Thursday, July 31, 2008

Spiritual Crisis of Prophet Muhammad | The experiences of 'Dark Night of the Soul'

By the glorious morning light,
and the still night when it covers with darkness.

Your Lord has not forsaken you, nor has He become displeased, and verily the latter state is better for you than the former.

- Ad Duha (The Morning Hours), 93:1-3, The Quran

Have We not expanded for you the inner heart? and removed from you burden which weighed down your back?
... Surely, with difficulty is ease.

- Al Inshirah (The Expansion), 94:1,2, 5, The Quran

There are couple of full chapters in Quran, Ad Duha (93) and Al Inshirah (94) that sheds light on Prophet Muhammad's own spiritual crisis during the time of his Prophetic Mission which can be identified as his experience of 'Dark Night of the Soul'. Worth mentioning that the expression Dark Night of the Soul is used to describe a phase in a person's spiritual life, a metaphor for a certain loneliness, crisis, feeling of being forsaken and desolation.

Understandably, Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him, even before he received revelation of God, his practice of regular seclusion was most probably triggered from a sort of spiritual crisis. Note worthy that grew up as a marginal orphan who lost both his parents very early in his life. Historically the time before and around his Prophetic mission, it was an age of ignorance (ayyamul-jahiliyyah) in which, generally speaking moral rectitude and the spiritual code had long been forgotten. Superstitious rites and dogmas had replaced the tenets of the Divine religion. His heart was overflowing with profound compassion for mankind and a pressing urge to create unity, eradicate false limiting beliefs, social evils, cruelty and injustice.

Growing up in that time and society, surely had created an intense need for higher meaning and purpose which always takes birth in human psyche by going through a crisis and in this case, a spiritual one which led to his deep, exclusive contemplative period. Spiritual crisis is a human experience and Prophet Muhammad also lived all range of possible human experiences. Say (O Muhammad), I am but a man like yourselves...' - The Quran 18:110.

When Holy Prophet Muhammad was 38 years of age, he spent most of his time in meditation and solitude. The cave of the mount Hira was his selected place. It is there that he used to retire with food and water and spend days and weeks in contemplation. Nobody was allowed to go there except his wife Khadijah and cousin 'Ali. He used to spend the whole month of Ramadan therein. This pre-revelation period lasted for about 2 years.

As Prophet Muhammad's deep mystical experience started with Divine revelation, after some period of continuous unveiling of revelation, it was suspended for a time. This cessation of revelation caused the Holy Prophet to be deeply distressed and grieved. On this account he felt very anxious that perhaps he had committed some error because of which his Lord is unpleased with him. This was a period of "Dark Night of the Soul" for the Prophet on account of his feeling that perhaps he was forsaken by his Lord.

Thereupon he was given the consolation that revelation had not been stopped because of some displeasure but this was necessitated by the same expediency as underlies the peace and stillness of the night after the bright day, as if to say: "If you had continuously been exposed to the intensely bright light of Revelation (Wahi) your nerves could not have endured it. Therefore, an interval was given in order to afford you peace and tranquility." This state was experienced by the Holy Prophet in the initial stage of the Prophethood when he was not yet accustomed to receive the intensity of Revelation. On this basis, observance of a pause in between was necessary.

Following is the full chapter, Ad Duha:
In the Name of God, Singularly Merciful, Universally Compassionate

By the glorious morning light! And the still night when it covers with darkness.

Thy Lord has not forsaken thee, nor has He become displeased, and verily the latter state is better for thee than the former.

And soon will thy Lord give thee so that thou wilt be well content. Did He not find thee an orphan and give (thee) shelter? And find thee lost, so He showed the way? And find thee in want and make thee free from want?

Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness. And him who asks, chide not. And the favor of thy Lord, proclaim.

The natural reality of glorious morning light and stillness of night and its darkness is called into attention at the beginning which is interesting because the night is darkest just before the dawn. In the context of any deep "Dark Night of the Soul" experience, its always followed by illumination, like the glorious light of the morning - which is called into attention at the start of this Quranic chapter.

Worth mentioning the very words of St. John of the Cross, "... the endurance of darkness is preparation for great light."

According to the chronology of Quranic Revelation and also according to arrangement, the next chapter is Al-Inshirah, (also known as Alam Nashrah). Thematically it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad to comfort him during a difficult part of his life into the Prophethood. It consoles the Prophet that his difficulties were not to continue, but would soon be followed by ease and it was a sufficient indication of this that his inner heart was expanded and illuminated with truth, and the great burden which almost broke his back, his deep anxiety for humanity, had been removed by the grant of Divine Revelation to him.

The chapter Al-Inshirah is closely connected with the preceding one called Ad-Duha as both show that the Holy Prophet had suffered great anxiety both from his personal, spiritual inner landscape and also on account of fallen humanity and it was Divine revelation that ultimately took him by the hand, thus guiding his steps and relieving him of his great anxiety.

Following is the full chapter, Al-Inshirah:
In the Name of God, Singularly Merciful, Universally Compassionate

Have We not expanded for thee thy inner heart? And taken off from thee thy burded which pressed heavily upon thy back. And exalted for thee thy mention?

Surely with difficulty is ease. With difficulty is surely ease.

So when thou art free, strive hard. And to thy Lord turn exclusively.

The expansion of the inner heart signifies in fact, as a commentator puts it, 'its illumination with wisdom and its vastness for the reception of what was to be revealed to him.' The burden which pressed heavily upon his back signifies "Dark Night of the Soul" and it was more in a sense because other than personal anxiety / crisis it was also a deep compassion for the state of fallen humanity, comparable to what led historical Buddha to start contemplation how to help humanity transcending suffering.

There are other reference in the Quran where in metaphor / parable also expressed the deep state of suffering that was going on inside the heart of Holy Prophet as he struggled to bring light of faith to his own people.

Perhaps you will kill yourself with grief because they do not believe.
- The Quran 26:3

Perhaps, you, would kill yourself (O Muhammad) in grief, over their footsteps (for their turning away from you), because they believe not in this revelation.
- The Quran 18.6

In the life of Holy Prophet, there was another time which is also recorded in the history as a time of deep crisis in his personal and social life. It was the year 619 when he was about 49 years of age he came face to face the death of two closest friends, companion and supporter. It was his beloved wife Khadija who was his dearest and uncle Abu Talib who raised orphan Muhammad and was his guardian and protector as well. And prior the tragic losses, the minority who believed in the Prophet and his message was forced to face a harsh social boycott that lasted for about 3 years. These extremely difficult circumstances and harsh persecution left a very deep impression on him. He was so grieved that he called the year "Amul Huzn" or The Year of Sorrow.

God vouchsafes,
after hardship,
- The Quran 65:7

:: Reference
. Life of the Prophet, Ahlul Bayat Digital Library
. Introduction to Quranic Chapter 93
. Introduction to Quranic Chapter 94
. Translation of the Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali

. Dark Night of the Soul
. The Dark Night of the Soul is the Gift of Illumination in Higher Consciousness
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Reality of Microcosm and Macrocosm

MicroCosm and MacroCosmThe learned think that microcosm is concealed in the creation of man and macrocosm is the outer space that surrounds us. For enlightened beings it is just the opposite.

The outer universe is microcosm and the macrocosm is hidden in them.

- Teachings of Shams i Tabrezi.

Everyone knows that the drop merges into the ocean. Few people realise that the ocean also merges into the drop.

- Sufi Proverb

: Related Post
. As Above, So Below | Microcosm and Macrocosm

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Knocking from Inside | Tiel Aisha Ansari's Book of Poetry

Fellow blogger Tiel Aisha Ansari's collection of poetry, her first book Knocking from Inside finally came out this March! Ansari is a sufi, martial artist, and computer programmer. Born in Philadelphia, USA, she has been writing poetry since her conversion to Islam in 2005. In her site she identifies herself not as a poet, but 'a scribe of Allah'. That explains her book's sincere and bold dedication:

For Allah, from Whom all things flow
And for Shaykh Taner Ansari, my connection to Allah
And for Todd, in whom I find Allah every day.

I found the dedication very sweet. How many authors dare dedicating their book to God!

In the introduction of the book, Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore makes the significant comment:
... the most arresting thing about Tiel's work is that she dares to embrace the heart's overflowing imagination, and says "God" without flinching, longs for God or extols God in His creation and in every moment, without hesitation, as naturally as breathing. ... When Tiel says "God" she means it, in all her various ways and fresh poetic stratagems, in these poems in which there many strata, and in this book contains many gems.

Although Ansari says 'God' without flinching, her work is definitely not a work of 'over-piousness'. Again quoting Daniel Abdal-Hayy's comment in the Introduction where he says:
Most semitically "religious" poetry suffers from a kind of "I know what's coming" piety, an assumption of religiosity that lets the poet get away with poetic murder, in which we are told what we already know, but in verse, with no new or arresting vision, nor anything poignantly personal, which amounts in the end to a "religiously correct" sentimentality.
Tiel's work is spiritually playful and at the same time sincerely human without deception, which takes their form and weaves from and back into the heart in an organic way. In her poetry she give words a whole different gravity of meaning. For example, in the very first poem of the book, 'Drinking from the Source' the reader is guided in a very zen-sufi style to discover and rediscover the meaning of the word 'memory':

This verse does not belong to me
... ... ...
Remembrance is the missing key.
This poetry from elsewhere comes.
These verses don't belong to me
they're written down from memory.

Ansari has the natural gift of mixing events belonging to poet's personal space and that which ascend in the poetic imagination realm in a surreal way. In the poem 'A Box of Wind' it starts like a dairy,

Last night the wind woke me from sleep
rattling the windows, blowing open doors.

And the reader moves in the surreal words as the poem finishes,

Bring me a box of wind to carry in my pocket
a murmuring reminder of the language of the sky
bring me a box of wind for my bedside table
a music-box to dance to when I dream at night.

And if I should weep,
let my tears be rain in the wind.

She captures beautifully, reading her poem as one can discover, like the poem 'Heartbraking Splendor' where she reaches the very heart felt intimacy in a way which almost seems unreachable to most. Her brilliant use of words and their arrangements enable the reader to enter that space.

In her poems she also whispers rare intimacy of the natural world and help the reader enter into the words that unveil the mysteries. The poem, 'Winter Wood' belongs there. Often she offers different genre of metaphor, different kind of meaning for readers as she does in the poem, 'Fisherman Dragged to Death by 150 lb Catfish'.

She reframes reality in her charming kind of way in the poem, 'A Speck of Dust':

I saw a ring around the sun this morning,
a million tiny flecks of light, each a miniature sun
embodied in a chip of ice.

Is that what the angels see -
a million human souls, each a tiny fleck of God-fire
embodied in a speck of dust?

She joins the voice of mystics as she retell the ageless mysteries of Beloved but with a fresh new beauty in the poem, 'Surrounded by Doors':

Sorrow is a gateway to Allah - so is joy.
Silence is a door to Allah - so is music
and both solitude and love are paths to Allah.
I am surrounded by doors, I can open none of them
for none of them are closed -
nor can I go out to meet my Beloved
for He is here.

Another poem, 'The Uninvited Guest' uses the much loved sufi metaphor of wine in such a delicate modern framing, truly an American sufi poem it turns out to be. This is Tiel's achievement, her contribution, is the recapturing of sufi bewildering and ecstasy in the most modern frame of reference without any hangover.

Some poems resurrect the ancient sufi symbols in a totally new way, as we see in the poem, 'Journey' where she works with the seeker's journey metaphor. She will use the most common human experience of everyday living and turn it into a spontaneous song of praise as she did in 'Thank God for Sleep'.

There is a tender sweetness in Tiel's poetry which makes these human eyes moist at times while reading her work. Her poems at times reactivate sufistic emotions and turn the reader into a weeping sufi. While reading her poem, 'Spiderweb' that was the state.

Photo: Reading 'Knocking from Inside' | Boulder, Colorado
The book has about 100 poems which are arranged in order in a way that they narrate a journey of the soul towards God. The section arrangements are:
At Home in the World
Those Blues
Listening with the Heart
In the land of illusion
With the Beloved

As Ansari explains her thoughts behind the arrangement: "In the first section (At Home in the World), the soul is at rest and content with the things of the world, in the second section the soul learns sorrow, in the the third section the soul experiences change, then it learns to listen in the fourth section. ("Listening" refers to attentiveness.) In the fifth section the soul begins to journey, this is not a physical journey, but a journey towards deeper understanding. In the sixth section the soul learns that everything is illusion except for the ultimate reality of God, and in the seventh section the soul is again at rest, with the Beloved.

The very first poem (Drinking from the Source) is by way of an introduction, it explains that I do not claim authorship of these poems as I believe poetry comes from Allah. The very last poem (Bitter Wells) is like a summary of the whole journey."

Ansari's book is a good example of how passionate blogging can be turned into a wonderful book and a delightful reading experience. It also utilizing Lulu: a self publication, electronic publishing technology that gives authors the freedom to publish their content whether its book, cd, artwork etc. totally at ease. Read more about Lulu's features and how it works.

The book is published under Ecstatic Exchange publications. From the cover design to its arrangement of poems - its a beautiful work.

Tiel Aisha Ansari currently lives in Portland Oregon where she works for a public school district and also electronically at her poetry blog site Knocking from inside.

'Knocking from Inside' is also the featured book to celebrate at the 2nd Online Sufi Poetry Carnival coming up this 7th August.

Acknowledgments for Knocking from Inside

'I can't now remember exactly when I became aware of Tiel Aisha Ansari as a presence in the poetry world, and specifically in the Muslim / Sufi poetry world, but her work has attracted my and others' attention by the suddenness of its authority and relevance. Her artfully "artless" poems with their lyrical moments, more extensive excursions, inner voyages and introspections, momentarily ecstatic realizations and visions, have consistently caught me up in their simplicity of style and limpid straightforwardness of expression. A young poet, in terms of years writing poems (only two by her account), Ansari gives fully at one with her voice, which loves brevity while digging quite deep in a relatively short space of poetic time.

Knocking from Inside is the journey of the human soul towards the Divine approached through a number of doorways: sorrow, the natural world, and the listening heart. We travel through both real and illusionary hands to (re)join the Beloved at the end of all paths.'
- Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore, Poet

'Knocking from Inside speaks in the rhythm of what it is to be human; the language of memory and love, and of everyday joy and sorrows. A delight of keep observations from a truly singular voice, these collected verses sing in a great chorus of life; of the eternal quest for God, of hope, of longing, of the streets and back alleys and desert winds of life; and Sufi-like, of the heart's certain and uncertain knowledge.'
- Irving Karchmar, Author

'These poems are a welcome reminder ... a bridge of remembering, to reconnect with the real.'
- David Fideler, Poet and Translator

# Where to get your copy?
. @ Lulu
. @ Amazon

# Reviews elsewhere in Blogsphere
. @ Velveteen Rabbi
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Monday, July 28, 2008

Dark Night of The Soul | St. John of the Cross

Loreena McKennitt's music and vocals "The Dark Night of the Soul", inspired by the Mystic words of St. John of the Cross, may God be pleased with him.

[>] Watch and Listen the Music Video 'Dark Night of the Soul' via YouTube

Upon a darkened night
the flame of love was burning in my breast
And by a lantern bright
I fled my house while all in quiet rest

Shrouded by the night
And by the secret stair I quickly fled
The veil concealed my eyes
while all within lay quiet as the dead

Oh night thou was my guide
of night more loving than the rising sun
Oh night that joined the lover
to the beloved one
transforming each of them into the other

Upon that misty night
in secrecy, beyond such mortal sight
Without a guide or light
than that which burned so deeply in my heart
That fire t'was led me on
and shone more bright than of the midday sun
To where he waited still
it was a place where no one else could come

Within my pounding heart
which kept itself entirely for him
He fell into his sleep
beneath the cedars all my love I gave
From o'er the fortress walls
the wind would brush his hair against his brow
And with its smoothest hand
caressed my every sense it would allow

I lost myself to him
and laid my face upon my lover's breast
And care and grief grew dim
as in the morning's mist became the light
There they dimmed amongst the lilies fair
there they dimmed amongst the lilies fair.

(Lyrics credit via News4All)

About Dark Night of the Soul: Dark Night of the Soul (Spanish: La noche oscura del alma) is a treatise written by Spanish poet and Roman Catholic mystic Saint John of the Cross. It has become an expression used to describe a phase in a person's spiritual life, a metaphor for a certain loneliness and desolation. It is referenced by spiritual traditions throughout the world.

The phrase "dark night of the soul" emerged from the writings of Saint John of the Cross, a Carmelite priest in the 16th century. Dark Night of the Soul, the name of a poem and its theological commentary, are among the Carmelite priest's most well-known writings. The texts tell of the saint's mystical development and the stages he is subjected to on his journey towards union with God.

The Dark Night of the Soul is divided into two books that reflect the two phases of the dark night. The first is a purification of the senses. The second and more intense of the two stages is that of the spirit, which is the less common of the two. Dark Night of the Soul further describes the ten steps on the ladder of mystical love, previously described by Saint Thomas Aquinas and in part by Aristotle, referred to by medieval Catholic theologians as the Philosopher, for he established justification for the existence of one true God and thus refuted his master, Plato. The text was written while John of the Cross was imprisoned by his Carmelite brothers, who opposed his reformations to the Order.

The "dark night" might otherwise be described as the letting go of one's ego as it holds back the psyche, thus making room for some form of transformation, perhaps in one's way of defining oneself or one's relationship to God. This interim period can be frightening, hence the perceived "darkness."

In the Christian tradition, one who has developed a strong prayer life and consistent devotion to God suddenly finds traditional prayer extremely difficult and unrewarding for an extended period of time during this "dark night." The individual may feel as though God has suddenly abandoned them or that his or her prayer life has collapsed. In the most pronounced cases, belief is lost in the very existence of God and/or validity of religion, rendering the individual an atheist, even if they bravely continue with the outward expressions of faith.

Rather than resulting in devastation, however, the dark night is perceived by mystics and others to be a blessing in disguise, whereby the individual is stripped (in the dark night of the senses) of the spiritual ecstacy associated with acts of virtue. Although the individual may for a time seem to outwardly decline in their practices of virtue, they in reality become more virtuous, as they are being virtuous less for the spiritual rewards (ecstasies in the cases of the first night) obtained and more out of a true love for God. It is this purgatory, a purgation of the soul, that brings purity and union with God.

Among Islamic Mystics, 'The Dark Night of the Soul' experience happened to many, notable classic example is Imam Al Ghazali (1058-1111). Although being a great theologian, brilliant scholar and chief professor, he passed through a deep spiritual crisis in 1095, abandoned his career, and left Baghdad on the pretext of going on pilgrimage to Mecca. Making arrangements for his family, he disposed of his wealth and adopted the life of a poor, wandering Sufi dervish. After some time in Damascus and Jerusalem, with a visit to Medina and Mecca in 1096, he settled in Tus to spend the next several years in seclusion. He ended his seclusion for a short lecturing period at the Nizamiyyah of Nishapur in 1106. His episode of Dark Night of the Soul is portrayed in the Movie based on his life, The Alchemist of Happiness as well.

Perhaps the famous utterance of Christ at the cross, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" which literally is translated as "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" was also a moment of Dark Night of the Soul for Christ himself. For many Dark Night of the Soul experience lasted for longer (in causal time dimension), for Christ, perhaps it was a momentary experience of what sufis call veiling.

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A Voice From Heaven | Tribute to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, King of Sufi Qawwali

"I, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan,
I am a sinner,
a man of heart impure and dark,
it is like a mantle that is dotted
with spots of stain and dirt.

The recital of Allah's Name purifies the heart, thats what I do all the time, recite the words. This is my job, my task, my favorite hobby.

I am a fakir, a beggar for Allah and wander the streets shouting His Name.

Remember God in pain, in pleasure; He will wash away the pain.

People remember God only when they are in adversity, if they remember Him in good times, they will never have pain and will never experience adversity." - Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, 'A Voice from Heaven'.

A Voice From Heaven
(2001) is a documentary made in the beloved memory of legendary sufi qawwali singer, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Filmed in Pakistan, India, Canada and United States, A Voice From Heaven is a tribute to one of the most beautiful voices in the century: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the king of Qawwali. The story interweaves excellent Nusrat performance footage and a rare behind the scene glimpse into Nusrat's life. Interviews conducted with the many friends, artists and producers with whom Nusrat has collaborated with, including Rick Rubin, Michael Brook, Bally Sagoo and the Asian Dub Foundation, tell the story of a man and his music of peace and spiritual love.

"It just seemed like, the music would start and something would open in him and this beautiful sound would come out ... its just fantastic." - Rick Rubin, President of American Recordings.

"There is an element in Qawwali, I think part of the goal is to induce ecstasy in people, as it is in Gospel Music. I think they are very similar actually. And I think in order to do that there needs a high degree of passion." - Michael Brook

The documentary traces the life and music of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and include interviews with Nusrat and musicians who helped bring his work to Western audiences, explorations of the tradition and philosophy of Pakistani music, and a performance by Nusrat's son, Rahat Ali Khan.

"Yes, you've got to sing from the depths of the heart."
- Nusrat F. A. Khan

[>] Watch the Documentary via Youtube: Voice from Heaven, part 1

part 2 / part 3 / part 4 / part 5 / part 6 / part 7 / part 8

. NY Times Review of Voice from Heaven
. DVD from Amazon
. Michael Brook visits Nusrat
. Intoxicated, Nusrat Fateh Ali and Michael Brook
. Raag and Nusrat
. Nusrat Interview in Urdu
. Nusrat tells what is Qawwali: Qawaali is the Qaul (expression, saying) of the Buzurg (Mystics, Enlightened souls, sages).
. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Yadan Vichre Sajan Diyan Aiya with english subtitle
. Nusrat Fateh Ali, Live in Concert
. The Spirit of Nusrat Fateh Ali Pin It Now!

Imagination, Children's Drawing and Sacred Practice of Letting Go of Trying 'Understanding'

Lilly's Painting

you can imagine
is real.
- Picasso

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.
- Albert Einstein

You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'
- George Bernard Shaw

Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?
- Leonardo da Vinci

There is a space between man's imagination and man's attainment that man only be traversed by his longing.
- Kahlil Gibran

“Everyone wants to understand art. Why don’t we try to understand the song of a bird? Why do we love the night, the flowers, everything around us, without trying to understand them?

But in the case of a painting, people think they have to understand. If only they would realize above all that an artist works of necessity, that he himself is only an insignificant part of the world, and that no more importance should be attached to him than to plenty of other things which please us in the world though we can’t explain them; people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.”

- Picasso (Oct 25, 1881 - Apr 8, 1973), The most famous artist of the 20th century. Full name: Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Clito Ruiz y Picasso.

In 1956, Picasso would comment, referring to some school children and their drawing: “When I was as old as these children, I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them.”

Reference: Pablo Picasso, Art History Archive

Drawing above: by Lily (5),
blessings to her imagination.
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

above every knower there is a greater knower | meditative quranic verses

... NarfaAAu darajatin mannashau,
wafawqa kulli zee AAilmin AAaleemun.
- The Quran 12:76

... We,
the Boundless Mystic Multiplicity of Divine Manifestation,
raise in rank of whomsoever We will, and above every knower there is a Greater Knower.

- Surah Yusuf, The Chapter of Joseph, The Quran

:: Listen to Quranic Recitation of Surah Yusuf
with English Translation

(Sura Yusuf) - Part 1, by Qari Abdul Basit Abdus Samad
and Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
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Saturday, July 26, 2008

As Above, So Below | Microcosm and Macrocosm

Photo: side by side, A Brain Cell vs. the Cosmos. Physicists find that the structure of a brain cell resembles amazingly to the simulated picture of the entire universe.

Left. Brain Cell. Mark Miller, a doctoral student at Brandeis University is researching how particular types of neurons in the brain are connected to one another. The image shows three neuron cells of mouse's brain and their connections.

Right. The Universe. An international group of astrophysics used a computer simulation last year to recreate how the universe grew and evolved. The simulation image is a snapshot of the present universe that features a large cluster of galaxies (bright yellow) surrounded by thousands of stars, galaxies and dark matter.

"As above, so below"
- Hermes Trismegistus, The Emerald Tablet

"Soon will We show them our Signs in the furthest horizons,
and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest
to them that this is the Truth.
Is it not enough that thy Lord is witness over all things?" - The Quran 41:53

"Have they not then observed the heavens above them,
how We have constructed it and beautified it,
and how there are no rifts therein?..." - The Quran 50:6

. Interesting Read: The Bible, the Qur'an and Science: (La Bible, le Coran et la Science) The Holy Scriptures Examined in the Light of Modern Knowledge, by Maurice Bucaille. Available for Online read via Witness Pioneer.
. On Cosmic verses in Quran
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Allah Hu, Allah Hu | Translation of Sufi Qawwali

Photo: Performance of selection from Classic Sufi Qawwali: 'Allah Hu, Allah Hu' presented by American Nur Ashki Jerrahi Dervishes at Naropa Auditorium on the occassion of Shaykha Fariha's visit to Boulder, Colorado

{ Allah Hu, Allah Hu - Only Essence IS }

Ye Zamin Zab Na Thi
Ye Jahan Jab Na Tha

When this earth was non-existence,
When this world was non-existence

Chand Suraj Na The
Asman Jab Na Tha

When neither Moon nor Sun were in existence,
When Sky also was non-existence

Raz e Haqq bhi Kisi Par Ayan Na Tha
Jab Na Tha Kuch Yaha, Tha Magar Tu hi Tu.

Secrets of Truth were not known to anyone,
Then there was nothing here, was Only You, Only You!

Pahunche Miraj me, Arsh Tak Mustafa
Jab Na Mabud O Bande me Parda Na Raha.

In the Night Ascension Mustafa* arrives the Intimate Divine Presence
When there was no veil between the Master and Servant.

Tab Malaik Ne, Hazrat Se Chup Kar Kaha
Sari Makhluq me, Haq Numa Tu hi Tu.

Then angles said secretly to Prophet,
Cosmic totality holds this truth alone: Only You, Only You!

Allah Hu, Allah Hu, Allah Hu

Divine Essence, Divine Essence, Divine Essence.

* Mustafa is a name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

Allah Hu, Allah hu is one of the most famous Qawwali, a popular folk sufi genre of music, common in India, Pakistan region. Legendary sufi singer, Late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan made it even more popular with his ethereal voice. He is also known as King of Qawwali.

Listen to [>] Nusrat Fateh Ali performing the Qawwali Allah Hu with Ustad Sultan Khan (lengthy version, 30 min, with improvisation) via Imeem Audio

. Allah Hu! (God, Just He!) | Original Edition and Translation (pdf)
. Sufi Qawwali
. Nusrat Forever
. Lyrics and Translation from different songs of Nusrat

. Nusrat Info, Sufi Qawwali Lyrics and Translations
. Another translation of the Qawwali: Allah Hu, Allah Hu
[>] Multimedia | YouTube Videos
. Nusrat Sings Allah Hu, Allah Hu
. Nusrat Fateh Ali, Allah Hoo, part 2
. Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Allah Hoo with Raag (Classic Improvisation)
. Sufi Poetry - Qawwali - Farid Ayaz , Allah Hu Part 1-2
. Allah Hu Part 3 . Part 4
. Nusrat Qawwali, Allah Hoo - Part 1, Part 2
. A Modern Rock Rendition by Junoon
. Qaul Pin It Now!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Jacob Lays in Wait

"lovers sometimes hide things under their pillows"
- Robert Bly

Has he been snooping again?

Did he find my ticket home,
my cradling blanket,
each dream of the perfect man, the perfect child,
my gold coins that will all finally add up into perfection?

India joins with me each night, I stretch atop a tomb.

there are roses,
there are tears of separation.

There is that old man watching
while the family dances
and for a moment, we all hold hands.

In sleep, our bodies rise toward that one tree
forever fresh, forever in the garden.

We cover ourselves with the patchwork quilts of our sins
and under our pillows, all the while,
Jacob lays in wait.

(c) Margaret James Pin It Now!

be still and know God | on the nature of stillness

Buddha Hand and Flower"Be still
and know God"

is a beloved line from Psalms (46:10).

Following are few meditative rendering based on mystical dimensions:

. Be still
and enter God consciousness.

. Be still
and know God alone IS.

. Be still
and enter the Divine stream.

. Let go unreal
and know the Real.

. Remove veils
and know You are That.

. Remove ignorance,
become Gnosis.

. Enter singularity
and realize oneness.

. Enter oneness
and realize supreme state.

. Be still like a calm lake surface in a full moon night
and let the Divine Face be revealed.
You Art That.
You are an unique Name of the Divine.
You are an unique Face of Beloved.
Wheresoever you turn, the Countenance IS.
Be still and realize within and without.

"Be still and know God" has so many fascinating dimension to it, but the most obvious is becoming still, to have a stillness of mind or what Buddha called mindfulness state - is spelled out here explicitly as the first step for realization, for divine gnosis. Thus Psalm being part of a revelation of western spiritual tradition interestingly carries the same seed of what eastern spiritual tradition emphasize so much: meditation. (Although i mention Psalm being part of western spiritual tradition or thats how its framed in modern discourse, all spiritual traditions belong to whole of humanity where divisions between east and west don't exist. Worth mentioning here, a very significant line from Quran: 'Light of God ... is neither of the east nor of the west' (surah al Nur, the Light chapter of Quran).

Master guide in the sufi path, his holiness Sidi Said al-Jamal in this book, 'He Who Knows Himself Knows His Lord' (Maan 'araf nafsahu 'araf Rabbahu) talks on the nature of this very stillness and its reality that is at the heart of the Psalm verse. I quote:
Inside the heart, (divine) wisdom is like candle in a house that has five doors. if the doors are shut, the candle will remain luminous, illuminating the house with its light, but if the five doors open, then the candle is blown out and the house become dark.

Wisdom is like this inside the heart with the five senses. If the person incline towards hearing sounds, and seeing what is visible, and smelling what has a fragrance, and touching what can be touched, and tasting what can be tasted, then wisdom hides and light is shut out and the heart is darkened (veiled).

But if the traveller turns away from sensory things with the five senses by practicing spiritual retreats and seclusion away from people (meditational practices) and if he discharge all the selfish low desires, then the springs of wisdom will gush forth out of his heart and on his tongue.

This is the path of opposing all the habitual habits which people have been afflicted with. If one does not tear these habitual habits from himself or herself, then the common patterns (of response, of relating to everyday reality) will be not be torn from him. You will not attain the high levels unless you turn away from the creation like a madman. As long as an iota of inclination (obsession, attachment, addiction) towards people remains in your heart more than your inclination towards your Beloved and your Goal, then you will not attain these high degrees.

[>] selection only. you may obtain the valuable manual of sufi path, 'He Who Knows Himself Knows His Lord' from Sufi Gifts.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dance of Longing

Oh, you glorious men.
Litter my landscape with your luminous bodies.
Raise your voices in rapturous rhythms
until my heart takes wing
and your song has painted a rainbow
of love in the space trembling
between earth and the infinite beyond.

Oh, Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir,
Come dance with me
to the music of stars falling
and suns rising.

Let our longing be glorious
celebration of the Beloved's name
one voice,
one heart.

(c) Renata Santerre
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

In The Blessed Circle of Dervishes | Shaykha Fariha al-Jerrahi's visit

Dare, O human being, to awaken!
Harmonize your song;
Intensify your commitment.
Consult your heart
And your heart alone.
Expose yourself to loving;
Seek the protection of Love.
To arrive at true being,
Come past the curtain
Waving in front of the Divine Light,
Which is your own light.

- Shaykh Nur al Jerrahi

Last Sunday, July 20th, current sufi teacher of Nur Ashki Jerrahi sufi order, Shaykha Fariha al Jerrahi was here in Boulder at Naropa University to lead sufi zikr or divine remembrance. It was a wonderful and heart warming gathering of Dervishes both from Jerrahi sufi order and outside. Its not accident really that Shaykha Fariha is from the sufi order which is called 'Nur Ashki' meaning, God's Love Light, but she embodies that very loving light which made the gathering illuminating by her sheer presence.

Reb Zalman Schachter-ShalomIn the gathering great soul Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi was also present who is commonly known as Reb Zalman. In the gathering Shaykha Fariha mentioned that she first met Reb Zalman around her teacher Shaykh Muzaffer Effendi. The Grand Teacher Muzaffer fell in love with Reb Zalman and initiated him into the sufi order. Shaykh Muzaffer once famously said ''Where is he (Reb Zalman), my blood is boiling to see him!' - such deep was his love for him.

And the presence of Reb Zalman explains the mystery of the fondness of Shaykh Muzaffer because Reb Zalman carries such a wonderful grace with him as well. I was moved deeply simply by his presence. A true dervish he is!

In her talk Shaykha Fariha honored him by acknowledging the beautiful grace, wisdom and love that flows through him, as one of the great elder of the world today - how he brings love and unity among the world traditions. She mentioned, this is also the work of sufism, this is what it strive for, 'unity to the heart of human being' by removing the veils of separation between the hearts and its Cherisher and Sustainer.

When the veils of separation are removed, then that human being find peace, who is naturally connected to the Source of love, mercy, light and wisdom. When that happens that human being can go out and be a peace maker, this is on the individual level and that human can form community. Sufism happens in community very much, the model of spiritual family and humanity as one spiritual family.

The sacred traditions are like pools within this spiritual family but all the pools offcourse have same water, only with different shapes of container - reminded Shaykha Fariha.

\\ The Remembrance and Chants

Circle of DervishesShaykha Fariha with her dervishes led the zikr. It consisted of reciting from the Ilahis (sacred hymns), invoking holy names from Islamic tradition such as Allah (Divine Reality), Ya Hayy (O The Ever Living One) and also sacred mantra such as La ilaha illa Allah (Only Singular Divine Reality Is). Following the zikr, Shaykha Fariha prayed for everyone present there and also for whole of humanity. Reb Zalman also joined the prayer and recited a prayer from Jewish tradition as well as recited Lord's prayer in Aramaic.

Photo: Happy Dervishes | Left to Right: Ali Rahman, Kabir, Shaykha Fariha al-Jerrahi and Shaykha Habiba al-Jerrahi.

\\ Sohbet and Dream Interpretation

After the zikr Shaykha Fariha answered questions from seekers. Also one person shared a profound dream where the dreamer was shown two different episodes just the night before this gathering, to be present with Shaykha Fariha. It was a direct guidance and reference to the dreamer's taking hand / initiation in the path with Shaykha which happened that very evening.

Nur Ashki Jerrahi sufi order has a rich tradition of dream interpretation and this particular sharing followed by its interpretation by Shaykha as well as the flow of reality was truly remarkable.

Fariha Sohbet
\\ Hand Taking of Dervishes | Initiation

Dervish Hand TakingBayat or 'Hand taking' is new dervish's initiation into the sufi path. The arabic word, Bayat in sufistic term is an act of union with the teacher in the path, with the spiritual community and finally symbolizes union with God. The practice of hand taking tradition goes back to Prophet Muhammad and about the sacred practice Quranic passage 48:10 says:

"Verily, those who give thee their Bayat, they give it but to God Himself, God's hand is upon their hands ...".

This tradition of the Prophet himself is thus observed for the initiation ceremony specific to most sufi orders. In the gathering, Shaykha Fariha initiated three new dervishes in the hand taking ceremony. It was a moment of sweetness and grace as new dervishes start their spiritual journey anew. With a new spiritual name, she blessed them and prayed for them as well.

\\ Last but not the least

Proposed by Shaykha Fariha herself, towards the very end of the program, we headed for a wonderful dinner in an Indian restaurant (managed by Nepalese owner) here in Boulder. Sharing a meal together is always considered part of the higher sufi manners and a source of Divine blessing. It also offered a blessed chance to spend more time with Shaykha, to listen to some wonderful sufi stories and so many other topics. In all sense it was a wonderful gathering and being in the circle of dervishes.

May Beloved's blessings be always with Shaykha Fariha and her dervishes. May God bless the soul of all the masters and great souls of the lineage of Nur Ashki Jerrahi order.

Dervishes in Prayer
# Further.
. Before Boulder, Shaykha Fariha was in Loveland, Colorado for Nur Ashki Jerrahi Retreat (July 4, 2008) with Dervishes. Her Khutba / talk on Adab (Spiritual Etiquette) audios are available for listening (30:40 min): mp3 stream, mp3 download

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Moth and Flame | a Sufi Metaphor

Moth and Candle Flame1.

a candle has been lit
inside me,
for which
the sun
is a moth.

- Bahauddin Valad

In sufi literature one of the most loved metaphor is moth and 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 Divine Essence. The sufistic term for the annihilation or passing away into Divine is Fana.

In the poem quote at the beginning of this post, from The Drowned Book, Maarif, the genius of Bahauddin Valad (father of Rumi) uses moth in a surprisingly beautiful metaphor. Here the analogy emphasizes the brightness of one's inner light that makes the sun look like a moth, apparently a small insect.

Moth and Flame analogy is also used to symbolize self-transformation. In a sufi story by Fariduddin Attar (adopted from the book, Essential Sufism), its described in this following fashion:

One night, the moths gathered together, tormented by their longing to unite themselves with the candle. They all said, 'we must find someone to give us news of that for which we long so earnestly.'

One of the moths then went to a castle and saw the light of a candle within. Upon returning he reported what he saw, but the wise moth said, 'he has no real information to give about the candle.' Then another moth visited the candle, passed close to the light, drawing near to it and touching the flame with its wings. He too came back and explained something of what union with the candle meant, but the wise moth said to him, 'your explanation is really worth no more than your comrade's.'

A third moth rose up and threw himself violently into the candle's flame. As he entered completely into its embrace, his members became glowing red like the flame itself. The wise moth saw from afar that the candle had identified the moth with itself and had given the moth its light. He said, 'this moth alone understand that to which he has attained. None other knows it, and this is all.'

Moth: I gave you my life.
Flame: I allowed you to kiss me.

- these two lines from the twentieth century Sufi Master Hazrat Inayat Khan explains the meaning of love between God and humankind through the simple and ancient Sufi metaphor of moth being consumed in the flame of the candle. (Hafiz by Gertrude Bell)

Someone asked, "What is love?". I answered , "you will know when you become (lost in) me!"
- Rumi

Sufi path being a path of personal experience and self-realization teaches that meaning can only be derived from life when one goes through the process of seeking truth, knowledge and the self. Sufis are expected full, active participants in their lives. They seek to experience God by fully experiencing themselves. As one old Sufi metaphor goes:

"There are three ways of knowing a thing. Take for instance a flame. One can be told of the flame, one can see the flame with his own eyes, and finally one can reach out and be burned by it. In this way, we Sufis seek to be burned by God." (credit)

Love is a Fire, Llewellyn Vaughan Lee, Golden SufiGod tells Moses, "I want burning, burning. .. Those who pay attention to ways of behaving and speaking are one sort. Lovers who burn are another" (from Rumi's Mathnavi)

In sufi path, often the spiritual master ignites the flame of love. In his excellent book Love is a Fire: The Sufi's Mystical Journey Home sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, may God be pleased with him, writes:

Shams i Tabriz was the spark that ignited the fire of divine love within Rumi, who summed up his life in two lines:

And the result is not more than these three words:
I burnt, and burnt, and burnt.

Shams had awakened in him a fire that could only be satisfied with union, with the ecstatic loss of the self in the presence of the Beloved. And Rumi knew how precious is this fire, this burning within the heart:

It is the burning of the heart I want; this burning
which is everything.
More precious than a worldly empire, because
it calls God secretly, in the night.

If we trace back this mystical love affair which is aflamed into the heart of seeker and through this alchemy an ordinary human being becomes an ashik or divine lover - we can trace back to the life of the Prophet Muhammad, the mystic master to whom goes back all the sufi lineage.

The way Prophet Muhammad, may divine peace of union be with him, initiated this divine love into the heart of his holy companions are unparalleled in the history of mankind. No other Prophet or illuminated human being had so much love implanted for their teacher by his own companion in the very lifetime. And it manifested in their giving away everything for his sake. The Divine love took shape into illuminating love for the holy face of their beloved master. Their giving away everything, all worldly attachment for the Prophet is like the annihilation of the moth into the flame. Because true love in the sufi path is what prefers the beloved before the lover. It is when 'Thou' is transmuted for 'I'.

And this is reflected in the affirmation of the prophet when he said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, none of you will truly believe until I am more beloved to him than his immediate family." In another place he says, "None of you will truly believe until I am more beloved to him than his family, wealth and all the people."

The holy companions of the Prophet loved him so much that after they departed from his presence, when they came back they complained that even through they were at their home, they felt 'homesick' by the absence of his presence.

There's a Prophetic saying: "Abu Bakr (one of the most nearest companion and friend of the Messenger) was not considered as superior over the other people because of his fasting and voluntary contribution of his almsgiving only. On the contrary, he was honoured by his strong loving belief (iman) in his heart."

Safwan ibn Qudama, a companion of the Prophet said, "I emigrated to the Prophet and went to him and said, 'Messenger of God, give me your hand.' So he gave me his hand. I said, 'I love you.' He said, 'A man is with the one he loves.'

This is the secret of love's alchemy. 'One is united with those whom one loves.'

Pointing back to the metaphor of the Moth and Flame where the attraction of the Flame is dearer than anything else is comparable to the Quranic verse which points to the Real Object of Love as compared to transitory objects of the passing world: "Say: 'If your fathers or your sons or your brothers or your wives or your family, or any wealth you have acquired, or any business you fear may slump, or any dwelling-places which please you, are loving to you than God and His Messenger and struggling in His Way, then wait until God brings about His command." (9:25)

Our Prophet's way is Love,
We are the sons of Love, our mother is Love,
My God is Love.
I have come only to speak of Love.
- Mevlana Rumi

The sect of love is a religion to me.
- Yunus Emre, humanistic sufi poet and philosopher of Anatolia

# Further
. Prophet of Love (i loved this story)
. On loving the Prophet
. Love of the Prophet
. Love of God, Rumi's Philosophy
. Habib Allah: The mystery of the beloved one
. Love and Lover transformed: The Sufi Path to God (pdf)
. The Soul Bird Symbol in Sufi Literature
. Wings drunk with ambrosia Pin It Now!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Synchronicity | glimpse of a deeper order

All your worry
Has proved such an
Find a better

- Hafiz, version by Daniel Ladinsky

According to the Buddhist understanding of auspicious coincidence, all circumstances can be brought to the spiritual path. Everything that happens in our lives, whether positive or negative, can serve to awaken us to the nature of the world. But occasionally, events cluster in particular ways that give us a glimpse of the deeper structures of reality, and suggest that time and linear causality may not be the ultimate way in which the world is ordered.

There are many possible responses to such happenings, which Jung called synchronicity. Some people give them a highly individualized meaning, finding guidance in a personal decision they are facing or confirmation of a direction they have already chosen. But perhaps the real meaning of synchronicity is more universal than personal, with every instance simply pointing to the possibility of a hidden pattern underlying the events of this world.

Either way, these events offer us a certain reassurance, and they also have the power to awaken us. A common response to such an acausal happening is a sharpening of attention, a sense of the closeness of something unseen. Startled awake, we may listen for the direction in which the universe is moving, and discover a wish to participate in it.

Synchronicity often takes us unaware and may restore us to ourselves.

... Synchronicity is always an experience of the unknown. Events ... are simply a reminder to wake up and pay attention, because the mystery at the heart of life can speak to you at any time. - by Rachel Naomi Remen

[>] read the full article. / Thoughts from Rachel Naomi Remen / Shambala Sun

In shamanistic cultures, synchronicities are considered to be teachings as well as sign indicating where one should focus one’s attention, such correspondences demonstrate the usually hidden links between the individual psyche and the larger world. Synchronicities express themselves through chance meetings and natural events as well as in dreams and supernatural episodes. - 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, Daniel Pinchbeck

I am open to the guidance of synchronicity,
and do not let expectations hinder my path. - Dalai Lama

. photo credit holudiya pakhi via flickr

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Persian Poetry of Love, Mystery and God

Love is a major theme in Persian poetry and can be interpreted in various ways - as mystic love, the basis of the relationship between human and God or as passionate or affectionate love between lovers, husbands and wives, parents and children, family and friends, or even as patriotic love for Iran.

Poetry is part of the everyday life of almost every Iranian - we are continuously exposed to names such as Rudaki, Firdausi, Umar Khayyam, Sa'di, Hafiz, Maulavi Rumi, Nizami and many others. Poetry is much enjoyed by Iranians and other Persian (Farsi) speakers, who find solace and pleasure not just in the poetic language but also in the poet's philosophical and human approach to life - above all, in a mystic (sufi) view of the world, reaching truth and God through intense love and devotion.

On Persian Poetic Forms

Ghazal: a short poem, 7-15 lines, all having the same rhyme. The last line normally include the signature of the poet. Generally resembling the sonnet and used for lyric poetry, it emboides the essence of Persian poetry.

Masnavi: based a rhyming couplets and used mainly for longer poems of a narrative or didactic form.

Qasida: a long monochrome, the most favoured form for court poetry, and often used for praising the poet's patron or benefactor.

Qit'a: monorhyme, usually 3-20 lines, used for casual subjects, satire, ethical or moralizing themes.

Ruba'i: quatrain, best known through Umar Khayyam's amorous and philosophical poems.

Dua bayit: a version of the ruba'i, mostly occurring in popular poetry.

- from Persian Love Poetry by Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis and Sheila R. Canby

Following are some sample from different famous Persian Poets but relatively less known in the west:

Although my heart is full of the sorrow of separation,
Joy mixed with your sorrow increases my unhappiness.
Every night I think of you and say, oh Lord:
Here is separation and there is connection.
- Rudaki

Last night, from the palm of the love-selling beauty,
I drank the wine of union until the morning.
Tonigth, with a hundred thousand screams and cries,
I wait - when will there be another night like that?
- Anvari

I am the servant of the one who steals a heart,
Or falls in love with the one who gives life.
He who is neither lover nor beloved
May not even be found in the realm of God.
- Sa'di

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Secrets | Soul Calls

Moon and Rose. by SadiqThe beauty of the rose
holds a secret;
A secret my heart knows:
That You are Love.

The beauty of the stars
holds a secret;
A secret my heart knows:
That You are Light.

The stillness deep within
holds a secret;
A secret my heart knows:
That You are here.

Secret Love, secret Light,
Beautiful Lord.

(c) Saranya

[>] "Secrets" will be recorded in a future Soul Calls album; other Soul Calls can be heard at

About Soul Calls | Experience of Sacred Music

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music."
- Aldous Huxley

"Music is the inner or universal language of God."
- Sri Chinmoy

Soul Calls are streams of spiritual musical experiences that are reflections of the deepest yearning of the human soul for union with the Divine Beloved. Birthing through spontaneous and meditative mystical experiences, the songs: its verses and music, which later named as Soul Calls were first given to Saranya in 1999. The actual experiences, like most of the deep mystical experiences are too ethereal to put into words and description. They came 'as they came' and they still come 'as they come'.

Since 2002 the focus for Saranya has been on recording the divinely gifted Soul Calls for posterity. The Soul Calls CD 1 to 3, The Trilogy chronicles the devotee’s journey from being weary of the world and beginning to call on the Divine Presence, to being told to go within, learning that the soul can soar, having meditative experience and deeper spiritual understanding, being anchored in God, longing for Union, and at last engaging in the Divine Romance.

Recorded and produced in India, so far four CD’s have been completed and the 5th CD is currently in process. The Soul Calls continue to be mystically transmitted to Saranya. To date, over 50 Soul Calls have manifested in the meditative state.

The Soul Calls provide an avenue for getting in touch with one's own heart and soul and personal relationship with the Divine Beloved and for reconnecting with that spirituality which transcends clime, time, race, organized religion, and things of the world. Bringing together the East and West, this new devotional, universal music that speaks to every listening heart in the language of the Soul is a testimony to the brotherhood of man and the supremacy of the Soul. This new devotional body of work and universal genre of sacred music cuts across all boundaries of distinction.

With world class East Indian traditional instrumentation and English lyrics in the style of the mystic lovers of God, Mirabai, Tagore, Rumi, and Kabir, the Soul Calls echo the ageless desire of the Soul for union with the Divine Beloved. As intimate and introspective love songs to God, the Soul Calls affirm the love and longing for, and the presence of, the Divine Beloved and give new universal expression to the devotee’s spiritual journey and devotional experience.

In this age when interior peace is a forgotten, but precious commodity, the Soul Calls dissolve cultural, religious, and ideological boundaries, by peacefully carrying the consciousness within - and turning it Godward. In that place of interior peace and Divine Remembrance, expanded personal peace and magnanimity of heart are experienced as one witnesses in the Soul Calls, and in oneself, this new expression of eternal verities.

About Saranya |
Saranya is a disciple of Sri Sri Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the spiritual classic "Autobiography of a Yogi” (published by Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, CA.). A practicing Kriyaban yogini since 1972, with profound gratitude for the help of her Great Gurudeva, Saranya brings to the Soul Calls an intimacy born of personal experience of the struggles and joys on the soul’s journey toward realization of Oneness with the Divine Beloved.

Saranya lives in Southern California and she can be contacted via email at

. related post: Dreams of Great Beloved
. Deep Listening
. Indian Raga Music and Spirituality
. A Heart Song for the Beloved

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Spiritual Portrait of Mevlana Rumi

Spiritual Portrait of Rumi by ZedStudy me as much as you like, you will never know me,
for I differ a hundred ways from what you see me to be.
Put yourself behind my eyes, and see me as I see myself,
For I have chose to dwell in a place you cannot see.

- Mevlana Rumi in Divan of Shams i Tabrizi -

Rumi in his eloquent words suggests us that our 'true self' can never be seen. Our true nature is not meant for our physical eyes, it can only be felt / seen through the eyes of the inner heart. Each human being is such an unique mystery! Because of that uniqueness Rumi says that only to see and understand someone truly we have to put ourselves behind the eyes of 'the one'. Entering into the highly esoteric human field of 'the one' is what enables us to mysteriously become 'you', to become 'the friend', to become a true lover. Its a timeless secret.

Spring overall. But inside us
there's another unity.

Behind each eye here,
one glowing water.

Every forest branch moves differently
in the breeze, but as they sway,
they connect at the roots.

- The Soul of Rumi, Coleman Barks -

This powerful portrait of Rumi shared in this post, thanks to artist 'Zed' is unlike any other portrait of Mevlana Rumi that I have seen. Many have tried representing him before (for comparison the links of other artists' rendering of Rumi is given at the end of this post), but Zed's inspiring work that which 'came' through him holds something special.

In all the previous representations of Rumi, he is always an old, somewhat sad looking old person; while he being such a powerful Ashik, Divine Lover, was anything but. Rumi, who possessed a blessed laughing heart can best be portrayed with a laughter of spiritual magnetism which is wonderfully done here.

Rumi was the vessel Shams had looked for for a very long time to pour light into. There is a stillness to the piece and a quiet joy of completion about Rumi that needed to be said. No, it DEMANDED to be spoken in a way that satisfied the voice in the artists heart. Its very graceful and healing to see that Rumi is holding water in his hand in this piece. Such a sacred symbol! Indeed his fountain of inspiration is still quenching thirst to so many lovers at heart.

To view the portrait in larger version and appreciate in details, click on the image. Our heartfelt appreciation to Zed for sharing this beautiful inspiration with us all. May his heart and brush continue to be blessed and inspired.

# Related post: Shams of Tabriz | Spiritual Portrait

:: Other portrait rendering of Rumi by Different Artists
1. Painting by Shahriar Shahriar
2. Rumi in contemplation, India 17th Century
3. Painting of Rumi by Setsuko Yoshida based on the oldest extant portrait of Rumi.
4. Rumi by Haydar Hatemi
5. Rumi in Moorish Orthodox Church Style Iconography
6. Rumi by Fatima Zahra Hassan
7. Miniature painting of Rumi by Hossein Behzad
8. Iranian Artists
9. Mevlana old painting
10. Unknown artist
11. Another Portrait
12. Portrait of Mevlana
13. Illustration of Rumi by Marianne Goldin
14. Rumi by Lisa Dietrich
15. Rumi meets Shams by Michael Green
16. Rumi by Rassouli

. Portraits of Rumi: Looking for your face via Youtube Pin It Now!