Category Archives: Sufi

A Garden Among Flames

Whirling 32

A Garden Among Flames

O Marvel,
a garden among the flames!

My heart can take on
any form:
a meadow for gazelles,
a cloister for monks,

For the idols, sacred ground,
Ka’ba for the circling pilgrim,
the tables of the Torah,
the scrolls of the Qur’án.

I profess the religion of love;
wherever its caravan turns along the way,
that is the belief,
the faith I keep.

Written by Ibn Arabi
From Poem 11 of the Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, translation by Michael A. Sells.

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An Ocean Without a Shore

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An Ocean Without a Shore

I marveled at an Ocean without shore,
and at a Shore that did not have an ocean;
And at a Morning Light without darkness,
and at a Night that was without daybreak;
And then a Sphere with no locality
known to either fool or learned scholar;
And at an azure Dome raised over the earth,
circulating ’round its center — Compulsion;
And at a rich Earth without o’er-arching vault
and no specific location, the Secret concealed . . . .

I courted a Secret which existence did not alter;
for it was asked of me: “Has Thought enchanted you?”
— To which I replied: “I have no power over that;
I counsel you: Be patient with it while you live.
But, truly, if Thought becomes established
in my mind, the embers kindle into flame,
And everything is given up to fire
the like of which was never seen before!”
And it was said to me: “He does not pluck a flower
who calls himself with courtesy ‘Freeborn’.”
“He who woos the belle femme in her boudoir, love-beguiled,
will never deem the bridal-price too high!”

I gave her the dower and was given her in marriage
throughout the night until the break of Dawn —
But other than Myself I did not find. — Rather,
that One whom I married — may his affair be known:
For added to the Sun’s measure of light
are the radiant New Moon and shining Stars;
Like Time, dispraised – though the Prophet (Blessings on him!)
had once declared of your Lord that He is Time.

by Ibn Arabi

My Fustan

persian woman art

 

There’s something viewers should know about me. I’m absolutely obsessed with Persian culture and literature. Persian poetry helped inspire me to start be poetic about my own life and the things I experience on a day to day basis. Two years back I started teaching myself Farsi. Though I have yet to compose anything in Farsi I tried writing a poem inspired by the style of that in Iran. Be somewhat of a romantic I came up with My Fustan. Fustan is a word that comes from Arabic and means “gown” or “dress.”

There was a Syrian Jewish girl who I was seeing at the time and whenever I’d go to her place she’d be wearing beautiful traditional garb, and I would find it sexy and appealing. I wrote a poem for her around the time of Valentine’s Day.

My Fustan

She passes by me

As if I don’t exist

Smelling like the sweet scent of honey

Without her who will be there to assist?

 

My fustan, she is my fustan

The Queen of Sheba

Her scent comes from the bustan

Where had descended from the gardens of Jannah

 

The world is in balance,

Full of ivory and ebony

Where is it’s own parlance

I need no pearls, she is my jewelry

 

Through the rays of the Sun’s light

I swear by God, you are my life

Never have I come across such a sight

What more could I ask, but to take thee as a wife

 

To sing the words

To play the music

Call all the birds

To share this mystic

 

If you love me, I shall love you more

Wipe out all your sorrows

So that you may never be poor

For the rest of all your tomorrows

 

My fustan, you are my fustan

What is a fustan

If not a bullion of gold worth a ton

Even more than that of the Sun

 

O Valentine of mine

You shall be my Persephone

With those lips that taste like wine

Love me now and for eternity

 

Written by Mensur Gjonbalaj

February 2011

Rumi: Desire and the Importance of Failing

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Desire and the Importance of Failing

A window opens.
A curtain pulls back.

The lamp of lovers connect,
not at their ceramic bases,
but in their lightedness.

No lover wants union with the Beloved
without the Beloved also wanting the lover.

Love makes the lover weak,
while the Beloved gets strong.

Lightning from here strikes there.
When you begin to love God, God
is loving you. A clapping sound
does not come from one hand.

A thirsty man calls out, ‘Delicious water,
where are you?’ while the water moans,
‘Where is the water drinker?’

The thirst in our souls is the attraction
put out by the Water itself.

We belong to It,
and It to us.

God’s wisdom made us lovers of one another.
In fact, all the particles of the world
are in love and looking for lovers.

Pieces of straw tremble
in the presence of amber.

We tremble like iron filings
welcoming the magnet.

Whatever that Presence gives us
we take in. Earth signs feed.
Water signs wash and freshen.
Air signs clear the atmosphere.
Fire signs jiggle the skillet,
so we cook without getting burnt.

And the Holy Spirit helps with everything,
like a young man trying to support a family.
We, like the man’s young wife, stay home,
taking care of the house, nursing the children.

Spirit and matter work together like this,
in a division of labor.

Sweethearts kiss and taste the delight
before they slip into bed and mate.

The desire of each lover is
that the work of the other be perfected.
By this man-and-woman cooperation,
the world gets preserved.
Generation occurs.

Roses and blue arghawan flowers flower.
Night and day meet in a mutual hug.

So different, but they do love each other,
the day and the night, like family.

And without their mutual alternation
we would have no energy.

Every part of the cosmos is draws toward its mate.
The ground keeps talking to the body,
saying, ‘Come back! It’s better for you
down here where you came from.’

The streamwater calls to the moisture in the body.
The fiery aether whispers to the body’s heat,
‘I am your origin. Come with me.’
Seventy-two diseases are caused
by the various elements pulling inside the body.
Disease comes, and the organs
fall out of harmony.

We’re like four different birds,
that each had one leg tied in
with the other birds.

A flopping bouguet of birds!
Death releases the binding, and they fly off,
but before that, their pulling is our pain.

Consider how the soul must be,
in the midst of these tensions,
feeling its own exalted pull.

My longing is more profound.
The birds want sweet green herbs
and the water running by.

I want the infinite! I want wisdom.
These birds want orchards and meadows
and vines with fruit on them.

I want a vast expansion.
They want profit and security
of having enough food.

Remember what the soul wants,
because in that, eternity
is wanting our souls!

Which is the meaning of the text,
They love That, and That loves them.

If I keep on explaining this,
the Mathnawi will run to eighty volumes!

The gist is: whatever anyone seeks,
that is seeking the seeker.

No matter if its animal,
or vegetable, or mineral.

Every bit of the universe
is filled with wanting,
and whatever any bit wants,
wants the wanter!

This subject must dissolve again.

Back to Sadri Jahan and the uneducated peasant
who loved him, so that gradually Sadri Jahan
loved the lowly man. But who really
attracted who, whoom, Huuuu?

Don’t be presumptuous and say one or the other.
Close your lips. The mystery of loving
is God’s sweetest secret.

Keep it. Bury it. Leave it here
where I leave it, drawn as I am
by the pull of the Puller
to something else.

You know how it is. Sometimes
we plan a trip to one place,
but something takes us to another.

When a horse is being broken, the trainer
pulls it in many different directions,
so the horse will come to know
what it is to be ridden.

The most beautiful and alert horse is one
completely attuned to the rider.

God fixes a passionate desire in you,
and then disappoints you.
God does that a hundred times!

God breaks the wings of one intention
and then gives you another,
cuts the rope of contriving,
so you’ll remember your dependence.

But sometimes your plans work out!
You feel fulfilled and in control.

That’s because, if you were always failing,
you might give up. But remember,
it is by failures that lovers
stay aware of how they are loved.

Failure is the key
to the kingdom within.

Your prayer should be, “Break the legs
of what I want to happen. Humiliate
my desire. Eat me like candy.
It’s spring and finally
I have no will.”

Taken from Rumi’s Mathnawi, III, 4391 – 4472

Rumi: Longing for the Birds of Solomon

rumi dervish

 

Hey everyone,

I’m going to be posting a selection of my favorite poetry from the renowned Persian poet Jalaluddin Rumi. If you are a lover of poetry, then they is no way you haven’t heard the name before. However, for those of you who haven’t he was a 13th century Persian poet, Islamic jurist, and theologian. His works have been translated into dozens of languages and still inspire many readers today. The following poem is called Longing for the Birds of Solomon.

Longing for the Birds of Solomon

Is this stuff poetry? It’s what birds sing in cages.
Where are the words spoken by the birds of Solomon?

How would you know their cries, if you heard them,
When you haven’t seen Solomon even for two seconds?

Solomon’s bird lifts his wings, one tip touches East, one West.
Those who hear the notes feel an intensity in their whole body.

The bird descends from the Holy One’s bedroom door to earth.
And from earth it flies among light back to the Great Seat.

Without Solomon every bird is a bat in love with darkness.
Listen, oh mischievous bat, try to become his friend. Do you want to stay
in your cave forever?

If you go even three feet towards Solomon’s mountain,
Others will use that as a yardstick to measure their lives.

Suppose your leg is gimpy, and you have to hop, what’s the difference?
Going toward Solomon, even by limping, the leg grows whole.

– Jalauddin Muhammad Rumi

 

Mensur Gjonbalaj

February 10, 2013