8/2/16

Photographs & Poetry of Hafiz & other Poet-Saints




   Illuminations  
___________________________________________
  
Photographs &  Poetry
~
   featuring the poems of 
 Hafiz 
and other 
Poet-Saints


#1 Photographs & Poetry   ~   Stitching the Great Luminous Circle Inside of You

Note: please click on the images once, twice, to enlarge 
for a sharper, more detailed close-up view


Greet Yourself Inside 
the Great Luminous Circle
Behind the Veil

Greet Yourself
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel 
Back home.
All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire
Chatting
While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle 
inside of 
You.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky


#2 Photographs & Poetry   ~   The Luminous Mysterious Veil  


In a handful of the sky and earth, 
In a handful of God,
We cannot count
All the ecstatic lovers who are dancing there
Behind the mysterious veil.
~
True Art reveals there is no void
Or darkness.
There is no loneliness 
to the clear-eyed mystic
In this luminous, 
brimming Playful world.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky


When you click on the images--once, twice--you will be treated to a more detailed, close-up view. 
The enlarged images will appear sharper, more luminous and fuller in tone.    
To return to the project page, look to the upper left hand corner 
of your screen and click on the left-pointing arrow.  

~ ~ ~ ~


That Flame 
Who Can Burn 
Beneath the Water
Will Someday Split You Open

Find that flame, that existence,
That Wonderful Man
Who can burn beneath the water.
No other kind of light
Will cook the food 
you Need.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky



#3 Photographs & Poetry  ~   The Burning Flame Beneath the Water  


Light
Will someday split you open
Even if your life is now a cage,
For a divine seed, the crown of destiny,
Is hidden and sown on an ancient, fertile plain
You hold the title to.
~
Love will surely burst you wide open
Into an unfettered, blooming new galaxy
Even if your mind is now 
A spoiled mule.
A life-giving radiance will come,
The Friend's gratuity will come -
O look again within yourself,
For I know you were once the elegant host
To all the marvels in creation.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky


~ ~ ~ ~


God's Lute, Lyre & Flute
and the
Infinite Heart-Enchanting Performances

When Hafiz plays his lute,
My notes ascend into the air and form
Infinite blue crystals
That will move on the wind's breath for hundreds of years
As my sacred debris, as the divine dust
Rising as a gift from my
Singing bones.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky



#4 Photographs & Poetry  ~   God's Lute, Lyre & Flute 


In my divine studio
What I have been working on is this:
Imaging the Truth,
Revealing
A more realistic picture of God,
Tearing down the cruel walls
That separate you from the tenderness of Fire.
~
In my divine studio
Where I am sitting right now
Crafting your heart, lyre
And flute,
I long for the day when you will join me
In knowing
The extraordinary humor
And all the enchanting realities
Of the infinite performances
of God.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky


*


My eyes have filled with warm
Soft oceans of divine music
Where jeweled dolphins dance
Then leap into this 
World.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky


~ ~ ~ ~


Spilling the Stars
Inside Your Night Sky-Jar

#5 Photographs & Poetry  ~   Inside Your Night-Sky Jar-Diamonds 


Watch the way my hands dance 
With their diamond-edged brilliance
Cutting you open with music,
Reaching into your heart
And spilling the night sky-jar you carry
That is always full of giggling planets and stars.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



 Stones Are Longing for 
What You Know 

Stones are longing for what you know.
If they had the graceful movements
Of your feet and tongue,
They would not stop laughing
Between their ecstatic dance steps 
and unbroken praise.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky



#6 Photographs & Poetry  ~  Stones Longing for What You Know  


The stones and stars envy the movements
Of your legs and tongue 
and call to you to sing on their behalf.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~


A Mystical Weave
A Sieve of Effulgence
We Need To Pass Through 


#7 Photographs & Poetry  ~   A Mystical Weave, A Sieve of Effulgence 


The Beloved's Name
Is a mystical weave and pattern --
A hidden sieve of effulgence
We need to pass through 
thousands of 
Times.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



Your Thousand Swaying Arms 
Need to Paint All Its Beauty
Upon the Sky


For ages I have been sketching you 
With myriad shapes of sounds and light;
Now awake, dear pilgrim,
With your thousand swaying arms
That need to caress the Sky.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky



#8 Photographs & Poetry  ~   Your Thousand Swaying Arms Caressing the Sky 
 


I saw you dancing last night on the roof
Of your house all alone.
I felt your heart longing for the
Friend.
I saw you whirling
Beneath the soft bright rose
That hung from an invisible stem in
The sky.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky



#9 Photographs & Poetry  ~   Spinning from An Invisible Stem In the Sky  


I am every particle of wheat and dust -
I am ground from His Own Body.
I am rioting at your soul's door.
I am spinning in mid-air like golden, falling leaves
Trying to win your glance.
~
All night I sweetly roll against your walls and shores 
even though you are asleep.
I am singing from the mouth of animals and birds
Honoring God's ancient promise -
His need to let you know the Truth.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky



*


You need to become a pen
In the Sun's hand.
We need for the earth to sing
Through our pores and eyes.
The body will again become restless
Until your soul paints all its beauty
Upon the sky.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



The Cruel Miraculous Beauty 
of the 
Impermanence of Form

How
did the rose
ever open its heart
and give this world all of its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light against its being,
otherwise we all remain too
frightened.

Hafiz (l320-1289)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky



#10  ~  Our Marriage With the Cruel Miraculous Beauty of the Impermanence of Form  


Death is a favor to us,
But our scales have lost their balance.
The impermanence of the body
Should give us great clarity,
Deepening the wonder in our senses and eyes
Of this mysterious existence we share
And are surely just traveling through.
~
If I were in the Tavern tonight,
Hafiz would buy freely for everyone in this world
Because our marriage with the Cruel Beauty
Of time and space cannot endure very long.
~
The miraculous existence and impermanence of
Form
Always makes the illumined ones
Laugh and sing.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



. . .  The Suspended Blue Effulgence  . . . 


The sky
Is a suspended blue ocean.
The stars are the fish
That swim.
The planets are the white whales 
I sometimes hitch a ride on.
And the sun and all light
Have forever fused themselves
Into my heart and upon
My skin.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky



#11 Photographs & Poetry  ~   The Suspended Blue Effulgence 


I slip in and out of the Sea at night 
With this amazed soul I have.
I am like a magnificent, magic ocean turtle
Who sets aside his vast wings of
Blue effulgence
When I crawl upon your shores
To leave my divine seed 
Of verse.
~
Let me remain cryptic tonight
All the way till dawn
As I orbit God
In this holy, ecstatic mood.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



Just Sit There, Rest  

~
Your Worn Veil Is Lifting 
Like A Rising Stage Curtain



Just sit there right now.
Don't do a thing.
Just rest.
For your separation from God
Is the hardest work in this world.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky

*

Your joys and sufferings on this arduous path
Are lifting your worn veil like a rising stage curtain.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky


~ ~ ~ ~



The Love and Purity 
of Each Form
Opened My Eye


#12 Photographs & Poetry  ~   The Love and the Purity of Each Form Opened My Eye 


No one lives outside the walls of this sacred place, existence.
The holy water my soul's brow needs is unity.
Love opened my eye and I was cleansed
by the purity of each
form.

St. Francis of Assisi of Basra (ll82-1226)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky


~ ~ ~ ~


He Gave Me A Bowl
and I Saw 
the Soul Has This Shape


#13 Photographs & Poetry  ~   I Saw the Soul Has This Shape  


Imagine the time the particle you are
returns where it came from.
The family darling comes home.
~
A red glint appears in a granite outcrop
and suddenly the whole cliff turns to ruby.
~
At dawn I was walking along with a monk
on his way to the monastery.
We do the same work, I told him.  We suffer the same.
He gave me a bowl, and I saw
The soul has this shape.
~
You that teach us, Shams Tabriz,
and actual sunlight, 
help me now,
being in the middle of being
partly in myself, and partly outside.

Jalaludin Rumi (l207-1273)
RUMI: THE BIG RED BOOK
trans. Coleman Barks



~ ~ ~ ~



Art
Perfect Circles ~ 
Expands God's Being


#14 Photographs & Poetry  ~   Art - Perfect Circles - Expands God's Being 


All beings
are words of God.
His music, His art,
Every act reveals God 
and expands His Being.
I know that may be hard to comprehend.
~ 
I need to be silent
for a while,
worlds are forming 
in my heart.

Meister Eckhart (l260-1328)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky


*

Everything I see, hear, touch, feel, taste,
speak, think,
imagine, is completing a perfect circle
God has drawn.

Meister Eckhart (l260-1328)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~




Too 
Wonderful Picture 

No one could ever make
A too wonderful
Picture
Of my heart
Or
God.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky


*

We Are Fields 
Before Each Other

Our hearts irrigate this earth.
We are fields before
each other.

St. Thomas Aquinas (l225-1274)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



Everything Is Empty  
Until God Breaths His Light 
Into It 


#15 Photographs & Poetry  ~   The Light-Breath Inside All Things  


God sees nothing in us that He has not given.
Everything is empty until He places
what He wishes into it.

St. Thomas Aquinas (l225-1274)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky


*

She will bring your mouth close to Hers and
breath--inspire you the way
Light does the
Fields.

St. Thomas Aquinas (l225-1274)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~


Infinite Space Is A Mirror
 Which Tries to Reflect 
God's Body  

#16 Photographs & Poetry  ~   Infinite Space Is A Mirror  


All things desire to be like God,
and infinite space is a mirror
that tries
to reflect His
body.

St. Thomas Aquinas (l225-1274)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky


~ ~ ~ ~


It Is Your Destiny 
To See, To Know, To Feel
As God 

It is your destiny to see as God sees,
to know as God knows,
to feel as God
feels.
How is this possible?  How?
Because divine love cannot defy its very self.
And the greatest gift
God can give is His own experience.

Meister Eckhart (l260-1328)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky


~ ~ ~ ~


What My Eyes
Always See

#17 Photographs & Poetry  ~   What My Eyes Always See  


I veil
the divine flame in my heart,
for if I turned God loose from my house
the earth would reveal to your eyes what mine always see--
existence is a lamp and Kabir,
the oil it
burns.

Kabir (l440-1518)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



Why Not Become the One
With A Full Moon In Each Eye 


#18 Photographs & Poetry  ~   The One With A Full Moon In Each Eye   


Everyone you see, 
you say to them, 
"Love me."
Of course you do not do this out loud, 
Otherwise
Someone would call the cops.
Still, though, think about this, 
This great pull in us 
To connect.
~
Why not become the one 
Who lives with a full moon in each eye
That is always saying,
With that sweet moon Language,
What every other eye in this world
Is dying to hear.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



I Cannot Bear to Confine A Wing  
~
I Opened My Hand 
the Infinite Ran To the Edges of Space  

#19 Photographs & Poetry  ~   I Cannot Bear To Confine A Wing - I Opened My Hand   


My Lord said :
"Who would understand if I said
that I cannot bear to confine a wing,
and not let it learn from the course it chooses.
I opened up my hand and the Infinite ran to the edges of space--
and all possibilities are contained therein, all possibilities, even sorrows.

St. Catherine of Siena (l347-1380)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



His Fingerprints On A Glass 
~
 Our Idea of the Universe


#20 Photographs & Poetry  ~   His Fingerprints On A Glass


He left His fingerprint on a glass the 
earth drinks
from.
Every religion has studied it.
Churches and temples use the geometry of those lines
to establish rites and laws and prayers
and our idea of the 
universe.

Mira (l498-1550)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



The Fragile Beauty of This World
Is Causing My Soul To Weep


I know the planets talk at night
and tell secrets
about 
You.
A limb just moved before me,
the beauty of this world
is causing me to
weep.

Mira (l498-1550)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky



#21 Photographs & Poetry  ~   The Fragile Beauty of This Petal the Earth  


So fragile this petal the earth, 
as fragile as love.

Mira (l498-1550)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky


*


The earth looked at Him and began to dance.
Mira knows why, for her soul too
is in love.
If you cannot picture God
in a way that always 
strengthens 
you,
you need to read 
more of my
poems.

Mira (l498-1550)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky


~ ~ ~ ~


What Percentage of God
Is Unseen, Unknown?

What percentage of God is unseen?
What percentage of the Truth of Him do we know?
He led me to a place where only Light existed.
Only in us is God so lost that He asks
questions.
~
I said to my Lord,
"This Holy place I have entered--
is Your name the only key to this?"
And my Lord responded,
"How old do you think existence is?
For eons of time, souls have been entering Me;
every Prophet's name is a key,
as is every heart full of
forgiveness
and love."

St. Teresa of Avila  (l515-1582)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



We Have Cracked Open
to 
Know Light As Our Self 


My soul is a candle that burned away the veil;
I now have only the glorious duties of light.

St. John of the Cross  (l542-1591)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky



#22 Photographs & Poetry  ~   We Have Cracked Open To Know Light As Our Self 


Some seeds beneath the earth
are dormant.
Let them go about their life.
~
We have cracked open, we sensed
even beneath the earth--
the holy was near,
and are reaching up to know
and claim
light
as our
self.

St. John of the Cross  (l542-1591)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



I Am
Ever Beyond Myself


#23 Photographs & Poetry  ~   I Am Ever Beyond Myself  


Dears, there is nothing in your life that will not
change--especially all your ideas of God.
Certainty can become an illness
that creates hate and 
greed.
God once said to Tuka,
"Even I am ever changing--
I am ever beyond
Myself

Tukaram  (l608-1649)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~




Listen More Carefully  
To 
What Is Rising Up Inside of You  
Great White Flocks . . . A Thousand Suns



Listen --
Listen more carefully to what is around you
Right now.
There is the Prayer Call
Rising up like the sun
Out of the mouths of a thousand birds.
O listen --
Listen more carefully
To what is inside of you right now.
In my world
All that remains is the wondrous call to
Dance and prayer
Rising up like a thousand suns
Out of the mouth of a 
Single bird.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky


#24 Photographs & Poetry  ~   Great White Flocks . . . A Thousand Suns 


These poems now rise in great white flocks
Against my mind's vast hills
Startled by God
Breaking a branch
When His foot
Touches
Earth 
Near
Me.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky




~ ~ ~ ~



Love 
Has 
Freed 
Me

I
Have 
Learned
So much from God
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 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



True Art 
Makes Divine Silence 
Break Into Applause



#25 Photographs & Poetry  ~   Divine Silence Breaking Into Applause  


Art is the conversation between lovers.
It offers an opening for the heart.
True art makes the divine silence in the soul
Break into applause.
~
It's the knowledge of
Where we are standing--
Where we are standing
In this Wonderland

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky




~ ~ ~ ~



 This
  Infinite
 Whirling
  Golden  
Sea  

There are many gifts
Still unopened from your birthday,
There are so many hand-crafted presents
That have been sent to you by God.
The Beloved does not mind repeating,
"Everything I have is also yours."
~
Please forgive Hafiz and the Friend
If we break into a sweet laughter
When your heart complains of being thirsty
When ages ago
Every cell in your soul
Capsized forever
Into this infinite golden sea.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



#26 Photographs & Poetry  ~   Golden Whirling Skirt  


Hafiz is a Golden Skirt
The Beloved has lifted off a magnificent floor
And has tied around His waist.
Watch us whirl, whirl,
Whirl!

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



Some Wells Fill 
With Each Good Rain
and
 Angels Sometimes Weep

Your love
Should never be offered to the mouth of a 
Stranger,
Only to someone
Who has the valor and daring
To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket 
to protect you.
~
There are different wells within us.
Some fill with each good rain,
Others are far, far too deep
for that.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky


#27 Photographs & Poetry  ~   Some Wells Fill With Each Good Rain 


The earth has disappeared beneath my feet,
Now like a singing air creature
I feel the Rose
Keep opening.
What do dancing white birds say
Looking down upon burnt meadows?
All that you think is rain is not.




#28 Photographs & Poetry  ~   And Angels Sometimes Weep Behind the Veil  


Behind the veil Hafiz and angels sometimes weep
Because most eyes are rarely glad
And your divine beauty is still too frightened 
To unfurl its thousand swaying arms.
The earth has disappeared beneath my feet,
Illusion fled 
From all my ecstasy.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky


~ ~ ~ ~


A Drop of Rain   
~
the Door to God


Where is the door 
to God?
~
In the sound of a barking dog,
In the ring of a hammer,
In a drop of rain,
In the face of
Everyone
I see.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



This Whole Book
Our Union

#29 Photographs & Poetry  ~   "The Gift" from "An Imaginary Book" 

 
Our
Union is like this:
You ask for a few words of comfort and guidance,
I quickly kneel at your side offering you
This whole book
As a gift.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



But Now I Nurse Upon 
A Breast In the Sky


#30 Photographs & Poetry  ~   Nursing Upon A Breast In the Sky   


My interest in this world has waned, though
not because I am 
depressed.
A fish in a bowl I was,
a bottom feeder,
but now I nurse
upon a breast
in the
sky.

Rabia of Basra (c.717-801)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



This Sacred Place
On God's Body 


#31 Photographs & Poetry  ~   This Sacred Place On God's Body 


I do not want
to touch any object in this world
Without my eyes testifying 
to the truth that
Everything is my Beloved.
~
Something has happened
To my understanding of existence
That now makes my heart always full 
of wonder and kindness.
~
I do not want
to step so quickly
Over this sacred place 
on God's body

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



The Moon's 
Sweet Question
about
The Sun's Brilliant Light  


#32 Photographs & Poetry  ~   The Sun's Brilliant Heart Pouring Light Onto the Moon 


The moon came to me last night
With a sweet question.
She said:
"The sun has been my faithful lover
For millions of years.
Whenever I offer my body to him
Brilliant light pours from his heart.
Thousands then notice my happiness
And delight in pointing
Toward my beauty.
Hafiz,
Is it true that our destiny
Is to turn into Light
Itself?"
~
And I replied,
Dear moon,
Now that your love is maturing,
We need to sit together
Close like this more often
So I might instruct you
How to become 
Who you 
Are!

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



Two Rain Puddles

Formed In the Dark

It rained during the night
And two puddles formed in the dark
And began chatting.
One said,
"It is so nice to at last be upon this earth
And to meet you as well,
But what will happen when
The brilliant Sun comes
And turns us back into spirit again?"

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



Heavens Light
~
The Moth's Luminous Soul


The moon was once a moth who ran to God,
they entwined.
Now just her luminous soul remains
and we gaze at it
at night.

Rabia of Basra (c.717-801)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky


#33 Photographs & Poetry  ~   Heavens Light and the Moth's Luminous Soul   


Our hands imbibe like roots,
so I place them on what is beautiful in this world.
And I fold them in prayer, and they
draw from the heavens
light.

St. Francis of Assisi of Basra (ll82-1226)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky


~ ~ ~ ~



 The Wonder of the Unseen One
Water 
Light 
 Moving Over Rocks


#34 Photographs & Poetry  ~   The Wonder of Water and Light Moving Over Rocks 


The wonder of water moving over that rock in the stream
justifies existence.
The swish of a horse's tail--again I am stunned
by the grandeur of the unseen One
that governs all 
movement.
~
How does God keep from fainting
looking at Himself all day?
Light is moving like a stream, and 
the myriad celestial beings
applaud. 

Jalaludin Rumi (l207-1273)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



Showing Reverence
To All Things
and
Surrendering


Because
There is nothing
Outside of my Master's body
I try
To show reverence
To all things.
Because
There is nothing
Inside my Master's body
I am saved
From all reason
And surrender understanding.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



The Gifts of Light
~
Rising Winged Diamonds

I carry gifts today
From rivers, seas, fields, stars,
And from every soul,
From every soul--
That will ever
Be!
~
Beloved
Let us know
What light first saw and said
When it discovered
You.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



#35 Photographs & Poetry  ~   The Gift of Light - Rising Winged Diamonds  


My soul gave my heart a brilliant idea
So Hafiz is rising like a
Winged diamond  

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



Art 
Brings Light 
Near

Our sun sat in the sky
Way before this earth was born
Waiting to caress a billion faces.
Hafiz encourages all art
For at its height it brings Light near
To us.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



I Am 
     A Spinning Wheel    
  Doing the Impossible 



#36 Photographs & Poetry  ~   I Am A Sinning Wheel Doing the Impossible 


I am a spinning wheel upon the infinite.
I have swallowed that axis and hub
That fathered light and truth.
Grab hold and swing from me, my dear,
Doing the impossible
With your hands and feet both clapping.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky


~ ~ ~ ~


Your Name
Beating Wildly In Our Hearts


#37 Photographs & Poetry  ~   Your Name Beats Wildly In Our Hearts  


We are singed dervish moths,
Our souls know
Of that immaculate fire you keep
That belongs to us!
Even death now will have no power
To quiet your Name
From beating wildly in our hearts.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~ ~ ~



Nothing Into Nothing 
~
You Are A Divine Elephant
With Amnesia
Trying To Live In An Ant Hole


#38 Photographs & Poetry  ~  Divine Elephant With Amnesia Living In An Aunt Hole 


You are God hiding from yourself.
Remove all the "mine"--that is the veil.
Why ever worry about
Anything?
Listen to what your friend Hafiz
Knows for certain:
The appearance of this world
Is a Magi's brilliant trick, its affairs are
Nothing into nothing.
You are a divine elephant with amnesia
Trying to live in an ant
Hole.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky


~ ~ ~ ~


Two Birds On A Line 
Our Nest 
the 
Whole Firmament  


#39 Photographs & Poetry  ~   Two Birds On A Line - Our Nest, the Whole Firmament  


I saw two birds on a line this morning
Laughing with the sun.
They reminded me of how
We will one day exist.
My dear,
Keep thinking about God,
Keep thinking about the Beloved
And soon our nest will be the 
Whole firmament.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky


*


God has never really spoken,
though a thought once crossed His mind.
It is the echo of divine
silence

we hear the birds sing, and that
is the source of all
we see and
touch.

Tukaram  (l608-1649)
LOVE POEMS FROM GOD
trans.  Ladinsky


~ ~ ~ ~


Your Sight 
Embracing Everything
Even In An Unnamed World 

I sometimes watch the movement in an egg,
in a nest on a cliff no one has ever neared,
in a world that has not even been named.

The purity of all, its wonder, 
and your sight embracing everything, 
how could that ever be?  
Some kind of real omniscience?

You will never be able to work that 
extraordinary piece of the puzzle 
into your ken believing so strongly in--
and even being such an advocate at times . . .
of right and wrong, as you probably are.

Hafiz 
A YEAR WITH HAFIZ
trans.  Ladinsky



#40  ~   Your Sight Embracing Everything even In An Un-named World 


~ ~ ~ ~


The Radiance of Two Diamonds
His Brilliant Cheeks! 


#41 Photographs & Poetry  ~   The Radiance of Two Diamonds - His Brilliant Cheeks 


Dear one,
Last night, in the gallery of Reality
I saw a portrait I will never forget:
The Beloved was stirring a pot
With a spoon the size of a universe
And when He lifted it
I saw this whole world and its affairs
Were not even a floating speck of barley
Before the radiance of two diamonds
That were His brilliant cheeks!

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



~ ~
 ~ ~


Spinning
from 
One Thread
like
 A Great Falling Star

#42 Photographs & Poetry  ~   Spinning from One Thread Like A Great Falling Star 


The
Spider and the lizard
Grabbed hold of each other's mouth
Because of Love.
I watched for a while,
As God might,
Their holy dance
Spinning
From one thread that hung 
From the silk
Mandala.
I watched until they fell,
As our own bodies someday will,
Panting
Like a great falling
Star.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky


~ ~ ~ ~
. . .  the last poem . . . 


You Are One Of Us Now
You Are One Of Us 

You are one of us now
Because you cannot forget His beauty.
I see you have the luminous afflictions
From visiting His oasis of light,
From visiting God's own private chamber.
Indeed, indeed,
You are one of us.
And the golden drum
That surrenders its life
Will come to so sweetly play,
So divinely laugh,
Like Hafiz.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky



*
___________________________________________________



Afterword
"Light Upon Light"

When this veil is rent and a door opens in the heart, 
like springs toward like.  Light rises toward light, 
and light comes down upon light  
 Qur'an 24: 35 


Introduction
In the early 1980's -- about five few years before I was introduced to Gurumayi Chidvilasananda and the teachings of the Siddha Yoga Path -- I discovered a most important book published by Sierra Club entitled News of the Universe.  It's an anthology of poems, edited by Robert Bly, which examines the evolution of consciousness and man's relationship to the Natural World.  Bly's insightful introductions to each section of the book, and his carefully selected poems remain for me both fascinating and illuminating.  Bly introduced me to the object or thing poem which inspired my project entitled Thing-centered Photographs; and in the final section of poem he gives us the poetry of the saints, such as Rumi, Kabir, Rabia and Mirabi.  I used the book and read poems from it in my photography classes until I retired from teaching in 2007.  When I met Gurumayi in 1987 and started practicing Siddha Yoga, I was delighted to discover that she often used the words of these same poet-saints--and many others--in her talks and writings.

I have included in this project the poetry of saints from both Eastern and Western traditions.  The poems clearly show that a saint's state of being, his or her Union with God, transcends any differences in the culture and religious tradition with which they were associated.  And I have carefully placed the poetry in relationship to my photographs such that a "silent conversation" might take place between them.  I mean this in the same sense that the Sufi poet-saint, Rumi spoke of his "silent conversations" with his soul, and with his beloved teacher Shams Tabriz.  These wordless dialogues take place in the center of the heart.  Hafiz spoke similarly of art; he said Art is the conversation between lovers.  So I invite you to open your heart, silence your mind, and imaginatively enter into the space between the visual images and word-images . . . and simply "listen." 

There is for me great light, or grace in the poetry, and in the photographs.  The word-images most certainly shine a light upon my photographs; and the photographs often resonate with the poetry in ways that unveil new layers of meaning within both the poems and the pictures.  When I contemplate the way the words and photographs pulsate together in their subtle, Imaginal union its as if a blazing sun spontaneously bursts forth within me . . . 

"And it is light upon light."


Image #35   ~   The Gift of Light - Rising Winged Diamonds


By far the greatest number of poems in this collection are from the great 14th century Sufi poet-saint Hafiz.  Sufism, the inner, mystical dimension of Islam, is said to have at its very core a direct line of teachers descended from the Prophet Mohammad; and, of course at the center of Sufism is the Holy Book, the Qur'an.  Indeed, Hafiz was a reciter (a qurra) of the Qur'an.  Not only was he well known in his time (14th century) for his ability to recite the entire text, he also was able to recite it from memory!  In the traditions of the Qur'an, one who has achieved this remarkable feat of memory is called a Hafiz, a title given in honor of the great poet-saint.  In acknowledgment of Hafiz and his importance to the tradition, and in acknowledgement of the universal significance his poetry has held for untold numbers of readers and seekers throughout the world--both in the West and in the East--I offer this additional quote from the Qur'an:

A lamp burning with the oil of an olive tree 
 which is neither of the East nor the West,  
bursting into flame even though fire 
touch it not . . .  And it is  
light upon light.  
Qur'an 24:35    


How the Project Was Initiated
This project began with a collection of unpublished symmetrical photographs that had accumulated in a file over the past half year or so;  I was looking for a new project in which I could use the images.  Synchronistically, Amazon sent me a recommendation for a book of poems by Hafiz, probably because of all the Hafiz calendars I had gotten for my wife Gloria at Christmas time (she would get me Rumi calendars every year).  I decided to get Gloria the book--Daniel Ladinsky's A Year with Hafiz: Daily Contemplations--as a Mother's Day gift.  

After reading some of the poems over the course of a few weeks I decided to sit down and read the introductory material to the book.  I was very impressed by the three essays and I began reading the poetry with a new-born enthusiasm.  Indeed I became obsessed with the poetry, and soon ordered several other Hafiz books translated by Ladinsky.   

I had loved and studied Coleman Barks's translations of Rumi's poetry since the mid-1980's, but I was truly taken over and excited by the visual imagery in Ladinsky's translations of Hafiz.  As I read certain lines or passages in the Hafiz poems I would flash on photographs I had made--both the recent, unpublished ones, and earlier ones as well.  Before long the idea for this photography project became firmly sealed in my mind and my heart.  As I continued reading and re-reading the poems I more carefully watched for passages and word-images that invoked in me a longing for visual counter-parts.  I wrote these passages down and then later searched my photographic archive for images that worked with the poetry.  

Ladinsky is well known and rightly praised for his translations of Hafiz.  I think for the most part the translations are truly wonderful not for their humor and their visual evocations; they also reflect real insight into the world of Sufism, for Landinsky had studied for several years with Sufi teachers and spent time in an intimate community of Sufi seekers.  

However, after reading the Hafiz books I decided--out of curiosity--to read Ladinsky's book Love Poems from God, which includes his translations of poems by six saints from the West and six from the East.  Though I think his best work is with Hafiz, I decided it would be a good idea to include in my project a highly select sampling of his translations of the poems by St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and Meister Eckhart from the West; and Kabir, Rabia, Mirabi, Tukaram and Rumi--in addition to Hafiz--from the East. 

*

In the mid-1980's I created a large body of work entitled Thing-centered Photographs, pictures which strive to honor, "give voice" to, and unveil the soul or life-consciousness in things.  The project was inspired by Robert Bly's ideas about the Thing or Object Poem, and by a poem by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks.  I have included in this project that entire poem, in Bark's translation (see the section that contains Image #13), however, the following two lines were the primary source of  inspiration to me for the Thing-centered Photographs project:

He gave me a bowl, 
and I saw the soul has this shape.

A few years after I began the Thing-centered project,  I was thrilled to discover that the meaning of Rumi's poetry was is in perfect alignment with the most central of the Siddha Yoga teachings: "See God In Each Other and in Everything."  Everything is a form of God;  God dwells inside, in the very center of the human heart, and in all the things of the world.  Swami Muktananda, the great Indian saint and Meditation Master, Gurumayi's guru and founder of the Siddha Yoga Path, wrote this:

There is a center 
of sublime knowledge
within every human being,
and when you enter that place
you turn into a great poet 
~
you don't have to learn the art of poetry.


A Saint's Mystical State of Being
Baba Muktananda is saying that the poetry of the world's great saints is a direct, spontaneous, authentic expression of their state of being, their visionary union (yoga) with God.  The words of saints, their poems and their entire being are alive with grace, the divinity that lives within their hearts.

I recently re-read a published talk by Gurumayi entitled All This Is God.  In part of the talk she defines and elaborates upon a saint's mystical state of being.  Her words provide important insights, I think, regarding the poetry of Hafiz and the other poet-saints presented in this project, so here are some selected excerpts from her talk:   

Over and over again we are made aware of the presence of God in our lives.  Without this presence life has no meaning . . .  Why do you think you are alive?  

The Shaivite sages of Kashmir said, This world is a play of Consciousness.  We exist so that we can live in this awareness all the time, so that we have the experience of ecstasy every moment in our life, whether we are going through pain or pleasure; at every moment, we can see the light of the Truth.  We exist to experience the pulsation, the spanda, the initial throb of creation all the time, always being aware that it is the source of each thought, the source of each emotion, the source of each action, the source of our life.  

Delusion has become the great companion of all living beings.  Delusion makes itself look like a deity . . .  like a beautiful wonder . . . like the altar of God.  If we do not remove ourselves from this delusion, it will keep us away from the Truth, away from the experience of God.  ~  It isn't that once in a while we have a mystical experience and the rest of the time we wash dishes and scrub floors and yell at everyone.  ~  Life is mystical.  Life is a mystical experience within itself, but due to our delusion, we are not able to see it this way.  Therefore, the yogic texts speak about making your entire being a holy place, and your soul, God.  

One's own being is a holy place.  The supreme Soul that lives in it is God.  How does one make one's own being a holy place?  The experience occurs naturally through grace.  But how do you hold on to this experience?  The sages have given steps to follow . . . 

The first step is to control the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, and the hands.  Control the senses.  ~  Second, control the mind.  Keep the mind in check.  ~  Next is silence, being quiet in every action, every thought, every emotion.  ~  Withdrawal of the senses, absolute concentration, and meditation on the Self. 

The final stage is samadhi.  Samadhi is the state in which your intellect, your mind, your subconscious mind, your heart, and the ego have all come to terms with themselves. . .  All these instruments are in agreement so there is supreme joy, the ecstatic experience; there is harmony.  

How does one really control the senses?  ~  The sages say, it isn't possible.  You cannot stop them.  It is the nature of the senses to go out.  All they are doing is performing their duty . . . doing exactly what they are supposed to do.

The only way to keep the senses in check is by means of the experience and the awareness:  All this is God, all this is God, all this is God.  When you practice this again and again, then you are not disturbed by anything or anyone.  Whatever you see, whatever you hear:  All this is God.  And when you say "All this is God" the experience is not limited to one thing.  Everybody defines what God is, but God is not limited to any of the experiences we have of Him.  He is universal. . . There is both gentleness and hardness.

It is said, "The heart of a saint is softer than butter, harder than a thunderbolt."  How can these two opposites exist simultaneously?  Because such a being has realized God, and in the creation of God, opposites do exist.  So the experience of God does not mean something other than that which already exists, or something other than that which does not already exist.  All this is God, all this is God, all this is God.  Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, from a talk published in Darshan #60



Remembering Karen and Hafiz 
I met Karen many years ago at our Siddha Yoga Meditation Center in Milwaukee.  We became friends and did a lot of Center programing seva together, but when Gloria and I left Milwaukee eight years ago (2008) we lost touch with her.  She had experienced a hemorrhagic stroke just before we left town and became significantly debilitated from it.

My remembrance of our special relationship, and her wonderful relationship with the poetry of Hafiz, has been an important influence on this project and I want to share with you some of my memories of her.

I knew Karen as a true seeker, one who had, in the words of Hafiz, the "luminous afflictions," a great longing to know God.  She was a professional comedian, actress and public speaker, and she had the amazing ability (like Hafiz himself) to memorize spiritual texts of extraordinary length and complexity.  When Karen discovered the poetry of Hafiz she fell in love with the poems and memorized over three hundred and fifty of them!  From time to time she offered public readings, or "concerts" of the Hafiz poems.

When Karen recited the poems she became Hafiz.  You could see the transformation in her eyes; you could hear it in her voice; you could feel the divine presence of Hafiz during her passionate, often dramatic recitations of his poems.  Sometimes, during our meetings together I would ask her, spontaneously, to recite a poem by Hafiz.  Soon, the grace of Hafiz would enter our circle of friendship.

One day after I published this project, Gloria and I were talking about Karen and her poetry readings and wondered how she was doing.  Gloria looked up an old telephone number we had from our Milwaukee days and made a call; the next day we were able to talk to Karen!  She is doing some teaching now but her strength is limited; she is no longer doing poetry readings.  However she agreed to contribute a brief description of the process she used for her Hafiz poetry concerts.  She also sent along a photo that relates to her process.  I have included it below in remembrance of how it relates to Rumi's poem which led me to the Thing-Centered Photographs, and in remembrance and in gratitude to Karen for all that she has given me.

[S]he gave me a bowl, 
and I saw the soul has this shape.


Karen's photograph:  A Bowl full of Hafiz poem titles

Karen Kolberg wrote the following in an email dated August 10, 2016:
At the opening of a concert, after introducing Haifz, I placed the titles of the poems from three of Ladinsky’s books into a shallow wooden bowl. (I eventually memorized three hundred and sixty-five poems so I could recite a poem a day for an entire year.)  I invited the audience to sit for a moment in silence and when the spirit moved, they drew a title of one of the poems from the bowl.  Then, one person at a time would hand the title back to me and I would recite their chosen poem directly to them as a gift from the sages. 

It was always moving to see which poems were drawn for the evening as well as the order in which the poems came forth.  If I would have recited all the poems during an evening concert, I would have needed to hand out blankets and pillows along with the titles since it would have been an eight hour concert.  I could usually recite about 30 poems in an evening, but I had to know all 365 poems in order to recite the one that was hand and heart picked.  The concert literally created itself based on what everyone chose that evening.  My intention and my prayer was always to get myself out of the way so that the light would illuminate any dark places that were calling to be healed.   


__________________________________

*       *
*

In my divine studio
What I have been working on is this:
Imaging the Truth,
Revealing
A more realistic picture of God,
Tearing down the cruel walls
That separate [me] from the tenderness of Fire.

Hafiz
THE SUBJECT TONIGHT IS LOVE
trans.  Ladinsky


About the Symmetrical Photographs
All the photographs in this project are symmetrical image constructions.  The symmetrical images represent, for me, the Unity of Being.  Each one in this project functions for me as a symbol--an image that reveals, in the words of Hafiz: a more realistic picture of God; an image which gives visual form to the Truth: All this is God.  Symbols are alive with grace, with spanda, throbbing pulsation, the light of creation  

The symmetrical photographs are the creative product of a magical or mystical transformation.  The process begins with a source photograph--essentially a straight-forward record of the outer world.  I multiply the source image four times and conjoin them such that each source image mirrors the others both vertically and horizontally.  In the unfolding of the four-fold process the source image disappears.  It's as if the source image becomes turned inside-out unveiling a new image that contains the purity and roundness-of-being of the soul, the center of the Heart.  In other words, the transfigured image becomes a symbol.  True symbols not only are alive with grace, they also radiate and project grace, a palpable inner illumination, outward toward their viewers.

I first began making symmetrical photographs in 2011 after returning from a two-week visit to Turkey.  Gloria and I had chosen a tour that included a stop at Rumi's shrine in Konya.  My experience in the shrine was deeply moving; I believe that some of the magical experiences I had in Turkey during our tour was set into motion by the divine presence I felt in Rumi's shrine.  One of those experiences relates directly to this project: it took place in a museum in Istanbul on the last day of the tour.  I was looking at a display of beautiful old illuminated Qur'ans when all of a sudden one of the opened, double-page designs began to "glow" with its own internal light.  The title of this project, Illuminations, contains the remembrance of that experience.

I invite you to visit my online project "An Imaginary Book" which tells all about my trip through Turkey.  See especially the chapter entitled Prayer Stones.  


About the Section Headings 
Each section of poems and photographs in this project is divided by four wavy lines ~ ~ ~ ~ and each section is headed by a set of words in light bolded grey.  For example the last poem in the project has this heading:
You Are One Of Us Now
You Are One of Us 

The headings are often my own personal constructions intended to summarize, condense and point toward what for me are essential ideas regarding the imagery in the poems, in the photographs, and to the extent possible the subtle imagery generated in the "silent dialogue" between them.  Sometimes the headings are direct quotes from the translated poems, but most often they are composites of words taken from one or more of the poems that have been placed in relationship to the photograph. 

Each photograph in the project is numbered, and it has a "title" that refers to the heading of the section in which it has been placed.  Just to be clear: these "titles" are not meant to explain the meaning of the photograph.  I think it inappropriate to tell anyone else what a picture means in any specific way, especially with titles.  The words that have been placed under the photographs are there to help identify that particular image with the poetry in its particular section.


About the Translations
Ladinsky prefers to call his translations "renditions" or "versions" of the original poem texts, and I can understand exactly what he means, for I too have felt the need to revise or re-render a few of his English translations in order to have the poem more clearly or directly reflect or interact with a certain photograph I have placed in relationship to the poetry. 

Both Ladinsky and Barks have been unfairly criticized for the "liberties" (creative, poetic license) they have taken in providing contemporary translations to poems which date back hundreds of years!  They have written sincere, articulate essays about the challenges and complexities of turning poetic metaphor written in Persian or Latin into English.  Not only are they faced with the daunting tasks of coming to terms with metaphor which contains multiple layers of possible meanings, including puns, in ancient languages which carry the very different cultural and historical contexts in which they were originally written compared to ours today; they must also consider the mystical, ecstatic state of being and world view of the poet-saints, for the poems were written from inside the authentic experience of Union with the divine, a state of being which transcends culture, place and time . . .


Recommendations & Related Links
Daniel Ladinsky has published many books of the poetry of Hafiz.  If you were to ask my recommendation for a starting point, I would suggest the smaller book The Subject Tonight Is Love, or the larger volume of works, The Gift.

And here are a few links to some of my past photography projects that I recommend because of their relationships to this project:



Alternate Version of the Illuminations project
The alternate version of Illuminations project contains the same text and photos, but the photos are larger.  However, due to a technical glitch with Blogger, the larger images will not center on the page in alignment with the poems.  Since this is unacceptable to me--though I would prefer the larger images with the poetry--I encourage you to click on the smaller images in this version of the project for a more close-up view of the image.  I think this is an important part of seeing the photographs.  (More about this, below.)  To visit the alternate version of this project, with the larger, but uncentered images, click here: Illuminations, the Alternate version.   


Click On the Images 
You may have seen my blue colored "notes" at the top of this project page about clicking on the images to enlarge them.   If you have not enlarged the images yet, I encourage you to try it.  I think its important to experience the images closer, in more detail.  When you click on the image once, perhaps twice if your viewing device allows it, the image will appear sharper, more luminous, more full in tone.  ~  When you are ready to return to the project page, look to the upper left hand corner of your screen for the left-pointing return arrow and click on it.  You should be taken back to the place in the project where you were previously.  


*


I invite you to visit my website's Welcome Page which includes an introduction and overview to my photographic work, and links to each of my online photography projects, my resume, contact information, and more.  

Thank you for visiting Illuminations : Photographs and Poetry of Hafiz and other Poet-Saints. 

Steven D. Foster


Dedication: 
I dedicate this project, with great love, to my wife Gloria.  Today, August 2, 2016, the publication date of Illuminations, is also our 47th wedding anniversary!  With all my heart, Thank you, luminous spirit, for shinning your loving, protecting light--every day--upon our marriage, our children and grandchildren, our struggling democracy, our beautiful though suffering earth, and all the people, plants, animals, birds, air, waters, fish . . .  everything that exists upon and within it.   

Gloria,
this poem
is for 
You.

I carry gifts today
From rivers, seas, fields, stars,
And from every soul,
From every soul--
That will ever
Be!
~
Beloved
Let us know
What light first saw and said
When it discovered
You.

Hafiz 
THE GIFT
trans.  Ladinsky
  




. .





This project was published
August 2, 2016 



Welcome Page  to The Departing Landscape website includes the complete hyperlinked listing of my online photography projects dating back to the 1960's, my resume, contact information, and more.