    And who would I be if not for you?
    Without you I am nothing.
    An endless void in a sea of timelessness
    What is Love without a lover?
    Become me, be me,
    Lovers in time and timelessness.
    Figures in form and formlessness.
    Together we are Love
    Apart we are Lovers.

    Much Love
    Jim Atwell

  3. BAon 26 Aug 2009 at 11:52 am

    Dear Ivan,
    Hope your health is fine and mood jovial. It is after so long that I have written to you.
    In fact Lalla is from this part of Himalayan region where I reside now and here she is know as a saint. The above poem must remind you of that. Infact the beauty of these “wakhs” as these are called in my native lingo, are so beautiful that one goes on listening to them endlessly. These are sort of blissful music to the soul.
    Here these are Known as “Lalla Wakhs”.

    Have a nice day and take care of your health.

  4. Leahon 26 Aug 2009 at 3:35 pm

    I always love these poems you post. I grew up in England, and on occasion we had snow at Christmas. What a Godly gift that was for an excited child !
    Though Australia has snow – good skiing snow too – I am nowhere near that. My day to day experience is of heat, so I guess I’m being tempered by a furnace, as opposed to ice and snow. LOL.
    The winters where I live have the odd nights that go below freezing, but snow is not an option here, just a skim of frost that burns off with the first sun.
    Despite that, the Godhead is to be found everywhere, so I don’t mourn the snow, rather I embrace the sun.
    Thank you for this truly lovely site, and for communicating with me. NOW I have somewhere to write what I think about these divine poems.
    All the very best to you from far, far away.
    Leah from Down Under.

  5. manjusaradheyon 27 Aug 2009 at 1:04 am

    i read thise poem iam so happy for that i wlive in god its realy truth for my life i am so lakky because jo ham apni life main her pal jiski ashim kirpa ko andekha kar dete hain kisliay only ouver igo but god her pal her manav ke under hai tabhi to bo jivit hai ego ake asa aham hai jo her kisi ke under gupt rupe se chipahota hain or samay ke sadguru se gyan prapt kerke hame hamari realty ka pata chalta hain ki real main ham hain kone or kyo is dhara dham main hain
    chahe poem ho chahe koi bhi bo bat jisme hame us satay sawrupe iswar ke darshan ho jo filing hai bo atma se hi hoty hain atma bo sprit hai jo sat cheedannand sawrope hain jo pratek manav ki realty hai or

  6. kamalon 29 Aug 2009 at 5:56 pm

    hi! missed being out of im seas away from my native land.reading this poem welled up tears.whereever i may be,HE, is always with me.

    in those moments
    of happiness
    my closed eyes
    thanked you
    n mercy
    again my closed eyes
    thank you
    helping me
    bear that
    momentry pain
    which again
    i know
    is your grace
    to purgate
    to give me a reason again
    to be happy
    thank you.

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