Majnun (Niẓāmī) and John Donne



And who am I — so far from you, yet near?
A singing beggar! Layla, do you hear?
Freed from life’s drudgery, my loneliness ,
Sorrow and grief for me spell happiness.
And thirsty in the painstream of delight,
I drown. Child of the sun, I starve at night.
Though parted our two loving souls combine,
For mine is all your own and yours is mine.
Two riddles to the world we represent,
One answer each the other’s deep lament.
But if our parting severs us in two,
One radiant light envelops me and you,
As from another world — though blocked and barred
What there is one, down here is forced apart.
Yet if despairing bodies separate,
Souls freely wander and communicate.
I’ll live forever — Mortal Fear, Decay,
And Death himself have ceased to hold their sway.
Sharing your life in all eternity
I’ll live if only you remain with me.

(Niẓami’s Layla and Majnun, trans. R. Gelpke)


John Donne

As virtuous men pass mildly away,
   And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say
   The breath goes now, and some say, No:
So let us melt, and make no noise,
   No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
‘Twere profanation of our joys
   To tell the laity our love.
Moving of th’ earth brings harms and fears,
   Men reckon what it did, and meant;
But trepidation of the spheres,
   Though greater far, is innocent.
Dull sublunary lovers’ love
   (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
Absence, because it doth remove
   Those things which elemented it.
But we by a love so much refined,
   That our selves know not what it is,
Inter-assured of the mind,
   Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.
Our two souls therefore, which are one,
   Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
   Like gold to airy thinness beat.
If they be two, they are two so
   As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
   To move, but doth, if the other do.
And though it in the center sit,
   Yet when the other far doth roam,
It leans and hearkens after it,
   And grows erect, as that comes home.
Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
   Like th’ other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
   And makes me end where I begun.
Fly in love as an arrow towards its target.
Love loosens the knots of being
Love is liberation form the vortex of egotism.
In love, every cup of sorrow which bites into the soul gives it new life
Many a draft bitter as poison has become in love delicious
with love for a saqi, what is there to fear from a bitter draft
However agonizing the experience, if it is for love, it is well.

(Niẓami’s Layla and Majnun, trans. R. Gelpke)


One Love



Ibn al-Fāriḍ


As for my way in love, I have no way
If I neglect my love for a day, then I have left my sect
And if the thought of other than you occurs to me
Inadvertantly, I would consider it as my apostasy
You govern my life as you will,
so do what you will with me, for I have ever only desired you….



عن مذهبي في الحب مالي مذهب                وان ملت يوما عنه فارقت ملتي
وان خطرت لي في سواك ارادة             علي خاطري سهوا , قضيت بردتي
لك الحكم في أمري فما شئت            فأصنعي فلم تك الا فيك لا عنك رغبتي

Unknown Authors

Various positions have those who love from (mere) passion
But I have a unique place, in which I dwell alone.



مذاهب شتى للمحبّين في الهوى            و لي مدهب فرد أعيش به وحدي


Our expressions our many,
and your beauty is one
And it is to your beauty
that all of them allude



عباراتنا  شتّى و حسنك واحد      و كلّ إلى ذاك الجمال يشير


The sect of Love is different from all other religions
 For lovers, their sect and religion is simply God



ملت عشق از همه دین‌ها جداست
 عاشقان را ملت و مذهب خداست


Wisdom is bewildered by the religion of love
Although it knows all other religions



خرد نداند و حیران شود ز مذهب عشق
اگر چه واقف باشد ز جمله مذهب‌ها


Bob Marley


One Love! One Heart!
Let’s get together and feel all right.
Hear the children cryin’ (One Love!);
Hear the children cryin’ (One Heart!),
Sayin’: give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right;
Sayin’: let’s get together and feel all right. Wo wo-wo wo-wo!Let them all pass all their dirty remarks (One Love!);
There is one question I’d really love to ask (One Heart!):
Is there a place for the hopeless sinner,
Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own beliefs?

One Love! What about the one heart? One Heart!
What about – ? Let’s get together and feel all right
As it was in the beginning (One Love!);
So shall it be in the end (One Heart!),
All right!
Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right;
Let’s get together and feel all right.
One more thing!

Let’s get together to fight this Holy Armagiddyon (One Love!),
So when the Man comes there will be no, no doom (One Song!).
Have pity on those whose chances grows t’inner;
There ain’t no hiding place from the Father of Creation.

Sayin’: One Love! What about the One Heart? (One Heart!)
What about the – ? Let’s get together and feel all right.
I’m pleadin’ to mankind! (One Love!);
Oh, Lord! (One Heart) Wo-ooh!

Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right;
Let’s get together and feel all right.
Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right;
Let’s get together and feel all right.

I looked and all I saw was you…



If the meaning of your speech is not for me, then I don’t know
For my heart will not be cured and my liver’s fire will not be quenched
I looked and I didn’t see any one I loved but you
If not for you, love would not be sweet for those who love
So when thought unveils you in the retreat of satisfaction
and it disappears, the people say my passions have led me astray
By your life, the lover has not gone astray nor has he erred*
But when they generalized, they made the fatwa miss its mark
If they had seen the meaning of your beauty
just as I saw, with the eye of the heart, they wouldn’t deny the claim
I dropped all shame in your love and
whoever is shameless in love enjoys the pillow talk
I tore the robes of dignity to shreds, exposing myself to you
and so distress becomes sweet in your love
There is no complaint in love even if one’s insides are torn up
and shame on the lovers who complain of your love



*Paraphrase of Qur’an 53:2




إِذا لم يكنْ مَعْنى حديثك لي يُدْرَى             فلا مُهْجْتيِ تُشْفىَ ولا كَبدي تُروَى
نَظرتُ فلم أنْظر سِواكَ أحبُّهُ                  ولَولاكَ ما طَاَب الهَوى لِلَّذي يَهوى
ولَّما اجْتلاَك الفكرُ في خَلوة الرّضا           وغيّبت قال الناس ضَلت بي الاهْوا
لَعمرُك ما ضَلَّ المحبُّ وَما غَوى                ولكَّنهمْ لمَّا عمُوا أخطئوا الفتوى
ولو شَهدوا معنى جمَالِكَ مثْلما              شهدْتُ بعينِ القلبِ ما أنكروا الدَّعوى
خلعت عِذاري في هَواك وَمنْ يكنْ             خليعَ عِذارِ في الهوى سَرَّهُ النجوى
وَمزقتُ أثواب الوقارِ تَهتكا                         عليكَ وطابت في محَبتكَ الْبلوَى
فما في الهْوى شكوىَ ولو مُزِّق الحَشَا         وَعارٌ على العُشاق في حُبِّكَ الشَّكوى






The pupil of my eye sees naught but your face
My bewildered heart recalls none but you

مردم دیده ما جز به رخت ناظر نیست
دل سرگشته ما غیر تو را ذاکر نیست


In the gangster’s world there is no thought or opinion of self
In this religion, seeing or thinking of yourself is infidelity


فکر خود و رای خود در عالم رندی نیست
کفر است در این مذهب خودبینی و خودرایی



The Music of Hafez

These are two of the most musical ghazals of the most musical of Persian poets, Hafez. The beauty of their melodies and rhythms are only surpassed by the sublimity of their meanings:



Without the beloved’s beauty, the soul has no interest in the world
He who doesn’t have that, in truth has no soul
I have never seen a trace of that heart-stealer
So either I’m uninformed or she has no trace
Every dewdrop on this is path is a hundred burning seas
Alas, this mystery has no explanation nor description
We cannot miss the station of rest
Halt, O caravan-leader, for this road has no end.
No flavour has life without a good friend
and without a good friend, life has no flavour
The harp’s curved figure is calling you to pleasure
Listen! For the advice of the old has no harm
The tale of Korah’s treasure, which time threw to the wind
Tell it to the rosebud, so that it won’t hide its gold
No one has a slave like Hafez in the whole world
Because, in the whole world, no one has a king like you





جان بی جمال جانان میل جهان ندارد
هر کس که این ندارد حقا که آن ندارد
با هیچ کس نشانی زان دلستان ندیدم
یا من خبر ندارم یا او نشان ندارد
هر شبنمی در این ره صد بحر آتشین است
دردا که این معما شرح و بیان ندارد
سرمنزل فراغت نتوان ز دست دادن
ای ساروان فروکش کاین ره کران ندارد
چنگ خمیده قامت می‌خواندت به عشرت
بشنو که پند پیران هیچت زیان ندارد
ای دل طریق رندی از محتسب بیاموز
مست است و در حق او کس این گمان ندارد
احوال گنج قارون کایام داد بر باد
در گوش دل فروخوان تا زر نهان ندارد
گر خود رقیب شمع است اسرار از او بپوشان
کان شوخ سربریده بند زبان ندارد
کس در جهان ندارد یک بنده همچو حافظ
زیرا که چون تو شاهی کس در جهان ندارد






The garden of eternity is in the retreat of the dervishes
the very essence of grandeur is the service of the dervishes
The treasury of glory that is sealed by the talisman of wonders
opens at the merciful glance of the dervishes
The castle of paradise for which Rezwan is the doorkeeper
is but a view from the lawn of the dervishes
That which by its radiance turns black hearts to gold
is the alchemy that is the company of the dervishes
That before which the sun lays down its crown of glory/pride
is the greatness that comes from the grandeur of the dervishes
The power/state (dawlat) whose decline need never be feared
without exaggeration, is the power/state of the dervishes
The kings are the qiblah to which we direct our needs
and this is because they are the slaves of the dervishes
That which kings seek to achieve in their prayers
is manifested in the mirror of the countenance of the dervishes
From shore to shore is the army of tyranny,
but from pre-eternity to post-eternity is the occasion of the dervishes
O rich man, don’t sell us so much vanity
for your health and wealth are in the hands of the will (himmat) of the dervishes
Korah’s treasure, which still is still sinking from heaven’s severity
is an effect of the wrath of the dervishes
Hafez, if you’re seeking the eternal water of life
its spring is the dust of the retreat of the dervishes
I am the slave of the Asaf of my time
because he has the looks of a nobleman and the character of the dervishes.




روضه خلد برین خلوت درویشان است
مایه محتشمی خدمت درویشان است
گنج عزت که طلسمات عجایب دارد
فتح آن در نظر رحمت درویشان است
قصر فردوس که رضوانش به دربانی رفت
منظری از چمن نزهت درویشان است
آن چه زر می‌شود از پرتو آن قلب سیاه
کیمیاییست که در صحبت درویشان است
آن که پیشش بنهد تاج تکبر خورشید
کبریاییست که در حشمت درویشان است
دولتی را که نباشد غم از آسیب زوال
بی تکلف بشنو دولت درویشان است
خسروان قبله حاجات جهانند ولی
سببش بندگی حضرت درویشان است
روی مقصود که شاهان به دعا می‌طلبند
مظهرش آینه طلعت درویشان است
از کران تا به کران لشکر ظلم است ولی
از ازل تا به ابد فرصت درویشان است
ای توانگر مفروش این همه نخوت که تو را
سر و زر در کنف همت درویشان است
گنج قارون که فرو می‌شود از قهر هنوز
خوانده باشی که هم از غیرت درویشان است
حافظ ار آب حیات ازلی می‌خواهی
منبعش خاک در خلوت درویشان است
من غلام نظر آصف عهدم کو را
صورت خواجگی و سیرت درویشان است


‘Iraqi and Shushtari—The Wealth of Poverty





I have seen that the lane of piety stretches out,
far, far into the distance;
My dearest friends, can you not show me then
the way of the madman?
Bring me a glass of Magian wine
that I may drink deep
for I have given up all thought
of ascetic piety;
or if the pure wine has all been downed
bring me the cloudy dregs
for thick residue lights up the heart
and illuminates the eyes.
Tuppence for the Sufi meeting house!
I flee the company of the righteous;
fill up a row of glasses with wine
and bring me the first.
I have no rules or regulations,
nor heart nor religion –
only I remain, and you, sitting in the corner
and the wealth of Poverty.
All fear of God, all self-denial I deny;
bring wine, nothing but wine
for in all sincerity I repent
my worship which is but hypocrisy.
Yes, bring me wine, for I have renounced all renunciation
and all my vaunted self-righteousness
seems to me but swagger and self-display.
Now for a time let my proof be wine
against the sorrow of Time
for only in drunkenness can one be free
of the hour’s grief.
Once I am thoroughly drunk, what difference
if I end up in a church or in Mecca?
Once I’ve abandoned myself, what matter
if I win Union – or separation?
I’ve been to the gambling house and seen
that the losers there are pure;
I’ve been to the monastery and have found
no one but hypocrites.
Now I’ve broken my repentance, at least
do not break our covenant:
at least welcome this broken heart and say
“How are you? Where have you been?”
I’ve been to Mecca, to circle the Kaaba
but they refused me entrance
saying “Off with you!  What merit have you earned
outside, that we should admit you within?”
Then, last night, I knocked
at the tavern door;
from within came a voice: “‘Iraqi! Come in!
for you are one of the chosen!”


from the introduction to Divine Flashes
translation by William Chittick and Peter Wilson




پسرا، ره قلندر سزد ار به من نمایی
که دراز و دور دیدم ره زهد و پارسایی
پسرا، می مغانه دهی ار حریف مایی
که نماند بیش ما را سر زهد و پارسایی
قدحی می مغانه به من آر، تا بنوشم
که دگر نماند ما را سر توبهٔ ریایی
می صاف اگر نباشد، به من آر درد تیره
که ز درد تیره یابد دل و دیده روشنایی
کم خانقه گرفتم، سر مصلحی ندارم
قدح شراب پر کن، به من آر، چند پایی؟
نه ره و نه رسم دارم، نه دل و نه دین، نه دنیی
منم و حریف و کنجی و نوای بی‌نوایی
نیم اهل زهد و توبه به من آر ساغر می
که به صدق توبه کردم ز عبادت ریایی
تو مرا شراب در ده، که ز زهد تو به کردم
ز صلاح چون ندیدم جز لاف و خودنمایی
ز غم زمانه ما را برهان ز می زمانی
که نیافت جز به می کس ز غم زمان رهایی
چو ز باده مست گشتم، چه کلیسیا، چه کعبه؟
چو به ترک خود بگفتم، چه وصال و چه جدایی؟
به قمارخانه رفتم همه پاکباز دیدم
چو به صومعه رسیدم همه یافتم دغایی
چو شکست توبهٔ من، مشکن تو عهد، باری
به من شکسته دل گو که: چگونه‌ای؟ کجایی؟
به طواف کعبه رفتم به حرم رهم ندادند
که برون در چه کردی، که درون خانه آیی؟
در دیر می‌زدم من، ز درون صدا بر آمدکه: درآی،
ای عراقی، که تو خود حریف مایی






We come to you in poverty, not riches, for you are the generous one.

You accustomed us to every grace, may your grace endure.

These poor disheveled souls of yours are drenched
in your love, because it is the utmost of desires.

There is no one in richness like you
and in poverty there are none like us.

We see you manifest in everything; nothing is ours.

I hid your name out of jealousy. Look at me, lost on a mountain trail and a slope.

Since you are always with me,
I have no need to carry provisions: I am rich.

For you, you are the truth, there is no other
and I – would that I knew – who am I?

From Alvarez, L.M. Abū al-Ḥasan al-Shushtarī: Songs of Love and Devotion, (New York, Paulist Press, 2009), p. 69



أتيناك بالفقر لا بالغنى    وأنت الذي لم تزل محسنّا
وعوّدتنا كلّ فضل عسى      يدوم الذي منك عوّدتنا
مسا كينك الشعث قد موهوا      بحبك إذ هو أقصى المنى
فما في الغنى واحد مثلكم      و في الفقر لا عصبة مثلنا
رأيناك في كلّ أمر بدا      وليس من الأمر شيء لنا
سترت اسمكم غيرة ها أنا      أموه بالشعب والمنحنى
إذا كنت في كلّ حال معي      فعن حمل زادي أنا في غنى
فأنتم هم الحق لا غيركم      فياليت شعري أنا من أنا

Shabistari on the pure drink

Qur’an 76:21


Upon them are robes of green silk and embroidery, and they are adorned with bracelets of silver, and their Lord pours for them them a pure wine.


عَالِيَهُمْ ثِيَابُ سُندُسٍ خُضْرٌ وَإِسْتَبْرَقٌ وَحُلُّوا أَسَاوِرَ مِن فِضَّةٍ وَسَقَاهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ شَرَابًا طَهُورًا




Consider the meaning of “their Lord gives them to drink
What is this “pure wine“? — purification from oneself
What a drink, what sweetness, what taste!
What wonder, what power, what longing!
O happy moment when we are free of our selves
when we are absolutely rich in poverty
No religion, no reason, no piety, no perception
Head in the dust, passed out, drunk
Of what account are paradise and houris and eternity?
For there is no room for such strangers in the khalwah
When I have seen this vision and drunk this wine
I do not know what will happen afterwards
But after every drunken spell there is a hangover
And from this thought, my heart fills with blood (grief)




سقاهم ربه” چبود بیندیش”
طهورا” چیست صافی گشتن از خویش”
زهی شربت زهی لذت زهی ذوق
زهی حیرت زهی دولت زهی شوق
خوشا آن دم که ما بی‌خویش باشیم
غنی مطلق و درویش باشیم
نه دین نه عقل نه تقوی نه ادراک
فتاده مست و حیران بر سر خاک
بهشت و حور و خلد آنجا چه سنجد
که بیگانه در آن خلوت نگنجد
چو رویت دیدم و خوردم از آن می
ندانم تا چه خواهد شد پس از وی
پی هر مستیی باشد خماری
از این اندیشه دل خون گشت باری


I fear my tears may tear the veil

Another favorite Hafez poem, it ends as it begins. It is performed beautifully here by Seyyed Khalil Alinejad.




I fear my tears may tear the veil of my love for you
and this sealed secret became a legend the whole world through
They say a stone becomes a ruby in the station of patience
Yes, it does, but not without the blood of the liver
I’ll go down to the tavern, weeping, wailing for justice
perchance there I can find release  for me from the hand of grief
I’ve cast the arrows of my prayers in every last direction
It may be that one of them, at least, will do its work
O soul, go tell our story to my sweetheart, lovingly
but not in such a way that the soft breeze gets wind of it
I’m in utter amazement at my rival’s arrogance
O Lord, let not a beggar assume so much importance
By your love’s alchemy, my face became bright gold
Yes, that’s true, thanks to your grace, the dust can become gold
Distinction great and beauty too are likewise needed here
So that one may accepted be by “people of the glance”
With all this stubbornness your cypress has in its tall head
How can my short arm ever find its way around your waist?
O Hafez, when the perfume of his tress is in your hand
Be silent, otherwise the breeze so soft will tear the veil.







ترسم که اشک در غم ما پرده‌در شود
وین راز سر به مهر به عالم سمر شود
گویند سنگ لعل شود در مقام صبر
آری شود ولیک به خون جگر شود
خواهم شدن به میکده گریان و دادخواه
کز دست غم خلاص من آن جا مگر شود
از هر کرانه تیر دعا کرده‌ام روان
باشد کز آن میانه یکی کارگر شود
ای جان حدیث ما بر دلدار بازگو
لیکن چنان مگو که صبا را خبر شود
از کیمیای مهر تو زر گشت روی من
آری به یمن لطف شما خاک زر شود
در تنگنای حیرتم از نخوت رقیب
یا رب مباد آن که گدا معتبر شود

از كيمياى ههر تو زر گشت روى من
آرى به يمن لطف شما خاك زر شود
بس نکته غیر حسن بباید که تا کسی
مقبول طبع مردم صاحب نظر شود
این سرکشی که کنگره کاخ وصل راست
سرها بر آستانه او خاک در شود
حافظ چو نافه سر زلفش به دست توست
دم درکش ار نه باد صبا را خبر شود




Rumi: Dead yet I was, then came to life…

One of my favorite poems of Rumi’s, its rhythm is intoxicating:


Translation (some liberties taken to approximate the rhythm of the original):

Dead yet I was, then came to life, weeping I was, then came to laugh
Love’s kingdom came, I came to be, the kingdom of eternity
My eye is full, my soul is bold, a lion’s heart is what I have, the morning star, bright I became
Said: “You’re not mad, don’t belong here,” then I went mad, bound up in chains
Said: “You are drunk, get out of here,” then I got drunk, bubbling with joy
Said: “You’re not dead, not in joy drowned,” before his face, I died and bowed
Said: “You’re so smart, drunk on your doubt,” a fool I became, straight lifted out
Said: “You’re the candle of this folk,” I said, “I’m not, I’m wisps of smoke”
Said: “You’re a shaykh, you’re the leader.” “I’m but a slave to your command.”
He said: “You have feathers and wings. I will not give you feathered wings.” Seeking these wings, I lost my wings.
New fortune said: “Don’t come my way, I’ll come to you.”
Old love then said: “Don’t leave my heart.” I said, “I won’t, I’ll stay, I’m still.”
You are the fountain of the sun, I am the shade of the willow, You strike my head, I drop and melt
Heart felt the new glow of my soul, my heart opened, wove a new stole, I turned against that tattered one
Form of the soul swaggered with pride, slave though I was, Lord I became
Thanks your paper gives for your sweets, limitless it came to me and I dwelt in it
Thanks my dark earth gives for my curved sky and its sphere, for through its gaze, and its turning, I too became light-receiving
Thanks heaven’s sphere gives for the king and the kingdom and the angel, for through his grace I have become bright and graceful
Thanks the Knower of Truth gives for the fact that we’ve outstripped the rest; high up above the seven lay-ers I became a shining star
I was Venus, became the moon, and I became two-hundred skies; I was Joseph, now I became the Joseph seed
O famous moon, I am all yours, look upon me, and on yourself, for from the trace of your smile, I have become a garden of roses smiling
Move silently, like a chessman, yourself all tongue, for through the king of the world’s face, I have become happy and blessed.





مرده بدم زنده شدم گریه بدم خنده شدم
دولت عشق آمد و من دولت پاینده شدم
دیده سیر است مرا جان دلیر است مرا
زهره شیر است مرا زهره تابنده شدم
گفت که دیوانه نه‌ای لایق این خانه نه‌ای
رفتم دیوانه شدم سلسله بندنده شدم
گفت که سرمست نه‌ای رو که از این دست نه‌ای
رفتم و سرمست شدم وز طرب آکنده شدم
گفت که تو کشته نه‌ای در طرب آغشته نه‌ای
پیش رخ زنده کنش کشته و افکنده شدم
گفت که تو زیرککی مست خیالی و شکی
گول شدم هول شدم وز همه برکنده شدم
گفت که تو شمع شدی قبله این جمع شدی
جمع نیم شمع نیم دود پراکنده شدم
گفت که شیخی و سری پیش رو و راهبری
شیخ نیم پیش نیم امر تو را بنده شدم
گفت که با بال و پری من پر و بالت ندهم
در هوس بال و پرش بی‌پر و پرکنده شدم
گفت مرا دولت نو راه مرو رنجه مشو
زانک من از لطف و کرم سوی تو آینده شدم
گفت مرا عشق کهن از بر ما نقل مکن
گفتم آری نکنم ساکن و باشنده شدم
چشمه خورشید تویی سایه گه بید منم
چونک زدی بر سر من پست و گدازنده شدم
تابش جان یافت دلم وا شد و بشکافت دلم
اطلس نو بافت دلم دشمن این ژنده شدم
صورت جان وقت سحر لاف همی‌زد ز بطر
بنده و خربنده بدم شاه و خداونده شدم
شکر کند کاغذ تو از شکر بی‌حد تو
کآمد او در بر من با وی ماننده شدم
شکر کند خاک دژم از فلک و چرخ به خم
کز نظر وگردش او نورپذیرنده شدم
شکر کند چرخ فلک از ملک و ملک و ملک
کز کرم و بخشش او روشن بخشنده شدم
شکر کند عارف حق کز همه بردیم سبق
بر زبر هفت طبق اختر رخشنده شدم
زهره بدم ماه شدم چرخ دو صد تاه شدم
یوسف بودم ز کنون یوسف زاینده شدم
از توام ای شهره قمر در من و در خود بنگر
کز اثر خنده تو گلشن خندنده شدم
باش چو شطرنج روان خامش و خود جمله زبان
کز رخ آن شاه جهان فرخ و فرخنده شدم

Rumi and Hakuin: Water and Ice


All beings by nature are Buddha,
As ice by nature is water.
Apart from water there is no ice;
Apart from beings, no Buddha.
How sad that people ignore the near
And search for truth afar:
Like someone in the midst of water
Crying out in thirst,
Like a child of a wealthy home
Wandering among the poor.
Lost on dark paths of ignorance,
We wander through the Six Worlds,
From dark path to dark path–
When shall we be freed from birth and death?
Oh, the zazen of the Mahayana!
To this the highest praise!
Devotion, repentance, training,
The many paramitas–
All have their source in zazen.
Those who try zazen even once
Wipe away beginning-less crimes.
Where are all the dark paths then?
The Pure Land itself is near.
Those who hear this truth even once
And listen with a grateful heart,
Treasuring it, revering it,
Gain blessings without end.
Much more, those who turn about
And bear witness to self-nature,
Self-nature that is no-nature,
Go far beyond mere doctrine.
Here effect and cause are the same,
The Way is neither two nor three.
With form that is no-form,
Going and coming, we are never astray,
With thought that is no-thought,
Singing and dancing are the voice of the Law.
Boundless and free is the sky of Samádhi!
Bright the full moon of wisdom!
Truly, is anything missing now?
Nirvana is right here, before our eyes,
This very place is the Lotus Land,
This very body, the Buddha.

-Zen Master Hakuin



Totally conscious, and apropos of nothing, you come to see me.
Is someone here? I ask.
The moon. The full moon is inside your house.

My friends and I go running out into the street.
I’m in here, comes a voice from the house, but we aren’t listening.
We’re looking up at the sky.
My pet nightingale sobs like a drunk in the garden.
Ringdoves scatter with small cries, Where, Where.
It’s midnight. The whole neighbourhood is up and out
in the street thinking, The cat burglar has come back.
The actual thief is there too, saying out loud,
Yes, the cat burglar is somewhere in this crowd.
No one pays attention.

Lo, I am with you always means when you look for God,
God is in the look of your eyes,
in the thought of looking, nearer to you than your self,
or things that have happened to you
There’s no need to go outside.

Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.

A white flower grows in quietness.
Let your tongue become that flower.

If you want to learn theory,
talk with theoreticians. That way is oral.
When you learn a craft, practice it.
That learning comes through the hands.
If you want dervishhood, spiritual poverty
and emptiness, you must be friends with a teacher.
Talking about it, reading books,
and doing practices don’t help.
Soul receives from soul that knowing.
The mystery of absence
may be living in your pilgrim heart,
and yet the knowing of it may not yet be yours.
Wait for the illuminated openness,
as though your chest were filling with light,
as when God said, Did we not expand you?
Don’t look for it outside yourself.
You are the source of milk. Don’t milk others!
There is a fountain inside you.
Don’t walk around with an empty bucket.
You have a channel into the ocean,
yet you ask for water from a little pool.
Beg for the love expansion.
Meditate only on That.
The Qur’an says, And He is with you.
There is a basket of fresh bread on your head,
yet you go door to door asking for crusts.
Knock on the inner door, no other.
Sloshing knee-deep in fresh river-water,
yet you keep asking for other people’s water-bags.
Water is everywhere around you, but you see
only barriers that keep you from water.
The horse is beneath the rider’s thighs,
and still you ask, “Where’s my horse?”
Under you! Can’t you see?
“Yes I can see, but whoever saw such a horse?”
Mad with thirst, you can’t drink from the stream
running close by your face.
You are like a pearl on the deep bottom
wondering inside the shell,
Where’s the ocean?
Those mental questionings form the barrier.
Stay bewildered inside God, and only that.
Mathnawī Book V 1063-1084

1940 This arrogance is a product of the skin; hence power and riches are friends to that pride. What is this arrogance?

being oblivious to the essential principle and frozen (insensible)— like the oblivion of ice to the sun.

When it (the ice) becomes conscious of the sun, the ice does not endure: it becomes soft and warm and moves on rapidly.

From seeing the kernel  the whole body becomes desire: it becomes miserable and passionately in love, for “Wretched is he who desires.” When it does not see the kernel, it is content with the skin:  the bondage of “Glorious is he who is content” is its prison.

1945. Here glory is infidelity, and wretchedness is (true) religion: until the stone became naughted, when did it become the gem set in a ring? (To remain) in the state of stoniness and then (to say) “I” (is absurd): ’tis time for thee to become lowly and naughted.
3430. If the ear had heard, how should the ear have remained (in action) or how should it have apprehended words any more?
If the snow and ice were to behold the sun, they would despair of (retaining their) iciness; They would become water (formless and) devoid of roots and knobs:
the air, David-like, would make of the water a mail-coat (of ripples),
And then it (the water) would become a life-giving medicine for every tree: every tree (would be made) fortunate by its advent.
(But) the frozen ice that remains (locked) within itself cries to the trees, Touch me not!
Mathnawi Book V

1110. In this sweet ocean our forms are moving fast, like cups on the surface of water: Until they become full, (they float) like bowls on the top of the sea,

(but) when the bowl is filled it sinks therein. Reason is hidden, and (only) a world (of phenomena) is visible: our forms are the waves or a spray of it (of that hidden ocean).

Whatsoever (thing) the form makes (uses as) a means of approach to It (to Reason), by that (same) means the ocean (of Reason) casts it (the form) far away.

So long as the heart does not see the Giver of (its) conscience, so long as the arrow does not see the far-shooting Archer,

1115. He (who is thus blind) thinks his horse is lost, though (all the while) he is obstinately speeding his horse on the road.

That fine fellow thinks his horse is lost, while his horse is sweeping him onward like the wind. In lamentation and inquiry that scatterbrain (runs) from door to door in every direction, asking and searching:

“Where and who is he that stole my horse?” What is this (animal) under thy thigh, O master? “Yes, this is the horse, but where is the horse?”

O dexterous rider in search of thy horse, come to thyself!

1120. The Spirit is lost (to view) because of its being so manifest and near:

how, having thy belly full of water, art thou drylipped like a jar?

How wilt thou see red and green and russet, unless before (seeing) these three (colours) thou see the light?

But since thy mind was lost (absorbed) in (perception of) the colour, those colours became to thee a veil for the light.

Inasmuch as at night those colours were hidden, thou sawest that thy vision of the colour was (derived) from the light.

There is no vision of colour without the external light: even so it is with the colour of inward phantasy.

Mathnawī Book I 1110-1125

Lovers share a sacred decree:
to seek God, the Beloved.
They roll head over heels,
rushing toward the Beautiful One
like a torrent of water.
In truth, everyone is a shadow of God –
Our seeking is His seeking,
Our words are His words.
At times we flow toward God
like a dancing stream.
At times we are still water held in His pitcher.
At times we boil in a pot turning to vapor –
that is the job of the Beloved.

God breathes into my ear
until my soul takes on His fragrance.
God is the Soul of my soul –
How can I escape?
But why would any soul in this world
want to escape from the Beloved?

God will melt your pride
making you thin as a strand of hair,
Yet do not trade, even for both worlds,
One strand of His hair.

We search for God here and there
while looking right at Him.
Sitting by His side we ask,
“O Beloved, where is the Beloved?”

Enough with such questions! –
Let silence take you to the core of life.
All your talk is worthless
When compared to one whisper
of the Beloved.


You are my soul, my universe:
what do I have to do with
For me you are ever-flowing treasure:
the soul and the universe?
One minute, I am the friend of the wine,
what do I have to do with profit and loss?
I have come to this age of ruins,
another the friend of him who burns me.
so what do I have to do
I am sprung free of the whole world,
with time’s melodrama?
I am terrified by the whole world,
I am drunk on union with you,
I am neither “hidden” no “apparent.”
What do I have to do with existence or space?
what do I care about fate’s bow and its arrows?
I need and want and care about no one else.
Since I am your prey,
I live at the bottom of the stream,
why go on staggering under
why would I go looking for water?
What could or would I say about this stream
that flows and flows?
I have given up existence,
why put up with the pretensions of the shepherd?
The burden of this mountain?
Since the wolf is my shepherd,
What abandon! What drunkenness!
You hold the cup in you hand
and glorious to the eye of the heart.

Blessed is the place you are,
Each atom, by your grace,
No one who has ever had a sign from you
is a universe, each drop of water a soul.
need worry again about “name” or “sign.”
You have to dive, dive head first:

To find the place of splendor,
at the bottom of the Sea of truths
what do I have to do with feet that scurry?
What will I give to the toll-man?
With the sword of the One God
you have hacked a Path for us:
You have stolen all my clothes:
From your beauty ablaze like the sun,
contemplate love, contemplate friendship:
from the curls of your hair,
My heart has become ecstatic:
O my soul, hand me this brimming cup,
Do not weigh pain and misery,
And ask from joy all happiness, all security, all peace.

Do not mull over tyranny and neglect:
think of all those who have their eyes fixed on you.
Surname all grief ‘grace’:
transmute pain and anguish into joy
listen, and don’t say a word.

Demand that security, that peace, demand them,
Choose the company of those withdrawn in love
Listen to those who open a path to you.


Keep walking,
though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings.
Move within,
But don’t move the way fear makes you move.
We are the mirror as well as the face of it.
We are tasting the taste this minute of eternity.
We are pain and what cures pain, both.
We are the sweet cold water and the jar that pours.
I want to hold you close like a lute,
so that we can cry out with loving.
Would you rather throw stones at a mirror?
I am your mirror and here are the stones.

In the waters of purity, I melted like salt
Neither blasphemy, nor faith, nor conviction, nor doubt remained.
In the center of my heart a star has appeared
And all the seven heavens have become lost in it.


The Book of Sufi is not black ink and words,
It is none other than a pure heart white like snow.

Mathnawi 2:160

Me/not Me


Shah Niyaz Barelvi

A lover without news I am
I am not I, yet I am I
A Knower with art I am
I am not I, nay I am I


Burning of the heart and liver I am
Restless in seclusion I am
knowledgeable of all cures I am
I am not I, nay I am I


The loveliness and beauty of Truth I am
the glory and majesty of Truth I am
its dignity and rank and splendour I am
I am not I, nay I am I


A sufi with purity I am
without Him and with God I am
the people of the heart and glance I am
I am not I, nay I am I


Jesus of Mary I am
Ahmad the Hashimi I am
‘Ali, the lion of the brave, I am
I am not I, nay I am I


His secret and need I am
His burning and melting I am
the one who walks on his head I am
I am not I, nay I am I


waws wedding


عاشق بى خبرمنم
من نمنم، نمن منم
عارف باهنرمنم
من نمنم، نمن منم


سوز دل و جگر منم
وحشة پرده در منم
 دانش بخية گر منم
من نمنم، نمن منم


حسن و جمال حق منم
عز و  جلال حق منم
حشمة و جا و فر منم
من نمنم، نمن منم


صوفي با صفاء
بي خودى و با خدا
اهل دل و نظر منم
من نمنم، نمن منم
عسى مريمي منم
احمد هاشمي
هيدر شر نار منم
من نمنم، نمن منم


راز و نياز خود منم
سوز و گداز خود منم
كرد قدم به سر منم
من نمنم، نمن منم







O master, say that I am I, I am not I, nay I am I
He is my soul inside my body, I am not I, nay I am I
light fire of love, let burn reason’s rule
the darkness of night has become the light of day
I am not I, nay I am I
I am the arrow, I’m the bow, I am old and I am young
This is me, and that is me
I am not I, nay I am I
I’m His appearance and his hiddenness
I am the diamond of his necklace
I am the the storehouse of his treasure
I am not I, nay I am I
I am His white falcon, I am the shadow of his willow
I am His road of hope
I am not I, nay I am I
I am the soul, I am the breath
I am the bird, I am the cage
I am the thief, I am also the police
I am not I, nay I am I
I am his water camel, I am a worshipper of his cup
I am the force of his arrow,
I am not I, nay I am I
My camel got drunk on wine and became frail
with a howl it broke free
I am not I, nay I am I
I am the Sun, I am the moon, I am the sea, I am the pearl
I am the nectar, I am also the sugar
I am not I, nay I am I
I am the earth and heaven, I am the pole and the harbour
I am both Ka’aba and the wine in the cup,
I am not I, nay I am I
I am the instrument, I am the Voice, I am the saint
I am the king, I am God
I am not I, nay I am I
He said, “I am Shams ad-Din, possessor of both infidelity and faith”
I am not I, nay I am I…







After extinction I came out, and I
Eternal now am, though not as I
And who am I, O I, but I?
خرجت في حين بعد الفنا
ومن هنا بقيت بلا أنا
ومن أنا يا أنا إلا أنا


trans. by  Martin Lings from Sufi Poems: A Mediaeval Anthology