Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rabe'a al-Adawiya

Of God’s devotees, Krishna praises as the best the one who desires God alone and above all that is. When Krishna speaks of lawful desire, this I think is his meaning:

“O God, if I worship Thee for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell, and if I worship Thee in hope of Paradise, exclude me from Paradise; but if I worship Thee for Thy own sake, grudge me not Thy everlasting beauty.” 

—Rabe‘a al-Adawiya from Attar’s Memorial of the Saints, abridged and translated by A. J. Arberry as Muslim Saints and Mystics.

What Then Is Love?

The Nightingale: 

“What then is love? To burn the heart, to sting,
To taste of lovers’ blood in everything.
Love has no sense, it robs of sense the mind.
Love has no end, yet boundless it will bind.
What then is love that would the world ensnare,
In countless curses you would prize as rare,
Mistaking love, a grave mistook for bed!"


"You sing the truth, but I have surely fled,
From love and truth alike; they are the same,
To one in love. I cannot claim to keep,
My love apart from truth, it strikes too deep,
And hooks my heart and offers no release,
But death that offers dreamless sleep and peace.
So see that love is life and also truth,
That comes as joy, or oftener as ruth.
So here I lie, avoiding every thought,
Of her whose cheek in rosiness has taught,
The sun to shine at dawn and dusk alike,
Whose flashing eyes from lightning learned to strike.
There is no choice of love which chooses us."


Love is no choice, unchosen it is thus.
What love have I to give, O prince of men,
That is not black as pitch and ghastly sin?
Your heart to me is true as mine to you,
And that we love is done. We can't undo,
The ties that have us wrapped in choking vines,
When love that rarest prize to you inclines.
Yet still your love; you cannot be with me,
For I am his, as I must ever be,
Until, perhaps, in paradise you find,
Your Layli there unmarried and more kind."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Bhagavad Gita Interpreted - Part Seven

Krishna said,

—Focus your mind on Me. In the practice of My discipline you will find refuge in Me. Knowing with My knowledge, there is nothing more to know. Of a thousand men, only one performs My discipline. Of a thousand of these, only one reaches Me.

—Like you, I am formed of earth and water, fire and air and ether. Like you I am mind and sense and self. But My higher nature is the One at whose command the worlds were made. I am the wellspring of all things. I am all beginnings, all endings. Nothing transcends Me, for I transcend all things. The worlds are a necklace of pearls; I am the unseen thread that binds them.

—I am the taste of pure waters and the brightness of sun and moon. I am the sacred name in scripture. I am the sound of the heavens. I am the strength of men.

—I am fragrance of the earth and the fire of the sun. I am the life that informs all lives. I am the austerity of ascetics. I am the source of all lives and the wisdom of the wise. I am the glory of the most glorious.

—I am action free of encumbrance. I am desire that is lawful. All existence hangs on Me.

—I am the source of the three states: creation, preservation, destruction. I am not in their service; they are in Mine. Deceived by these three states, their eyes beguiled by them, men fail to perceive Me. To escape the deception of these three states is difficult. But coming to Me, their illusion dissolves, while those who reject Me are bewitched by delusion and are lost to Me.

—Those who seek deliverance from suffering, those who pursue knowledge of Me, those who solicit Me for riches and blessings, and those who desire Me for My sake, these four are my devotees. But the best of these four is the one who desires Me alone and above all that is. Ever devoted to Me, he is in balance. I am his best beloved, and I love him.

—While each of these four is good, the one who loves Me for My sake exceeds the rest. I am his single wish; I am his straight path; I am his goal.

—In this life and the next, he comes to Me declaring, “There is only the Most High, the Best Beloved.” Such a man is incomparably rare.

—But others are waylaid by desire and turn to other gods. Adoring these gods, worshipping faithfully, I give their faith an invincible strength. If the gods seem to bless them or answer their prayers, it is only I who provide for them; it is I who answers their prayers. But the rewards they receive are fleeting. Those who worship the gods, they belong to the gods. But those who worship Me come to Me.

—Men lacking perception see only My lower nature and account it for little. They are blind to My transcendent Self, ineffable and unending. Concealed behind the veil of My creation, the world does not see that I am unborn, never dying. I know all that was, all that is, all that will ever be, but no one knows Me.

—All creatures are driven by passions, by desire and aversion and live in delusion. But when men are unbound from the fruits of action, they are unbound from delusion and devote themselves to Me for My sake.

—Those who seek shelter in Me, to free themselves from age and death, they know the Most High is transcendent; they know the Most High is immanent, and they recognize the fruits of action. They know Me in this world and the next. They know me in the sacrifice of action. They are purified and in balance. When they die, think not that they are dead; they are with Me.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Bhagavad Gita Interpreted - Part Six

Krishna said:

—In selfless action, unbound by desire or aversion or expectation, a man performs My discipline. But the man who does not sacrifice, who makes no offering, is a stranger to Me.

—This discipline is renunciation. It is the relinquishment of desire and aversion and expectation in action. It is not the relinquishment of action itself.

—Piercing the mystery of renunciation, your work is sacred. Such work is your path to peace, and peace your path to such work. Piercing the mystery of renunciation, you give up the fruits of action, you tame your senses. Your work is My work. Therefore, rise up and sound the conch. Do not abase yourself. There can be no better ally than your Self. There can be no deadlier an enemy than your Self.

—If you conquer yourself, the Self is your friend. Yet if the worldly self opposes your transcendent Self, you are your own enemy. If you at peace with your Self, then you are at peace with Me. That Self is untouched by heat or cold, unmoved by pleasure or pain, untroubled by glory or disgrace.

—Piercing the mystery of renunciation, contented and serene, master of your senses, your vision is ever one. Transcending the world, you see with the same eye the friend, the enemy, and the stranger. To each you show equanimity.

— In every moment be in balance, untroubled, master your senses with neither expectation nor encumbrance. In solitude, sit neither too high nor too low in a place of ease and comfort. Sitting there, at peace, purified, quiet your thoughts, restrain your senses, and commune with the Most High. Sitting upright, unmoving, turn your gaze within. At peace, washed free of fear, firm in Me, the restrained mind reaches Me. In every breath, worshipping Me, you attain peace in Me, beyond Nirvana.

—He lacks the balance of My discipline who eats too little or too much, who sleeps too little or too much. He finds balance between eating and hunger, between sleeping and wakefulness. Between these are perfection and peace. He finds balance when he has tamed his thoughts and senses, when he resides within the shelter of Self.

— The Self is his lamp, its light unfailing in the shelter of renunciation, where the gale of desire does not reach.His thoughts restrained, the self finds the Self, his bliss exceeding any pleasure of senses. Fixed on the Self, he discovers a joy that does not pass away, perceiving beyond any perception of sense. Acquiring this greatest acquisition, he abides within it, unmoving and unmoved by even the most profound grief.

—His heart is courageous and he is firm in My discipline; he unbinds the bonds of sorrow. He drives out all passion, all expectation. He finds shelter in the Self and his senses obey his command. He silences his thoughts; like waters beneath the sun of Self, they evaporate. Should his mind stray, wandering restless away from the Self, patiently he leads it back. His joy is greatest who stills his mind, his passions yoked. Purified he is one with the Most High. His joy does not pass away who contemplates the Most High, who is one with the Most High.

—With perfected vision, he finds the Self within all creatures and all creatures he finds within the Self. Seeing Me in all things, seeing all things within Me, he will find Me always ever present. One with all creatures, he is one with Me. He is never lost to Me, and I am always near to him. He has tamed his mind and achieved his goal who sees without distinguishing another’s joys and another’s sorrows from his own joys, his own sorrows.

Arjuna said:

—O Krishna, the mind is restless and domineering. It is capricious and changeable. It is willful and unyielding, more difficult to tame than wind or storm.

Krishna said:

—To tame the mind, to calm its restless wandering is difficult. But with vigilance and dispassionate endurance, it may be tamed. Possessing self-mastery, with discipline and knowledge, if a man struggles with his changeable mind, it may be tamed.

Arjuna said:

—Yet if a man struggles but his efforts fall short, what becomes of him? Does he wander lost between this world and the next? Does he slip away as a cloud dissolves? Teach me, O Krishna, and resolve my doubt, for you are the best of teachers.

Krishna said:

—No, Arjuna, he is not lost. The evil you describe will not befall him. Into the world of his merit he goes. He is born into the house of purity and wisdom; a birth like this is rare in the world. In that world to come, he will recall his life in this world and will struggle again to achieve his goal.

—His efforts in this world are not wasted nor ever lost. They are his in this world and the next, beyond any rite or scripture. He rises therefore above all lives, all worlds. He sheds his earthly body, then his celestial dwelling. He surpasses the ascetics, the wise with their wisdom, and those who act without passion. He attains supreme perfection in Me.

—Become like him, for he is My best disciple among those who follow Me who sacrifices the Self for Me.