September 29, 2014 at 7:50 pm #43002
Hafiz (1325-1389 CE):
Verses in Praise of God, c. 1370 CE
The name “Hafiz” means “strong-memoried,” and was given as a phrase of honor to the poet when, as a young boy, he recited the entire Qur’an by heart. He was born at Shiraz, in southern Persia, in 1325, and died there in 1389. Hafiz was one of the world’s greatest masters of lyric verse. Both he and Jami are Sufis, but in a very different mood. The Sufism of Hafiz is like that of Umar Khayyam, i.e., Hafiz confines himself so wholly to the praise of wine and love, that questions arose whether he was always thinking about the joys of the spirit.
In Praise of His Own Verses
The beauty of these verses baffles praise:
What guide is needed to the solar blaze?
Extol that artist by whose pencil’s aid
The virgin, Thought, so richly is arrayed.
For her no substitute can reason show,
Nor any like her human judgment know.
This verse, a miracle, or magic white—
Brought down some voice from Heaven, or Gabriel bright?
By me as by none else are secrets sung,
No pearls of poesy like mine are strung
Once a government official and student named Rikko Taifu visited Nansen and said: “Your disciple understands Buddhism a little.”
“How is it during the entire twenty-four hours?” Nansen asked.
Rikko replied: “He goes about without even a shred of clothing.”
Nansen said: “That fellow is still standing outside in the hall. He has not realized any of the Tao. A virtuous ruler does not use clever rejoinders.” Zen Mondo
“The Card game would not be unfamiliar in the west. Countless card games exist, using the playing cards which are identical in size and shape. However, many of us may not know that the first playing card is said to be appeared in the ninth century during the Tang dynasty (June 618 June 907) in China.”October 1, 2014 at 12:12 am #43003
…”transcendence” (tanzih) and “immanence” (tashbih), or the “negative” and “positive” ways…
The spiritual training of ‘Iraqi, as of every adept of Sufism, was of course not through literature or even formal religious education. It was through initiation and spiritual discipline. Everything else followed from that fundamental and central training, which aimed at the purification of the heart, the goal that is basic in Sufism. ‘Iraqi became a work of art before producing works of art. If he sang the love of God in verse of great beauty, it is because his soul had itself become a song of God, a melody in harmony with, and a strain of, the music issuing from the abode of the Beloved.
‘Iraqi was a gnostic who spoke in the language of love. For him, as for Sufism in general, love is not juxtaposed to knowledge. It is realized knowledge. The Truth, which is like a crystal or a shining star in the mind, becomes wine when it is lived and realized. It inundates the whole of man’s being, plucking the roots of his profane consciousness from this world of impermanence and bringing about an inebriation that must of necessity result from the contact between the soul of man and the infinite world of the Spirit. But ‘Iraqi was a Sufi gifted particularly in expressing the “mysteries of Union” in the language of love. He belongs to that group of Sufis, like Ruzbahan Baqli, the patron saint of Shiraz, who have been called the fideli d’amore of Islam.
While Muslim philosophers say technical statements like: “God is the necessary Existent” or “All existence is a manifestation of divine attributes”, the poet Iraqi says: NOTHING EXISTS BUT LOVE. You are a LOVER, you just don’t know it YET.
I gaze at the mirror which reveals my beauty
and see the universe but an image of that image.
In the paradise of theophany I am the Sun: marvel not
that every atom becomes a vehicle of my manifestation.
What are the Holy Spirits? – The delegates of my secret;
and the shapes of men? – The vessels of my bodily form.
World-encircling Ocean? – A drop of my overflowing effusion;
purest Light? – But a spark of my illumination.
. Backdrop of Lama’at | a Deeper Understanding
In Islamic thought, the traditional authorities speak of “transcendence” (tanzih) and “immanence” (tashbih), or the “negative” and “positive” ways, of which the second corresponds more to the perceptive of ‘Iraqi. He and Sufis like him see the phenomenal world not as the “veil”, but rather as the mirror reflecting God’s Names and Qualities, or as a symbol of the spiritual world. For them beauty is not the cause of seduction, but the occasion for recollection of the spiritual archetypes in Platonic sense.
Of course God is transcendent and one must renounce and leave the finite in order to reach Him. But He is also immanent. Therefore when man has passed through the stage of renunciation and separation from the world of forms for the sake of Formless, it is possible for him to return to forms as the mirror of the Formless. But this can happen only if the first stage – that of renunciation, asceticism, and separation from the world – has been experienced. For as Frithjof Schuon has stated, “It is not possible to experience God as Immanent without having experienced Him as Transcendent.” But having experienced Him as the Transcendent, it is possible in Sufi spirituality, as in most other authentic traditions, to become aware of the metaphysical transparency of forms and to be able to contemplate the One in the multifaceted manifold.
It is this perspective that makes possible a “spiritualized sensuality” that is very different from the dualism that would totally oppose the spirit to the flesh and mind to matter. This is compartmentalization from which many modern Westerners suffer as a result of a complex set of historical factors, including of course Cartesian dualism, which has constructed an impenetrable wall between “mind” and “matter.” This philosophical dualism has furthermore become fortified by a kind of religious dualism that also sees a total and final opposition between the spirit and the flesh, as if there were no doctrine of the resurrection of the body, in Christianity as in Islam. The result of these factors has been spread a kind of religious mentality for which it would be difficult to imagine how a person with serious spiritual intentions could talk in sensuous terms, employing continuously the image of wine or human body.
To understand the point of view of an ‘Iraqi, it is necessary to transcend the dichotomy and to return to the more traditional perspective, which is also present in certain school of Western spirituality. In the perspective of ‘Iraqi there is no irreducible dichotomy between divine and human love or divine and human beauty. There is a gradation from the love of forms, which is “apparent love” (isqhi majazi), to the love of God, which alone is the real love (ishqi haqqi). The lower form of love can be, and for the Sufis is, the ladder to Divine Love.
For ‘Iraqi and the fideli d’amore of Islam, the beauty of anything can lead to an awareness of the beauty of God, but it is human beauty that is the most direction manifestation of Divine beauty, for, according to the famous hadith, “God created man upon His own image.” The theomorphic nature of man is the metaphysical basis for the central role that human beauty plays in certain forms of spiritual contemplation in Sufism and in the type of Sufi poetry for which not only Iraqi but Ibn Arabi himself and such later Persian Sufi poets as Hafiz and Jami are famous. A Western reading ‘Iraqi should think not so much of the pietistic or puritanical writings of the post medieval period, but of the spiritual universe of a Solomon who in his Song could say:
How fair and how pleasant you are,
O love, with your delights!
This stature of yours is like a palm tree,
And your breasts like its clusters.
I said, I will go up to the palm tree,
I will take hold of its branches.
Let now your breasts be like clusters of the vine,
The fragrance of your breath like apples,
And the roof of your mouth like the best wine.
This type of spirituality is based on seeing the seal of the Logos on manifested forms and on integrating all that is positive in the manifested order in the process of transcending and going beyond all manifestation. The work of Divine Flashes has woven a complex tapestry into a unified pattern and created a work whose close reading cannot but bring the reader to the words of ‘Iraqi himself:
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