Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sufi Poems: Four

Tonight I am crazy,
crazy with desire for You.
This impassioned heart of mine
overflows with longing for You

This is a line of poetry by the recently passed master of my order, Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh. I'm venturing into the realm of arrogance, I know, but I'm going to make the effort to talk about the master's poem. I'll reiterate the warning I posted at the beginning of this project, that any mistakes and misunderstandings are solely my own, and don't reflect on my teachers or order.

This is one of my favorite of the master's lines, because it expresses the notion of longing that is often mentioned in Sufi poems. That longing, or desire for unity, has been referred to as the answer to the prayers of humanity. Meaning that the hopes and wishes we express, often limited to material needs or psychological issues, is answered with the desire to understand ultimate reality. This reality would open our minds to the truth of existence, and presumably the more mundane concerns would be set aside. Perhaps the solution would be obvious, or the issue would cease to have meaning at all.

The poets often talk of madness, or being crazy. This seems to be the madness of saints, who see the truth of the world and are unable to be comprehended by those of us solely in the realm of material concerns. Seekers of enlightenment from Zen monks to St. John talk of madness, barely being able to function in the face of the overwhelming beauty of the real. People who achieve unity with God have perceptions and abilities that make others misunderstand, envy, or even fear them. Watching someone who can see glimpses of the future, or appear to have a communion with animals, I can guess that it's a bit shocking.

To me, the master's poem is saying that all of this is only to put your heart into longing for God. The intensity and madness is driving the Sufi to seek God with all of his or her heart, and that longing is the communion that we are seeking. I love the use of "tonight," bringing the purpose of the meditation the immediacy of the moment. Tonight stands for the moment, right now, when we should be in remembrance of Absolute Reality.

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