I thought I was alone who suffered

by Baba Sheikh Farid

Original Language Punjabi

Says Farid,
I thought I was alone who suffered.
I went on top of the house,
And found every house on fire.

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

As you unfold the compact lines of this brief verse, they open to reveal profound meaning...

When Baba Sheikh Farid proclaims, "I thought I was alone who suffered," he is using the common Sufi metaphor that refers to the process of awakening as suffering or pain. Surrendering to divine union is experienced by the ego, the little self, as calamity, one of complete loss. Eventually everything falls away, even the ego itself. The more we cling to our desires, possessions, our limited sense of identity, the more that process is defined by the mind (under the influence of the ego) as suffering. But the less desperately we hold onto the things that must fall away, the more we experience it as relief, cleansing, liberating. And then, finally, an amazing thing happens: We become flooded with an immense sense of presence, life, bliss. The ego is lost, but the sense of self, our sense of being is not gone; our true Self stands revealed as something more vast than we ever imagined.

Accompanying this awareness is a warmth, a delightfully burning heat that rises from the seat, spreads out in the belly, opens the heart, creates a flush in the cheeks and ears, with flames that light up the crown.

This is what Baba Sheikh Farid is speaking of in his final two lines, "I went on top of the house, / And found every house on fire." The "top of the house" is the crown, the place of light, the point of awareness where divine union is recognized. From that pure, elevated awareness, one has a truer perception of reality. And, as he looks about himself in this awakened state, Farid sees clearly that everyone -- and everything! -- is already engulfed by that same "fire," everything is already consumed in divine union. The only difference between him and "every house" around him is that he has finally surrendered to the process and his awareness has been swept up to the top of the house where the "fire" is recognized as bliss and not suffering, fullness and not loss. There, standing atop the burning house, we finally realize our true nature: We are the fire and not the house at all. And the entire universe is already lit up!

Recommended Books: Baba Sheikh Farid

Songs of the Saints from the Adi Granth Anthology of Great Sufi & Mystical Poets of Pakistan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Sri Guru Granth Sahib

I thought I was