Jan 31 2010
/ Photo by d-man / Carpe diem /
If we want to truly get drunk on the wine of union, then we have to understand how the wine appears…
The grapes of my body can only become wine
After the winemaker tramples me.
I surrender my spirit like grapes to his trampling
So my inmost heart can blaze and dance with joy.
Although the grapes go on weeping blood and sobbing
“I cannot bear any more anguish, any more cruelty”
The trampler stuffs cotton in his ears: “I am not working in ignorance
You can deny me if you want, you have every excuse,
But it is I who am the Master of this Work.
And when through my Passion you reach Perfection,
You will never be done praising my name.”
– Jelaluddin Rumi (1207 – 1273)
|The Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi
by Andrew Harvey
This verse by Rumi says so much. Here he is telling us that the wine of the mystic is really the refined essence of oneself. It is formed from “the grapes of my body.” The wine is the juice emitted by the ego, the selfish, separate idea of the self when it finally surrenders, crushed into non-existence.
Of course, working toward that complete surrender can be terrifying… so long as we identify with the ego. There are times when the seeker calls out, “I cannot bear any more anguish, any more cruelty.” But the Winemaker, caring for us too much to let us remain comfortably unfinished, continues with the work, knowing the pure sweetness of completion.
When we finally free ourselves from identification with the ego-self and reverently place it as a sacrifice upon the wine press, the identity is emptied of self and collapses into nothing. The old “you” becomes nothing – it dies, but something new is born. From the death of the grape, the juice appears!
Empty Me of Everything But Your Love
Lord, send me staggering with the wine
Of Your love!
Ring my feet
With the chains of Your slavery!
Empty me of everything but Your love
And in it destroy and resurrect me!
Any hunger You awaken
Can only end in Feast!
– Sheikh Ansari (1006 – 1088)
|Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from the Sufi Wisdom
by Andrew Harvey / Eryk Hanut
That morose despot, the cold ego,
Sensing its death, trembles.
As soon as it sees you approaching from afar
It grows silent, pallid, and then flees.
Let it perish, arrogant fugitive!
In free bondage and in living death,
I am the sanctuary, I am the sacrifice and the priest.
Tormented by bliss, I stand before you.
– Vladimir Solvyov (1853 – 1900)
|Vladimir Solovyov’s Poems of Sophia
Translated by Boris Jakim / Translated by Laury Magnus
Through the action of the wine press, we ourselves have become the sacrificial offering. The juice of that troublesome ego has become the sanctifying element.
/ Photo by roblisameehan /
You are the wine.
Because of this, some even flip the metaphor about and say that the individual doesn’t taste the wine. Who is left to even taste the wine? Does the wine enjoy itself?
|Lalla (Lal Ded)|
I searched for my Self
until I grew weary,
but no one, I know now,
reaches the hidden knowledge
by means of effort.
Then, absorbed in “Thou art This,”
I found the place of Wine.
There all the jars are filled,
but no one is left to drink.
– Lalla (1320? – 1391?)
Translated by Coleman Barks
|Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women
Edited by Jane Hirshfield
Still there is sweetness. Still there is drinking. Still there is bliss. You might say that “you” don’t taste the wine, but the wine is tasted through you.
Finally freed from the limitations of the little self, it is the immense, formless Self who drinks. It is the Heart of hearts that tastes and enjoys. Whatever can be said to remain of the individual mind grows drunk through nearness.
For thee I shall lay golden couches in my chamber
I shall spread for thee a table, I shall make ready for thee my bread
I shall fill for thee a bowl, from the clusters of my vineyard —
Drink to thy heart’s delight, may my taste be pleasing to thee
for with thee I shall rejoice…
— Shelomo ibn Gabirol (1021? – 1058 )
|Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems
Translated by Bernard Lewis
The wine, then, press is this: all the sufferings of life and the strivings of spiritual practice, especially when we encounter them with openness and awareness. The wine press is everything that deflates the ego, releasing the spiritual “juice” it has kept trapped for so long.
Emptying ourselves of self, slowly, sometimes painfully, we gather juice for the celebration. It requires steadiness, patience, sometimes gentleness, sometimes fierceness. It requires a certain amount of pressure, but it should inspire a joyful sense of anticipation. A reminder to us all that spiritual practice sets the table and fills the flagon for the wild feast of divine union!