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.

No responses yet

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 >>


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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.

2 responses so far

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

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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
More Books >>


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Germany (1098 – 1179) Timeline
Christian : Catholic

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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.

No responses yet

May 20 2016

Antonio Machado – Songs

Published by under Poetry

Songs
by Antonio Machado

English version by Ivan M. Granger

I
      Against the flowering mountain,
the wide sea surges.
The comb of my honeybees
has gathered grains of salt.

II
      Against the black water.
Scent of sea and jasmine.
Malaga night.

III
      Spring has come.
No one knows what has happened.

IV
      Spring has come.
White hallelujahs
from the brambles in flower!

V
      Full moon, full moon,
so pregnant, so round.
This serene March night,
honeycomb of light
carved by white bees!

VI
      Castile night;
the song is said,
or, better, unsaid.
When all sleep
I’ll go to the window.

VII
      Sing, sing in clear rhyme,
the almond’s green arm
and the river’s double willow.

      Sing of the mottled oak,
the branch the ax cut,
and the flower no one sees.

      Of the garden pear’s
white flower, the peach tree’s
rosy blossom.

      And this perfume
the wet wind plucked
from the blossoming beans.

VIII
      The fountain and the four
acacias aflower
in the plaza.
The sun burns no more.
Twilight bliss!
Sing, nightingale.
This is the hour
of my heart.

IX
      White lodge,
traveler’s cell,
with my shadow!

X
      The Roman waterway,
— sings a voice from my homeland —
and the love we have for each other,
little one, what strength!

XI
      With words of love
a bit of exaggeration
just feels right.

XII
      In Santo Domingo,
the high mass.
Even though they call me
heretic and Mason,
praying with you,
what devotion!

XIII
      Celebrations in the green pasture
— fife and drum.
With his flower-draped crook
and golden sandals a shepherd came.

      Down from the mountain I came,
only to dance with her;
to the mountain I’ll return.

      Among the bower
there is a nightingale;
it sings of night and of day,
it sings of the moon and the sun.

      Husky from song:
to the garden goes the girl
and a rose she will cut.

      Between the black oaks,
there is a fountain of stone,
and a clay pitcher
that is never full.

      By the oak wood,
with the white moon,
she will return.

XIV
      With you in Valonsadero,
Feast of San Juan,
morning in the Argentine plain,
on the other side of the sea.
Keep faith in me,
that I will return.

      Tomorrow I’ll be the wind upon the plain
and my heart itself will go
to the banks of the High Douro.

XV
      While you are dancing in a circle,
girls, sing:
The fields are already green,
April in his splendor has come.

      At the riverbank,
near the black oaks,
his silver sandals
we’ve seen shine.
The fields are already green,
April in his splendor has come.

— from Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey, by Ivan M. Granger


/ Image by Francois Schnell /

This is one of my favorite selections by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado. It has a joyous, exuberant sense of springtime, but there is an underlying melancholy, as if the spring celebrations are just a bit forced to overmaster some quiet grief…

The implied woman he addresses in this poem is his wife.

and the love we have for each other,
little one, what strength!

She was raised in a traditional Catholic family, where only a churchgoer was considered a suitable match. When he was courting her, Machado started going to church regularly.

In Santo Domingo,
the high mass.
Even though they call me
heretic and Mason,
praying with you,
what devotion!

He says playfully, “praying with you / what devotion!” We can just picture his eyes turned from the altar to catch a glimpse of her face, as if she was the true altar in his private church. “Even though they call me / heretic and Mason…” Being a young poet and a freethinker in conservative Catholic Spain, he constructed an apparent faith, but his worship was reserved for her.

Sadly, Machado’s wife died as a young woman, soon after they were married. In Machado’s poetry, she takes on a ghost-like quality, haunting his memories, calling to him, perhaps becoming even more consciously an image of the Divine as a result. Machado seems to be deliberately cultivating a mystical connection with her otherworldly presence through the very pain of separation. His longing is itself the connection.

And so we get the painful irony of spring each year, a renewal of life, vibrancy, an irrepressible joy rising up from the earth itself, even when death is such a blunt reality. We get these beautiful lines–

Spring has come.
White hallelujahs
from the brambles in flower!

But we are in some sense haunted by them. He seems to be struggling against death, exhorting his own spirit to revive and join with the world’s celebration:

Sing, sing in clear rhyme,
the almond’s green arm
and the river’s double willow.

Sing of the mottled oak,
the branch the ax cut,
and the flower no one sees.

He tells the young girls to dance, to savor this blossoming moment when life has become new and filled with possibility. Is it because he sees the shadow of death hovering about even them, or because he sees in this glorious spring day and in the vital moment itself a sense of victory over death? I suspect the poet sees both.

And so we get a sense of bewilderment at even the existence of springtim, both hopeful and heartrending.

Spring has come.
No one knows what has happened.

And despite the terrible grief that weighs down on the world, we have the renewal of life and the reawakening of hope.

The fields are already green,
April in his splendor has come.


Recommended Books: Antonio Machado

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry Times Alone: Selected Poems of Antonio Machado Border of a Dream: Selected Poems of Antonio Machado
More Books >>


Antonio Machado, Antonio Machado poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Antonio Machado

Spain (1875 – 1939) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

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May 20 2016

fierce, gentle

See everything
with a fierce eye
and a gentle heart.

No responses yet

May 18 2016

Ibn Ata’ Illah – How utterly amazing

Published by under Poetry

How utterly amazing is someone who flees from something he cannot escape
by Ibn Ata’ Illah

English version by Victor Danner

How utterly amazing is someone who flees from something he cannot escape
      to seek something that will not last!

“It is not the eyes that are blind,
      but the hearts in the breasts are blind.”

Do not travel from phenomenal being to phenomenal being.
You will be like the donkey going around at the mill.
      It travels to what it set out from.

Travel from phenomenal beings
            to the Maker of Being.

“And the final end is to your Lord.”

— from Ibn ‘Ata’ Illah the Book of Wisdom/Kwaja Abdullah Ansari Intimate Conversations, Translated by Victor Danner / Translated by Wheeler M. Thackston


/ Image by lostknightkg /

I’m back, following a challenging period of chronic fatigue/ME just in time to appreciate the rainy weather making way for sunshine…

How utterly amazing is someone who flees from something he cannot escape
      to seek something that will not last!

It’s easy to miss that the poet is making a joke and laughing hugely (at us? with us?)

What a strange and incomprehensible thing is the human being! We run from the Divine Presence and desperately seek fleeting things: wealth, passion, fame. Can one flee from what is eternal and all-pervasive? Absurd! Yet we believe it. And what do we run after? Things that are subject to time and the laws of physicality and therefore undeniably impermanent. Yet we convince ourselves that these phenomena are what is actually “real” and lasting. Tangible reality is fleeting and, in the long run, not tangible at all. Only that inner blissful Reality endures, only that intangible reality can be continuously held.

I suspect the joke is on us!

This is not to say that there is not meaning in the normal human pursuits of love and relationship and family, work and career and financial stability, it is just that we have to understand them for what they are and what they are not. Their true value is discovered in how they all fit within the larger picture, and how they fit us within the larger picture. We can become transfixed by the goals and desires of life, or we can, with gratitude, recognize in them a reflection of something deeper… and lasting.

Travel from phenomenal beings
            to the Maker of Being.

It’s a lovely spring day here after several days of rain. A good day for a walk to enjoy the passing phenomena and, perhaps, to catch a glimpse of the lasting smile beneath them.


Recommended Books: Ibn Ata’ Illah

Ibn ‘Ata’ Illah the Book of Wisdom/Kwaja Abdullah Ansari Intimate Conversations


Ibn Ata’ Illah

Egypt (1250 – 1309) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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May 18 2016

blind faith

‘Blind faith’ is just passive belief.
Find an active faith,
faith that tests itself constantly.
Restore sight to your faith.

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