The last and my favourite poem from Mustansir Dalvi’s Brouhahas of Cocks.
a saint prays for rain
– Mustansir Dalvi
You are gone these many seasons,
anamnesis shed like miniatures
lost in the dunes west of Sam,
and I am left white, anaemic.
I paint my breasts saffron
with pastes of sandalwood
for to anoint You, my Lord,
but they dry and cake.
I scratch myself, scrape
Your names on my skin,
bring blood simmering
to the surface to keep
Your tongue interested.
This world is anathema,
conjoint of meat and material,
a malediction of the mind
keeping You from me
and my heart, a four-chambered
reef knot, another piece of flesh.
Answer my prayers, Lord,
but get Your aim right.
The archers of Your approbation
are way off mark. The leaden barbs
from your forge should pitch
their sights to a lower eye
for my faith is my clitoris
between the teeth of my Lord.
You bite down with felicity
redden the earth, and the musk
of my fertile mud is released.
Ella approached the window and looked at the sky, which was an amazing indigo in all directions. It swirled with an invisible speed of its own, dissolving into nothingness and encountering therein infinite possibilities, like a whirling dervish:
“A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western… Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water.”
The first step is always the hardest:
“It is never too late to ask yourself, ‘Am I ready to change the life I am living? Am I ready to change within?’ Even if a single day in your life is the same as the day before, it surely is a pity. At every moment and with each new breath, one should be renewed and renewed again. There is only one way to be born into a new life: to die before death.”
There is a time for everything:
“God is a meticulous clockmaker. So precise is His order than everything on earth happens in its own time. Neither a minute late nor a minute early. And for everyone without exception, the clock works accurately. For each there is a time to love and a time to die.”
Nothing happens out of God’s will. It is one of the rules:
“This world is erected upon the principle of reciprocity. Neither a drop of kindness nor a speck of evil will remain unreciprocated. Fear not the plots, deceptions, or tricks of other people. If somebody is setting a trap, remember, so is God. He’s the biggest plotter. Not even a leaf stirs out of God’s knowledge. Simply and fully believe in that. Whatever God does, He does beautifully.”
I cannot tell you what destiny is. All I can tell you is what it isn’t:
“Destiny doesn’t mean that your life has been strictly predetermined. Therefore, to leave everything to fate and to not actively contribute to the music of the universe is a sign of sheer ignorance. The music of the universe is all-pervading and it is composed on forty different levels. Your destiny is the level where you will play your tune. You might not change your instrument but how well you play is entirely in your hands.”
“The human being has a unique place among God’s creation. “I breathed into him of My Spirit, ” God says. Each and every one of us without exception is designed to be God’s delegate on earth. Ask yourself, just how often do you behave like a delegate, if you ever do so? Remember, it falls upon each of us to discover the divine spirit inside and live by it.”
Instead of losing themselves in the love of God and waging a war against their ego, religious zealots fight other people, generating wave after wave of fear. Looking at the whole universe with fear-tinted eyes, it is no wonder that they see a plethora of things to be afraid of. Wherever there is an earthquake, drought, or any other calamity, they take it as a sign of divine wrath – as if God does not openly say, My compassion outweighs My wrath. Always resentful of somebody for this or that, they expect God the Almighty to step in on their behalf and take their pitiful revenges. Their life is a state of uninterrupted bitterness and hostility, a discontentment so vast it follows them wherever they go, like a black cloud, darkening both their past and their future.
There is such a thing in faith as not being able to see the forest for the trees. The totality of religion is far greater and deeper than the sum of its component parts. Individual rules need to be read in the light of the whole. And the whole is concealed in the essence.
As long as I knew myself, I would be all right. Whosoever knows himself, knows the one. The moon showered me with its warm glow. A light rain, as delicate as a silk scarf, began to fall on the town. I thanked God for this blessed moment and left myself in His hands. The fragility and brevity of life struck me once again, and I recalled another rule:
“Life is a temporary loan, and this world is nothing but a sketchy imitation of Reality. Only children would mistake a toy for a real thing. And yet human beings either become infatuated with the toy or disrespectfully break it and throw it aside. In this life stay away from all kinds of extremities, for they will destroy your inner balance. Sufis do not go to extremes. A Sufi always remains mild and moderate.
“You are bleeding,” Shams murmured as he started to wipe the blood off my face. “Not only on the outside, but inside as well. You should know that the wound inside you is deeper, and that is the one you should worry about. This will remind you that you bear God within you. “
“That security guard. . . he whipped me. He said I deserved it.”
Shams of Tabriz shook his head. “They had no right to do that. Every individual is self-sufficient in his search for the divine. There is a rule regarding this:
“We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No two hearts beat to the same rhythm. If God had wanted everyone to be the same, He would have made it so. Therefore, disrespecting differences and imposing your thoughts on others is tantamount to disrespecting God’s holy scheme.”
“Don’t you see this place is a brothel? Don’t you dervishes take an oath to stay away from lust? People think I wallow in sin here, but I give my alms and close my doors in the month of Ramadan. And now I’m saving you. Stay away from us. This is the filthiest corner in town.”
“Filth is inside, not outside,” Shams objected. Thus says the rule:
“Real filth is the one inside. The rest simply washes off. There is only one type of dirt that cannot be cleansed with pure waters, and that is the strain of hatred and bigotry contaminating the soul. You can purify your body through abstinence and fasting, but only love will purify your heart.”