Tag Archives: Sufi

Wild Deer – Hafez

Act One

O Wild Deer, my old friend, where are you today?
So much like each other, we have come all this way.

Lonely and wandering, we two cannot last;
we are both prey stalked by our future and past.

So let us into one another inquire
and discover therein our deepest desire.

Why cannot these depths of our wild desert land
offer safety and joy sometimes in its sand?

Who to our rescue? O lovers, time to speak,
you companions of sorrow and strangers weak.

We need a great miracle – Khezr must arrive;
perhaps our journey’s end his grace will contrive.

The time has come for the faithful to appear;
so stay, friend, hear a tale of our journey here.

The Quest

My autumn arrives. Time travels through me and change encroaches on this season of my soul. I am the poet of two worlds, it is said, but I am a man of one body. What now that I must release this human form? O Wild Deer – my spirit self – how do we two travel on? What will become of me? Of you?

Our freedom measured by memory and destiny, we seek answer in each other’s mirrored self. But grief, not joy, thrives in these shadowed mirrors of passage. We seek comfort from companions – but none answers. Our only hope is a miracle from Khezr, the life-giver – a miracle to light the separate pathways to our journey’s end.

But my dear friend and reader, this is not where this story begins. So come and listen. Let me tell you of a poet’s quest for wholeness, a tale of this journey of life.

Act Two

This story began far away and long ago
when master asked youth what soul seeks to know:

Young quester, what’s in that bag on your shoulder?
If wisdom seed, plant; reap as you grow older.

Youth replied: Yes, such a seed to I carry
but only Simorgh can answer my query.

Elder then warned: That goal is a great test;
there is no worldly place Simorgh builds its nest.

I know, said the youth, to fail may be my fate,
but life with no hope is a far greater weight.

I desire a note not in tune with your key;
light and fire from the sun must harmonize me.

So long as I breathe, this way will I think;
so long as cup’s offered, that long will I drink.


In youth, I sought to know myself. The learned elder advised: Listen little one, go slow, and all will be well. Plant your seeds deep, cultivate patience, reap the yield as the wisdom of years.

This way, in time, you will understand all.

But my wild desire replied: Well and good for you, but an ancient impulse drives my heart, and a luminous flame sears my mind. My soul is Simorgh, and it must soar to the heavens of our beginning and end. I shall risk all. I shall surrender to that ancient ebb and flow of fiery rays, for the dark eye of creation is my heartbeat, and the throbbing of cosmic will gives me hope. Only the Sun’s vibrant glow can slake my thirst for essence.

And in this way I split myself in two: I as the laboring man of words, my spirit as the unbridled deer of vision. Together, we became the poet, breathing the life of inspiration, sharing the wine of intoxication.

Act Three

Thus begun, caravan claims cypress and all;
whatever eye sees must return journey’s call.

Hold firm the wine cup and also the flower,
but see as well wheel of life’s final power.

Beside our source, you sit next to a river;
a single tear falls, you feel the soul shiver.

Remembering friends passed and those still alive,
we ascend to spring clouds and there we all thrive.

But river runs fast, then more rapidly still;
the grasp of our vision must catch today’s thrill.

My old companion another road has trod;
O Moslems, Moslems, call the true name of God.

Death’s sad blade that separates all who do live
leaves us strangers as though no love did we give.

Companion goes from me and my heart does grieve;
brother to brother only sorrow does leave.

Now only a miracle of Khezr can mend
and unite lonely me and my lonely friend.

Life and Death

We all journey on this passing caravan in accord with the wheel of life’s turning. While treasuring beauty and wisdom, we understand the mortality of even the cypress. To sit still and feel life’s flow within the soul is to unleash tears of this sadness, and in reverie we ache for friends already flown to the clouds. In our dream, life and death seem as one.

But time’s river rushes on and I must face its flow anew. My heart’s companion – that one who is me and yet also is not – departs. We turn from brothers to strangers. Burning with grief, I cry out: O my people, all my dear ones, let us embrace the true reality of the Creator. Our final union exists only in return to the source where we – even my deer and I – can be brought together again.

This is the miracle, Khezr, for which I pray.

Act Four

Perceive the jewel and pass by the glass bead;
let go the pathway that does not to light lead.

My pen goes to writing as Jonah to whale,
as noon-ol-ghalam inspired words beyond veil.

I’ve mixed spirit and mind and seeded my field;
that my vision’s seen is the fruit of my yield.

Pure rapture arises when fusion is goal
of beauty of poem and essence of soul.

From the fragrance of all this sweet-scented rhyme,
let perfume wash over your soul throughout time.

Such musk comes from necks of angels of Cathay,
not from the Wild Deer who from me fades away.

Friends, value each other, we can’t know what’s next;
don’t try to memorize, don’t read from the text.

This counselor’s wisdom now has been told;
comes the stone-thrower of death as I grow old.

The Legacy

That is my story, and now I’ve grown old. I speak as an elder – but be aware; you must awaken fully to appreciate the value of this jewel. Through my pen – inspired like the Prophet’s oration – flows the wisdom of both spirit and body, both Wild Deer and me. My earthly seeds yield vision through union of soul and message, and from this elixir exudes an intoxicating musk for the ages. True, spirit touches us from the sacred realm, but it’s the sweet verse of humanity that blesses this world.

Here, then, I say:

Dear friend and reader, treasure each breath of this life. Embrace and love, for there are no other constants. You need search no further. You need not memorize holy words as I did. You need not recite sacred writings. I have lived at the source, this simplicity is my counsel, it is offered freely, and I’ve no more to say. Now my human death – that old stone-thrower – is creeping closer. But I walk on. I do not despair, for reunion awaits – and therein as well, Wild Deer, my old friend.

– Translated by Haleh Pourafzal/Roger Montgomery


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A Veiled Gazelle (Seeing How to See) – Idries Shah

An unabridged recording by the London College of Storytellers in four parts (2-4 under the fold).


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Intricate Sounds, Not Words – Rumi

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Selected verses from Sura Al-Baqarah (The Cow) – Qu’ran

To God belong the East and the West;
and wherever you turn,
there is the Face of God.
For God is omnipresent, all-knowing.

Yet they say God has begotten a son.
Glory to God!
No, to God belongs all
in the heavens and the earth;
everything is obedient to God.

God is the originator
of the heavens and the earth
and whenever God decrees anything,
God says to it, “Be!”
and it is.

– 115-117

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Every Craftsman – Rumi

I’ve said before that every craftsman
searches for what’s not there
to practice his craft.

A builder looks for the rotten hole
where the roof caved in. A water-carrier
picks the empty pot. A carpenter
stops at the house with no door.

Workers rush toward some hint
of emptiness, which they then
start to fill. Their hope, though,
is for emptiness, so don’t think
you must avoid it. It contains
what you need!
Dear soul, if you were not friends
with the vast nothing inside,
why would you always be casting you net
into it, and waiting so patiently?

This invisible ocean has given you such abundance,
but still you call it “death”,
that which provides you sustenance and work.

God has allowed some magical reversal to occur,
so that you see the scorpion pit
as an object of desire,
and all the beautiful expanse around it,
as dangerous and swarming with snakes.

This is how strange your fear of death
and emptiness is, and how perverse
the attachment to what you want.

Now that you’ve heard me
on your misapprehensions, dear friend,
listen to Attar’s story on the same subject.

He strung the pearls of this
about King Mahmud, how among the spoils
of his Indian campaign there was a Hindu boy,
whom he adopted as a son. He educated
and provided royally for the boy
and later made him vice-regent, seated
on a gold throne beside himself.

One day he found the young man weeping..
“Why are you crying? You’re the companion
of an emperor! The entire nation is ranged out
before you like stars that you can command!”

The young man replied, “I am remembering
my mother and father, and how they
scared me as a child with threats of you!
‘Uh-oh, he’s headed for King Mahmud’s court!
Nothing could be more hellish!’ Where are they now
when they should see me sitting here?”

This incident is about your fear of changing.
You are the Hindu boy. Mahmud, which means
Praise to the End, is the spirit’s
poverty or emptiness.

The mother and father are your attachment
to beliefs and blood ties
and desires and comforting habits.
Don’t listen to them!
They seem to protect
but they imprison.

They are your worst enemies.
They make you afraid
of living in emptiness.

Some day you’ll weep tears of delight in that court,
remembering your mistaken parents!

Know that your body nurtures the spirit,
helps it grow, and gives it wrong advise.

The body becomes, eventually, like a vest
of chain mail in peaceful years,
too hot in summer and too cold in winter.

But the body’s desires, in another way, are like
an unpredictable associate, whom you must be
patient with. And that companion is helpful,
because patience expands your capacity
to love and feel peace.
The patience of a rose close to a thorn
keeps it fragrant. It’s patience that gives milk
to the male camel still nursing in its third year,
and patience is what the prophets show to us.

The beauty of careful sewing on a shirt
is the patience it contains.

Friendship and loyalty have patience
as the strength of their connection.

Feeling lonely and ignoble indicates
that you haven’t been patient.

Be with those who mix with God
as honey blends with milk, and say,

“Anything that comes and goes,
rises and sets, is not
what I love.” else you’ll be like a caravan fire left
to flare itself out alone beside the road.


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Basic Considerations – Idries Shah

A remarkably small number of suppositions about higher, inner, deeper, knowledge of man (and about the people engaged in transmitting it) underlie the errors into which most would-be students, disciples, followers and seekers are inevitably led.
The result of accepting these suppositions is always the same: the production of obsessed (‘conditioned’) people – sometimes called ‘believers’ – and the production of a restless state in people when things do not seem to measure up to their expectations.
A close study of these pitfalls is essential to anyone who wants real knowledge, let alone real fulfilment, tranquillity, real attainment. Continue reading

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Reflection Theme – Idries Shah

If you damage the jail, you harm the captive. If you remove the prisoner, you bring the guard along too. If you touch the captor, you imperil the victim.

Each human being lives in a jail. The prison is himself; and he is his own warder as well.

While the warder is the prisoner and the jail, it is not surprising that there are so few escapes, and rescues are so rare.

And the process of interweaving captured and captivity, not to say dungeon, is so effective that this reflection must inevitably sound like nonsense.

But then, everyone’s sense is someone else’s nonsense.

– Idries Shah, Knowing How To Know

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