Drunken Gypsies Celestial Nectars

Out of the many things one can watch diligently is the delightful dance butterflies perform in the presence of flowers. They are so faithfully drawn in a trance like action to them that they will seem oblivious to your intruding presence … could it be possible that they are high on the nectar as they carry on a drinking spree … this mind numbing attraction to the flowers in their ever so short lifespan makes these moments quite striking. My lovely drunken gypsies I wish I could be you. Light and honey the nectar of the select few …

We have become drunk and our heart has departed, it has fled
from us—whither has it gone?
When it saw that the chain of reason was broken, immediately my
heart took to flight.
It will not have gone to any other place, it has departed to the
seclusion of God.
Seek it not in the house, for it is of the air; it is a bird of the air,
and has gone into the air.
It is the white falcon of the Emperor; it has taken flight, and
departed to the Emperor


Hazrat. Mawlana Jalal-ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (r.a) – Translated by A.J. Arberry

I am drunk and you are insane
tell me, who will lead us home?
How many times have I asked you not to drink so much
for I see no sober soul in town.
Come to the tavern my dearest and taste the wine of love
for the soul is joyous only in the company of lovers.
The tavern of love is your livelihood
your income and expenses, the wine.
Be careful, not to trust a sober soul
with even one drop of this wine.
Go on playing your lute, my drunken gypsy but tell me,
between the two of us, who is more drunk?
As I left my house a Sufi approached me,
in his glance I saw a hundred gardens.
He swayed from side to side like a ship without an anchor,
while a hundred reasonable men watched on enviously.
Where are you from? I asked him.
He replied, “Half from Turkistan and half from Farghaneh,
half from water and clay and half from soul and heart,
half from the edge of the sea and half from the depths
of the ocean.”
Then I am no stranger to you, I said and asked him
to befriend me.
He said, “I make no distinctions between friends and strangers.
I’ve lost my heart and thrown away my turban
to dwell in the tavern of love.
My heart is heavy with words I want to say to you.
I have given you this advice before but you ignored it.
If you live with the lame you will only learn to limp.”
Once the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) leaned against a tree to rest
and when he left even the tree cried from the pain of separation.
Shams, now that you have stirred my heart do not desert me!


Hazrat. Mawlana Jalal-ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (r.a) – Translated by Maryam Mafi & Azima  Melita Kolin

Celestial Light Upon Light

The deliciousness of milk and honey is the reflection of the pure heart:
from that heart the sweetness of every sweet thing is derived.
The heart is the substance, and the world the accident:
how should the heart’s shadow be the object of the heart’s desire?
Is that pure heart the heart that is enamored of riches or power,
or is submissive to this black earth and water of the body,
or to vain fancies it worships in the darkness for the sake of fame?
The heart is nothing but the Sea of Light:
is the heart the place of vision of God–and then blind?


Hazrat. Mawlana Jalal-ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (r.a) Translated by Camille and Kabir Helminski

“It Felt Love”
How Did the rose
Ever open its heart
And give to this world
All its Beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light
Against its Being,
Otherwise, We all remain
Too  Frightened


The Gift: Poems by Hafiz

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you truly love”


Hazrat. Mawlana Jalal-ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (r.a)

“The rose’s purest essence lives in the thorns.”


Hazrat. Mawlana Jalal-ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (r.a)

Tera Zikr (Is it your mention)

Ke tera zikr hai
Ya itr hai
Jab jab karta hoon
Mehekta hoon, Behekta hoon, Chehekta hoon

Is it your mention,
or some perfume
whenever I do (mention)
I smell good, I get intoxicated, I chirp..

Sholon ki tarah
Khusbuon mein dehekta hu
Behekta hu, Mehekta hu

Like fireballs,
I get inflammed in scents,
I get intoxicated, I smell good..

Ke tera zikr hai
Ya itr hai
Jab jab karta hoon
Mehekta hoon Behekta hoon Chehekta hoon

Teri fikr hai,
Ya fakr hai
Jab jab karta hoon
Machalta hoon,
Uchhalta hoon
Phisalta hoon
Pagal ki tarah, mastiyon mein
Tehelta hoon, Uchhalta hun, Fisalta hoon

Is it the worry about you,
or pride,
whenever I do (worry)
I go wayward,
I jump,
I slip,
Like mad, enjoying,
I walk, I jump, I slip..

Tera zikr hai
Ya itr hai
Jab jab karta hoon
Mehekta hoon Behekta hoon Chehekta hoon


Lyrics A.M. Turaz – From the movie (Guzaarish)

O Allah when I mention Thy Name,
I feel such sweetness and ecstasy,
That it appears as if rivers of honey
Are set flowing from every hair of my body.


Maulana Kandhlawy r.a in his Khaatam-e-Mathnawy


Moth and Flame | a Sufi Metaphor

In Sufi literature one of the most loved metaphors is the moth and the flame. The moth’s annihilation into the flame has been drawn again and again as an analogy for the seeker in the Sufi path who seeks annihilation into the Divine Essence. The sufistic term for the annihilation or passing away into the Divine is Fana.

Moths gathered in a fluttering throng one night
To learn the truth about the candle’s light,
And they decided one of them should go
To gather news of the elusive glow.
One flew till in the distance he discerned
A palace window where a candle burned -
And went no nearer; back again he flew
To tell the others what he thought he knew.
The mentor of the moths dismissed his claim,
Remarking: “He knows nothing of the flame.”

A moth more eager than the one before
Set out and passed beyond the palace door.
He hovered in the aura of the fire,
A trembling blur of timorous desire,
Then headed back to say how far he’d been,
And how much he’d undergone and seen.
The mentor said: “You do not bear the signs
Of one who’s fathomed how the candle shines.”

Another moth flew out – his dizzy flight
Turned to an ardent wooing of the light;
He dipped and soared, and in his frenzied trance
Both Self and fire were mingled by his dance -
The flame engulfed his wing-tips, body, head;
His being glowed a fierce translucent red;
And when the mentor saw the sudden blaze,
The moth’s form lost within the glowing rays,
He said: “He knows, he knows the truth we seek,
That hidden truth of which we cannot speak.”
To go beyond all knowledge is to find
That comprehension which eludes the mind,
And you can never gain the longed-for goal
Until you first outsoar both flesh and soul;
But should one part remain, a single hair
will drag you back and plunge you in despair -
No creature’s Self can be admitted here,
Where all identity must disappear.

Farid ud-Din Attar’s The Conference of the Birds the translation by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis, Penguin Classics, 1984


Sufi Symbolism

…. the powerful symbolic imagery employed by the Sufis in their writings and teachings on the Divine Unity (tawhid). Symbols are a useful means of understanding how outer and inner realities are fused together, because symbolism starts with the premise that a symbolic object (the outer reality) has an underlying meaning (its inner reality). Problems seem to arise, however, when we try to apply the same principle to our everyday lives (the outer reality) and their underlying meaning or purpose (the inner reality). We tend to look for meaning and purpose in our lives in terms of the outer reality, as though they are somewhere ‘out there’ -in the future or in another place – rather than being right here where we are. If you think about it for a moment, when we look at a symbol we perceive its inner meaning at the same time that we perceive the outer reality. The outer form is simply a veil that separates us from the inner reality. The advantage of an established vocabulary of symbols such as that used by the Sufis is that once we are aware of the symbolic meaning we no longer need to use our analytical mind to work it out. Thus freed from reliance upon the outer form, the inner reality of the symbol can speak directly to us. The veil of separation has been removed. The examples of thematic imagery we will look at here are: the drop and the ocean; the wine of the Beloved; and the lover and the Beloved. These are followed by two classic love stories – Joseph and Zulaikha and Layla and Majnun – which are frequently alluded to in the writings of the Sufis.

The Drop and the Ocean

The natural cycle by which water from the ocean evaporates, falls on the land as rain and then makes its way along streams and rivers back to the ocean is used as a metaphor for the journey of the individual human soul back to union with its Source. Hence the many Sufi references to the drop becoming one with the ocean, to drowning, swimming, fish and pearls.

Drop of water … the individual human being

Fish ……………… the individual human being

Ocean …………… the Divine Unity

Pearl …………….. an enlightened or fully realized human being

When the drop departed from its native home and returned,
It found a shell and became a pearl.

From the Divani Shamsi Tabriz

A single drop of rain fell from a cloud in the sky, But was filled with shame when it saw the sea so wide.
‘Next to the sea then, who am I? If the sea exists, then how can I?
While looking down on itself With the eyes of contempt, An oyster in its shell, Took it in for nourishment.
And so it was, that its fate was sealed by this event,
And it became a famous pearl fit to adore a king’s head.
Having descended to the depths,
It was now exalted to the heights.
On the portal of non-existence it went knocking,
Until it finally was transformed into being.

From the Bustan of Shaikh Sadi r.a

All know that the drop merges into the ocean but few know that the ocean merges into the drop.

Kabir, d. 1518)

The Wine of the Beloved

Unless we have been forewarned about the symbolic language of the Sufis we could easily assume that poets such as Omar Khayyam (d.c.1123) or Hafiz (d.1390), spent most of their time in a drunken stupor. Or if they were not writing about being drunk, they were looking forward to getting drunk. Such an assumption is easy to make if we take the poetry at face value and ignore its symbolic function. It also serves to underline the point that the Sufi poets are writing about something that is beyond the understanding of most of us. They are writing about a different state of consciousness: one that is as radically different from a normal state of sobriety as being high on drugs or alcohol. For the Sufis, it is the different state of consciousness that is important. The alcoholic imagery is not only secondary but it is also a metaphor for the spiritual ecstasy experienced in moments of profound union with the Divine. Some of the meanings behind the symbolic imagery are:

Cup bearer the person who serves wine, and whose attention one seeks to gain in order to be served: metaphor for the Sufi shaykh, or for Allah.
Drunkard a person who is intoxicated and no longer has control over his/her actions: the ecstatic Sufi.
Drunkenness intoxication, or an altered state of consciousness: spiritual ecstasy.
Tavern a place to which a drunkard goes to drink and get drunk: the spiritual heart of the individual, where he/she can imbibe the wine of Divine Love.
Tavern haunter   a drunkard, someone in a permanent state of inebriation: the Sufi who has freed him/herself from the lower self.
Wine forbidden to his followers by the Prophet (s.aw.s.), but promised to the faithful in Paradise: spiritual ecstasy; communion with the Divine; knowledge of the Divine; the Divine Love which fills the cup of the mystic’s heart.
Wine-seller like the cup-bearer, someone who serves wine: a spiritual guide (shaykh or pir).

John Baldock, The Essence of Sufism.  

The beauty of the heart
is the lasting beauty:
its lips give to drink
of the water of life.
Truly it is the water,
that which pours,
and the one who drinks.
All three become one when
your talisman is shattered.
That oneness you can’t know
by reasoning

Hazrat. Mawlana Jalal-ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (r.a)

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