Welcome, traveler! Enter and take your rest...

A chaikhana is a teahouse along the legendary Silk Road pilgrimage and trading route linking China to the Middle East and Europe. It is a place of rest along the journey, a place to shake off the dust of the road, to sip tea, and to gather together to sing songs of the Divine...



  Now No Trace Remains

by Niyazi Misri

English version by Jennifer Ferraro & Latif Bolat

I thought that in this whole world
     no beloved for me remained.

Then I left myself.
     Now no stranger in the world remains.

I used to see in every object a thorn
     but never a rose--

the universe became a rose garden.
     Not a single thorn remains.

Day and night my heart
     was moaning "Ahhh!"

I don't know how it happened--
     now no "Ahhh" remains.

Duality went, Unity came.
     I met with the Friend in private;

The multitude left, the One came.
     Only the One remains.

Religion, piety, custom, reputation--
     these used to matter greatly to me.

O Niyazi -- what has happened to you?
     No trace of religion now remains.

-- from Quarreling with God: Mystic Rebel Poems of the Dervishes of Turkey, Translated by Jennifer Ferraro / Translated by Latif Bolat


/ Image by Broken-Beloved /

View All Poems by Niyazi Misri


I thought that in this whole world
     no beloved for me remained.


There is much that is beautiful and attractive in the world: people, possessions, experiences. But do we love them or only love how they bolster our own self-image? They evolve, change, come and go, and so do we. They may give us a glimpse of the Divine Beloved beneath the surface, but until we learn to really look, that beautiful glimpse is fleeting. And they don't do a great job in the long run of sustaining our fragile egos. Natural evolution, ours and that of the world around us, can feel like a betrayal. When we cling to surfaces and our own needy egos, it can feel like we have been abandoned by the Beloved. Sometimes we can spiral into such a dark space that it can feel as if nothing lovely remains in the world.

So long as we cling to the little self, everyone and everything else is separate and vaguely threatening. The ego asserts itself by continuously keeping itself in psychic opposition to everything it has defined as being outside itself. To the ego, everything is either a possession or an enemy.

The ego pretends it is the center of reality while separating itself from the holistic vision of reality. In doing so, the ego makes itself both the prisoner and the prison guard.

In that shattered vision of a reality of separated fragments, we become blind to the true nature of reality -- and the beloved is not seen. Even those soul-healing glimpses are hard to come by, rarely acknowledged even when seen.

Then I left myself.
     Now no stranger in the world remains.


But when when we finally step outside the artificial boundaries of the little self, the mesmerizing but ever incomplete world of duality fades, to be replaced by the vision of beauty and unity, in which there is no other and everything reflects the Beloved.

Duality went, Unity came.
     I met with the Friend in private;

The multitude left, the One came.
     Only the One remains.


We finally see how we flow into each other, how we are interwoven into a single, unified fabric of Reality. No one and nothing is outside of ourselves. That is when we can truly proclaim with Niyazi Misri that "Now now stranger in the world remains."

I used to see in every object a thorn
     but never a rose--

the universe became a rose garden.
     Not a single thorn remains.


The rose unfolds in a gentle circling that invites one to yield inward. The rose is a symbol of lovers and of union. The rose resonates strongly with the gently awakened heart.

The rose, with its wine-like scent and deep red color, is sometimes thought of as a more tangible embodiment of wine -- the drink of communion.

Religion, piety, custom, reputation--
     these used to matter greatly to me.


I love this Sufi iconoclasm. When deep realization comes, mystics have the troubling tendency to drop the forms of their religion. When the Eternal is finally recognized as here, now, alive in every way and in every form, the prescribed and proscribed ways of holiness lose their meaning.

O Niyazi -- what has happened to you?
     No trace of religion now remains.


This is not to say that one should immediately reject the recommended practices of one's tradition. It is simply a reminder for us that the path, whichever one we follow, leads us to a Goal. Having reached the destination, the path has then served its purpose. At that point, clinging to the old practices is more about wanting to be seen by others to be devout. Is that important? If one's role is to act as a beacon to draw others to a similar path, then perhaps it is. For other realized individuals, however, it might suggest a vanity that has been left behind. To the person of attainment, there are no "others" anyway, so who is the pious show for?

Of course, the louder one proclaims this truth, the more friends one loses among the keepers of the faith. Those troublesome mystics...

===

Alternatives to Amazon

As a follow-up to my note raising concerns about Amazon's business practices, several of you contacted me with some promising sites worth exploring. Two sites in particular caught my attention: Wordery and Better World Books. Both are online booksellers and both offer free shipping *worldwide*. Both also contribute a certain amount of their profits and book stock to charities and literacy programs.

They seem to take a little while to add new books to their online catalogs, however. This Dance of Bliss is not yet listed with their sites, but other Poetry Chaikhana publications are listed. I am in contact with them to see if I can facilitate the process of adding the new anthology.

If all continues to look promising, I may soon change the Poetry Chaikhana book links to favor one of these sites (though Poetry Chaikhana books will still remain available through Amazon and other online book sources).

In the meantime, I encourage you to explore these sites yourself. And if you have any feedback about them, please let me know:

Wordery
www.wordery.com

Better World Books
www.betterworldbooks.com

* Also, I should mention that someone sent me information about how, in response to the rising criticism, Amazon's CEO just donated a very large sum of money to help with homelessness. While the action with most integrity would be to improve his company's business practices and wage policies, a donation like that is not insignificant. How does that affect your perception of the company?



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