Leaving Egotism: The Role of Poetry and the Divinely Inspired

Imbibed in an internal influence 

Is the intoxicated lover

Engulfed in a state of euphoria and wholly infatuated with the beloved,

His body is electric, and yet, his mind drowns in a daze

Captivation curtains his vision

And eventually, swallows his body,

Slipping into his veins, filling the pores in his skin and pouring into his organs, 

His chest expands and his fingers float,

his limbs are light, and he levitates

There is no physical body to be aware of any longer

Everything is elevated by the elation inside his heart,

The mind dissolves and is defeated by delerium:

First-person oriented perception recedes and

Fades fast

 

The rational explanation is imponderable

For how does one express the otherworldly:

The sublime supranatural which collapses the corporeal senses

Unbound by time and space,

Ethereal

 

The self disappears

And there is only the beloved

 

The self disappears 

And there is only God

 

Enter the state of egolessness 

The state in which those who are divinely inspired reside and 

fundamentally understand: 

The incapability of the human to successfully guide himself 

off of the ground

and into the aerial atmosphere of the unearthly

 

Poetry then becomes an instrument:

For healing, its talismanic powers are infused into recitation

For political power, its enamoring abilities have inspired strife 

But the importance of poetry is immersed in this:

The moving nature of which

Intoxicates audiences eager to experience the revelation

 

of losing oneself.

 

The inspiration for this poem is derived from two main ideas.

The first larger idea is the Shi’i ideology surrounding the notion of the inability of humans to guide themselves in their spiritual journey. This inability is referenced in the poem to introduce the second half of the piece, which briefly references the history of the purpose of poetry. In the Shi’i ideology, to enter a spiritual journey to selflessness, people necessarily require guidance from the divinely inspired. 

This is also reminiscent of the discussions surrounding Sufi figures, like the Marabout,  the Muslim religious leader of West Africa, who are spiritual guides/role models for a small group of elite within the community. In their role as a spiritual guide, the Marabout helps people in their journey or “tariqah,” (which directly translates to “path,”) of ego transformation. In this way, the Marabout acts as an ego monitor. And, in the case of most people, the Marabout acts as a saint-like figure and/or an intermediary figure. As a saint-like figure, the Marabout is a role model and a figure to whom people can go to receive Barakah, a spiritual blessing. As an intermediary figure, the Marabout can intercede on people’s behalves. This idea of a religiously respected elder is seen elsewhere as well; other types of saint-like figures, such sheikhs, or figures in South Asia, were discussed as other examples of how these roles are a common trend in Islamic practice elsewhere in the world.

The poem also briefly references specific aspects of the history of poetry. This includes the talismanic power that is sometimes believed to be possessed by poetry; its healing powers are metaphorically communicated in the story of Al-Busiri, who was healed after waking up from a dream in which he presented a poem to Muhammad and Muhammad responded by placing a cloak around him. Additionally, the political history of poetry is briefly referenced as well; the rivalry that emerged between respected poets and Muhammad when Muhammad began to recite his revelations is representative of this.

The other larger idea is the Sufi idea of letting go of the ego. This notion of selflessness, and the state of intoxication, are often referenced in close relationship to one another: with genuine, true love of God, there is no longer any fixation on the self.

 

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