Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Way He Did It, To Know Your Place

Hafiz is my hero. The story goes that he was so in love with God that he had no choice but to write. He asked his master, who assigned him at least a poem a day. There are thousands of poems attributed to him but not all of them survive. There are a goodly number in Persian (of which the modern version is called Farsi) and a number of people have translated him into English. Among the latest is Daniel Ladinsky, who has done a smashing job in my opinion. Emerson revered Hafiz. So did Goethe. Hafiz is a pen name for Shams-ud-din Muhummad. Hafiz means "memorizer" and is given to those who memorize the whole of the Quran. That is no small feat, the Quran is a big, dense book. He was a Sufi mystic, himself a master late in life after years of study with a master. Here is one from Hafiz as translated by Ladinsky, lines shaped by me,

Like a pair
of mismatched newlyweds,
I keep turning to God saying,

"Kiss me".


The Way He Did It

So my man Hafiz
went to taverns all the time
to get Heavenly.

Drunk on holy wine
lifts a man into the stream
of light behind holes
in the dark blue night,
the glad shine, god's eyes, bright true
blaze and then millions
of drunken angels
line up to kiss the holy
man who dares to fly.

February 7, 2009 8:58 PM


There is a reason, in my opinion, that the highest ideal in Mahayana Buddhism is the work of Bodhisattva, which will not be over until all sentient beings achieve complete and final awakening. C.S.Lewis agreed from a Christian perspective and wrote stories to illustrate our odd position in the cosmos.

It is really difficult to rise here. That seems to be built in. The Christians claim that Christ coming has broken it, making faith, forgiveness and love the root source of born again success, but only if you believe on Him. After more than two thousand years it is evident that this may be a true way but is not easy. It is not easier in the east where the normal course of struggle is aeons long, even though it is always claimed that awakening is right next door, even more intimate than that. Between one breath and the next, just turn a little. There you are.

We are all a stubborn bunch and we come by it inevitably as we live supported by this planet and all her inhabitants. Mr. Lewis said we are insane, have been quarantined from the rest of the universe, souls coming from everywhere out there as to a hospital of sorts to keep us from the rest. Out there we would only cause distress, being insane and unable to help ourselves. This is why true awakening cannot be but an individual thing here. As we gather, we manifest this insanity and we cannot rise above it in aggregate.

To Know Your Place

You would think by now
we would get over ourselves,
figure this life thing out,
know that the home world
has an orbit in near space
around this small sun
out the stellar arm
of an ordinary shaped
spiral galaxy,
not near the center
where we could not live at all,
not noticed by them,
the truly wise ones
because it's just not our time,
not our chance or turn.

February 7, 2009 9:18 PM


  1. Thing just have to do it.

    Up we go.....


  2. Great thoughts to begin my Friday. _/l\_ namaste.

  3. Interesting, Hafiz, knowledge, memorization, insanity... I have often thought about what it would be like to have read every book in the library (or something like that), would I then be more fit as a human being... or would I then be more insane?


  4. Oh yes, Michelle, up we go. I will meet you in the air.

    Karen _/|\_ namaskar.

    Annie, using your brain is like using your muscles. You can brain build just like you body build. There is some upper limit. That pretty much takes care of itself, just as you find your personal best physically at any given time. Burn out is nearly always an emotional overburden, has little to do with actual work and everything to do with stress.

  5. Shiraz was invaded by the Scourge of God, Tamerlane (1336-1405).

    Legend has it that there occurred a meeting between this man of the sword and the man of the pen, Hafiz.

    Tamerlane is said to have upbraided the poet for having written in one of his well-known odes:

    "If that Shirazi Turk would take my heart into her hand/For the mole on her cheek, I'd given Bukhara and Samarkand."

    Tamerlane, himself a native of Samarkand, demanded how Hafiz could have the temerity to give such two great cities just for the mole of a Shirazi woman.

    Hafiz, it is said, answered, "Your Majesty, it is because of such prodigality that I have fallen into such poverty"

  6. Hafiz <3

    (And Rumi too.)

    I love your line with the angels lining up to kiss the holy man... a wonderful image bumping shoulders with other wonderful images.

  7. GD, a delightful Hafiz story. You are ever the internet's librarian.

    Joseph, the line about the angels is direct homage to Hafiz. If you read him enough you will know what I mean.

    Babe, that's what happened to me when I first read his vision, but I forget where it was written. He was a good writer, a passionate Christian and was rather popular once. The Narnia tales are of course his, and the religious science fiction series about Perelandra (Mars). That's where I think you can find his vision of a sane universe and an insane Earth in quarantine. I read it as a child. When I first read him I said to myself, "this man is right about this somehow."


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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