Aug 25 2023

Bulleh Shah – I have got lost in the city of love

Published by at 9:08 am under Poetry

I have got lost in the city of love
by Bulleh Shah

English version by J. R. Puri and T. R. Shangari

I have got lost in the city of love,
I am being cleansed, withdrawing myself from my head, hands and feet.
I have got rid of my ego, and have attained my goal.
Thus it has all ended well.
O Bullah, the Lord pervades both the worlds;
None now appears a stranger to me.

— from Bulleh Shah: The Love-Intoxicated Iconoclast (Mystics of the East series), by J. R. Puri / Tilaka Raja Puri

/ Image by Randy Jacob /

I have got rid of my ego, and have attained my goal.
Thus it has all ended well.

Sufis speak of the nafs or the false self. Yogis speak of the ahamkara or “I-maker.”

A few nights ago I was thinking about this troublesome, elusive thing we generically call the ego. There are really three ways of dealing with the ego on the spiritual path.

The first approach is to try to make the ego more functional, balanced, less in conflict with itself. The goal here might be thought of as finding stability and a basic amount of happiness while minimizing inner pain. This is generally the path of most psychotherapeutic work.

The second approach is to try to make the ego more virtuous. The goal is less focused on happiness in the personal sense and more focused on meaning and purpose, sanctity. This approach to the ego, when practiced well, can refine the ego, while lessening it. This is the ideal of most religious traditions.

The third path is the path of mystics. That path is to carry the first two paths to their logical conclusion and to boldly drop the ego. At a certain point we are not trying to get the ego to work better or to be more virtuous, we just step out from under it completely. It can be like shrugging off a heavy coat on a hot summer’s day.

The first two approaches imagine that we are the ego and, therefore, must improve its functioning and its goals in order to improve ourselves. As long the ego is there — or perceived to be there — it is important to work on it. But these two paths never fully attain their goals; at best, they can just bring us closer to them.

The mystic’s path is what actually achieves the goal, because it recognizes that we are not the ego at all. Ego improvement does not improve the self, it just polishes the ego. Here is the shocking insight: The self does not need improvement or changing at all; we just need to drop the muddiness of the ego to allow the self’s inherent goodness and divinity to shine through.

From this perspective, the ego is not a real thing at all. At best we can say that it is a tension in the awareness, and it limits our ability to perceive our full self and the full reality as they truly are. Once we stop viewing everything through the opaque lens of the ego, everything is so much more magical, immense, interconnected — and filled with love! — than we ever imagined.

We can think of the three approaches as:

Stable Ego – Virtuous Ego – No Ego

(A slight reframing in Buddhist language might be: Skillful Mind – Noble Mind – No Mind)

O Bullah, the Lord pervades both the worlds;
None now appears a stranger to me.

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

Mir Abdullah Shah Qadiri Shatari, often referred to simply as Bulleh Shah (a shortened form of Abdullah Shah) lived in what is today Pakistan. His family was very religious and had a long tradition of association with Sufis. Bulleh Shah’s father was especially known for his learning and devotion to God, raising both Bulleh Shah and his sister in a life of prayer and meditation.

Bulleh Shah himself became a respected scholar, but he longed for true inner realization. Against the objections of his peers, he became a disciple of Inayat Shah, a famous master of the Qadiri Sufi lineage, who ultimately guided his student to deep mystical awakening.

The nature of Bulleh Shah’s realization led to such a profound egolessness and non-concern for social convention that it has been the source of many popular comical stories — calling to mind stories of St. Francis or Ramakrishna. For example, one day Bulleh Shah saw a young woman eagerly waiting for her husband to return home. Seeing how, in her anticipation, she braided her hair, Bulleh Shah deeply identified with the devoted way she prepared herself for her beloved. So Bulleh Shah dressed himself as a woman and braided his own hair, before rushing to see his teacher, Inayat Shah.

Bulleh Shah is considered to be one of the greatest mystic poets of the Punjab region.

His tomb in the Qasur region of Pakistan is greatly revered today.

More poetry by Bulleh Shah

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2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Bulleh Shah – I have got lost in the city of love”

  1. Carol Bon 25 Aug 2023 at 10:00 am

    What a beautiful summary of ego.
    A teacher once said, “ego, egoing, e-gone”
    Yours is so much richer.
    Thank you

  2. John prettymanon 25 Aug 2023 at 2:48 pm

    Very well put Ivan..thank you. 👌🏼🙏🏽

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