Swept Away

by Hamid al-Din Kirmani

English version by David and Sabrineh Fideler
Original Language Persian/Farsi

At first, the way of your love
seemed easy.

I thought I'd reach
your union
with speed.

After taking a few steps,
I found
the way
is an ocean.

When I stepped in,
a wave swept me away.

-- from Love's Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition, Translated by David Fideler / Translated by Sabrineh Fideler

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I love what this poem has to say about the spiritual path...

At first, the way of your love
seemed easy.

I thought I'd reach
your union
with speed.


At the beginning, when we first decide to explore the path of spirit, it can appear all too easy. We imagine we just need to profess a certain belief, join a certain group, read a certain scripture, pray a certain way, follow a certain teacher, avoid a certain food. Do that, and everything is assured.

Sadly, this is where much of the religious world stays stuck. This approach too often leads to narrow minds and tight hearts.

After taking a few steps,
I found
the way
is an ocean.


But when we take those first "few steps" beyond that simplified notion and begin to explore more deeply and sincerely the questing soul and the world of spirit, we come to an honesty with ourselves. That honesty immediately overwhelms us by showing us the immense path ahead. So much to strive for within ourselves, so much suffering in the world to soothe... Seeing this, how can one hope to attain heaven, or wholeness, or peace?

In that moment, the best response is one of courageous determination... without expectation. We commit to the hard inner work and outer service, not because of some immediate spiritual "payoff" of enlightenment or salvation, but because, simply, that is what is needed. The heart requires it within our breast.

And so, head lowered, we put our shoulders to the task. And the work works on us -- challenging, stretching, straining, refining.

At some point, we stop holding back. At some point, we stop working for ourselves. We stop setting aside that small part that remains "me," that expects what is "mine," and we become lost in a delightful rhythm of easy movement. The work becomes sport among the waves and, laughing, we jump in!

When I stepped in,
a wave swept me away.


There is no "me" that can cross the eternal sea. The goal is to become one with the sea. All we have to do is get naked and step in to be swept away.



Recommended Books: Hamid al-Din Kirmani

Love's Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition Hamid Al-Din Al-Kirmani: Ismaili Thought in the Age of al-Hakim





Swept Away