True knowing, true caring
“There have been thousands of things for you to
pick from to put in your backpack on this journey.”
RENOWNED FOR HIS profound renderings of mystical poetry, specifically transcreations of the poems of Rumi and Hafiz, American writer and poet, Daniel Ladinsky (born 1948), offers his thoughts on finding ourselves in the midst of the current political world crisis.
Ultimately! That is a good word to have in our backpack and pull out and contemplate a bit, milk it the best we can, if things get too rough on the trail and any dreams, hopes or just some simple pleasures aren’t working enough. And I like the primary definition of that word: finally in the end. At last. And I might also add to that definition: O Boy! Holy Cow—this was sure worth waiting, sweating and crying for.
Yes, what are we, ultimately? I think what awaits is some kind of trillion-dollar lottery prize with no taxes. And we should start getting a little more mileage out of holding such an astonishing winning ticket. Maybe leave bigger tips to waiters and servers, give more to the homeless and be less concerned about alimony or an electricity bill.
I heard that the phrase, “Who are we?”, was once taught to an exceptionally smart and beautiful parrot in a cage and she would say it whenever her owner appeared. The parrot was very cared for and loved but she would bang her head against the bars sometimes, especially if there was a window open in the daytime and a breeze came in and caressed her. She could see other parrots in a wonderful tree close by, coming and going as they pleased, playing, laughing and sweetly grooming each other.
It was then the parrot would sometimes say, “I am you,” and then stop banging her head for a while. And even seemed to sigh in some kind of relief, in the belief that, indeed, someday she would be free and laughing and her wings would be able to taste the sky, being nearer the sun … whenever her heart wanted.
With the world events of this last month—specifically with the horrific atrocities that happened when Hamas invaded Israel and now the retaliations and more brutal deaths on both sides looming, which may go on for years on various levels; with the horrific, really rather unbelievable, ongoing events with Russia and Ukraine; and, to me, all the political and religious insanities—I find myself thinking: “I know exactly what I am going to ask Carl Jung at our next session or Buddha if he gets close.”
I have been saying this last year, at times, that Rumi and Hafiz are, in many ways, Carl Jung times ten greater, gone poets. And in having been floating around in the wine barrels of Hafiz and Rumi almost every day for some 30 years now, what is it I have learned and can say to myself—or offer as help to others—about all one can see on the news or read online? Or even experience just in their own life … in personal, ongoing, sometimes very affecting events?
My last blog, “Don’t Die Again”, is such an offering! All my blogs are, in a real way; and surely all my books are a wanting to help! There are two lines from a Rumi poem in my book The Purity of Desire, whose lines go:
There have been thousands of things for you to
pick from to put in your backpack on this journey.
Yeah Carl, yeah Buddha. Yeah Rumi, yeah Hafiz. You are on now; here is the mic. Tell us something that can really help. And we may surely put that in our backpack for this journey of every hour and day, and for our whole, really miraculous life. But you got to make that—juicy! It has to—boogie! Be some intelligent comfort when needed, aka: it can really hold up to all the elements that can rain upon us.
I woke up in the middle of the night with some thoughts that got me started on this blog. It is about 3 a.m. now. And some other words about all this that came to mind were: preschool and daycare. And it occurred to me, though not wanting to jump off the playing field of most, that this entire earth is something of a daycare centre and a preschool; where the soul is gradually being weaned from form and names into more light. And that the world’s great teachers throughout history are still very much here (in spirit), as much as they ever were in a body—though they can appear to have walked out of the classroom and then the mayhem can begin; the horrible, so deeply affecting mayhem with great pain.
What is the ultimate Truth of everything? Who, really, are we? There are probably only a few people on earth, at any given time, who carry that around in their backpack and can really live it and share it via human ways, like a vital trail-mix snack and drink of pure water! Who has truly advanced beyond the vast preschool and daycare-needing realms, where consciousness is still evolving?
The great Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, tried to help us understand more of the Truth, when he wrote this remarkable, very sophisticated poem, “Please Call Me By My True Names”.
A couple last things. One more key phrase in all this to me is “L’chaim”, which is a common Jewish toast, meaning “To life!”
And to close, some lines from the challenging depth of Hafiz, where he will use, at times, a reality-physics in the natural world to symbolize. Though I felt it was best to edit some, change-disguise one word; I just did not think I could go cowboy to cowboy—cowgirl to cowgirl—with most on this one. But you could figure it out if you really want. Or ask a good Zen Master or real Rabbi:
“Look at the moon’s light. How is it possible She
can click her glass equally against all things?”
What chalkboard did that come from? What elite classroom where the eye and heart and mind graduate into a perfect equanimity—into our destined, glorious Ultimate love and, “at last”, true knowing, true caring! So far beyond the daycare centres of so many institutions, the preschools, where there can be harm to others and the environment, and where there is greed, lies and fear:
“That chalkboard the sky; beyond every name but One. Where
the caged parrot will become the Sun; and its wings Existence.”
“The Ultimate” was first published on the author’s website
and is reproduced here with kind permission.
- Daniel Ladinsky’s website
- Hafiz: The Gift
- Daniel Ladinsky & Marwa Adel: Rumi
- Yahia Lababidi: Revolutions of the Heart
- Irina Tweedie: The Daughter of Fire
- Philip Jacobs: Dance of the Dervishes
- Fakhruddin ‘Araqi: Divine Flashes
- Kahlil Gibran: Poet, Painter, Prophet