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Farid ud-Din Attar Abu Hamid bin Abu Bakr Ibrahim

The Triumph of the Soul

Joy! Joy! I triumph! Now no more I know

Myself as simply me. I burn with love

Unto myself, and bury me in love.

The centre is within me and its wonder

Lies as a circle everywhere about me.

Joy! Joy! No mortal thought can fathom me.

I am the merchant and the pearl at once.

Lo, Time and Space lie crouching at my feet.

Joy! Joy! When I would reveal in a rapture.

I plunge into myself and all things know.

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Mystic Silence

From each, Love demands a mystic silence.
What do all seek so earnestly? Tis Love.
Love is the subject of their inmost thoughts,
In Love no longer 'Thou' and 'I' exist,
For self has passed away in the Beloved.
Now will I draw aside the veil from Love,
And in the temple of mine inmost soul
Behold the Friend, Incomparable Love.
He who would know the secret of both worlds
Will find that the secret of them both is Love.

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Looking for your own face

Your face is neither infinite nor ephemeral.
You can never see your own face,
only a reflection, not the face itself.

So you sigh in front of mirrors
and cloud the surface.

It's better to keep your breath cold.
Hold it, like a diver does in the ocean.
One slight movement, the mirror-image goes.

Don't be dead or asleep or awake.
Don't be anything.

What you most want,
what you travel around wishing to find,
lose yourself as lovers lose themselves,
and you'll be that.

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Intoxicated by the Wine of Love

Intoxicated by the Wine of Love.
From each a mystic silence Love demands.
What do all seek so earnestly? 'Tis Love.
What do they whisper to each other? Love.
Love is the subject of their inmost thoughts.
In Love no longer 'thou' and 'I' exist,
For Self has passed away in the Beloved.
Now will I draw aside the veil from Love,
And in the temple of mine inmost soul,
Behold the Friend; Incomparable Love.
He who would know the secret of both worlds,
Will find the secret of them both, is Love.

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In the Dead of night

In the dead of night, a Sufi began to weep.
He said, 'This world is like a closed coffin, in which
We are shut and in which, through our ignorance,
We spend our lives in folly and desolation.
When Death comes to open the lid of the coffin,
Each one who has wings will fly off to Eternity,
But those without will remain locked in the coffin.
So, my friends, before the lid of this coffin is taken off,
Do all you can to become a bird of the Way to God;
Do all you can to develop your wings and your feathers.'

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Invocation

We are busy with the luxury of things.
Their number and multiple faces bring
To us confusion we call knowledge. Say:
God created the world, pinned night to day,
Made mountains to weigh it down, seas
To wash its face, living creatures with pleas
(The ancestors of prayers) seeking a place
In this mystery that floats in endless space.


God set the earth on the back of a bull,
The bull on a fish dancing on a spool
Of silver light so fine it is like air;
That in turn rests on nothing there
But nothing that nothing can share.
All things are but masks at God's beck and call,
They are symbols that instruct us that God is all.

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Invocation

We are busy with the luxury of things.
Their number and multiple faces bring
To us confusion we call knowledge. Say:
God created the world, pinned night to day,
Made mountains to weigh it down, seas
To wash its face, living creatures with pleas
(The ancestors of prayers) seeking a place
In this mystery that floats in endless space.


God set the earth on the back of a bull,
The bull on a fish dancing on a spool
Of silver light so fine it is like air;
That in turn rests on nothing there
But nothing that nothing can share.
All things are but masks at God's beck and call,
They are symbols that instruct us that God is all.

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Why was Adam

'Why was Adam driven from the garden?'
The pupil asked his master. 'His heart was hardened
With images, a hundred bonds that clutter the earth
Chained Adam to the cycle of death following birth.
He was blind to this equation, living for something other
Than God and so out of paradise he was driven
With his mortal body's cover his soul was shriven.
Noblest of God's creatures, Adam fell with blame,
Like a moth shrivelled by the candle's flame,
Into history which taught mankind shame.
Since Adam had not given up his heart
To God's attachment, there was no part
For Adam in paradise where the only friend
Is God; His will is not for Adam to imagine and bend.

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All Pervading Consciousness

And as His Essence all the world pervades
Naught in Creation is, save this alone.
Upon the waters has He fixed His Throne,
This earth suspended in the starry space,
Yet what are seas and what is air? For all
Is God, and but a talisman are heaven and earth
To veil Divinity. For heaven and earth,
Did He not permeate them, were but names;
Know then, that both this visible world and that
Which unseen is, alike are God Himself,
Naught is, save God: and all that is, is God.


And yet, alas! by how few is He seen,
Blind are men's eyes, though all resplendent shines
The world by Deity's own light illumined,
0 Thou whom man perceiveth not, although
To him Thou deignest to make known Thyself;
Thou all Creation art, all we behold, but Thou,
The soul within the body lies concealed,

[...] Read more

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Illahi Nama (Book of God)

In the Book of God (Ilahi-nama) 'Attar framed his mystical teachings in various stories that a caliph tells his six sons, who are kings themselves and seek worldly pleasures and power.
The first son is captivated by a virgin princess, and his father tells him the adventures of a beautiful and virtuous woman who attracts several men but miraculously survives their abuse and then forgives them. They acknowledge that carnal desire is necessary to propagate the race but also recognize that passionate love can lead to spiritual love, which can annihilate the soul in the beloved.
Other stories indicate the importance of respecting the lives of other creatures such as ants or dogs. One only thinks oneself better than a dog because of one's dog-like nature.

The second son tells his father that his heart craves magic; but his father warns him against the work of the Devil. A monk tells a shaikh that he has chosen the job of locking up a savage dog inside himself, and he advises the shaikh to lock up anger lest he be changed into a dog. The father suggests that this son ask for something more worthy and tells an anecdote in which Jesus teaches a man the greatest name of God. The man uses it to make bones come alive into a lion, which devours him, leaving his bones. Jesus then says that when a person asks for something unworthy, God does not grant it. Birds and beasts flee from people, because people eat them. God tells Moses to watch his heart when he is alone, to be kind and watch his tongue when he is with people, the road in front when he is walking, and his gullet when he is dining. A saint tells a shaikh that love is never denied to humans, for only the lover knows the true value of the beloved. Another saint warns that unless you pray for protection from negativity (the Devil), you shall not enter the court of God.

The third son of the caliph asks for a cup that could display the whole world. 'Attar concluded a story by saying that Sufism is to rest in patience and forsake all desire for the world, and trust in God means bridling one's tongue and wishing for better things for others than for oneself. This son asks why his father seems to disparage the love of honor and the love of wealth which all seem to possess. The caliph replies that in the crazy prison of the world one can achieve greatness only by devotion. Since one speaks to God through the heart and soul, it is difficult to speak with God of worldly things. The third son asks if he can be allowed to seek power in moderation; but the father still warns that this will place screens between him and God. Each screen created by seeking power will create more screens. One must see both the good and the bad inside and outside oneself to understand how they are connected together. Saints who reach their goal see nothingness in all things, making sugar seem like poison and a rose like thorns. Ayaz advises the conquering sultan Mahmud to leave his self behind since he is better being entirely We. In the last story for his third son, the father says that thousands of arts, mysteries, definitions, commands, prohibitions, orders, and injunctions are founded on the intellect. What cup could be more revealing than this?

The fourth son seeks the water of life, and his father warns him against desire. A wise man considers Alexander the Great the slave of his slave, because the Greek conqueror has submitted to greed and desire, which this wise man controls. If the son cannot have the water of life, he asks for the knowledge that will illuminate his heart. In one story 'Attar concluded that if you are not faithful in love, you are in love only with yourself. The fifth son asks for the ring of Solomon that enables one to communicate with birds and other animals. The Way is summarized as seeing the true road, traveling light, and doing no harm. The father tells this son that he has chosen an earthly kingdom, because he has not heard of the kingdom of the next world. He advises this king that since his sovereignty will not endure not to load the whole world on his shoulders. Why take on the burden of all creation? The caliph suggests that his son practice contentment, which is an eternal kingdom that overshadows even the Sun. When Joseph was thrown into a pit, the angel Gabriel counseled him that it is better to notice a single blemish in yourself than to see a hundred lights of the Unseen.

The sixth son desires to practice alchemy, but his father perceives that he is caught in the snare of greed. Gold is held more tightly by a miser than the rock grips the ore. The son observes that excessive poverty often leads to losing faith, and so he asks God for both the philosopher's stone and for gold; but his father replies that one cannot promote both faith and the world at the same time. In the epilog the poet commented that since he receives his daily bread from the Unseen, he does not have to be the slave of wretched men, and 'Attar concluded this work with the satisfaction that he has perfumed the name of God with his poetry.

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