Oct 04 2010

Javad Nurbakhsh – The Pain of Love

Published by at 8:41 am under Poetry

The Pain of Love
by Javad Nurbakhsh

Leave behind your cleverness, O lover of God:
      go crazy instead
Become a moth: enter the flame!
            – Rumi

For one who sees truly,
      love’s pain is itself the remedy:
But this mystery is revealed
      only to those who are afflicted.

That lover who has left the realm of “I and you”
      is a stranger to all:
How then could he ever
      be clever?

Love is an attraction
      drawing multiplicity from the heart:
The spirit of Unity it bestows
      is free of all desires.

Love is a ladder
      on the path toward God:
A ladder to that place where
      “wherever you look is God.”

Only “I am God” is ever uttered
      at the stage of love,
For this secret is unknown
      to “other than God.”

Do not conceive of love
      as a “pain without cure.”
Love is a snare set by God –
      a consolation, not calamity.

O Nurbakhsh, since the lover
      has no awareness of self,
To attribute cleverness to him
      would be a grave mistake.

/ Photo by The Wandering Angel /

I received several emails asking why there was no poetry last week. Well, the universe decided it was time for me to enter a deep meditation on the nature of pain: I went through a dental ordeal, culminating in three to four hours in the dentist’s chair over a period of two days.

It’s amazing how much pain the body is capable of experiencing and, in a strange way, getting used to. Pain, in a convoluted sort of way, is meditative; it forces you to narrow your attention down to a single point in order to come through. Another interesting thing about pain: It’s only pain when you resist it. If you relax and accept it — not an easy thing, I know — you find that pain isn’t really pain, it is just intensity of sensation.

I emerged from the week wearied but immensely relieved. Naturally, it got me thinking of the theme of pain that often occurs in sacred poetry.

Many mystics experience a sense of pain or wounding as an essential and desired part of their path to union with the Divine. It is a sacred pain. The pain experienced is the perception of one’s separation from God. But that pain itself is the doorway to reunion. By allowing oneself to become completely vulnerable to that pain, to surrender to it, the mystic finds the pain transformed into the blissful touch of the Beloved.

For one who sees truly,
      love’s pain is itself the remedy:
But this mystery is revealed
      only to those who are afflicted.

It is the pain of the pierced ego. For one with inner balance, where the protective but limiting shell of the ego is no longer necessary, that pain points the way to freedom.

For this reason, mystics and saints describe the pain as being “sweet” or joyful or beautiful.

Love is a snare set by God –
      a consolation, not calamity.

Javad Nurbakhsh, Javad Nurbakhsh poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Javad Nurbakhsh

Iran & England (1926 – 2008) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh was the head of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order, a very large and respected sufi order especially centered in Iran.

Dr. Nurbakhsh was born in Kerman, Iran. As a young man, he became a medical doctor. He later received a psychiatric degree from the Sorbonne and helped to establish modern psychiatric practices in Iran.

While still a young man, Dr. Nurbakhsh was named the master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order. He eventually took up residence in Tehran, where he led a revival of both the Nimatullahi Sufi Order and interest in Sufi practice in general. During the 1950s and 1960s, many western seekers and scholars traveled to Tehran to partake in the Sufi revival inspired by Dr. Nurbakhsh.

In 1979, because of the fundamentalist Islamic Revolution in Iran, Dr. Nurbakhsh went into voluntary exile in the West. Although he settled in England, he traveled and taught throughout the United States and Europe, establishing many Sufi centers in the west (as he had done before throughout Iran).

He died in October, 2008 and is buried in Banbury, Oxfordshire in England.

More poetry by Javad Nurbakhsh

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Javad Nurbakhsh – The Pain of Love”

  1. michael bindelon 04 Oct 2010 at 10:18 am

    Dear Ivan

    as your wonderful stated experiences regarding bodily pain IS that what i experienced so many times, till i was “so relaxed” that i did fell asleep while the dentist did his necessary work.
    My dear wife Sylvia commented on day to this phenomena, which the doc never has seen…. you are afraid and thats why you escape into sleep” jokingly but who knows
    now your wonderful comments showed me some “other explanations….”

    yours in the SOURCE

    michael bindel

    thru the gracious help of our friend Alan Jacob i met you on internet….
    Grace in action

  2. Bobbion 04 Oct 2010 at 10:27 am

    Dear Ivan,
    Thank you for introducing me to Nurbakhsh and for sharing a new way of looking at pain. I’ve often gleaned something beautiful from pain because I’ve know I’ve been in a precious moment.
    I try not to have novocain at the dentist. I settle into the pain and realize that it reaches a point and then doesn’t get worse. I am in the moment, in a meditative state, closer to God than at most of the joyful times in my life.
    You’ve got me thinking. Thanks. Hope you are better.

  3. Mariaon 04 Oct 2010 at 10:37 am

    I’m sorry about your teeth issues! That can be a really painful thing alright! Thanks for the poem today and for your commentary. Your comment that it is a “sacred pain” is so true, while I have had the pain of perceived separation that you speak of, right now I’m having pain over a perceived separation between me now and my authentic self and expressing that in the world. While on the one hand it is the same as separation from the Sourceit is also different…and I’d not thought of it in the same way, as being sacred, yet when I read your comments it directly struck me that it is.
    And somehow that helps…

    Thanks as always for what you put out, Ivan, it’s wonderful!

  4. franon 04 Oct 2010 at 5:12 pm

    Thank you, I loved the Rumi intro. My dentist is like the one from Little Shop of Horror or so it feels, he is actually a good dentist but, I can relate. Glad you took time for yourself. Having had multiple depressive episodes in my life, I have come to appreciate pain for the reasons you mention. Pain has distracted and caused me to react to something real. I have felt most horrifically separation from God, and at the time it was too big to rationalize.
    Now, I feel that the lights were out and only my perception separated me. Glad you are well enough to post, but thankful to feel that slice of separation last week, without my own self judgement.

  5. simonbaghon 05 Oct 2010 at 4:29 am

    not to compare physical pain of a being,
    with the lovers’ pain parted from Darling

    body pain never reaches the core of soul,
    which is to conquer love city as final goal

    you hate the carnal pain wishing to avoid
    you dive deep in love pain even to be void

    love raises within you so great a desire
    like a moth you will hit yourself into fire

    love is light, light the most curing might
    life the pathway terminating to it height

    life serves love as serves the queen a bee
    love the means giving way to soul go free

    a bit love is far better that the whole world
    a bit love pain better than all lovers to hold

    suffering is a prize for one the love to reach
    love story for commen, is too hard to preach

    simon baghdasarian,

    Hi dear Ivan I see your liver blood is boiling on love’s ever flaming furnace, and I am honestly happy getting to know you.

    if possible please put this poem for comment whenever you find it suitable.

    yous disciple,


  6. Akeemon 05 Oct 2010 at 5:20 am

    Sorry about your health.

    “Do not conceive of love
    as a “pain without cure.”
    Love is a snare set by God –
    a consolation, not calamity.”
    I really like these lines.

  7. Larry Coonradton 05 Oct 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Hello Ivan and others,

    Oh pain, what is it but the searing of rawness. We all suffer from it different degrees for different folks.

    Living in the moment, experiencing it through the connection to another. We too can withstand it, it just means we have to stand it.

    Blessings to all,


  8. nasihaon 06 Oct 2010 at 12:06 am

    HI Ivan,
    Its good to hear from Chaikhana again,so joyful!
    and no pain no gain, goes the famous saying and we’ve all heard it and felt it many many times.
    “become a moth :enter the flame” embrace pain with love..
    thank you so much!

  9. simonbaghon 27 Nov 2010 at 8:54 am

    in last line of poem please read it COMMON

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