Sunday, December 18, 2011

Attar's Seven Valleys of Love

The Valley of the Quest

"When you enter the first valley, the Valley of the Quest, a hundred difficulties will assail you; you will undergo a hundred trials. There, the Parrot of heaven is no more than a fly. You will have to spend several years there, you will have to make great efforts, and to change your state. You will have to give up all that has seemed precious to you and regard as nothing all that you possess. When you are sure that you possess nothing, you still will have to detach yourself from all that exists. Your heart will then be saved from perdition and you will see the pure light of Divine Majesty and your real wishes will be multiplied to infinity. One who enters here will be filled with such longing that he will give himself up completely to the quest symbolized by this valley. He will ask of his cup-bearer a draught of wine, and he has drunk it nothing will matter except the pursuit of his true aim. Then he will no longer fear the dragons, the guardians of the door, which seek to devour him. When the door is opened and he enters, then dogma, belief and unbelief--all cease to exist."

The Valley of Love

"The next valley is the Valley of Love. To enter it one must be a flaming fire--what shall I say? A man must himself be fire. The face of the lover must be enflamed, burning and impetuous as fire. True love knows no after-thoughts; with love, good and evil cease to exist.
"But as for you, the heedless and careless, this discourse will not touch you, your teeth will not even nibble at it. A loyal person stakes ready money, stakes his head even, to be united to his friend. Others content themselves with what they will do for you tomorrow. If he who sets out on this way will not engage himself wholly and completely he will never be free from the sadness and melancholy which weigh him down. Until the falcon reaches his aim he is agitated and distressed. If a fish is thrown onto the beach by the waves it struggles to get back into the water.
"In this valley, love is represented by fire, and reason by smoke. When love comes reason disappears. Reason cannot live with the folly of love; love gas nothing to do with human reason. If you possessed inner sight, the atoms of the visible world would be manifested to you. But if you look at things with the eye of ordinary reason you will never understand how necessary it is to love. Only a man who has been tested and is free can feel this. He who undertakes this journey should have a thousand hearts so that he can sacrifice one at every moment."

The Valley of Understanding

"After the valley of which I have spoken, there comes another--the Valley Understanding, which has neither beginning nor end. No way is equal to this way, and the distance to be traveled to cross it is beyond reckoning.
"Understanding, for each traveler, is enduring; but knowledge is temporary. The soul, like the body, is in a state of progress or decline; and the Spiritual Way reveals itself only in the degree to which the traveler has overcome his faults and weaknesses, his sleep and his inertia, and each will approach nearer to his aim according to his effort. Even if a gnat were to fly with all its might could it equal the speed of the wind? There are different ways of crossing this Valley, and all birds do not fly alike. Understanding can be arrived at variously--some have found the Mihrab, others the idol. When the sun of understanding brightens this road each receives light according to his merit and he finds the degree assigned to him in the understanding of truth. When the mystery of the essence of beings reveals itself clearly to him the furnace of this world becomes a garden of flowers. He who is striving will be able to see the almond in its hard shell. He will no longer be pre-occupied with himself, but will look up at the face of his friend. In each atom he will see the whole; he will ponder over thousands of bright secrets.
"But, how many have lost their way in this search for one who has found the mysteries! It is necessary to have a deep and lasting wish to become as we ought to be in order to cross this difficult valley. Once you have tasted the secrets you will have a real wish to understand them. But, whatever you may attain, never forget the words of the Koran, "Is there anything more?"
"As for you who are asleep (and I cannot commend you for this), why not put on mourning? You, who have not seen the beauty of your friend, get up and search! How long will you stay as you are, like a donkey without a halter!"

The Valley of Independence and Detachment

"The there comes the valley where there is neither the desire to possess nor the wish to discover. In this state of the soul a cold wind blows, so violent that in a moment it devastates an immense space; the seven oceans are no more than a pool, the seven planets a mere sparkle, the seven heavens a corpse, the seven hells broken ice. Then, an astonishing thing, beyond reason! An ant has the strength of a hundred elephants, and a hundred caravans perish while a rook is filling his crop.
"In order that Adam might receive the celestial light, hosts of green-clad angels were consumed by sorrow. So that Noah might become a carpenter of God and build the ark, thousands of creatures perished in the waters. Myriads of gnats fell on the army of Abrahah so that that king would be overthrown. Thousands of the first-born died so that Moses might see God. Thousands of people took to the Christian girdles so that Christ could possess the secret of God. Thousands of hearts and souls were pillaged so that Muhammad might ascend for one night to heaven. In this Valley nothing old or new has value; you can act or not act. If you saw a whole world burning until hearts were only shish kabab, it would be only a dream compared to reality. If myriads of souls were to fall into this boundless ocean it would be as a drop of dew. If heaven and earth were to burst into minute particles it would be no more than a leaf falling from a tree; and if everything were to be annihilated, from the fish to the moon, would there be found in the depths of a pit the leg of a lame ant? If there remain no trace of either of men or jinn, the secret of a drop of water from which all has been formed is still to be pondered over."

The Valley of Unity

"You will next have to cross the Valley of unity. In this valley everything is broken in pieces and then unified. All who raise their heads here raise them from the same collar. Although you seem to see many beings, in reality there is only one--all make one which is complete in its unity. Again, that which you see as a unity is not different from that which appears in numbers. And as the Being of whom I speak is beyond unity and numbering, cease to think of eternity as before and after, and since these two eternities have vanished, cease to speak of them. When all that is visible is reduced to nothing, what is there left to contemplate?"

The Valley of Astonishment and Bewilderment

"After the Valley of Unity comes the Valley of Astonishment and Bewilderment, where one is a prey to sadness and dejection. There sighs are like swords, and each breath a bitter sight; there, is sorrow and lamentation, and a burning eagerness. It is at once day and night. There, is fire, yet a man is depressed and despondent. How, in his bewilderment, shall he continue his way? But he who has achieved unity forgets all and forgets himself. If he is asked: "Are you, or are you not? Have you or have you not the feeling of existence? Are you in the middle or on the border? Are you mortal or immortal?" he will reply with certainty: "I know nothing, I understand nothing, I am unaware of myself. I am in love, but with whom I do not know. My heart is at the same time both full and empty of love."

The Valley of Deprivation and Death

"Last of all comes the Valley of Deprivation and Death, which is almost impossible to describe. The essence of the Valley is forgetfulness, dumbness and distraction; the thousand shadows which surround you disappear in a single ray of the celestial sun. When the ocean of immensity begins to heave, the pattern on its surface loses its form; and this pattern is no other than the world present and the world to come. Whoever declares that he does not exist acquires great merit. The drop that becomes part of this great ocean abides there for ever and in peace. In this calm sea, a man, at first, experiences only humiliation and overthrow; but when he emerges from this state he will understand it as creation, and many secrets will be revealed to him.

    "Many beings have missed taking the first step and so have not been able to take the second--they can only be compared to minerals. When aloe wood and thorns are reduced to ashes they both look alike--but their quality is different. An impure object dropped into rose-water remains impure because of its innate qualities; but a pure object dropped into the ocean will lose its specific existence and will participate in the ocean and in its movement. In ceasing to exist separately it retains its beauty. It exists and non-exists. How can this be? The mind cannot conceive it."


In ancient times, the path of discipleship was a lesson to be applied in every direction of life. Man is not only his body; he is his soul. When a child is born on earth, that is not the time that the soul is born. The soul is born from the moment that consideration is born. This birth of consideration is, in reality, the birth of the soul. Man shows his soul in his consideration. Some become considerate as children, others perhaps do not awaken to consideration throughout their whole life. Love is called a divine element, but love's divine expression is nothing but consideration. It would not be very wrong to say that love without consideration is not fully divine. Love that has no consideration loses its fragrance.

Moreover, intelligence is not consideration. It is the balance of love and intelligence, it is the action and reaction of love and intelligence upon each other that produce consideration. Children who are considerate are more precious than jewels to their parents. The man who is considerate, the friend who has consideration, all those with whom we come into contact with who are considerate, we value the most.

Thus, it is the lesson of consideration given by the spiritual teachers which may be called the path of discipleship. This does not mean that the great teachers have wanted the discipleship, the devotion, or the respect of the pupils for themselves. If any teacher expects that, then he cannot be a teacher. How could he then be a spiritual teacher, as he must be above all of this in order to be above them? But respect, devotion and consideration are taught for the disciple's own advantage, as an attribute that must be cultivated.

Until now, there has been a custom in India, that the first things the parents taught their children were respect for the teacher, consideration, and a kindly inclination. A modern child going to school has not the same idea. He thinks that the teacher is appointed to perform a certain duty. He hardly knows the teacher, nor does the teacher know him well. When he comes home, he has the same tendency towards his parents as he has at school. Most children grow up thinking that all the attention their parents give them is only part of their duty. At most, they will think, 'Perhaps one day, if I am able, I shall repay it.' The ancient idea was different. For instance, the Prophet Muhammad taught his disciples that the greatest debt every man had to pay was to his mother, and if he wished his sins to be forgiven, he must so act through life that at the end, his mother, before passing from this earth, would say, 'I have forgiven you the debt.' There was nothing a man could give or do, neither money nor service, which would enable him to say, 'I have paid my debt.' No, his mother must say, 'I have forgiven you that debt.' What does this teach? It teaches the value of that unselfish love which is above all earthly passion.

If we inquire of our self within for what purpose we have come to earth and why we have become human beings, wondering whether it would perhaps have been better to remain angels, the answer will certainly come to the wise, from his own heart, that we are here to experience a fuller life, to become fully human. For it is through being considerate that we become fully human. Every action done with consideration is valuable, every word said with consideration is precious.

It is not every soul who takes the trouble to tread this path. Everyone is not a plant. There are many who are rocks, and these do not want to be considerate, they think it is too much trouble. Of course, the stone has no pain, it is the one who feels who has pain. Still, it is in feeling that there is life. Life's joy is so great that even with pain, one would rather be a living being than a rock, for there is a joy in living, in feeling alive, which cannot be expressed in words. After how many millions of years has the life buried in stones and rocks risen to the human being! Even so, if a person wishes to stay a rock, he had better stay so, though the natural inclination in every person should be to develop the human qualities fully.

The first lesson that the pupil learns on the path of discipleship is what is called Yaqin in Sufi terms, which means confidence. This confidence he first gives to the one whom he considers to be his teacher, his spiritual guide. In the giving of confidence, three kinds of people can be distinguished. One gives a part of his confidence and cannot give another part. He is wobbling and thinking, 'Yes, I believe that I have confidence; perhaps I have, perhaps I have not.' And this sort of confidence puts him in a very difficult position. It would be better not to have it at all. It is like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold. In all things, this person will do the same, in business, in his profession. He trusts and doubts, he trusts and fears. He is not walking in the sky, he is not walking on the earth, he is in between the two. Then there is another kind, the one who gives his confidence to the teacher, but he is not sure about himself, he is not inwardly sure if he has given it. This person has no confidence in himself, he is not sure of himself; therefore, his confidence is of no value. And the third kind of person is the one who gives confidence because he feels confident. This confidence, alone, can rightfully be called yaqin.

Thousands of people of the first category came, thronged round the Master, then left him. It did not take one moment for them to be attracted, nor one moment for them to leave the Master. In the second category are those who go on for some time, just as a drunken man goes on and on; but when they are sober again, things become clear to them and they ask themselves, 'Where am I going? Not in the right direction.' Thousands and thousands in this category followed the masters and prophets. However, those who stayed to the end of the test were those who, before giving their confidence to the teacher, first had confidence in their own heart.

It is they who, if the earth turned to water and the water turned to earth, if the sky came down and the earth rose up, would remain unshaken, firm in the belief that they had gained. It is by discipleship that a person learns the moral that in whatever position he is, as husband or wife, son or daughter, servant or friend, he will follow with confidence, firm and steady, wherever he goes.

After acquiring Yaqin, there comes a test, and that is sacrifice. That is the ideal on the path of God. The most precious possession is not too valuable, nothing is too great to sacrifice. Not one of the disciples of the Prophet – the real disciples – thought even their life too great a sacrifice if it was needed. The story of Ali is very well known. A plot was discovered that one night, some enemies wanted to kill the Prophet, and Ali learned about it. He did not tell the Prophet, but persuaded him to leave home. He himself stayed, for he knew that if he went too, the assassins would follow him and find out where the Prophet was. He slept in the same bed in place of the Prophet, so that the assassins might find him. However, at the same time he did not intend to lose his life if he could fight them off. The consequence was that the plot failed, and the enemies could not touch either the Prophet or Ali.

This is only one instance, but there are thousands of instances which show that the friendship formed in God and truth between the teacher and the disciple is for always, and that nothing in the world is able to break it. If the spiritual link cannot hold, then how can a material link keep intact? It will wear out, being only a worldly link. If spiritual thought cannot form a link between two souls, then what else can constitute such a strong tie that it can last both here and in the hereafter?

The third lesson on the path of discipleship is imitation. This means imitating the teacher in his every attitude, in his attitude towards the friend, towards the enemy, towards the foolish, and towards the wise. If the pupil acts as he wishes and the teacher acts as he wishes, then there is no benefit, however great the sacrifice and devotion. No teaching or meditation is as great or valuable as the imitation of the teacher on the path of truth. In the imitation of the teacher, the whole secret of the spiritual life is hidden. No doubt it is not only the imitation of his outward action, but also of his inner tendency.

The fourth lesson that the disciple learns is different again. This lesson is to turn the inward thought of the teacher outward until he grows to see his teacher in everyone and everything, in the wise, in the foolish, and in all forms.

Finally, by the fifth lesson, the disciple learns to give everything that he has so far given to his teacher – devotion, sacrifice, service, respect – to all, because he has learned to see his teacher in all.

One person will perhaps learn nothing all his life, whereas another will learn all five lessons in a short time. There is a story of a person who went to a teacher and said to him, 'I would like to be your pupil, your disciple.' The teacher said, 'Yes, I shall be very glad.' This man, conscious of so many faults, was surprised that the teacher was willing to accept him as a disciple. He said, 'But I wonder if you know how many faults I have?' The teacher said, 'Yes, I already know your faults, yet I accept you as my pupil.' 'But I have very bad faults,' he said, 'I am fond of gambling.' The teacher said, 'That does not matter much.' 'I am inclined to drink sometimes,' he said. The teacher said, 'That does not matter much.' 'Well,' he said, 'there are many other faults.' The teacher said, 'I do not mind. But now that I have accepted all your faults, you must accept one condition from your teacher.' 'Yes, most willingly,' he said. 'What is it?' The teacher said, 'You may indulge in your faults, but not in my presence. Only that much respect you must reserve for your teacher.'

The teacher knew that all five attributes of discipleship were natural to him, and he made him an initiate. As soon as he went out and had an inclination to gamble or to drink, he saw the face of his murshid before him. When, after some time, he returned to the teacher, the teacher smilingly asked, 'Did you commit any faults?' He answered, 'Oh, no, the great difficulty is that whenever I wanted to commit any of my usual faults, my murshid pursued me!'

Do not think that this spirit is only cultivated; this spirit may be found in an innocent child. When I once asked a little child of four years, 'Have you been naughty?' The child answered, 'I would like to be naughty, but my goodness will not let me.' This shows us that the spirit of discipleship is in us. However, we should always remember that he who is a teacher is a disciple himself.

The lesson we all have to learn is that of discipleship. Discipleship is the first and the last lesson.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Khwaja Shamsuddin Muhammad Hafez Shirazi

Khwāja Shamsu d-Dīn Muhammad Hāfez-e Shīrāzī known by his pen name Hāfez (1325/1326 – 1389/1390) was a Persian lyric poet. His collected works composed of series of Persian poetry (Divan) are to be found in the homes of most Iranians, who learn his poems by heart and use them as proverbs and sayings to this day. His life and poems have been the subject of much analysis, commentary and interpretation, influencing post-Fourteenth Century Persian writing more than any other author.

Themes of his ghazals are the beloved, faith, and exposing hypocrisy. His influence in the lives of Iranians can be found in "Hafez readings" (fāl-e hāfez, Persian: فال حافظ), frequent use of his poems in Persian traditional music, visual art and Persian calligraphy. His tomb in Shiraz is visited often. Adaptations, imitations and translations of Hafez' poems exist in all major languages.



Hafez was born in Shiraz, modern Iran.

Despite his profound effect on Persian life and culture and his enduring popularity and influence, few details of his life are known. Accounts of his early life rely upon traditional anecdotes. Early tazkiras (biographical sketches) mentioning Hafez are generally considered unreliable.The preface of his Divān, in which his early life is discussed, was written by an unknown contemporary of Hafez whose name may have been Moḥammad Golandām.[5] Two of the most highly regarded modern editions of Hafez's Divān are compiled by Moḥammad Qazvini and Qāsem Ḡani (495 ghazals) and by Parviz Natil Khanlari (486 ghazals).

Modern scholars generally agree that Hafez was born either in 1315 or 1317; following an account by Jami 1390 is considered the year in which he died. Hafez was supported by patronage from several successive local regimes: Shah Abu Ishaq, who came to power while Hafez was in his teens; Timur Lang (Tamerlane) at the end of his life; and even the strict ruler Shah Mubariz ud-Din Muhammad (Mubariz Muzaffar). Though his work flourished most under the twenty-seven year reign of Jalal ud-Din Shah Shuja (Shah Shuja. it is claimed Hāfez briefly fell out of favor with Shah Shuja for mocking inferior poets (Shah Shuja wrote poetry himself and may have taken the comments personally), forcing Hāfez to flee from Shiraz to Isfahan and Yazd, although no historical evidence of this is available. His mausoleum, Hāfezieh, is located in the Musalla Gardens of Shiraz.



Many semi-miraculous mythical tales were woven around Hāfez after his death. It is said that by listening to his father's recitations Hāfez had accomplished the task of learning the Qur'an by heart at an early age (that is in fact the meaning of the word Hafez). At the same time Hāfez is said to have known by heart, the works of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, Saadi, Farid ud-Din and Nizami.

According to one tradition, before meeting his patron, Hajji Zayn al-Attar, Hāfez had been working in a bakery, delivering bread to a wealthy quarter of the town. There he first saw Shakh-e Nabat, a woman of great beauty, to whom some of his poems are addressed. Ravished by her beauty, but knowing that his love for her would not be requited, he allegedly held his first mystic vigil in his desire to realize this union. During this he encountered a being of surpassing beauty who identified himself as an angel, and his further attempts at union became mystic; a pursuit of spiritual union with the divine. A Western parallel is that of Dante and Beatrice.

At age 60 he is said to have begun a Chilla-nashini, a 40-day-and-night vigil by sitting in a circle which he had drawn for himself. On the 40th day, he once again met with Zayn al-Attar on what is known to be their fortieth anniversary and was offered a cup of wine. It was there where he is said to have attained "Cosmic Consciousness". Hāfez hints at this episode in one of his verses where he advises the reader to attain "clarity of wine" by letting it "sit for 40 days".

Although Hafez almost never traveled out of Shiraz, in one tale Tamerlane (Timur) angrily summoned Hāfez to account for one of his verses:

If that Shirazi Turk would take my heart in hand I would remit Samarkand and Bukhārā for his/her Hindu mole.

Samarkand was Timur's capital and Bokhara was his kingdom's finest city. "With the blows of my lustrous sword," Timur complained, "I have subjugated most of the habitable globe... to embellish Samarkand and Bokhara, the seats of my government; and you would sell them for the black mole of some boy in Shiraz!" Hāfez, so the tale goes, bowed deeply and replied, "Alas, O Prince, it is this prodigality which is the cause of the misery in which you find me". So surprised and pleased was Timur with this response that he dismissed Hafez with handsome gifts..

Works and influence


Hafez was well acclaimed throughout the Islamic world during his lifetime, with other Persian poets imitating his work, and offers of patronage from Baghdad and India.Today, he is the most popular poet in Iran; most libraries and personal collections of books in India,Pakistan and Iran contain his Diwan.

Much later, the work of Hāfez would leave a mark on such Western writers as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Goethe. His work was first translated into English in 1771 by William Jones.

There is no definitive version of his collected works (or Dīvān); editions vary from 573 to 994 poems. In Iran, and Afghanistan.his collected works have come to be used as an aid to popular divination. Only since the 1940s has a sustained scholarly attempt - by Mas'ud Farzad, Qasim Ghani and others in Iran - been made to authenticate his work, and remove errors introduced by later copyists and censors.

However, the reliability of such work has been questioned,  and in the words of Hāfez scholar Iraj Bashiri.... "there remains little hope from there (i.e.: Iran) for an authenticated diwan".

Though Hāfez’s poetry is influenced by Islam, he is widely respected by Hindus, Christians and others. The Indian sage of Iranian descent Meher Baba, who syncretized elements of Sufism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Christian mysticism, recited Hāfez's poetry until his dying day. October 12 is celebrated as Hafez Day in Iran.



The question of whether his work is to be interpreted literally, mystically or both, has been a source of concern and contention to western scholars.On the one hand, some of his early readers such as William Jones saw in him a conventional lyricist similar to European love poets such as Petrarch. Others such as Wilberforce Clarke saw him as purely a poet of didactic, ecstatic mysticism in the manner of Rumi, a view which modern scholarship has come to reject. This confusion stems from the fact that, early in Persian literary history, the poetic vocabulary was usurped by mystics who believed that the ineffable could be better approached in poetry than in prose. In composing poems of mystic content, they imbued every word and image with mystical undertones, thereby causing mysticism and lyricism to essentially converge into a single tradition. As a result, no fourteenth century Persian poet could write a lyrical poem without having a flavor of mysticism forced on it by the poetic vocabulary itself. While some poets, such as Ubayd Zakani, attempted to distance themselves from this fused mystical-lyrical tradition by writing satires, Hafiz embraced the fusion and thrived on it. W.M. Thackston has said of this that Hafiz "sang a rare blend of human and mystic love so balanced...that it is impossible to separate one from the other."

For this reason among others, the history of the translation of Hāfez has been a complicated one, and few translations into western languages have been wholly successful.

One of the figurative gestures for which he is most famous (and which is among the most difficult to translate) is īhām or artful punning. Thus a word such as gowhar which could mean both "essence, truth" and "pearl" would take on both meanings at once as in a phrase such as "a pearl/essential truth which was outside the shell of superficial existence".

Hafez often took advantage of the aforementioned lack of distinction between lyrical, mystical and panegyric writing by using highly intellectualized, elaborate metaphors and images so as to suggest multiple possible meanings. This may be illustrated via a couplet from the beginning of one of Hafez' poems.

Last night, from the cypress branch, the nightingale sang,

 In Old Persian tones, the lesson of spiritual stations.

The cypress tree is a symbol both of the beloved and of a regal presence. The nightingale and birdsong evoke the traditional setting for human love. The "lessons of spiritual stations" suggest, obviously, a mystical undertone as well. (Though the word for "spiritual" could also be translated as "intrinsically meaningful.") Therefore, the words could signify at once a prince addressing his devoted followers, a lover courting a beloved and the reception of spiritual wisdom.

The Tomb of Hafez


Twenty years after his death, a tomb (the Hafezieh) was erected to honor Hafez in the Musalla Gardens in Shiraz. The current Mausolem was designed by André Godard, French archeologist and architect, in the late 1930s. Inside, Hafez's alabaster tombstone bore one of his poems inscribed upon it.


Hafiz Quotes
Hafiz was born in Shiraz in south-east Persia (modern Iran) in approximately 1320 A.D., twenty two years before the birth of Chaucer and a year before the death of Dante. He was named Shams-ud-din, which means ‘Sun of Faith,’ Mohammed. Later when he began to write poetry he selected Hafiz for his pen-name or ‘takhallus’. ‘Hafiz’ is the title given to one who has learnt the whole of the Koran by heart and Hafiz claimed to have done this is fourteen different ways.
“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of you own being.”
Even after all this time,
the sun never says to the earth,”You owe me.”
Look what happens with a love like that.
It lights the whole sky.
You left me and went on your way.
I thought I should mourn for you
But ah, time is short………..Youth wanes year after year; the spring days are fugitive; the
frail flowers die for nothing, and the wise man warns me that
life is but a dew-drop on the lotus leaf.
Should I neglect all this to gaze after one who has turned her
back on me?
That would be rude and foolish, for time is short

You come, and you, and you also!
My lover, you know we are mortals. Is it wise to break one’s
heart for the one who takes her heart away? For time is short
This place where you are right now,
God circled on a map for you.
Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.
If you had the courage and could give the Beloved His choice,
Some nights He would just drag you around the room by your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.

Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds all your erroneous notions of truth
That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,
Causing the world to weep on too many fine days.

God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us up in a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.
The Beloved sometimes wants to do us a great favor:
Hold us upside down and shake all the nonsense out.

But when we hear He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know quickly packs their bags
And hightails it out of town.
Do not surrender your grief so quickly
Let it cut more deeply
Let it ferment and season you
As few human or divine ingredients can

Something is missing in my heart tonight
That has made made my eyes so soft
And my voice so tender
And my need of God so absolutely clear.
Resist your temptation to lie
By speaking of separation from God,

We might have to medicate

In the ocean
A lot goes on beneath your eyes.

They have clinics there too
For the insane
Who persist in saying things like:

“I am independent from the

God is not always around
Pressing against
My body.”

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Secret of the Spirit

There are four different explanations of the word 'spirit.' One meaning is essence. Spirit of camphor means, the essence of camphor. The second meaning of spirit is what is understood by those who call the soul 'spirit' when it has left the body on earth and passed to the other side. The third meaning of spirit is that of the soul and mind working together. It is used in this sense when one says that a man seems to be in low spirits. This means that both his mind and soul are depressed, although one may not always define it in this way. The fourth meaning of spirit is the soul of all souls, the source and goal of all things and all beings from which all comes and to which all returns.

The first meaning of the word spirit is, as I have said, essence. The essence of flowers is honey, the essence of milk is butter, the essence of grapes is wine, the essence of learning is wisdom. Therefore, wisdom is a sweet as honey, as nourishing as butter, and as exalting as wine.

To rise above things in life, one must try to get to the essence. In other words, there is one way of listening to a musician, and that is to consider the form, the technique. The other way is to grasp the feeling, the sense that the music suggests. So it is with life. We can look at life in one way, see it in different forms, and make a rigid conception of it. Or, we can see it so that we get the suggestion of its essence.

For instance, a person may come to us and express a thousand false feelings. Then we go over it in our mind and realize it was all false because it could not be reasonably true. This is one way. The other way is to see immediately that it was false, from first to last, without going into details. This is quite sufficient; and because we have immediately seen it, we have saved our mind a great deal of trouble.

Sometimes a person says to another, 'You say you are my friend; all right, I am going to find out what you are like and how you work.' That is one way of looking at it. But the other way is to look only once at that person and, by that one glance, to know what he is worth, that is all. If one can do this, it will make one brave and venturesome and will bring one nearer to the essence. It will impart generosity and liberality. Otherwise, one remains narrow, small and confused; and in this way, thousands and millions of souls are buffeted along on the sea of life, not knowing where they are going because they are not sure of themselves. If a person says, 'I don't know you, but perhaps I will know you someday,' that person will never know anyone, for all his life he will be unsure.

As to the second meaning of the word 'spirit,' this mechanism of the physical body, which works from morning till evening without winding like a machine, and which stands up to all the turmoil of life, encounters all difficulties and endures everything that comes to it – one day falls flat. It is just like when the steam or electricity, or whatever it was that kept the machine going, suddenly gives out. A physician says that the man's heart failed, or that his blood pressure was too high, or something like that, as an explanation of his death. It means that a person who was active and sensitive is no longer active or sensitive. That which was most important in him has left. So much the physician can tell you, but what was there he does not know.

From the point of view of a mystic, however, what left the body was the person. This body was not the person. This body was a mask which covered that person. When this mask is cast off, that visible person becomes invisible. Not he, himself, but only the mask has been thrown away. He is what he already was. If death comes, it is the removing of the mask.

A question arises as to how this occurs. The answer is that there is a magnetic action between the person and the mask. It is the strength of the physical body that holds the spirit, and it is the strength of the spirit that holds the body. The physical body holds onto the spirit because it only lives by the life of the spirit; and without the spirit, it is dead. As every being, however small, struggles for life, this physical body tries to hold onto the spirit. It does so to the last, as someone who is on the point of losing his gold might hold it tightly in his hand until his hand is paralyzed and he can no longer hold it, so lets it drop. This does not mean that he does not want it; it only means that he cannot hold it any longer. So it is with the spirit. As long as the spirit is interested in the physical body, it holds it, permeates it and embraces it. But as soon as it feels that it does not want it anymore, that it no longer has any use for the body, it drops it.

Both these tendencies can be seen in people when they are studied by those who understand. There are people who have reached old age who are no longer doing anything in the world, yet each atom of their body is consciously or unconsciously holding onto the spirit in order to live every moment they can possibly prolong of their life. And as long as their strength allows them to hold onto the spirit, they live; and they may live to a very great age. But one can also notice another tendency, and that is that there are some who are tired of life. They no longer attach any importance to this life on earth. The value of things has diminished in their eyes; they are disappointed by these transitory and changeable conditions. In their spirit, they are feeling something quite different from the other type of person. Their tendency is to give up the physical bondage of the body, and they would be glad if the spirit were separated from it. Yet their body unconsciously clings to the spirit, just the same, and keeps them alive as long as it can hold on. Thus, the unwilling spirit is held by the body.

In conclusion, death means a separation from the body, which is nothing but a garb covering the spirit. What follows after the separation? The body, which is left on the earth by the spirit, is no longer living, in the sense that we understand life, yet it is living. It is as if there had been a fire in the stove, and even after the fire was extinguished, the warmth remained there. There is only the smallest degree of spirit, but there is life in it. Where there is no life, life cannot be created. Life must come out of life. Life cannot come out of death. Living creatures such as worms and germs come out of a dead body, and how could life come out if there were no life there? There is life; not in the sense that we generally understand it, but it is living, just the same. There is nothing in this world of which we can say that it is without life, or dead. Everything, every object that seems without life, has some life somewhere. Even after it is destroyed, it is still living. When germs and worms manifest out of a dead body, we think that it means it is finished. On the contrary, it goes on, life is continued in various forms. It has never ended. What has ended is this imprisonment which we recognized as such and such a person; but the existence is still going on, even the mortal existence, even the mask which, in reality, was nothing.

The living part was the spirit, and it goes on living. When we say, 'He has gone to the other world,' the other world is only our conception, though it is a beautiful conception. If one says, for instance, that a great revolution is taking place in the scientific world, it does not mean that the scientific world is outside the earth. When we have experienced a great development in the mystical world, this does not mean that we live outside of this planet. It is a conception; it is a beautiful way of putting it, and it is the best we can find. 'In the other world' means, in a world which is veiled from our eyes, our physical eyes; but it does not mean a world far away from us beyond our reach. Both the living and the dead inhabit the same space, we all live together. Only a veil separates us, the veil of this physical body. Separation means being unable to see one another; there is no other separation.

One need not attain to the seventh heaven in order to reach those who have passed. When one really cares for them, that bond of love and sympathy in itself makes us close to them. Two people may be living in the same house, working together, seeing each other every day, every hour, and yet they may be as far apart as the north pole from the south pole. There are people thrown miles apart by destiny so that they cannot reach one another because of life's difficult circumstances; and yet, they can be closer to each other than anyone else. If this is true, it proves that those united in spirit may be thrown far apart in the world and yet be so close together that nothing stands between them. Therefore, if those who have departed from this earth have a connection with someone on earth, they are close to him just the same. Nearness means nearness of the spirit, not of the physical body.

In India, there used to be a custom called sati,by which a wife who was devoted to her husband was cremated with him. Some people felt great horror at this idea, but others thought differently. I would say, in regard to this question, that when two souls have become one, whether they are both on earth, or whether one of them has gone to another plane, they are still united. If one of them remains living, then that living person is as though dead here, for he only lives there where there is real unity. There is no separation. Nothing can separate two souls if they are really united.

The third meaning of the spirit is that it is the mind and the soul, together. One might ask if the mind and soul, together, that is to say, the spirit, is that part of one's being which lives. It is not a part, but all. Our overcoat is not a part of our being, it is something extraneous. It becomes temporarily a part, but it is not essentially a part. The real being is the spirit, the mind and the soul together.

One might think it uninteresting to live as spirit and not as body. It might seem uninteresting to one who has not experienced on this earth how to be able to live independently of the physical body. All mysticism has been based on this: how to be able to live independently of the physical body, how to live on earth as spirit, even for five minutes a day. This gives a conviction of being able to live and yet be independent of the physical body. It is an experience in life, an education in the highest knowledge. Once a person has realized how he can exist without the physical body, it produces a faith that gives an ultimate conviction that nothing can change.

It is not only a matter of existing, but of existing completely, fully. The soul is not dependent upon the eyes to see. It sees more than the physical eyes can see. It is not dependent upon the ears, as it hears more than the ears can hear. Therefore, he who knows spirit receives far greater inspiration from being able to exist independently of the physical body. It is very easy for a person with material knowledge to call those people fanatics who retire to the mountains or wander about thinking of spiritual things, who seem to live in a dream. They might appear to do so; but actually, they only do not conform to what everyone else does. They left the life of business and profession and politics, all social life, for the sake of deeper experience. It is not necessary for everyone to follow their example, but one may benefit from what they have brought to us.

At this time, West and East are coming closer together. What is needed now is that we should awaken and benefit from the fruits of the lives of people in both East and West. There is much that the West can give to the East. It has labored along certain lines, and the fruits of this work can be of use to the East. There are also fruits that Eastern people have gathered for years and years that will be of great use to the West once people have realized this. The particular lesson that can be learned from the experience of those in the East who have investigated life's secret is the way of becoming conscious of one's spirit, of realizing spirit. No doubt those who wish to mystify others make complexities out of simple things. But those who wish to serve the world in the path of truth reduce complex things to simple ones. It is in a simple form that we have to realize the truth.

The fourth meaning of spirit is the source and the goal of all things; something towards which all are bound, to which all will return. It is that spirit which, in religion, is called God. The best way of explaining this meaning of spirit is that it is like the sun, the center of all life, the divine spark within us. But the sun is not as small as it appears to be. Then what is the sun? The sun is all. The part of the sun that we recognize as the sun is the center of it; but the sun is, in reality, as large as its light reaches. The real sun is light, itself. As there is a point which is the central focus of light, we call that point the sun.

The light has centralized itself there; but the sun has other aspects such as rays which are not different from the sun, but which are the sun, itself. So, what are we? Our souls are the rays of the sun. In our inner being, we are both source and goal, itself. It is only our ignorance of this that keeps us ignorant of our own being.

Every atom of the universe, having come from the sun, from the divine sun, makes every effort to return to it. The tendency of the waves is to reach upward; of the mountains, to point upward; of the birds, to fly upward. The tendency of animals is to stand on their hind-legs. The tendency of man is to stand upright, ready to soar upward. An angel is pictured as a man with two wings ready to fly upward. Science has discovered the law of gravitation, but the mystic knows the other law, which is also a law of gravitation, but in the opposite direction.

Thus, not only is every soul attracted in that direction, but also every atom of this world, going through all the different processes known to biology in order to reach that state, the return to the spirit, is attracted in that direction. Therefore, it is not necessary to be frightened by going towards God, or by trying to attain the spirit by losing one's identity, one's individuality. A fear like this is the same as the experience of someone on top of a mountain. A kind of terror overwhelms a person when he is looking at the immensity of the view; and in the same way, a soul is frightened of spiritual attainment because of the immensity, the largeness and the depth it has. It frightens the soul who fears to lose itself because it has this false conception of its smaller self. The mystic says, 'Try to die before death.' To die before death is to play death. That means to get above this fright, which only comes from the false conception of self.

The one who has died before death no longer has desire; he is above desire. To some extent, there is a relationship between life in the spiritual world and life on earth, for that which is collected here on earth indicates the task one has to perform here. The only condition is that the one who has stayed a shorter while here must work more for his spiritual accomplishment than the one who has stayed longer on earth. When someone has achieved spirituality here, it is not necessary for him to stay longer, unless it is his desire. And the day the false conception of self is removed from his eyes, he begins to see the immensity of God's majesty.

Fariduddin Attar

Fariduddin Attar was one of the earliest Sufi poets of Persia, and there is no doubt that the work of Attar was the inspiration of Rumi and of many other spiritual souls and poets of Persia. He showed the way to the ultimate aim of life by making a sort of picture in a poetic form. Almost all the great teachers of the world, when they have pointed out the right way to seeking souls, have had to adopt a symbolical form of expression, such as a story or a legend which could give a key to the one who is ready to understand and at the same time interest the one who is not yet ready. Thus, both may rejoice, the one who sleeps, and the one who is already awakened. This method has been followed by the poets of Persia and India, especially the Hindustani poets. They have told their stories in a form which would be acceptable, not only to the seekers after truth, but to those in all the different stages of evolution.

Attar's best known work is called Mantiq-ut-Tair, or the 'Colloquy of the Birds,' from which the idea of the 'Blue Bird' has been taken today. Very few have understood the idea of the 'Blue Bird', or the 'Bird of the Sky.' It contains a very ancient teaching, through the use of the Persian word for sky. This teaching points out that every soul has a capacity, which may be called the 'sky,' and that this capacity can accommodate earth or heaven, whichever it partakes of and holds within itself. When one walks in a crowd, what does one see? One sees numerous faces, but one might better call them various attitudes. All that we see in individuals, all that presents itself to us, has expression, atmosphere and form. If we give it one name, it is the attitude, whatever attitude they have towards life, right or wrong, good or bad; they are themselves that attitude. Does this not show how appropriate the word 'sky' is?

In point of fact, whatever one makes of oneself, one becomes that. The source of happiness or unhappiness is all in man himself. When he is unaware of this, he is not able to arrange his life, but as he becomes more acquainted with this secret, he gains mastery, and the process by which this mastery is attained is the only fulfillment of the purpose of this life. It is this process which is explained by Attar in his description of the seven valleys through which this Bird of the Sky has passed.

The first valley is the Valley of the Quest. How true it is that every child is born with the tendency to search, to know! What we call inquisitiveness or curiosity is born in each one of them, and it represents the inner feeling of quest. And as man is born with this tendency, he cannot be satisfied until by searching he has obtained the knowledge he wishes to have. There is no doubt that what prevents man from gaining the knowledge that his soul is really searching for is himself. It is his small self, always standing in his way, that keeps him from searching for the only thing that every soul strives to find. Therefore, it would be safe to say that there is no one in this world who is a worse enemy of man than man himself.

In this search, some people think that one can perhaps find out from science or from art something that is behind this manifestation. Surely, whether the quest be material or spiritual, in the end, one will arrive, and one must arrive, at the goal that is the same for everyone. Scientists and engineers, people who are absorbed in research into material things and hardly ever think of spiritual matters, even they, after much research, arrive very close to the same knowledge that is the ultimate knowledge. Therefore, whatever a man may seem to us, materialist, atheist or agnostic, we cannot really call him that because, in the end, his goal is the same and his attainment is the same. If he really reaches the depths of knowledge, if he goes far enough, then whatever he was searching for, he will arrive at the same goal.

When he has searched enough and found something satisfying, a man still cannot enjoy that satisfaction unless there is one faculty at play, and that is the faculty of love and devotion. Do we not see in our everyday life that people of great intellect and wide interests very often seem to miss something? When it happens with a couple that one is very intellectual, the other may feel there is something lacking to make their lives complete, that intellect alone is not enough. What is it? It is the heart which balances life, and the absence of heart keeps life dry. Knowledge and heart are just like the positive and negative forces; it is these two things which make life balanced. If the heart quality is very strong and intellect is lacking, then life lacks balance. Knowledge and heart quality must be developed together. Therefore, according to Attar, the faculty of devotion or quality of heart is the Second Valley, the Valley of Love.

The Third Valley is the Valley of Knowledge, the knowledge which illuminates and comes by the help of the love element and the intellect. That is the knowledge which is called spiritual knowledge. Without a developed love quality, man is incapable of having that knowledge. There are fine lights and shades in one's life that cannot be perceived and fully understood without having touched the deeper side of life, which is the devotional side. The person who has never in his life been wholly grateful cannot know what it is. He who has not experienced humility in life does not know its beauty. The one who has not known gentleness or modesty cannot appreciate its beauty or recognize it.

No doubt a person of fine qualities is often ridiculed if he happens to be in a place where these qualities are not understood, where they are like a foreign language. This shows that there is a refinement in life for which intellect alone is not sufficient. The heart must be open too. A very intellectual man went to Jami and asked him to take him as his pupil and give him initiation. Jami looked at him and said, 'Have you ever loved anybody?' This man said, 'No, I have not loved.' Then Jami said, 'Go and love first, then come to me and I will show you the way.'

Love has its time at every stage of life. As a child, as a youth, as a grown-up, whatever stage of life one has reached, love is always asked for and love always has its part to perform. Whatever situation we are placed in, amongst friends or foes, amongst those who understand us or amongst those who do not, in ease or in difficulty, in all places at all times, it has its part to perform. The one who thinks, 'I must not let the principle of love have its way, I must harden myself against it', imprisons his soul. There is only one thing in the world that shows the sign of heaven, that gives the proof of God, and that is pure, unselfish love. For all the noble qualities which are hidden in the soul will spring forth and blossom when love helps them and nurtures them. Man may have a great deal of good in him and he may be very intelligent, but as long as his heart is closed, he cannot show that nobleness, that goodness which is hidden in his heart. The psychology of the heart is such that once one begins to know it, one realizes that life is a continual phenomenon. Then every moment of life becomes a miracle; a searchlight is thrown upon human nature and all things become so clear that one does not ask for any greater phenomenon or miracle; it is a miracle in itself. What one calls telepathy, thought reading, or clairvoyance, and all such things, come by themselves when the heart is open.

If a person is cold and rigid, he feels within himself as if he were in a grave. He is not living, he cannot enjoy this life for he cannot express himself and he cannot see the light and life outside. What keeps man from developing the heart quality? His exacting attitude. He wants to make a business of love. He says, 'If you will love me, I will love you.' As soon as a man measures and weighs his favors and his services and all that he does for one whom he loves, he ceases to know what love is. Love sees the beloved and nothing else.

As Rumi says, 'Whether you love a human being or you love God, there will come a day when all lovers, either of man or of God, will be brought before the throne of love, and the presence of that only Beloved will reign there.' What does this show? In loving our friend, in loving our neighbor, even in the love that one shows to one's enemy, one is only loving God. The one who says, 'I love God, but I cannot love man,' does not love God, he cannot. It is like saying, 'I love you very much, but I do not like looking at your face!'

After this Third Valley, where the knowledge of human nature and of the fine feelings, which are called virtues, is attained, then the next step is Annihilation. What we call destruction or annihilation is nothing but change. Neither substance nor form nor spirit, nothing is absolutely destroyed; it is only changed. But man sometimes does not like to change. He does not like it, but he cannot live without it. There is not one single moment of our life when there is no change. Whether we accept it or not, the change is there. Destruction, annihilation or death might seem a very different change; yet, there are a thousand deaths that we die in life. A great disappointment, the moment when our heart breaks, is worse than death. Often our experiences in life are worse than death, yet we go through them. At the time they seem unbearable; we think we cannot stand it, but yet we live. If after dying a thousand deaths we still live, then there is nothing in the world to be afraid of. It is man's delusion, his own imagination, which makes death dreadful to him. Can anyone kill life? If there is any death, it is that of death itself, for life will not die.

Someone went to a Sufi with a question. He said, 'I have been puzzling for many, many years and reading books, and I have not been able to find a definite answer. Tell me what happens after death?' The Sufi replied, 'Please ask this question of someone who will die. I am going to live.' The idea is that there is one sky which is our own being; in other words, we can call it an accommodation. What has taken possession of this accommodation? A deluded ego that says, 'I.' It is deluded by this body and mind and it has called itself an individual. When a man has a ragged coat he says, 'I am poor'. In reality his coat is poor, not he. What this capacity or accommodation contains is that which becomes his knowledge, his realization, and it is that which limits him. It forms that limitation which is the tragedy of every soul.

Now, this capacity may be filled with self, or it may be filled with God. There is only room for one. Either we live with our limitation, or we let God reign there in His unlimited Being. In other words, we take away the home which has always belonged to someone else and fill it with delusion and call it our own. We not only call it our own, but we even call it our self. That is man's delusion, and all religious and philosophical teachings are given in order to rid man of this delusion that deprives him of his spiritual wealth. Spiritual wealth is the greatest wealth. Spiritual happiness is the only happiness; there is no other.

Once a person is able to disillusion himself, he arrives at the stage described in the Fourth Valley, the Valley of Non-Attachment, and he is afraid. He thinks, 'How can I give my home to someone else, even if it is God? This is my body, my mind, my home, my individuality. How can I give it away, even to God?' But in reality it is not something upon which he can rely. It is delusion from beginning to end and subject to destruction. Does anything stand above destruction? Nothing. Then why be afraid to think for the moment that it is nothing? This natural fear arises because man is unaccustomed to face reality. He is so used to dreams that he is afraid of reality. People are afraid of losing themselves, but they do not know that non-attachment is not losing one's self; it means losing illusion. In reality, it is only by losing this illusion that they can find themselves. One's soul has become lost in this illusion, and the process is to get out of it, to rise above it.

By the time the Fifth Valley, the Valley of Unity, is reached, one has disillusioned one's self, and it is this act which is called in the Bible 'Rebirth'. This is when the soul has emerged from illusion, it is the birth of the soul. How does this birth of the soul express itself? What does one feel? It expresses itself first in a kind of bewilderment, together with a great joy. A man's interest in life is increased; all that he sees he enjoys. He concerns himself with few things, but wonders at all. This bewilderment is such that it becomes wonderfully amusing to look at life. The whole world becomes a kind of stage to him, full of players. He then begins to amuse himself with the people of this world, as one might play with children, and yet not be concerned with what they do, for he expects no better. If children do something different from the parents, the parents are not much concerned. They know it is a stage of the child's life and that they cannot expect any better from them. So, likes and dislikes, favors and disfavors, may interest him, but they will not affect him in the least.

There is another stage, where this bewilderment brings a man to see the reflection of the One who has taken possession of his heart. This means also to see one's Beloved in everyone, even in one's enemy. The Beloved is seen in all things, and then the bowl of poison given by the Beloved is not so bitter. Those who, like Christ, have sacrificed themselves and suffered for humanity, have given an example to the world. They have revealed a God-conscious soul who has reached the stage where even an enemy appears as a friend, as the Beloved. And it is not an unattainable stage, for the soul is made of love, and it is going towards the perfection of love. All the virtues man has learned, love has taught him. Therefore, this world of good and bad, of thorns and flowers, can become a place of splendor only.

In the Sixth Valley, the Valley of Amazement, man recognizes and understands what is beyond all things, the reason of all reasons, the cause of all causes; for all intuition and power develop in man with this unfoldment.

The Seventh Valley, the Valley of God-Realization, is the valley of that peace which every soul is looking for, whether spiritually or materially, seeking from morning until night for something that will give it peace. To some souls, that peace comes when asleep; but for the God-conscious, that peace becomes his home. As soon as he has closed his eyes, as soon as he has relaxed his body, stilled his mind and lost the limitations of his consciousness, he begins to float in the unlimited spheres.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Unearthly excellence

"A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?"

"A poet is a bird of unearthly excellence, who escapes from his celestial realm arrives in this world warbling. If we do not cherish him, he spreads his wings and flies back into his homeland."

"Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection. Advance and do not fear the thorns in the path, for they draw only corrupt blood."

"All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind."

"All that spirits desire, spirits attain."

"An eye for an eye, and the whole world would be blind."

"And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation."

"And the self-same well from which your laughter rises was often-times filled with your tears."

"Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed."

"Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror."

"But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls."

"Cast aside those who liken godliness to whimsy and who try to combine their greed for wealth with their desire for a happy afterlife."

"Coming generations will learn equality from poverty, and love from woes."

"Death most resembles a prophet who is without honor in his own land or a poet who is a stranger among his people."

"Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother."

"Exaggeration is truth that has lost its temper."

"Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking."

"For what is it to die, but to stand in the sun and melt into the wind?"

"Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair."

"Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity."

"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need."

"Generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do."

"Hallow the body as a temple to comeliness and sanctify the heart as a sacrifice to love; love recompenses the adorers."

"I am ungrateful to these teachers."

"I existed from all eternity and, behold, I am here; and I shall exist till the end of time, for my being has no end."

"I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers."

"I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers."

"I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit."

"I wash my hands of those who imagine chattering to be knowledge, silence to be ignorance, and affection to be art."

"If my survival caused another to perish, then death would be sweeter and more beloved."

"If the grandfather of the grandfather of Jesus had known what was hidden within him, he would have stood humble and awe-struck before his soul."

"If you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work."

"If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don't, they never were."

"If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees."

"If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom?"

"In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."

"Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children."

"Knowledge cultivates your seeds and does not sow in you seeds."

"Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know my self, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties, and its very atoms."

"Life without liberty is like a body without spirit."

"Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit."

"Love... It surrounds every being and extends slowly to embrace all that shall be."

"Many a doctrine is like a window pane. We see truth through it but it divides us from truth."

"Most people who ask for advice from others have already resolved to act as it pleases them."

"Nor shall derision prove powerful against those who listen to humanity or those who follow in the footsteps of divinity, for they shall live forever. Forever."

"Of life's two chief prizes, beauty and truth, I found the first in a loving heart and the second in a laborer's hand."

"Pain and foolishness lead to great bliss and complete knowledge, for Eternal Wisdom created nothing under the sun in vain."

"Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge."

"Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary."

"Poverty is a veil that obscures the face of greatness. An appeal is a mask covering the face of tribulation."

"Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be."

"Rebellion without truth is like spring in a bleak, arid desert."

"Sadness is but a wall between two gardens."

"Safeguarding the rights of others is the most noble and beautiful end of a human being."

"The eye of a human being is a microscope, which makes the world seem bigger than it really is."

"The just is close to the people's heart, but the merciful is close to the heart of God."

"The most pitiful among men is he who turns his dreams into silver and gold."

"The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply."

"The person you consider ignorant and insignificant is the one who came from God, that he might learn bliss from grief and knowledge from gloom."

"The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind."

"The tears that you spill, the sorrowful, are sweeter than the laughter of snobs and the guffaws of scoffers."

"There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward."

"They consider me to have sharp and penetrating vision because I see them through the mesh of a sieve."

"Time has been transformed, and we have changed; it has advanced and set us in motion; it has unveiled its face, inspiring us with bewilderment and exhilaration."

"To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to."

"We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them."

"We were a silent, hidden thought in the folds of oblivion, and we have become a voice that causes the heavens to tremble."
"What difference is there between us, save a restless dream that follows my soul but fears to come near you?"
"What do the nationalists say about killers punishing murderers and thieves sentencing looters?"

"What is this world that is hastening me toward I know not what, viewing me with contempt?"
"When love beckons to you, follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you."
"When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."

"When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?"

"Where is the justice of political power if it executes the murderer and jails the plunderer, and then itself marches upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills?"

"Where is the justice of political power if it executes the murderer and jails the plunderer?"

"Where is the justice of political power if it... marches upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills?"

"Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too selfful to seek other than itself."

"Wisdom stands at the turn in the road and calls upon us publicly, but we consider it false and despise its adherents."

"Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy."

"Would that I were a dry well, and that the people tossed stones into me, for that would be easier than to be a spring of flowing water that the thirsty pass by, and from which they avoid drinking."
"Yesterday is but today's memory, and tomorrow is today's dream."
"Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors. But today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty, and obey only love."
"You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth."
"You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give."
"You have your ideology and I have mine."
"You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might also pray in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance."
"Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you."

"Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens."

"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
"Zeal is a volcano, the peak of which the grass of indecisiveness does not grow."