How did I ever think silence the language of love?

by Darshan Singh

English version by Barry Lerner and Harbans Singh Bedi
Original Language Urdu

How did I ever think silence the language of love?
What I thought would not come to light was in plain sight.

I hear my silence talked of in every lane;
The suppression of a cry is itself a cry of pain.

The beloved's regard was but a flash of light;
How innocent to think I'd found eternal bliss.

These, too, in the end were the gardener's: the lightning and the wind
And that handful of pitiful straws I'd called my nest.

Darshan, the glances I'd fancied voiced my love --
Even they couldn't convey the unplumbed depths of my longing.

-- from Love's Last Madness: Poems on a Spiritual Path by Darshan Singh, Translated by Barry Lerner / Translated by Harbans Singh Bedi

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Let's spend a little time with this poem...

This poem is a lovely way to address some of the initial encounters of mystical union.

The opening couplets explore interweaving themes of silence and awareness of the Divine. Esoteric traditions all over the world use inner silence, profound psychic stillness, as a way to open up to the vision of the Divine. But here Darshan Singh confronts the limitation of the practice--

How did I ever think silence the language of love?
What I thought would not come to light was in plain sight.


As we explore deeply, we discover layers to silence. Superficial silence is effortful. It is a striving for something not seen. It is, in effect, a rejection of the common perception of the common world.

Yet Darshan Singh shares with us his deeper realization, that the Divine speaks to us in the language of love, and that language is whispered everywhere, in all things. He seems to be urging us not to cultivate a holiness born of rejection, but one born of profound recognition of the Divine already here, already everywhere, in plain sight.

Further, in silence is discovered a quiet, all-pervading sound. So, even in silence, that silence is filled with a song, the language of love.

I hear my silence talked of in every lane;
The suppression of a cry is itself a cry of pain.


First, I love the humorous play of words with these lines: He 'hears' his silence, and it is talked about everywhere. His silence has sound, and the acclamation of his attainment of his silence makes his silence noisier.

And that second line says so much. Merely holding thoughts back can open a few doors, but it ultimately becomes a practice of suppression. Suppression cannot be the ultimate fulfillment, for it too is "a cry of pain."

Where then does that leave us? How is silence and clear vision attained without suppression of thought? Think of it this way: Learning to hold thoughts allows us to finally understand deep silence. When that is discovered, when we learn to rest in that truer silence, surface thoughts are of less consequence.

The beloved's regard was but a flash of light;
How innocent to think I'd found eternal bliss.


That first ecstatic flood of light the mystic experiences is life changing. Joy indescribable. Wholeness. Unity. Supreme contentment. Many mystics have trouble admitting that they have not (yet) attained the Ultimate. Too many mystics reach this level, and thinking they have found eternal bliss, hang out their guru shingle -- only to find the experience slipping through their grasp. Like lightning, it fills the world with light, and then returns into itself.

And that's the issue: It is an experience of enlightenment, but it is not yet Enlightenment. Any 'experience' is something that happens to you; it has a beginning, and also an end. True Enlightenment, on the other hand, must be stable, lasting. One must not simply experience it, one must become it.

At this stage we must find within ourselves "the unplumbed depths of longing" that will lead us through the adept's initial plateau into the wide open vista of true Awakening.



Recommended Books: Darshan Singh

Love's Last Madness: Poems on a Spiritual Path by Darshan Singh





How did I ever