The River of Love

by Amir Khusrow Dehlawi

Original Language Persian/Farsi

Khusro! the river of love has a reverse flow
He who enters will drown, he who drowns will get across.

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/ Image by Maria /

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

This brief couplet is as much a riddle as the lines of a poem. Reading it, the first response may be that it is beautiful and somehow uplifting, but it doesn't really make sense... until we dive in ourselves.

Khusro! the river of love has a reverse flow

We all have a flow of consciousness and life energy. That energy tends to flow outward and dissipate, especially when we keep our attention hooked without letup on outward experiences and the pull of the senses. The more we learn to quiet the mind and gather in the awareness through meditation and deep prayer, we can experience how that outward flow reverses, turning inward, tapping into a deep reservoir within. Reversing that flow, we discover the most amazing all-encompassing love and joy.

He who enters will drown, he who drowns will get across.

So much of our lives is spent in resisting the pull of that natural current drawing us in. When we allow ourselves to be swept away, to be engulfed by that joyful love, all of our old notions of self and reality are washed clean. The long held idea of who we are, the ego-self, disappears beneath the waves of that blissful stream. This is how one "drowns."

But in drowning, we are stunned to find a new self. Something essential and vast awakens within us. We feel we have come home, we are finally ourselves for the first time. Knowing ourselves, we are surprised to be inherently whole and complete. Regardless of the movement and challenges around us, we stand on solid ground for the first time. This is how one drowns to get across to the other shore.

Maybe Khusrow's riddle is not so much of a riddle as a map, an invitation. It's a beautiful day -- time to take a running leap and jump in.


To my many Muslim friends -- Eid Mubarak! I hope you had a blessed and restorative Ramadan.

I am sending special blessings out to the region of Palestine/Israel. It is a fraught situation with wider repercussions. May sanity prevail and healing be sent to the situation with the least possible suffering. May we see clearly with open minds and compassionate hearts so we can help where we can.

Recommended Books: Amir Khusrow Dehlawi

Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi

The River of Love