About A Poem: Daniel Ladinsky on “Know the True Nature” by Hafiz
Know the True Nature
Know the true nature of your Beloved.
In His loving eyes, our every thought, word
and movement is always, always beautiful.
about twenty years, I have been working with the poetry of Hafiz, a
fourteenth-century Persian poet who is considered one of the seven
literary wonders of the world. The above verse (slightly sculpted by me)
is very close to a literal translation by the late Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh,
who was a top psychiatrist at Tehran University and the head of the
Nimatullahi Sufi Order. I feel those twenty-one words are the
cornerstone of Hafiz’s poetic work: They help us to realize our own
sacredness and to stumble upon the kingdom of heaven within, and thus
know a far greater sovereignty. The
hallmark of Hafiz is freedom. His poetry is about busting out of every
cage, letting our self off every hook, aiding the soul to unfurl its
wings. And, via a sweet playful genius and a sublimity of language, he
often remarkably succeeds at that.
after a poetry reading in New York, I was talking with a young female
Persian doctor and asked her, “You can be frank—I can take it. Who is
your favorite poet between Rumi and Hafiz?” This very sophisticated
person blushed. Then she responded, “Well Daniel, to me, Hafiz comes
closer and stays longer. What smart woman wouldn’t want that?”
Of course, it’s a tall, tall order, but anything short of our knowing what the Buddha did—or at least knowing what some angels who rode in his pockets perceived—will
rightfully leave us feeling that something is still greatly amiss. I
think perhaps the only way out of every dilemma is to get closer to some living person, spirit, or art, which does know and
which can help lead us back into the sky and more into the heart of the
earth. Contact with a true spiritual teacher, or just hanging out with a
friend who has moments of brilliance, can help untie and lift us out of
the burlap sack where a lot of us still move—a tough place to laugh or
like these lines attributed to teacher and friend Hafiz, “How did the
rose ever open up its heart and give to this world all of its beauty? It
felt the encouragement of light against its being, otherwise we all
remain too frightened.”
again, is the tremendous value of someone recognizing our worth—our
extraordinariness. We humans need someone looking at us now and then
with real love and appreciation in their eyes, for that caring is like a
precious rain that we require or die. Hafiz and all the great poets
help us ring the temple bell. And that ring
can summon the Beloved’s presence, give us an awakening poke in the
ribs, and impart that taste—if only for a blessed moment—of the sublime
ground of conscious nothing where the sun ever blooms. Hafiz is loaded
with encouragement and an expert with bestowing it, as is the organic,
jam-filled gaze from any well-toasted and buttered Zen master.
Intelligent, compassionate eyes can clearly tell you that your every
thought, word, and movement is a miracle.
could write and gossip about most any Hafiz poem for pages, for they
are such rich, wild lovers and gold mines. But for now I will conclude
with something I bet one of the angels in the Buddha’s pocket figured
out: Paradise draws itself from a well in every object, creature, and
atom. Seeing that, knowing the true nature of existence, who could ever
again suffer want or loss? Who could then not join the eternal party the
Great Ones are hosting? Beyond any limiting dogma, in the luminous
(penthouse) refuge of perfect nonbeing that results in fantastic
awareness, you have never been more alive and always, always beautiful.
Verse from the Penguin publication A Year With Hafiz: Daily Contemplations by Daniel Ladinsky © 2011.