Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fill in the Blank

Fill in the Blank

Sometimes I become my own pulse … entering
that world inside. There I have stayed a night
marveling at the firmament. Yes, inside any
living thing are stars.

All that the eye sees is just practice for
perfecting … the inner vision.

I can’t speak anymore of poverty of heart or
purse. For wherever I now stand a gold mine

How did things change for me, so much for
the better? I held God to His word when He
said, Seek and you will…

You say that last word for me. You must
know that famous phrase. Now believe it, dear, 

for it is so very true.

          On the back of my car there is a bumper sticker with the Rumi quote: “What you seek is seeking you.” Every time I drive with my dad he comments about how much he loves that quote, we both do. Conversely, yesterday I replied, “I hope it’s true.” Without missing a beat, he said, “It is the truth.” Now a day later, in the serendipitous folds of life, I came across this Hafiz poem.

         Hafiz is telling his readers that it is true. Moreover, that there is a universe inside each of us. How comforting! He asks us to say that famous final word (of Matthew 7:7) so we’ll believe it. Seek and you will…Find. Find. Find.

Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; 
knock, and it will be opened to you." 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bump Heads with The Roof

Bump Heads with The Roof

“How can I grow and reach my full height?”
a tree once said to me.

And I replied, “Dear, sit quiet for a minute
each day, don’t let your branches move,

conserve your energy within and without,
concentrate all your strength on your invisible

Then a fuel that feeds you actions and
thoughts will help your spirit
to rise and bump heads with the Roof over all.”

                 The romantic adage about learning to love yourself before you can love another applies to life as well. Hafiz reminds us we must cultivate our inner harmony and the energy we project before we can rise up into our full potential. Mastering this, through meditation, as he suggests, is a way to soar high into the Heavens. 
                  I have been wanting to try meditation for quite some time, and spending a year with Hafiz has encouraged me to give it a go sooner rather than later. Psychology Today describes meditation as: "the practice of turning your attention to a single point of reference." 
                  Here's a link to 20 Meditation Tips for Beginners

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Build a House For Men and Birds

Build a House For Men and Birds

Build a house for men and birds. Sit with
them and play music.

For a day, for just one day, talk about that
which disturbs no one

and bring some peace, my friend, into your
beautiful eyes.

           Music is a language that disturbs no one. It is an enormous uplifting force that is felt equally in all parts of the world. You can speak different languages, come from different lifestyles, yet still enjoy the beauty of harmonic expression.

          Take a moment to watch these two electrifying videos about the power of music.

Extraodinary Pantene Commercial 

The Landfill Harmonic Orchestra 

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Color of Your Ocean Will Change

The Color of Your Ocean Will Change

It is possible that just a drop of dye from
a vial the Friend holds could change the color
of an ocean.

         This is not the poem in its entirety, however it reflects the context in which I originally read this verse. A good friend can change the sea inside you. Likewise, you can change another. Sometimes, you may not like these changes and grow apart. Hopefully though, you grow into a more beautiful color with someone by your side. I love the vibrant painting below, it showcases color.

Freshness of Cold by Leonid Afremov 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Still Though, We Should Dance

Still Though, We Should Dance

A thousand times I have ascertained and
found it to be true:

The affairs of this world are really nothing
into nothing.

Still though, we should dance.

          Hafiz eloquently tells us that the politics of the world are not the focus and far from long-term significance. Perhaps even our day-to-day worldly tasks are nothing: the bills, the paychecks, the chore list, the this, the that.
          Still, life should be celebrated. Let’s dance! Have you ever noticed what joy can emanate from dancing? From the street performers to the greatest musicians of all time, dancing is a celebration.

Sound of Music Flash Mob

New York City Subway Dancers 

Michael Jackson's Moonwalk 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

It Tried to Prepare Me

It Tried to Prepare Me

The clear night sky tried to prepare me for
what it knew would someday happen;

it began to show me ever deeper aspects of
its splendor, and then one evening just directly
asked, Will you be able to withstand your own

I thought I was just hearing things, until
a spring orchard I was passing my days with

at the height of its glory burst into song,
about our – every human’s – destiny to burn
with radiance.

Still I felt my ears were playing tricks on me
until the morning came when God tore apart
my chest…needing more room to bloom

I began to roll through the streets in ecstasy.
Everyone thought I was crazy.

I hope everyone someday knows how blessed
I was. You will.

         What a beautiful poem that reminds us of our own significance and inner light. I love the imagery of the night sky, the thing that blankets the world, leaning in to question.

          In 2003, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, with Sybille d’Orgeval and Baptiste Rouget-Luchaire, launched the 7 Billion Others project in attempt to show that every human had a story to tell. They interviewed fishermen, professors, shopkeepers, physicians, performers, farmers, teachers, homemakers, etc. in 82 countries. “All answered the same questions about their fears, dreams, ordeals, hopes: What have you learnt from your parents? What do you want to pass on to your children? What difficult circumstances have you been through? What does love mean to you?”

         While you’re marveling at your own magnificence and the radiance of others, take a moment to check out It rocks!

Friday, October 25, 2013

That Believe in Gravity

That Believe in Gravity

The wind and I could come by and carry
you the last part of your journey, if you
became light enough,

by just letting go of a few more things you
are clinging to…that still believe in

          Hafiz’s message, albeit conveyed beautifully, is simple. Let go of whatever is weighing you down. Let go of whatever negative energy is keeping you from achieving your full potential. Let go of whatever prevents you from soaring.

          A story that reminds me of this is one I heard while watching the medical show Hopkins. Dr. Q came to America as a migrant farm worker, then attended Harvard Medical School. The same hands that picked strawberries for $3.35 per hour now operate on some of the most complicated brain tumors at Johns Hopkins University. If the dream is big enough, the facts don’t count; there is no gravity.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

These Candles, Our Bodies

These Candles, Our Bodies

These candles, our bodies, see how they burn.

How many hours will they last – days, months, years?

Look at the warmth and comfort we can give
to each other or to anything that comes close.

One of the components of lasting art is a spirit
flame within the created

that can ignite inspiration and hope, and survive
time’s ways.

          Hafiz, by likening our body to a candle, believes in our inner light. We shine and we can burn brighter by connecting with those who fan our flames. If we can kindle our spirit flame within, we can leave a legacy to the world. Great art (poetry, music, paintings, etc.) often does survive far beyond the time and land in which it was created. Just that thought is inspiring, but often times the works themselves imbue an additional awakening to those who view them.

         Below is a painting by Akiane Kramarik called “Dancing Against Time” (2012). Akiane is considered a child prodigy in visual art and says the inspiration for her art comes from her dreams from God and her observations of people. About her work she says: “I have the same goal with each painting: for it to be inspiration for others and a gift to God. Above all, I want people to find hope in my paintings.”

Dancing Against Time, Akiane Kramarik 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Would It Not Be?

Would It Not Be?

Many times I have been asked. What is it like to know the Truth?

And my answers have varied depending on who posed the question, but this one I have never quite said before,

and it is, To know the Truth is to be able to enjoy deeply anything, anything that can happen in this world.

For the one who knows the Truth knows all is perfect. But sometimes it is best I pretend as if it is not. Some words come to mind about this, they are:

There are wings that can applaud even the madness
but to it never add one’s own precious touch.

The seer can see any event as if it were the only
event that has ever happened in creation, or will happen.

Thus all appears miraculous, miraculous. Would
it then not?

         I have decided (for now) to make my yearly readings follow a monthly theme. For October the theme will be “Hafiz on Life”.

         His above poem reminds me of a quote from Dean Koontz, From the Corner of His Eye: “Not one day in anyone’s life is an uneventful day, no day without profound meaning, no matter how dull and boring it might seem, no matter whether you are a seamstress or a queen, a shoeshine boy, or a movie star, a renowned philosopher or a Down’s-syndrome child. Because in every day of your life, there are opportunities to perform little kindnesses for others, both by conscious acts of will and unconscious example. Each smallest act of kindness—even just words of hope when they are needed, the remembrance of a birthday, a compliment that engenders a smile—reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it’s passed, until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away.”

         So is this how we should look at life? That each moment is both miraculous and intricate? That every hour contains a critical life-force? That every minute contains thrilling possibilities? That every second contains the infinite? Can we choose to see life perfectly? To enjoy anything?

         I’m not sure that is possible. To know, and moreover, to understand Hafiz’s “Truth”, I believe one would need to achieve some form of spiritual enlightenment. In this world, most of us are guilty of adding our “own precious touch” to everything. This is not necessarily a bad thing when it is used to help others, but as Hafiz questions, could we also do it when confronted with the madness (i.e. the troubling facets of the world)? If we are able to, then we have discovered his Truth.

          Meanwhile, perhaps we should challenge ourselves to recognize the miraculous more often. To recognize that angels can walk among us. We will never know what form they’ll take. One day, a wise old man. The next day, a mentally retarded young girl. Yesterday, a homeless teenager. Tomorrow, the person you love. They whisper to our hearts, and they can remind us that we create our vision of the world, our Truth.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

If What You Say Becomes Memorable

If What You Say Becomes Memorable 
Most that is said is really like a distant echo.
Few minds are strong enough,

free enough of prejudice and arrogance for
original thought to want to pass through.

The body is a like a vase, a bell that can chime.
It does so to varying degrees in response to
every experience and feeling.

The value of vases can differ, as you know,
quite a bit.

How does heaven assign worth to our sounds?
It comes down to this:

If what you say or do becomes memorable to
another in times of need,

an ally are you then considered by the gods.

          Almost 700 years after his death, Hafiz’s words are still powerful. When he began writing poetry he chose the pen name, Hafiz, which is a title given to someone who knows the Quran by heart. With his teacher, Attar, Hafiz learned how the poet illuminates the spirit further with a pen. Adaptations and translations of Hafiz’s poetry exist in all major languages. When asked what accounts for the legacy of enduring words, Hafiz wrote the above poem.

         Below is an entry from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a blog project by John Koenig in which he names emotions that usually escape definition and contains them within a single made-up word. I have gotten lost reading his entries, it is amazing how he gives the life of language to experiences that we have all felt, yet lacked the ability to succinctly describe.

sonder (n.), def: the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

Here is his video illustration of “Sonder”:

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Size of the Love-Bruise

The Size of the Love-Bruise 

The gauge of a good poem is…the size of the love-bruise it leaves on your neck.

Or the size of the love-bruise it tattoos on your brain.
Or the size of the love-lump it can weave into your soul.
Or, indeed, it could be all of the above, why not?

       Welcome! Several years ago my father brought home a poster from the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival with this verse on it: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there". Thus began his and my love affair with the great Sufi poet, Rumi. From there I began reading other Persian poets, Attar, Saadi, and Hafiz. My daily blog will explore poems and quotes from Hafiz, whose poetry was influenced by the aforementioned Sufi poets. In time, I hope this blog will also record my life and serve as a memo to the world.

       Hafiz brought his followers to a whole new level of consciousness through using Love as a catalyst for his spiritual journey. His poems expressed every nuance and stage of his growing understanding of love. He wrote of the game of love, the beauty of the Beloved, the sweet pain of longing, the agony of waiting, the ecstatic joy of union. He explored different forms and levels of love: his delight in nature’s beauty, his romantic courtship of that ideal unattainable girl, his sweet affection for his wife, his tender feelings for his child, and his terrible grief and loneliness when, later in his life, both his wife and son passed away. He wrote of his relationship with his teacher and his adoration of God. In Persian, Hafiz is sometimes called the Tongue of the Invisible, for so many of his poems seem to be ecstatic and beautiful love songs from God to His beloved world.

       Love is the wholly universal invisible thread. Love is a Truth of the human experience, something we all relate to. Hafiz continues to relate to all those who read his poetry, as they associate it with their own most cherished experiences of love. Hafiz’s poems leave a mark on their readers and it is why I have chosen his own summation of what makes a quality poem as my first entry. To my readers, I hope to share my love of romancing the beautiful, the unusual, and the joyful. I hope to leave a love-bruise.