Where darkness is gone I live

by Muktabai

English version by Willis Barnstone

Where darkness is gone I live,
where I am happy.
I am not troubled by coming and going,
I am beyond all vision,
above all spheres.
His spirit lives in my soul.

Mukta says: He is my heart's only home.

-- from The Shambhala Anthology of Women's Spiritual Poetry, Edited by Aliki Barnstone

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

This poem is an utterance of supreme unity. Muktabai declares that she dwells in the divine radiance "where darkness is gone." This radiance or light permeates all things. It is the single substance beneath the many forms. Residing in this fundamental awareness, the thingness of things is lost. Separate objects or people are no longer perceived, but a living pool of radiance. No longer seeing a world of subject and object, Muktabai is "beyond all vision."

When Muktabai says she is "not troubled by coming and going," she is stating that, for her, action has come to a halt. The constant interplay of karma, of effort and its repercussions has ceased. This does not mean that all interaction with her environment has stopped, that she has somehow stopped moving or eating or anything like that. The physical body by its nature must always be engaged in some sort of exchange with the world around it. But the ego-self has subsided into where it lives, where it is happy, the heart. The "coming and going" that is no longer occurring is the false doing of the sticky self, the ego-self. When the ego subsides, the true identity emerges, supremely still and unmoved by action or inaction. Another way of saying this is that action occurs, but there is no sense of a doer claiming ownership of the action. You become more of a witness to your action rather than the doer. The awareness is no longer "troubled" by these actions. Because your true nature is finally known, you no longer falsely identify with the actions. Your true self does not come or go, caught in the tides of the actions... the actions gently flow through you. All the while she is at rest "above all spheres" with "His spirit" who "lives in my soul."

In the second line, to use the word as "happy" in this English translation falls short. One could use "content" in the fullest sense imaginable: complete, whole, at rest. But more evocative words would be "ecstatic" or "filled with bliss" -- for these are better descriptions of the natural state when one finally recognizes the life that is the "heart's only home."

Recommended Books: Muktabai

The Shambhala Anthology of Women's Spiritual Poetry Sacred Voices: Essential Women's Voices Through the Ages

Where darkness is