My joy

by Rabia al-Basri (Rabia al- Adawiyya)

English version by Charles Upton
Original Language Persian/Farsi

My joy --
My Hunger --
My Shelter --
My Friend --
My Food for the journey --
My journey's End --
You are my breath,
My hope,
My companion,
My craving,
My abundant wealth.
Without You -- my Life, my Love --
I would never have wandered across these endless countries.
You have poured out so much grace for me,
Done me so many favors, given me so many gifts --
I look everywhere for Your love --
Then suddenly I am filled with it.
O Captain of my Heart
Radiant Eye of Yearning in my breast,
I will never be free from You
As long as I live.
Be satisfied with me, Love,
And I am satisfied.

-- from Doorkeeper of the Heart: Versions of Rabia, Translated by Charles Upton

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

This is a beautiful poem of love and devotion to God. Several layers of meaning when you read it from a mystical point of view...

My joy --

The Divine is experienced as an ecstatic joy, a delight not easily put into words.

My Food for the journey --

This may sound odd but, in the blissful state, there is often a deeply satisfying sense of nourishment and fulness in the belly. This is why God is sometimes compared with food.

You are my breath

There is a certain point in the mystical experience in which the breath grows deep, slow, and full. It is as if your body is no longer breathing; instead, breath is simply moving through you, a living breath.

I look everywhere for Your love --
Then suddenly I am filled with it

In most spiritual practice, there is effort, a striving to look everywhere outside of yourself for the connection with the Divine. But suddenly all of your efforts fall away and you discover the Divine One is already within you.

O Captain of my Heart

Although subtle phenomena can seem to be located in many parts of the body, the point of awareness eventually settles into the heart. The heart is experienced as the center, the seat of awareness, the place from which consciousness lovingly witnesses everything while, at the same time, the heart contains everything that exists.

And I am satisfied.

Recommended Books: Rabia al-Basri (Rabia al- Adawiyya)

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom Early Islamic Mysticism: Sufi, Quran, Miraj, Poetic and Theological Writings (Classics of Western Spirituality)
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My joy