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Taken and adapted from David Ladinsky’s I Heard God Laughing and The Subject Tonight Is Love.
Hafiz (1320-1389) is considered to be one of the greatest lyrical poets of all time. Similar to the way the Gurus sung their message, Hafiz wrote about the stages of spiritual growth in the rhythm of the ghazal making it easy for all– farmers, craftsman, scholars and princes– to learn. Much of his writing reflects themes found in Sikhi: he did not see God as separate from the world (rather wherever there is love, there is the Beloved); he described the path to love as one that began with an awakening, led to pursuit and longing, and unfolded into a new phase of learning and inner growth; and he envisioned God as an all-loving companion, guide, friend and lover.
In My Brilliant Image, Hafiz describes some of the preparations required for the inner Journey of Love. He urges us to let go of habitual negative attitudes and unnecessary attachments which only weigh us down. To make this Journey, we must be light, happy and free to go Dancing:
My Brilliant Image
One day the sun admitted,
I am just a shadow.
I wish I could show you
The Infinite Incandescence (Tej)
That has cast my brilliant image!
I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The Astonishing Light
Of your own Being!
Hafiz seeks to broaden and deepen our understanding of “real love,” both in human relationships and in our growing obsession with the Divine. He prods us to explore Love’s possibilities and test its apparent boundaries. He says our progress in this Journey can only be measured by the intensity of our love, the living flame that illuminates all life. Begin to love now, he says, don’t wait– let there be no regrets.
I Saw You Dancing
I saw you dancing last night on the roof
Of your house all alone.
I felt your heart longing for the
I saw you whirling
Beneath the soft bright rose
That hung from an invisible stem in
So I began to change into my best clothes
In hopes of joining you
I live a thousand miles away
You had spun like an immaculate sphere
Just two more times,
Then bowed again so sweetly to
You would have found God and me
Standing so near
And lifting you into our
I saw you dancing last night near the roof
Of this world.
Hafiz feels your soul in mine
Calling for our
His ability to access the healing and loving dimensions of the divine earned Hafiz the name “The Tongue of the Invisible” by the Persians. How true that is. Like Gurbani, it’s even more beautiful and meaningful when read or sung aloud. I hope these two poems have reminded you of Waheguru and inspired us to read more: both Hafiz and the Guru Granth Sahib.
I drool (in a completely respectful way) whenever I remember that Sikhi supports scientific theory, design, and thought. I drool when I see nature’s form and function reflected in man-made objects. Stuff that I can’t quite grasp completely (i.e., string theory, genomics, fiber optics, philosophy) also makes me drool. So do nice European accents.
Perhaps this will make you drool as well:
- A lecture on Consciousness: A Glimpse into the Divine
- Sikhism and Science
- Sikhism, Science, and Quantum Physics
- The Handwriting of God
Waheguru is not only the ultimate engineer but he is science itself! He pushes the forces of natural selection and adaptation and sprinkles a bit of random mutations to create efficient elements of nature. He then smiles (and maybe even snickers) as he watches us exert our evolutionary fitness at the expense of other living things, attempt to rationalize the universe through mathematical equations, selfishly proclaim that our equations are elegant and beautiful, and argue over whether we are damning ourselves to a so-called false belief in intelligent design.
His smile probably widens when he sees us plagued with questions of identity and self-purpose– the existential queries of “who am I, what is the meaning of my life.” He smiles when he sees us slap our hands to our foreheads in anxious frustration. He smiles when he watches us struggle with self-doubt and uncertainty. He smiles because he is the force behind each of our unique paths: the occasional bumps, the pleasant coincidences, all of it. It serves as a reminder that as long as we have faith in the Guru we will find ourselves under his protection and guidance and ultimately safe, healthy, and happy.
I don’t have to necessarily see the light at the end of the tunnel because I know it’s already there. Wow. What a concept.
I’m no longer drooling. I’m less anxious. I’m reassured by my faith. I hope you are as well.