zikr / January Seminar, 2005



     Moon/January 24th, 2005 / Santo Domingo







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Read during  Zikr / January Seminar, 2005








The wakened lover speaks directly to the beloved,
"You are the sky my spirit circles in,
the love inside love, the resurrection-place.
Let this window be your ear.
I have lost consciousness many times
with longing for your listening silence,
and your life-quickening smile.
You give attention to the smallest matters,
my suspicious doubts, and to the greatest.
You know my coins are counterfeit,
but you accept them anyway,
my impudence and my pretending!
I have five things to say,
five fingers to give
into your grace.
First, when I was apart from you,
this world did not exist,
nor any other.
Second, whatever I was looking for
was always you.
Third, why did I ever learn to count to three?
Fourth, my cornfield is burning!
Fifth, this finger stands for Rabia,
and this is for someone else.
Is there a difference?
Arc these words or tears?
Is weeping speech?
What shall I do, my love?"
So he speaks, and everyone around
begins to cry with him, laughing crazily,
moaning in the spreading union
of lover and beloved.
This is the true religion.  All others
are thrown-away bandages beside it.
This is the sema of slavery and mastery
dancing together. This is not-being.
Neither words, nor any natural fact
can express this.
I know these dancers.
Day and night I sing their songs
in this phenomenal cage.
My soul, don't try to answer now!
Find a friend, and hide.
But what can stay hidden?
Love's secret is always lifting its head
out from under the covers,
"Here I am!"


There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.
Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.
Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.
Open your hands,
if you want to be held.
Sit down in this circle.
Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd's love filling you.
At night, your beloved wanders.
Don't accept consolations.
Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover's mouth in yours.
You moan, "She left me." "He left me."
Twenty more will come.
Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!
Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.
Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.

Don't worry about saving these songs!
And if one of our instruments breaks,
it doesn't matter.
We have fallen into the place
where everything is music.
The strumming and the flute notes
rise into the atmosphere,
and even if the whole world's harp
should burn up, there will still be
hidden instruments playing.
So the candle flickers and goes out.
We have a piece of flint, and a spark.
This singing art is sea foam.
The graceful movements come from a pearl
somewhere on the ocean floor.
Poems reach up like spindrift and the edge
of driftwood along the beach, wanting!
They derive
from a slow and powerful root
that we can't see.
Stop the words now.
Open the window in the center of your chest,
and let the spirits fly in and out.


Learn about your inner self from those who know such things,
but don't repeat verbatim what they say.
Zuleikha let everything be the name of Joseph, from celery seed
to aloes wood.  She loved him so much she concealed his name
in many different phrases, the inner meanings
known only to her.  When she said, The wax is softening
near the fire, she meant, My love is wanting me.
Or if she said, Look, the moon is up or The willow has new leaves
or The branches are trembling or The coriander seeds
have caught fire or The roses are opening
or The king is in a good mood today or Isn't that lucky?
or The furniture needs dusting or
The water carrier is here or It's almost daylight or
These vegetables are perfect or The bread needs more salt
or The clouds seem to be moving against the wind
or My head hurts or My headache's better,
anything she praises, it's Joseph's touch she means,
any complaint, it's his being away.
When she's hungry, it's for him.  Thirsty, his name is a sherbet.
Cold, he's a fur.  This is what the Friend can do
when one is in such love.  Sensual people use the holy names
often, but they don't work for them.
The miracle Jesus did by being the name of God,
Zuleikha felt in the name of Joseph.
When one is united to the core of another, to speak of that
is to breathe the name Hu, empty of self and filled
with love.  As the saying goes, The pot drips what is in it.
The saffron spice of connecting, laughter.
The onion smell of separation, crying.
Others have many things and people they love.
This is not the way of Friend and friend.

Love has taken away my practices
and filled me with poetry.
I tried to keep quietly repeating,
No strength but yours,
but I couldn't.
I had to clap and sing.
I used to be respectable and chaste and stable,
but who can stand in this strong wind
and remember those things?
A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself.
That's how I hold your voice.
I am scrap wood thrown in your fire,
and quickly reduced to smoke.
I saw you and became empty.
This emptiness, more beautiful than existence,
it obliterates existence, and yet when it comes,
existence thrives and creates more existence!
The sky is blue. The world is a blind man
squatting on the road.
But whoever sees your emptiness
sees beyond blue and beyond the blind man.
A great soul hides like Muhammad, or Jesus,
moving through a crowd in a city
where no one knows him.
To praise is to praise
how one surrenders
to the emptiness.
To praise the sun is to praise your own eyes.
Praise, the ocean. What we say, a little ship.
So the sea-journey goes on, and who knows where!
Just to be held by the ocean is the best luck
we could have.  It's a total waking up!
Why should we grieve that we've been sleeping?
It doesn't matter how long we've been unconscious.
We're groggy, but let the guilt go.
Feel the motions of tenderness

around you, the buoyancy.

A naked man jumps in the river, hornets swarming
above him.  The water is the zikr, remembering,
There is no reality but God. There is only God.
The hornets are his sexual remembering, this woman,
that woman.  Or if a woman, this man, that.
The head comes up. They sting.
Breathe water.  Become river head to foot.
Hornets leave you alone then.  Even if you're far
from the river, they pay no attention.
No one looks for stars when the sun's out.
A person blended into God does not disappear.  He, or she,
is just completely soaked in God's qualities.
Do you need a quote from the Qur'an?
All shall be brought into our Presence.
Join those travelers.  The lamps we burn go out,
some quickly.  Some last till daybreak.
Some are dim, some intense, all fed with fuel.
If a light goes out in one house, that doesn't affect
the next house.  This is the story of the animal soul,
not the divine soul.  The sun shines on every house.
When it goes down, all houses get dark.
Light is the image of your teacher.  Your enemies
love the dark.  A spider weaves a web over a light,
out of himself, or herself, makes a veil.
Don't try to control a wild horse by grabbing its leg.
Take hold the neck.  Use a bridle.  Be sensible.
Then ride! There is a need for self-denial.
Don't be contemptuous of old obediences. They help.

One night a man was crying,
Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
"So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?"
The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.
He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.
"Why did you stop praising?"
"Because I've never heard anything back."
"This longing
you express is the return message."
The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.
Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.
There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.
Give your life
to be one of them.

Borrow the beloved's eyes.
Look through them and you'll see the beloved's face
everywhere.  No tiredness, no jaded boredom.
"I shall be your eye and your hand and your loving."
Let that happen, and things
you have hated will become helpers.
A certain preacher always prays long and with enthusiasm
for thieves and muggers that attack people
on the street. "Let your mercy, O Lord,
cover their insolence."
He doesn't pray for the good,
but only for the blatantly cruel.
Why is this? his congregation asks.
"Because they have done me such generous favors.
Every time I turn back toward the things they want,
I run into them, they beat me, and leave me nearly dead
in the road, and I understand, again, that what they want
is not what I want.  They keep me on the spiritual path.
That's why I honor them and pray for them."
Those that make you return, for whatever reason,
to God's solitude, be grateful to them.
Worry about the others, who give you
delicious comforts that keep you from prayer.
Friends are enemies sometimes,
and enemies friends.
There is an animal called an ushghur, a porcupine.
If you hit it with a stick, it extends its quills
and gets bigger. The soul is a porcupine,
made strong by stick-beating.
So a prophet's soul is especially afflicted,
because it has to become so powerful.
A hide is soaked in tanning liquor and becomes leather.
If the tanner did not rub in the acid,
the hide would get foul-smelling and rotten.
The soul is a newly skinned hide, bloody and gross.
Work on it with manual discipline,
and the bitter tanning acid of grief,
and you'll become lovely, and very strong.
If you can't do this work yourself, don't worry.
You don't even have to make a decision,
one way or another.  The Friend, who knows
a lot more than you do, will bring difficulties,
and grief, and sickness,
as medicine, as happiness,
as the essence of the moment when you're beaten,
when you hear Checkmate, and can finally say,
with Hallaj's voice,
I trust you to kill me.


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