Archive for Sufism

Art of the Spirit Site Revisions & New Mystic

Hildegard's Angel by Sybil Archibald A bit of business and then some beauty.
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This week, I added a tag cloud to my sidebar. Over the next few days I’m going to be working on tagging and recategorizing my posts to optimize searching and to hopeful make them more useful. This shouldn’t effect my web readers, but my feed subscribers may get some reposts. Sorry for any inconvenience, but I think it will make the the overall site much stronger!

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I discovered a new mystic this week: Fakhruddin ‘Iraqi, a 13th century Sufi from Persia. His book is called Divine Flashes. I love this name because this how making art occurs for me, as a Divine flash. I’ll have much more once I finish reading. But let me share this, a beautiful quote on the idea that there is nothing but God (I know I need to find more mystics who recognize the feminine aspect of the Divine!):

Pardon me this innovation, revealing such secrets. Remember:

He Himself spoke Truth
He Himself listened.
He Himself showed Himself
He Himself saw.

Junyard said once, “For thirty years now I’ve been conversing with God, yet people seem to think I’m talking to them!” Through the ears of Moses, He heard Himself speak with the flame-tongue of the Bush:

He speaks
He listens
you and I
but a pretext.

Via Negativa in Poetry

Here are some poems I love on the via negativa, finding God in absence. For more posts on this look here:

Rumi:

I have lived on the lip
Of insanity, wanting to know reasons,
Knocking on a door. It opens,
I’ve been knocking from the inside!
Rumi (trans. Coleman Barks & John Moyne)

Silesius:

God, whose love and joy
Are present everywhere,
Can’t come to visit you
Unless you aren’t there.
-Angelus Silesius (trans. Stephan Mitchell)

Lao Tzu:

The Tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal name.

The unnamable is the eternal real.
Naming is the origin
Of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations
Arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.
-Lao-Tzu (trans. Stephan Mitchell)

A couple quotes from The Unveiling of Love by Sufi Sheikh Muzaffer Ozak Al-Jerrahi:

(On affection toward God) …it is possible by letting oneself fall like a drop into the ocean.

As for those who are annihilated in God, it is absolute certainty that they will exist forever.

The last quotes are borderline negative/affirmative way, but they are so beautiful…

Sufi Poetry

This an interesting site with translations of Sufi poetry. Sufi poetry, in my experience, comes closest in words to portraying the experience of ecstatic love and union with the Divine. Although not unique to Sufism, I love the use of the lover/Beloved imagery to represent the mystic’s longing for God. It’s so powerful and moving. Here is a taste of Rumi from a translation by Coleman Barks. Really it’s reworking of an AJ Arberry’s translations, so not the best translation possible. But my favorite volume of Rumi has gone missing and this will give you an idea of it.

Spring paints the countryside.
Cypress trees grow even more beautiful,
but let’s stay inside.

Lock the door.
Come to me naked.
No one’s here.

If you read this poem as a mystic, it is sublime.

Emanation & Return: Remembering Lex Hixon

When I was studying at the School of Sacred Arts in the early 1990s, I had the great fortune to meet Lex Hixon. He was an amazing man and my first real encounter with a true living mystic. Although he was deeply connected to many spiritual traditions, I met him in his capacity as sufi Sheikh Nur al Jerrahi. I will never forget our first meeting. The School of Sacred Arts was in the basement of a church off of Washington Square Park. We used the chapel itself for large lectures. I was sitting reading my Bonaventura (The Soul’s Journey Into God) and all of a sudden I felt a wave of love rush over me, into me. It was like someone woke me up, only I hadn’t been sleeping. I turned around and there he was. There was something shiny about him- clean & new but not in a Windex sort of way. I can’t explain it really.

Later, he took me deeply into the Heart. I prayed with him many times, and each time was like a jewel, a dive deep into the pool of ecstatic love. Great mystics often have the power to take others with them on their journeys. My connection to him was brief in time, but effects me still. When I heard he had died, I was so sad. I said a prayer for him. Immediately I heard him laughing, such a joyous resonant laugh I knew he was deep in that Divine pool, just as he had been in life. That moment has erased any fear I had of death.

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From time to time I return to his writings. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Divine creation and its relationship to the artist. I’ve forgotten one of the key components of this in my recent posts. This is a cycle of going and return, being fed and feeding. In his book Atom from the Sun of all Knowledge, the loving spirit of Lex Hixon, writes:

O Divine Beauty, nothing other than You manifests within or beyond creation. Divine Creativity is the One returning to itself. This is the Neoplatonic circle of emanation and elevation. This return is not a regression to the original Unity but an advance to perfect humanity…(pg.373)

Now that I think of it, the dream I posted earlier this week was telling me just this. Could it be any clearer how important the work of artists is on this earth?