Dec 15 2023

Mirabai – The Heat of Midnight Tears

Published by at 9:51 am under Poetry

The Heat of Midnight Tears
by Mirabai

English version by Robert Bly

Listen, my friend, this road is the heart opening,
Kissing his feet, resistance broken, tears all night.

If we could reach the Lord through immersion in water,
I would have asked to be born a fish in this life.
If we could reach Him through eating nothing but berries and wild nuts,
Then surely the saints would have been monkeys when they came from the womb!
If we could reach him by munching lettuce and dry leaves,
Then the goats would surely go to the Holy One before us!

If the worship of stone statues could bring us all the way,
I would have adored a granite mountain years ago.

Mirabai says: The heat of midnight tears will bring you to God.

— from The Winged Energy of Delight, Translated by Robert Bly


/ Image by Megyarsh /

Mirabai says that if we could reach God through bathing in sacred waters, fish would be the holiest creatures; if by subsisting only on nuts and berries, then monkeys would be better than saints. In other words, God is not limited to one thing or one place or one form of worship. God is not outside ourselves to be found elsewhere. And simple, mindless fixation on something we define as holy will not make us holy.

But what really caught my attention is how similar these lines are to the Gnostic Christian teachings in the Gospel of Thomas, which was only rediscovered in the early 1900s:

If those who lead you say, “Look, the kingdom is in the heavens,” then the birds of heaven will get there before you. If they say, “It is in the sea,” then the fish will be there first. Rather, the kingdom is within you and all around you. When you know yourself, you will be known, and you will know you are children of the living father…

– Jesus, The Gospel of Thomas

Now, reread Mirabai’s words. Pretty striking similarity, isn’t it? It’s so nearly identical that one suspects the Gospel of Thomas was circulating through India in Mirabai’s time.

Both the Gospel of Thomas and Mirabai’s song are telling us that the Eternal One is not found some-where, nor in one specific form of worship. No place or object or action embodies God to the exclusion of others. That Presence is, in truth, everywhere, but is always discovered within.

Mirabai says: The heat of midnight tears will bring you to God.

Midnight is the time of lovers and longing.

The ego acts as the prim nurse standing guard to make certain the secret tryst cannot occur. But lovers always find a way. The magnetic power of intense longing cannot be denied. Such midnight tears finally shame even the ego (“resistance broken”), who disappears into the shadows that the Beloved may emerge.

The pathway is open, and that pathway is the heart.

This is what Mirabai is telling us: God is already there, waiting, hidden, but we must clear the pathway of the heart. Only then can we finally recognize the smiling features of the Beloved that have always been there.

Listen, my friend, this road is the heart opening…

=

I have been dealing with chronic fatigue issues for the first time in quite a while. Maintaining work hours has been challenging. I haven’t been keeping up with all of my Poetry Chaikhana correspondence — apologies if you have been waiting on a response from me. Even when I may seem unreachable, you are all still very much in my heart.

Have a beautiful day!


Recommended Books: Mirabai

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry To Touch the Sky: Poems of Mystical, Spiritual & Metaphysical Light The Winged Energy of Delight Songs of the Saints of India
More Books >>


Mirabai, Mirabai poetry, Yoga / Hindu poetry Mirabai

India (1498 – 1565?) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu : Vaishnava (Krishna/Rama)

Mirabai is one of India’s most beloved poet-saints. Her devotional poetry — directed toward Giridhara, a form of the great God-man Krishna — is so intensely personal that it borders on the erotic while, at the same time, it remains transcendentally spiritual.

Mirabai was born into a noble Rajput family in Northern India. She was married to the crown prince of Mewar, but she made it clear that her love was for Giridhara alone.

Many of the tales of Mirabai’s life focus on her struggles with her husband’s royal family. They did not approve of her constant devotion to God, which they felt led to the neglect of her husband and family. And her preference for the company of wandering holy men was not considered proper for a princess. These conflicts grew to such a point that it is said they attempted to kill her, once with a deadly snake, another time by poison, but she was miraculously saved both times.

When her husband died, Mirabai refused to throw herself on his funeral pyre and eventually took up the life of a wandering mendicant and poet, immersing herself in her love for God alone.

More poetry by Mirabai

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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Mirabai – The Heat of Midnight Tears”

  1. Patricia Tayloron 15 Dec 2023 at 11:48 am

    Dearest Ivan,
    It came as a shock for me to read that CFS is still intruding into your life. I’m in my 82nd year and remember too well how my years of CFS weighed heavily upon me. Your posts often raised me up and I am sad for you that you still suffer. 💔 I hope that knowing it will one day be but a memory for you as it is for me will help you to wait with patience and hope. Sending you peace, love and joy. Trishxxx

  2. Paulineon 15 Dec 2023 at 5:22 pm

    Thank you Ivan for posting this poem. I love it because it resonates so strongly with something I’m trying to realize. That God permeates everything and everywhere. I hope that chronic fatigue gives you some respite soon or even better that you recover completely. Warm regards

  3. Mystic Meanderingon 15 Dec 2023 at 7:39 pm

    Thank you for this, Ivan. I needed to hear that today – both the poem and your commentary. The midnight tears and the longing of the Heart – indeed.

    Am so sorry to hear of your chronic fatigue relapse. I was never diagnosed with CFS but I have Adrenal Fatigue and the symptoms are very similar, so I know how tough it can be – many days not functioning, and even when one rests one never really feels rested. At least that has been my experience…

    Wishing you wellness…

  4. Noraon 17 Dec 2023 at 8:25 am

    Dear Ivan,

    I’m so sorry you have this burden, and wish you ease and peace.

    Not quite as similar, but an even earlier possible source: “This teaching is not beyond reach. It is not in heaven, that you should say ‘Who among us can go up to heaven and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may do it?’ … No, the word is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.” Deuteronomy 30:11-14

    (“Revelation does not deal with the mystery of God, but with a person’s life as it should be lived in the presence of that mystery.” Abraham Joshua Heschel)

    wishing you a complete healing,
    Nora

  5. Carolon 23 Dec 2023 at 4:44 am

    Dear Ivan,

    With the rapid approach of Christmas, the hustle-bustle, purchasing more and more,
    and all the tinsel, has interrupted my life. The gift of Jesus’ birth and his humble
    origin has nearly been forgotten.

    I am so sorry for the return of CFS and hope a return to balance can be achieved.

    Mirabai’s poem is beautiful – Thank You.

    Sending Peace and Every Good, Carol

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