Archive for the 'Lover & Beloved' Category

Jun 17 2022

Mahmud Shabistari – The Beloved Guest

The Beloved Guest
by Mahmud Shabistari

English version by Florence Lederer

Cast away your existence entirely,
for it is nothing but weeds and refuse.
Go, clear out your heart’s chamber;
arrange it as the abiding-place of the Beloved.
When you go forth, He will come in,
and to you, with self discarded,
He will unveil His beauty.

— from The Secret Rose Garden: Mahmud Shabistari, Translated by Florence Lederer / Edited by David Fideler

/ Image by Aziz Acharki /

Again and again the great mystics and saints remind us to “cast away your existence entirely.” This is expressed in many ways in the various world traditions: to die in order to live, to lose yourself in order to be found.

Why all this morbid insistence in every tradition on self-negation? It is important to understand which “self” is being negated. The self that must be “cast away” is the false self, the little self, the ego — the nafs in Sufi terminology.

Until the ego is truly dropped, it rules our perception of reality like a miser. That ego has a secret it desperately must hide from our everyday awareness: it doesn’t really exist. At best we can say the ego is like a tension in the psyche, but it isn’t a real thing in and of itself.

So long as a person believes in the reality of that phantom ego, so long as we identify with that nagging cramp of the “me”-sense, then seeing its inherent unreality is inconceivable, terrifying. The absence of ego is mistakenly assumed to be one’s own death. Recoiling in fear, the psyche reflexively limits our perception of everything around us, crippling the consciousness, all in order to perpetuate the illusion of the ego and so protect us against “death.” The result, however, is that the simple truth remains hidden: The ego does not exist, and we are not the ego; we survive the loss of ego.

The way out of this trap is to — with deep love, infinite patience, elegant balance, and unshakable determination — loosen the ego’s bindings until it falls away naturally.

When we accomplish that, we stand in mute amazement. For, when the ego “you” has left, the Divine One “will come in,” and “unveil His beauty” to us. And, although that radiant beauty reveals itself to be everywhere, it is also recognized as contentedly abiding in the “heart’s chamber.”

Recommended Books: Mahmud Shabistari

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom The Secret Rose Garden: Mahmud Shabistari Beyond Faith and Infidelity: The Sufi Poetry and Teachings of Mahmud Shabistari

Mahmud Shabistari, Mahmud Shabistari poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Mahmud Shabistari

Iran/Persia (1250? – 1340) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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Feb 14 2020

Jayadeva – When he quickens all things

When he quickens all things (from The Gitagovinda)
by Jayadeva

English version by Barbara Stoler Miller

When he quickens all things
To create bliss in the world,
His soft black sinuous lotus limbs
Begin the festival of love
And beautiful cowherd girls wildly
Wind him in their bodies.
Friend, in spring young Hari plays
Like erotic mood incarnate.

— from Love Song of the Dark Lord: Jayadeva’s Gitagovinda, Translated by Barbara Stoler Miller

/ Image by Infinite Eyes /

Today is Valentine’s Day, the day for lovers. But, you know, there is more than one way to be a lover.

When he quickens all things
To create bliss in the world,
His soft black sinuous lotus limbs
Begin the festival of love…

This excerpt from Jayadeva’s Gitagovinda strikes a surprisingly erotic note. Is it “spiritual” at all? Is it really just love poetry? The answer is that it is both.

The Gitagovinda is quite passionately erotic, but it is also considered a highly spiritual work, sung daily in many Indian temples dedicated to Krishna.

For many in the Krishna bhakti tradition, the Gitagovinda is read with a reverence similar to the Song of Songs in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Through song, it tells of the love play, separation, and final union between Krishna (Hari) and the cowherdess Radha.

On an esoteric level, Radha is understood to be the individual soul that feels abandoned by God (Krishna/Hari) who, in turn, loves all souls (and is therefore accused of infidelity by Radha). But Radha finally overcomes her hurt and rejoins her lover in passionate union.

Using the hugely magnetic power of desire, this bhakti classic describes a pathway to return to Oneness with the Divine.

As a result, we can read this work as both an earthy, erotically charged song of love, and just as honestly it speaks deep truths about the journey of the soul through longing and integration to union and enlightenment. And it reminds us of the importance of intense passion, that it is meant to be fuel for awakening.

Whether or not your Valentine’s Day is a day of romance, I hope you find time for a secret passionate embrace with the Eternal!

Recommended Books: Jayadeva

Songs of the Saints from the Adi Granth Love Song of the Dark Lord: Jayadeva’s Gitagovinda

Jayadeva, Jayadeva poetry, Yoga / Hindu poetry Jayadeva

India (12th Century) Timeline
Yoga / Hindu : Vaishnava (Krishna/Rama)

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