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The Marriage of the Soul (from The Secret Rose Garden)

by Mahmud Shabistari

English version by Florence Lederer
Original Language Persian/Farsi

Descending to the earth, that strange intoxicating beauty of the unseen world
lurks in the elements of nature.

And the soul of man,
who has attained the rightful balance,
becoming aware of this hidden joy,
straightaway is enamored and bewitched.

And from this mystic marriage are born
the poets' songs, inner knowledge,
the language of the heart, virtuous living,
and the fair child Beauty.

And the Great Soul gives to man as dowry
the hidden glory of the world.

-- from The Secret Rose Garden: Mahmud Shabistari, Translated by Florence Lederer / Edited by David Fideler

Poetry Chaikhana | Mahmud Shabistari - The Marriage of the Soul (from The Secret Rose Garden)

This thirteenth century Iranian Sufi makes union seem so easy.  Soul, balance, awareness, joy.

But i make it hard.

What is my soul?  Do i have one?  My mind goes into gear.  I take a course in psychology (psyche-ology).  I hear of behavior, brain, maybe "cognition,"  but if someone asks about the soul she gets strange looks from all the people i respect.  I stop worrying about my soul.  The professor  is right, life is about intention and behavior.  The Divine Awareness knows whether i have a soul and whether it matters and will find a way to touch if if it does matter

Balance?  I am about the most unbalanced fellow i know who is allowed to run around loose.  My ideas are extreme and my habits even more so.  As i get older i notice that even my physical balance has become more precarious.  Shabistani must have been a sober Sufi. The Sufi's tjat i love are mostly called "drunken Sufis"--.about as balanced as angels dancing on a pin, twirling, singing, cracking jokes about themselves and those in power, claiming to be God to rooms full of monotheists (and sometimes getting beheaded for their trouble).   But i struggle for balance.  Please, i tell myself, just 20 minutes of medition every morning.  You dont have to bathe, you don't have to dress, you don't have to have an alter.  But come morning i throw on yeasterday's clothes, pour some coffee, and pour over the morning Suduko or crossword puzzle, meditating on the numbers one through nine. But the "stramge intoxicating beauty of the unseen world lurks" in the pages of my newspaper.

And awareness?  Who doesn't want to be aware?  Who wouldn't want to be able to distinguish reality from illusion?  I certainly would like to be able to do that.  But, you see, i have this ego. It doesn't like me, it doesn't trust me, but it thinks it is me.  It feeds on things that are not necessarily nourishing and pushes away things that are.  It wants to know only those things, whether lies or truths that make it feel safe.  If my ego needs to see black as white then i will probably percieve black to be white.  There is a smidgeon of truth in everybody's illusions, even St. Augustine's.  The grain of truth behind the myth of the Fall, is this:  When some of us decided to trust our minds more than out hearts we were driven farther from truth rather than closer to it.  We could no longer walk with God in the garden in the cool of the evening, but had to start using our heads in what we took to be the hard scrablble of existence -- mortal, sweating, beating  our spouses (or, if female, obeying them). crushing snakes under our heels.  No, awareness isn't easy.  I just have to start with the assumption that almost none of the things i think are real  are, and some of the things i think are not real might actually be.  Out of this habit of assuming that everything i think is real isn't, awaremesw  may come as a gift.  it is a gamble, but i have nothing to loose but my sanity, which might just be ego.



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