The Heat of Midnight Tears

by Mirabai

English version by Robert Bly


Listen, my friend, this road is the heart opening,
Kissing his feet, resistance broken, tears all night.

If we could reach the Lord through immersion in water,
I would have asked to be born a fish in this life.
If we could reach Him through nothing but berries and wild nuts,
Then surely the saints would have been monkeys when they came from the womb!
If we could reach him by munching lettuce and dry leaves,
Then the goats would surely go to the Holy One before us!

If the worship of stone statues could bring us all the way,
I would have adored a granite mountain years ago.

Mirabai says: The heat of midnight tears will bring you to God.

-- from The Winged Energy of Delight, Translated by Robert Bly

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I want to start by looking at the middle section. Mirabai says that if we could reach God through bathing in sacred waters, fish would be the holiest creatures; if by subsisting only on nuts and berries, then monkeys would be better than saints. In other words, God is not limited to one thing or one place or one form of worship. God is not outside ourselves to be found elsewhere. And simple, mindless fixation on something we define as holy will not make us holy.

But what really caught my attention is how similar these lines are to the Gnostic Christian teachings in the Gospel of Thomas, which was only rediscovered in the early 1900s:

If those who lead you say, "Look, the kingdom is in the heavens," then the birds of heaven will get there before you. If they say, "It is in the sea," then the fish will be there first. Rather, the kingdom is within you and all around you. When you know yourself, you will be known, and you will know you are children of the living father...

- The Gospel of Thomas


Now, reread Mirabai's words. Pretty striking similarity, isn't it? It's so nearly identical that one suspects the Gospel of Thomas was circulating through India in Mirabai's time.

Both the Gospel of Thomas and Mirabai's song are telling us that the Eternal One is not found some-where. No place or object embodies God to the exclusion of others. That Presence is, in truth, everywhere, but is always discovered within.

Mirabai says: The heat of midnight tears will bring you to God.

Midnight is the time of lovers and longing.

The ego acts as the prim nurse standing guard to make certain secret tryst cannot occur. But lovers always find a way. The magnetic power of intense longing cannot be denied. Such midnight tears finally shame even the ego ("resistance broken"), who disappears into the shadows that the Beloved may emerge.

The pathway is open, and that pathway is the heart.

This is what Mirabai is telling us: God is already there, waiting, hidden, but we must clear the pathway of the heart. Only then can we finally recognize the smiling features of the Beloved that have always been there.

Listen, my friend, this road is the heart opening...



Recommended Books: Mirabai

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry To Touch the Sky: Poems of Mystical, Spiritual & Metaphysical Light Songs of the Saints of India The Winged Energy of Delight
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