Nov 20 2013

Mansur al-Hallaj – You glide between the heart and its casing

Published by at 9:33 am under Poetry

You glide between the heart and its casing
by Mansur al- Hallaj

English version by Bernard Lewis

You glide between the heart and its casing as tears glide from the eyelid.
You dwell in my inwardness, in the depths of my heart, as souls dwell in bodies.
Nothing passes from rest to motion unless you move it in hidden ways,
O new moon.

— from Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems, Translated by Bernard Lewis


/ Photo by Joy Krauthammer /

You glide between the heart and its casing as tears glide from the eyelid.

Isn’t that a wonderful opening line?

This is a poem about hidden movement, natural, free-flowing. And it is a poem about rest too. And the heart.

You dwell in my inwardness, in the depths of my heart, as souls dwell in bodies.

In states of deep spiritual communion, when the agitations of the mind are at rest and the attention is not seeking outward distractions, awareness naturally settles into the heart. And encounter takes place there– an immense sense of Being and expansive Love is seated there, in quiet majesty.

Nothing passes from rest to motion unless you move it in hidden ways

This poem beautifully evokes the sense of how, in the sacred state, movement ceases for the individual, though there is not inactivity. All action — inner and outer — becomes only an appearance of self-governed movement, when, in reality, it is found to be the natural flowing of the Divine through us. The individual identity only pretends to be directing the movement but, like a gull resting on the ocean waves, it is simply carried along by the moon’s tug upon the tide.

Just as we have the rhythm of the heart, so too do we have the flow of the breath until we discover the resting point between the in-breath and the out-breath. When the shuttle on the loom has made its full circuit and pauses just long enough to glimpse the pattern… before it moves again to continue weaving the fabric.






Mansur al- Hallaj

Iran/Persia (9th Century) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

Mansur al-Hallaj is one of the more controversial figures of Sufism. Considered by many to be a great poet-saint, he was executed for blasphemy.

The name Hallaj means “wool carder,” probably a reference to his family’s traditional occupation. Hallaj was born in the province of Fars, Persia (Iran). He later moved to what is now Iraq, where he took up religious studies, particularly the Sufi way.

Orthodox religious authorities took offense at his poetry and teachings, particularly the line in one of his great poems “Ana ‘l-Haqq,” which translates as “I am the Real,” but can also be translated as “I am the Truth” or “I am God” — acknowledging the mystical realization of unity with the Eternal. He was condemned by a council of theologians, imprisoned for nine years, and eventually put to death. He is revered today as a martyr for truth by many Sufis and mystics.

More poetry by Mansur al- Hallaj

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Mansur al-Hallaj – You glide between the heart and its casing”

  1. Ba Khanon 20 Nov 2013 at 10:44 am

    It is all the description of the One and Oneness..nothing else.

  2. Gregory Travison 20 Nov 2013 at 11:27 pm

    Thanks, Ivan..the poem and thought of the day are both inspiring.

  3. Therese Monaghan O.P.on 22 Nov 2013 at 8:00 am

    In this short poem I am left with the gems:”Nothing
    passes from rest to motion unless You move it in
    hidden ways.” along with Ivan’s comment:” this is the natural flowing of the Divine through us.”

    I so often think I am the Mover –the Controller-the Director–rather than recognizing I am carried by Divine Energy. I can be lost in external activity and be unaware of God’s hidden movements in my life. How glorious life can be when I do not lose myself in delusions of grandeur. When I can rest in the Divine
    living in me.

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