This Dance of Bliss, Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology, Ivan M. Granger This Dance of Bliss
Ecstatic Poetry From Around the World

A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

Edited with Commentary by Ivan M. Granger


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This Dance of Bliss is an inspiring collection of poems and wisdom stories from the world's great sacred traditions. Rumi, St. John of the Cross, Lalla, Goethe, Hildegard von Bingen, Dogen, Khayyam, and many others gather together within these pages to sing their ecstatic songs.

Ivan M. Granger accompanies each poem with his own reflections and meditative commentaries, inviting us to explore the insights and private raptures of these mystics, seers, and saints-until we too are swept up in this dance of bliss!

Read More: Table of Contents + Introduction + Sample + About the Author

This book is a treasure, a feast, an oasis. Ivan M. Granger's profound gift for selecting the kind of poetry that lights up the cave of the heart and melts the boundaries between the soul and the Divine is fully met by his lucid reflections on the soul-transfiguring power of each piece in this magnificent collection.
     ~ MIRABAI STARR, author of God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity & Islam

Table of Contents
Introduction - The Story of Tea

A hundred flowers in spring
A hundred flowers in spring, Wu Men
Annunciation, Marie Howe
Grand is the Seen, Walt Whitman
Laus Trinitati, Hildegard von Bingen

The fruits are ripened
Give Me, Ansari
Story: The Lion, the Wolf, and the Fox, Rumi
Within this body, Tulsi Sahib
The fruits are ripened, Friedrich Holderlin
Fasting, Rumi
Two beggars, Ko Un

Hope says
Ithaca, Constantine P. Cavafy
Ghost Dance Songs, Arapaho (traditional)
whatever I pick up, Chiyo-ni
Hope says, Antonio Machado
The sum total of our life, Abu-Said Abil-Kheir
Whoever finds love, Rumi

The dazzling darkness
Lead us up beyond light, Dionysius the Areopagite
I Entered the Unknown, St. John of the Cross
Among mountain caves, Shabkar

But leave the Wise to wrangle
In my hut, Issa
Mind, don't you sleep, Ramprasad
Come, Andrew Colliver
But leave the Wise to wrangle, Omar Khayyam
When all is finally seen as it is, Yoka Genkaku
Trippers and askers surround me, Walt Whitman

Neither color nor form
The mind is a reflection in the mirror, Layman P'ang
The mind has neither color nor form, Shabkar
Vanity of Spirit, Henry Vaughan
words do not come, Nirmala
The temple bell dies away, Basho
I am a fountain
stillness, Issa
look at love, Rumi
What is this dance of bliss? Goethe
Story: Tipping Over a Vase, Wu Men
I am a fountain, Zeynep Hatun

Hailstones, too
Worship, Dogen
Held fast in winter's fist, Lalla
awakened, Basho
Hailstones, too, Santoka

The fire rises in me
As air carries light, Jacopone da Todi
The fire rises in me, Symeon the New Theologian
The Soul that rises with us, William Wordsworth

Marriage of the Soul
The Marriage of the Soul, Shabistari
Preparing to Greet the Goddess, Dorothy Walters
The Union of Shiva and Shakti, Jnaneshwar

Composed of Nows
The jewel of understanding, Abu-Said Abil-Kheir
Sometimes, Ojibway Song (traditional)
Story: The Tenth Man, Hindu Advaita (traditional)
Forever-is composed of Nows, Emily Dickinson
Right here it is eternally full and serene, Yoka Genkaku

Through and Through
You are my true self, O Lord, Shankara
Through and Through, Rabia
Green is the tree of life, Goethe


About the Poets

Ivan M. Granger writes as though God is looking over his shoulder. He inspires appreciation of the literature of awakening as he inspires the reader's own heart awakening. This anthology features poetic masterpieces from around the world, each one revealing the profound interconnectedness of all things. The comments accompanying each selection are direct and engaging, unfolding layers of meaning, further enhancing the themes of union, interconnection, and non-separation.”
     ~ JERRY KATZ, editor of One: Essential Writings on Nonduality

This Dance of Bliss, Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology, Ivan M. Granger

This Dance of Bliss
Ecstatic Poetry From Around the World
A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

Edited with Commentary by Ivan M. Granger


Barnes & Noble and Amazon Real Thirst US Real Thirst UK Real Thirst CAN Real Thirst IND
or ask at your local independent bookstore

Introduction (excerpt)

My father was a poet, so poetry was part of my world from a young age. But I didn't take poetry seriously. The poetry I read was, well, rather boring to me. I thought of poetry as belonging to my father's world, an academic world.

That was my relationship with poetry well into adulthood-that is, until poetry took up residence at the center of my life.

In the early 2000s, I was living with my wife on the island of Maui. It was a beautiful time in my life, but aimless. I was just doing work to get by, with no career to speak of. I was cut off from the world, by distance and by choice.

A friend sent me a series of talks by the poet David Whyte on cassette tape, and I went for long drives along Maui's meandering country roads, through the tall sugar cane fields and among the rows of spiky pineapple plants, listening to David Whyte's molasses accent as he recited poetry and told stories about brilliant and troubled poets, like Antonio Machado and Anna Akhmatova.

During this time in my life, my one goal was spiritual growth. That was my only identity. And it was in total disarray.

Christmas came, and I had just broken with the spiritual group that had been my focus for the previous ten years. No great drama instigated my leaving. I simply knew it was no longer right for me. But walking away left me adrift. I was still engaged in intense spiritual practice, but it had lost its context. Should I continue with the same meditation, the same prayers and fasts? What did they mean without the specific spiritual worldview in which I first adopted them? The holidays only emphasized my disorientation.

I came to a profound personal confrontation. For the first time I really saw myself. It was a terrifying moment. I dropped all pretense and projection, all the fantasies of who I thought I was or might become. I just looked at myself plainly, as I was.

What I saw wasn't terribly impressive. I could see that I was basically a good-hearted person, but largely ineffectual. I remember thinking with a sad chuckle, "I'm just a likeable flake." What truly surprised me, though, was the thought that followed, which was, "That's really okay."

New Year's Day came and went, while I hovered in that open limbo state. This combination began to ferment in my mind, the poetry and the personal crisis.

In early January it all converged and--POW!--I was catapulted into an ecstatic stillness. Everything about me and my world came to a complete stop. The person I thought of as "Ivan" disappeared. It was as if some undefined, wide-open awareness was quietly witnessing the world through my eyes. An indescribable joy bubbled up inside me. The entire world was an intangible outline sketched upon a golden-white radiance, and I was a ghost happily lost in that light.

I spent days hardly speaking, with a crooked grin plastered across my face.

I could see that I was unsettling my wife, so I made a game of it. I pretended to be Ivan. I resumed my work schedule. I walked our dogs. I cleaned the small house we rented. But everything shone.

That's when I started to write in a journal, trying to describe what I was experiencing, how the world was changed, how I was changed. How I was finally myself. But what really wanted to come out was--poetry!


A hundred flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
the breeze in summer, in winter snow.
When the mind is unclouded,
this is the best season of life.

Wu Men

A hundred flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
the breeze in summer, in winter snow.

The shifting seasons against the living canvas of the world invite us to notice the cycles of life, how everything flows and changes and returns again. Because the world is filled with life, nothing remains the same. Everything grows and changes and comes around again renewed.

When the mind is unclouded...

Watching that flow, we witness such beauty. But we can only truly see it we let the mind quiet and become clear.

In such moments, a fullness of the soul overwhelms us. We become creatures of silent delight, content and complete in ourselves as we watch the parade of life's seasons move past, leaving us fully alive in this very moment.

...this is the best season of life.

The fruits are ripened, dipped in fire, cooked
and tested by the earth. The law is this:
that all must wind and curl inward like snakes--
prophetic, dreaming
upon the hills of heaven, with much held
on hunched shoulders, like bundled
branches. But the pathways
are perilous. For the chained elements
and the old laws of earth,
like errant horses, run astray, and always out
beyond the boundaries they go, longing. So much
must be borne in steadfastness.
Forward, backward--neither way
will we look. Instead, we learn to live rocking
like a boat on the sea.

Friedrich Holderlin

The sum total of our life is a breath
spent in the company of the Beloved.

Abu-Said Abil-Kheir
English version by Vraje Abramian

I find it intriguing that "breath" and "life" and "spirit" are synonyms in many languages. When you read sacred writings and the word "spirit" is used, substitute the word "breath" and see how the meaning changes and expands.

The relationship between breath, life, and spirit is more profound than the observation that the living breathe and the dead do not.

We think in terms of borders and boundaries, constantly noting what separates ourselves, mentally and physically, from everything else. But the reality is that there is a constant flow of awareness across those borders. Every one of us has the unseen movement of the breath. Through the breath, what is outside comes inside. What is non-self becomes self. And what was self is released again out into the world. This is communion, nothing less.

That inbreath of yours is the outbreath of another. The air we breathe is the breath of all.

A deep breath opens the chest and expands the heart. A full breath requires us to feel. We feel ourselves, and we feel others. Feeling, too, is communion. When feeling is shut down, the breath is shut down, and life has become limited.

The current of the breath continuously teaches us that the boundaries of self exist only in the mental map. In reality, we flow out into the universe, and the universe flows back in. The only way to secure our borders is to stop breathing, which is, of course, death. Life requires breath, and we live in each other, within the same shared breath.

When we really breathe, we might just come to the same conclusion as the poet: An individual's lifetime may be brief or long, the experiences of life may be lasting or fleeting, but this communal breath-life-spirit in which we participate is the very breath of the Beloved.

Whoever finds love
beneath hurt and grief
disappears into emptiness
with a thousand new disguises

English version by Coleman Barks

In my hut
mice and fireflies
getting along

English version by Gabriel Rosenstock

Several of Issa's poems evoke fireflies. They seem to represent a luminous aspect of the awareness, that which hovers with quiet delight in the summer evening-elevated and illuminated, wondrous, perhaps fleeting.

I imagine Issa's mice to be the thoughts of the busy mind. They scurry and scratch, dig into everything, pausing now and then to squeak from hidden corners.

So, do your mice and fireflies get along?

Ha! What is this dance of bliss
Cascading through my senses?
I feel new life, holy rapture
Burning through my nerves and veins.
Was it a god who shaped these symbols
Summoning this inner ecstasy,
Filling my impoverished heart with joy,
And revealing, through some mysterious impulse,
Nature's secret sinews
     surrounding me?

Am I a god? I am filled with such light!
In this pure array of emblems I see
Nature's workings laid bare before me.
Only now do I comprehend the sage's wise words:
"The realm of spirit is not barred.
It is your mind that is closed, your heart that is lifeless!
Student, rise without fright,
And bathe your earthly breast
     in the rosy dawn's light!"

As all things, one in one, are woven,
Each in the other works and lives and is whole!
While heavenly beings climb and descend
Passing down their golden pails,
And with their incense-pinioned wings
All heaven and earth are blessed;
They sing in symphony
     through all things!



Beneath the snows
the hidden world of winter grass.

And in the field of white, a white heron
hides himself.


Reading this poem, we immediately ask what a white heron in snow has to do with worship, as suggested by the title.

And in the field of white, a white heron
hides himself.

Have you ever watched a heron fishing, wading at the edge of a lake? Its entire being is focused. Even when it moves it seems utterly still. Because of these qualities, the heron is a natural symbol for the meditator.

We have a being of white-the heron, the meditator-disappearing into an environment of white-the snow-covered field...

Right here it is eternally full and serene,
If you search elsewhere, you cannot see it.
You cannot grasp it, you cannot reject it;
In the midst of not gaining,
In that condition you gain it.

Yoka Genkaku
English version by Robert Aitken

Ivan M. Granger About the Author

Ivan M. Granger is a poet and modern mystic. He is the founder and editor of the Poetry Chaikhana, a publishing house and online resource of sacred poetry. Mr. Granger lives in Colorado.

"Poetry has an immediate effect on the mind. The simple act of reading poetry alters thought patterns and the shuttle of the breath. Poetry induces trance. Its words are chant. Its rhythms drumbeats. Its images become the icons of the inner eye. Poetry is more than a description of the sacred experience; it carries the experience itself.”

Read More About Ivan M. Granger

“In This Dance of Bliss, his latest anthology, [Ivan M. Granger] graces us with mystical poems from across time and around the world that return us to the placeless, timeless truth of being. Each page offers a doorway of words into the miraculous beyond words. Each of his companion meditations is a key to that door. These days I hold these poems closer than ever, and they are life-saving.”
~ KIM ROSEN, author of Saved by a Poem: The Transformative Power of Words

This Dance of Bliss, Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology, Ivan M. Granger

This Dance of Bliss
Ecstatic Poetry From Around the World
A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

Edited with Commentary by Ivan M. Granger


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or ask at your local independent bookstore

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