The persian Sufi poet Hafiz

The 13th century Persian Sufi poet Hafiz has been one of my favorite poets. Hafiz was a moulana in a mosque in Iran. His extreme liberality drew him the ire of the Islamic establishment of his time. I have given below some English translations of his poems taken from the book “The Gift”. One wonders what the relationship between Hindus and Muslims would have been if the Hafiz brand of Islam had gained dominance.

 Definition of Love:

Even after all this time
the Sun has never told the Earth

“You owe me”,
look what happens
with a love like that,
it lights the whole sky.

Attitude towards God (as a lover):

Like a pair
of mismatched newlyweds,
one of which still feels very insecure,
I keep turning to God
saying,”Kiss Me”.

Attitude towards God (as a lover):

When no one is looking
I swallow deserts and clouds
and chew on mountains knowing
they are sweet bones!
When no one is looking, and I want
to kiss God
I just lift my own hand
to my mouth

Attitude towards God (as parent):

The tide of my love
has risen so high let me flood over you.
Close your eyes for a moment
and maybe all your fears and fantasies
will end.
If that happened
God would become an infant in your
arms.
And then you
would have to nurse all
creation!

Attitude towards God (as oneself):

At some point
your relationship
with God will
become like this:
next time you meet Him in the forest
or in a crowded city street
there won’t be anymore
“leaving.”
That is, God will climb into
your pocket, you will simply just take
yourself along!

Attitude towards God (You are IT!)

God disguised
as a myriad things and
playing a game
of tag,
has kissed you and said,
“you are it-
I mean, you’re Really IT!”
Now
it does not matter
what you believe or feel
for something wonderful,
major-league wonderful
is someday going
to
happen.

God’s presence inside a human being (1):

It used to be
that when I would wake in the morning
I could with confidence say,
“What am ‘I’ going to
do?”
That was before the seed
cracked open.
Now Hafiz is certain:
There are two of us housed
in this body,
doing the shopping in the market and
tickling each other
while fixing the evening’s food.
Now when I awake
all the internal instruments play the same music:
“God, what love-mischief can ‘We’ do
for the world
today?”

God’s presence inside a human being (2):

Once someone asked me,
“Why do saints seek divine annihilation
and are often humble
and like to spend their free time
upon their knees?”
I replied,
“It is a simple matter of etiquette,”
Then they said,
“What do you mean, Hafiz?”
“Well,” I continued,
“When one goes into a mosque or temple
is it not common to remove what
covers your
feet?
So too does it happen
with this whole mind and body –
that is something like a shoe sole –
when one begins to realize
upon whom you are really standing,
one begins
to remove the ‘shoe’ from the
temple”


About seeing God:

Running
through the streets
screaming,
throwing rocks through windows,
using my own head to ring
great bells,
pulling out my hair,
tearing off my clothes,
tying everything I own
to a stick,
and setting it on
fire.
What else can Hafiz do tonight
to celebrate the madness,
the joy,
of seeing God
everywhere!

About seeing God (2):

There
I bow my head –
at the feet of every creature.
This constant submission and homage,
of kissing God
all over,
someday
every lover will
do.
Only
there I postrate myself-
against the beauty of each form-
for which I bring
my heart close to any object
I always hear the Friend
say,
“Hafiz, I am
here”

Nature of God as love:

We
are not
in pursuit of formalities
or fake religious
laws,
for through the stairway of existence
we have come to God’s
door.
We are
people who need to love, because
love is the souls’s life,
love is simply creation’s greatest joy,
through
the stairway of existence,
O, through the stairway of existence, Hafiz,
have
you now come,
have we all now come to
the Beloved’s
door.

Hafiz on Nature of God:

Every
child
has known God,
Not the God of names,
not the God of don’ts,
not the God who ever does
anything weird,
but the God who only knows four words
and keeps repeating them, saying:
“Come dance with Me.”
Come
dance.


Hafiz’s attitude towards Religions:

The
great religions are the
ships,
poets the life
boats.
Every sane person I know has jumped
overboard.
That is good for business
isn’t it
Hafiz?

Hafiz’s attitude towards Religions:

I
have
learned
so much from God
that I can no longer
call
myself
a Christian, a Hindu, a muslim,
a Buddhist, a Jew.
The Truth has shared so much of Itself
with me
that I can no longer call myself
a man, a woman, an angel,
or even pure
Soul.
Love has
befriended Hafiz so completely
it has turned to ash
and freed
me
of every concept and image
my mind has ever known.

Hafiz’s attitude about Buddha

Hafiz
tonight as you sit with your
young students
who
have eyes
burning like coals for the truth,
raise your glass in honor
of the old Great One from Asia,
speak in the beautiful style
and precision wit of a
Japanese verse,
say a profound truth about this path
with the edge of your sailor’s tongue that
has been honed on the finest sake.
Okay, dear ones, are you ready?
Are you braced?
Well then:
Who can hear the Buddha sing,
If that dog between your legs is barking?
Who can hear the Buddha sing
if that canine between your
thighs
still
wants to do circus
tricks?

Hafiz’s attitude about Krishna

Something
in your soul trusts
me
otherwise it would not let you near
these words.
God has spilled a Great One
into each of us,
this warrior is always fearless
but also always
kind.
The only business I am concerned
with these days,
since I heard the moon’s drunk
singing
is
stealing
back our flute from

Hafiz’s attitude about death:

How
fascinating the idea of death
can be.
Too bad, though,
because
it just isn’t
True.

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