Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Hafiz Ghazals – My Versions

I wish to acknowledge the beautiful paintings by Freydoon Rassouli, who also provided the translations from which I crafted the poems.

Hafiz #1

O Winegiver!
Pass your sweetest wine around,
for the joy of love's beginning
so often runs aground.

Breeze at dawn
blows the musk of my beloved's hair,
blows the glowing heart-embers...
wildfire rages there.

In darkest night
the sea wages war,
the crashing waves breathing fear,
a whirlpool of fright...
how can those who stay on shore
come to know the burden here?

Even though my soul is singing
when in the beloved's arms,
still the bells are loudly ringing:
"Move on now, to other charms."

Love is more than simple pleasure,
I cannot seek this alone...
if I disdain the real treasure
in time this will be widely known.

Spatter red wine freely
on your prayer rug,
if the Peer of the Magi bids thee.
Heed his call,
for he has traveled the path of Love
and knows all.

O Hafiz,
pay the world no mind.
Seek only the Beloved's heart,
dive deep into the love there,
and at the chamber's doorway
leave all else behind.

Hafiz #11

O Bartender, pour--emblazon our cups
with the iridescence of wine,
O Minstrel, sing--enlighten our souls
with the benevolence of life.

O you who are strangers to
this never-ending bender,
we have seen the Beloved's face
smiling back at us from the cup!

As love grows in the heart,
we know we live forever!
In the Akashic Records it's written
we are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

There are those with nice bodies,
giving us the eye, flirting for all they're worth,
but they fade into the background
beside our graceful beloved,
straight and tall as the cypress.

When Judgment Day goes down,
what's in the churches' coffers
won't mean half as much
as this (so-called) devil's brew offers!

After a few drinks,
the sweet abandon shining
in my beloved's eyes
beseeches me, teaches me
that in giving up my soul to love
I gain everything.

O wind, if you're passing through
the resplendent rose garden,
be sure to blow this message
to our beloved:

"Why have you coldly thrown us out
of your heart?
In time, even our name
will escape you."

O Hafiz, the beloved's heart
is one with thine,
thus, you can never be apart.
Let your tears flow,
gentle as the dove, radiant as wine,
scattering the seeds of what you know
for the bird of reunion to feed on.

The ship of the crescent moon
sails in the green sea of heaven...
all is eclipsed by the sea, the heaven,
and the moon within. 

Hafiz #36

Preacher, take yourself away!
What are you yelling about?
I'm the one who's lost his heart today,
why are YOU trumpeting doubt?

Beyond what God has made
out of nothing, magically,
lies a fine mystery
that no one knows,
where no one goes.

I am a wanderer,
my kingdom is in me.
What care I for promises of salvation
in heavens above?
With a joyful prayer, trapped in your snare,
warmed by the fire of my heart's love,
I have the freedom of infinity.

True, I've ruined my life
indulging in love's ecstasy,
yet I thrive on the struggle and strife
of loving obsessively.

O Heart! Don't moan and grieve
the Beloved's seeming cruelty.
Only be aware, and believe
Love knows all, and is fair
in setting your destiny.

Until my lips can kiss
that flutelike sugared cane,
the cautioning of the whole world
is my bane--
a pointless litany of fears,
wind blowing through my ears.

O Hafiz! Cease your singing
of magic tales and majestic verse,
our heads are ringing
with wondrous visions, and lyrics that soar.

Hafiz #317

You are the dawn, my precious one,
I, the candle burning bright
in this lonely night.
Smile on me and you will see
how I surrender
my life to you, forever.

My grave will become a violet-bed
when I am dead,
my love-stained heart will bless
your alluring tress.

I'm watching through
the door of my eyes
at the threshold of hope, for you.
How happy I'd be,
how I would prize
just one glance from you,
who have forgotten me.

And yet it's true,
dear companion of my heart,
(how can I thank you? God bless!)
we've never been apart
through the army of sorrows,
the highs and lows, the days of loneliness.

I surrender to
the black-hearted pupil of my eyes,
I allow my longing for you
to arise here and now,
overflowing in thousands of tears,
pent up for all these years.

All idolize you, entranced
by your glory, ever new,
but no one sees the glance
you once bestowed on me,
before my eyes constantly.

And if you pass by Hafiz' grave
with the wind's sigh of grace,
my heart's love will explode from joy
in that narrow place.  

Hafiz #359

Why are we here, knocking at your door?
We seek not fame nor fortune's state--
shelter's what we're looking for,
from the cruel batterings of fate.

We are the travelers of the path of love
from a world you know not of,
come so far to lodge a plea
into this kingdom of reality.

For we've seen the lineaments of grace
in your lovely changing face,
and from that paradise world
we were hurled,

knowing beyond all guessing
shelter is in your love's blessing.

Though our treasures are innate
and kept in Spirit's loyalty,
we come as paupers at the gate
of the kingdom of royalty.

Where is your anchor of patience, O vessel of grace?
For we have come to this sea of bounty with sin upon our face.

O forgiving cloud, upon our honour, rain your mercy and support,
for we have been blacklisted by the justice of this court.

Hafiz! Cast your woollen robe by,
for, trailing this caravan, we have come
with the fire of our sigh.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I am aware of myself,
I am aware of my radiating impact.
My heart beats with the heart of All.
I love and have faith in myself
as I navigate my self-created experiences,
and my thoughts and actions
dance and flow together inseparably.
I respect and honor my emotions and heart-felt desires,
knowing they are full-filled, in the spacious Now.
It is done, it is done, it is done,
in pleasure, ease and exhilaration.
I am each day growing closer and closer
to who I am and who I can be;
I am a dolphin jumping for joy
In the ocean of life.

Monday, November 11, 2013


As there's death in life
I find supreme life in death,
joy my old, new home. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Is Money Necessary?

Reading some excerpts from a friend's novel, I came across this from one of his characters:  "You know the old saying: money is the root of all evil."
I commented to my friend that this was a misquote:  "It's actually: 'For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.' (1 Timothy 6:10)  Money in itself is neither good nor bad."

In literature, Scrooge in Dickens' A Christmas Carol is an example of the "many griefs" that can ensue when overconcern with money eclipses our humanity and fellow-feeling, and Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby portrays the Lost Generation and the emptiness of wealth without the compass of solid values.

Mark Boyle, author of The Moneyless Man and The Moneyless Manifesto, is one who seems to subscribe to the "old saying" and who has thus chosen to live without money.  After studying economics for six years in college, he was inspired by the movie "Gandhi" to be the change he wanted to see in the world. He decided that meant he would have to give up cash, initially just for one year, and this stretched out to five. He refers to money as "that soulless, empty, arbitrary concept" that is useless for providing our basic needs. "We are completely delusional about what we need in order to live nourished, meaningful lives...As the Cree Indian proverb goes, it seems that 'only when the last tree has died, the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught, will we realize we cannot eat money.' "

In contrast to Boyle's perception of money as a delusion, in David Cameron's book A Happy Pocket Full of Money, he calls it "an illusion, a shadow of something else...It is all just numbers written on paper and computer storage devices and assigned to people and entities like companies and investment groups — or, more accurately, further illusion!...The only reason this system does not collapse is that we all believe in it."  He says we should not look at the shadow, the illusion of money.  Rather, it's about developing internal value, or wealth consciousness, which he says "is available to all people equally...Like everything else that is important to our being alive — like air — wealth consciousness is free to all. But you can choose to develop it or not, or to exercise it or not."  He defines wealth consciousness as "simply the expansion of your consciousness and awareness into the wealthy parts of your Self...You are already wealthy, but you have been taught to choose not to experience your wealth."

 Since most wars and wasting of the Earth's resources come about through our belief in scarcity (or as Swami Beyondananda calls it, "scare city"), they will end when we are truly in touch with our inner riches, and when we believe in the possibility of abundance for everyone.  Since the outer reality reflects the inner, as this belief gains ground and becomes widespread, so will  unlimited, free, and sustainable energy technologies become available. And it all starts with each one of us, here and now.

We may need to redefine wealth or what it means to be rich.  Is it about winning millions in the lottery, or is it about having "enough"?  I think having enough is about being able to follow our chosen path, without wasting energy in worry -- whether it's worry about taking care of our basic needs, or on the other hand, about dealing with huge amounts of money. Of course, we are all different,  and some, like Mark Boyle, will feel abundant with much less or no money. He said that his first year of living cash-free was "the greatest experience of my life." He  is following his natural bent, doing his life's work.  Even without money, he is wealthy in his own way.  Others may need a lot of money and material possessions to feel on track and fulfill their purpose.  The important thing is to  be happy with our lives, comfortable with ourselves and with what we have, while staying open to our dreams, and following our heart.

In one of the parables of Sri Ramakrishna, there is the story of a woodcutter who was asleep and dreaming. When a man awakened him, he was greatly annoyed.  "Why did you wake me? I dreamed I was a king, I and my children had everything, I was on the throne and ruling over my country.  You destroyed my kingship!"  "Oh, it was only a dream," replied the man. "What's the problem?"

The woodcutter was further angered, but inspired to an important insight: "Get away from me, fool! My dream of being a king was just as real as my dream of being a woodcutter."

If the woodcutter could continue to feel the reality he experienced of his king state, he would, more and more, see this in his waking dream. We all need to do the same.  Gold-diggers get a bad rap, but I propose we become gold-diggers of our consciousness, embracing and living our golden dreams, in whatever form they play out for us. And somewhere, a king may be dreaming about being a woodcutter...

I also propose cultivating a "trust fund," simply trusting in our own life energy to meet our needs and guide us into right action.   This trust fund is one that will always be there for us and never run out.  To quote the shortest poem I ever wrote:


"Love is the only gold," said Tennyson. And love is not just about personal relationships.
As adults, many of us need to get back the zest and love of life we had as children. Hopefully, we aren't just existing, not just passing time here on planet Earth. Life can be a love affair with All That Is, with who we are and who we can be.  How can we put a price on that?

Sunday, May 19, 2013



I know I'm in trouble
when I start to identify
with the ants that keep trying
to get into the honey jar.

I've found a few
who made it,
tiny black corpses,
floating in their golden heaven.

Sighing, I scoop them out,
wipe the jar,
put it on another shelf.
They won't find it for a while.

Maybe those dead ants
are the lucky ones.
I, too, sometimes feel
I would die for a taste
of something sweet,

and so I eat chocolate
or have a drink
or buy something
or write a poem,

and I wonder who keeps moving
the golden dreams.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Divine E. Bunny

My son Ben told me
his Christian friends,
hoping to save his soul,
asked him to Easter services
at their church. But he,
learning there would be
no Easter egg hunt,
politely declined.

I explained to him
about the organized church
of the Divine Bunny
and the factions therein:
those who hunt
the chocolate fudge eggs,
those who search for
the painted hard-boiled eggs,
and those who pray to find
the pink, yellow and blue
candy eggs, nestled in bright green
faux grass, in the wicker baskets
of many colors.

Then I said: but the real Bunny
encircles the Earth,
and we are all His congregation.
He knows " what's up, Doc,"
he knows our deepest longings
which he has already given
and are just waiting to be found.

Yes, Benjamin, my son,
there is an Easter Bunny,
a Santa, a Jesus,
and a God
of uncounted names.
They rove our world,
hiding treasures to delight
and enlighten,
sacraments of the senses
and the soul,

in the sweet-scented grass,
in the Wonderland that waits for us
down the rabbit hole.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

12 Ways To Look in the Mirror

My son Ben was assigned to come up with 12 ways to look in the mirror for his acting class, this is what he wrote.

12 Ways Exercise

Activity: Looking in the mirror.

1. I walk into the bathroom, sniff the cigarette smoke that is wafting in through the window from the aprtment below me. I turn to look in the mirror, and see a sunbleached wasteland, large creatures lumbering and moaning stampede past. My heatbeat slows, then accelerates. I lean forward to get a better look, resting my hands on the wall to either side of the medicine cabinet, then, disbelieving, I open the door of the cabinet and check the back of the mirror with my hand. I close the door and stare, rapt, into this strange world.

2. I step into the bathroom, feeling odd, and look into the mirror. My breathing is heavy and I am unsteady on my feet. As I look at myself, I suddenly realize that I am growing younger, my face is becoming softer. I rub my head and feel my hair, and then look down at my hands, as they begin to shrink inward, hairs retracting back into my body. I look back in the mirror and can see myself physically growing shorter and my head gradually sinks below the bottom edge of the mirror. I fall over and begin to curl up, catching my feet in the loose clothing that swims around me, feeling the cold tile under my belly, I begin to cry in a tiny baby’s voice.

3. I walk into the bathroom, I’m walking very evenly and carefully, as if I am balancing something. My head is three times bigger than normal. I’m not concerned, this was just the way I was born. I stand in front of the mirror, and my head begins to loll to one side alarmingly, and I grab my head with my hands and straighten it on my shoulders. I rub my cheek, scratch my nose, grab a comb and being brushing my hair back. I have to reach up as high as I can to comb the top of my head, and it is always in danger of tipping over to one side, so I have to continually be catching it with one hand or the other. I smile in the mirror, and head off to work with a bounce in my step.

4. I walk into the bathroom and begin to shave, looking in the mirror. “hey, lookin’ good, oh yeah.” I begin rinsing the razor in the sink when I hear a voice close by. I look up, and listen, my head cocked. I walk out of the bathroom and into my small apartment, but there’s nothing. Then I hear something again, coming from inside the bathroom. I walk back in and say “hello?” I hear a response, coming from the mirror. “what?” I say, as I turn to the mirror, looking intently at my own reflection “who are you?” I say, leaning my weight on the sink. “You can’t be me, I’m me” I reply, putting hand onto my chest. “That’s not true!” I reply angrily, and then I turn and face the wall. “This is crazy, something’s happening to me!” Then I whirl-- “You,” I point my finger at the mirror, “don’t say that about my mom!” I put my face in my hands. “Oh my god, you’re so mean!” Then I get angry and move in close to the mirror. “I’m going to smash you to bits!” It grabs me by my throat,  choking me. I scrabble at the sides of the medicine cabinet, and grab the reflection’s wrist, I finally pull free, gasping. I run out of the bathroom and slam the door behind me. Then I sit and catch my breath. I pull my cell phone out of my pocket, and call dial a number “Hello? are you there? Please pick up, doc... its happening again...”

5. I’m the richest man in the universe, I slide down into my bathroom, where a butler stands, holding up a mirror. I trot over to the mirror, and stand while I am shaved, combed and powdered by Tunisian triplets. I turn my head back and forth as they rub my face with aftershave, sleepily observing what is happening. When they stop fussing over me, I mess up my hair with my hands, and run off hooting.

6. I look in the mirror, but it is only me, looking back at myself.  I stand there, arms outstretched, hands resting on the wall, staring right into my own eyes, looking at myself looking at myself. Then I laugh, because it’s not me at all, it’s just someone who looks like me. I stare at the other guy who looks like me. But it actually it is me I realize, so I laugh again, this time louder. It was me all along! Then I look at myself again. My hands slip and I fall face first into the mirror. I’m very very drunk.

7. I go to comb my hair while looking in the mirror, and the comb escapes, running up my shoulder and leaping onto the floor. I spin around and slam the door of the bathroom so it can’t get out, then I bend over, holding a newspaper. “Hey, it’s ok,” I say soothingly as I reach under the back of the toilet to grab the comb. But it’s too quick for me. It leaps in the air, scrabbling around on the smooth surface of the tub. I pull back the shower curtain, smiling as I watch it try to get out of the tub,  wild-eyed. It just looks so silly.

8.I stand looking at the mirror, then I wave my wand at my face and cry “Beardicus Grownicious!”  Instantly, a beard begins to sprout from my face. “Ooh,” I say, as I reach up to my face and feel the hair streaming out of my face. As the beard gets bigger and bigger, my eyes widen with horror. I wave the wand at my face, but it gets caught in the growing hair and gets knocked from my grasp, carried away by a giant river of hair that is roaring out of my face.  "No!” I cry. The hair fills up the room and forces me up against the wall. “Stopicus grownicious” I cry weakly.  Then I’m saved by Harry Potter.

9. I’m incredibly old, I’m bent over, my head is a shrunken raisin, all squinched up, and I slowly, carefully walk over to the bathroom, resting my weight on the wall, then the doorknob, then the sink. “Woo,” I say, as I rub my hip. I look into the mirror, squinting. Then I pull out my glasses, carefully rubbing them with a cloth I keep in my breast pocket. Then I put them on, look in the mirror and squint again. “Looking good!” I smile a toothless grin, and then slowly begin shuffling out of the bathroom.

10. I’m a tiny baby kid, I’m full of energy. I run around in a circle 3 times, making plane noises. Then I run into the bathroom. I look up at the mirror, but it’s too high. I run out and grab my toybox, and begin pulling it into the bathroom. It’s very heavy, and I have to lean my whole weight into pulling it. I finally get it in the bathroom, and clamber up on top of it. I look at myself somberly, and then make a hideous face, involving my tongue and my cheeks, but I can’t hold it because I'm laughing so hard. 

11. I try to look in the mirror, but it’s so dirty. I squint and move my head this way and that, but all I see is a greasy shimmer. I spray some Windex all over the mirror and begin wiping it down. I wipe it all over, up and down, round and round, I spray even more Windex on it, and wipe some more. Then I throw the dirty paper towel into the trash and look into the mirror. Then I walk away.

12. I look in the mirror, but I think it’s another fish, so I bump my head against it for the rest of my life.