This Constant Yearning: Hafiz-Part II (by Aparrna Sharma)
We are like lutes once held by God.
Being away from his warm body
This constant yearning.
So what is it in human spirit that makes it reject even its own heart’s desire in face of union with God??
Just what is it that makes us give all our labor to attain that one precious thing, and just when one is at the edge of his soul, just about to tip over, – at that moment- to give up the very desire in favor of one glance of Truth? How come, the rock, on the brink of rolling over the cliff, suddenly finds wings??
An ardent desire of Hafiz’ that led him on and on, on the 40 nights’ vigil, … where did that go when at last he faced the angel to have his prayers answered??
At 31, Hafez kept a long and lonely nightly vigil to attain his ardent desire- Shakh-e-Nabat. But when the Angel of God appeared to him at last, just before the rock tipped over, the desire lost its sheen.
And Hafiz declared, “I want God.”
Thus the Angel directed Hafiz to a the Perfect Master- Mahmud Attar. “Attar” meaning ‘the seller of perfumes’ .The condition was, to serve the master faithfully and patiently.
Now Hafiz did know ‘patience’. And for the next forty years he served his Master, waiting for the promised Musk- God realization. And so the vigil went on, a soul awaiting its dawn… for forty long years.
Though the wind of discord
shake the two worlds,
mine eyes are fixed upon the road
from whence cometh my Friend.
All this while, his life must have seemed to have been split in two. On one hand the inner flame that knows no waiting- the thirst for Union with God. On the other, the earthly life that hitherto has spared no one. He had his master to obey, and responsibilities to fulfill towards his wife and child and the people of Shiraz.
Four decades is a long time. He longed to give up everything and join the creed of ‘Kalandars’ he had seen on the dusty roads and outskirts of Shiraz. Kalandars were the god-intoxicated dervishes for whom no law of society ever applied. Dressed in rags, indifferent to the world, singing the praises of God and living on the few scraps of food that may be thrown their way, the Kalandars were the Path of Love- willing to give up everything in total submission to the Beloved
So I run to the edge of existence
And join my soul in love.
I lift my heart to God
And grace is poured.
The lesson was slow and painful, that while the being becomes mad for God inside, on the outside one need show no pain or sign at all. But then his patience came to an end
In 1381, when he was 60, Hafiz finally wept in front of his Master and in desperation, cried: ‘What have I gained by being your obedient disciple for forty years?’
“Be patient and one day you will know.” replied the Master
“I knew I would get that answer from you.” Hafiz cried and left the room.
It was exactly forty days before the end of their decade’s long relationship.
Hafiz again, entered a self-imposed ‘Chehel-e-Nashmi,’ sitting within a circle he drew on the ground for forty days. Another test of patience and of endurance. Hāfez hints at this episode in one of his verses where he advises the reader to attain “clarity of wine” by letting it “sit for 40 days”.
To make love,
For the divine alchemy to work,
The Pitcher needs a still cup…)
Finally on the last night, Angel Gabriel appeared as he had done forty years earlier, and asked Hafiz his heart’s desire. And again, just when the desire was to be fulfilled
Hafiz replied: “My only desire is to wait on the pleasure of my Master’s wish.”
Before dawn appeared on the eastern sky, he was back at his Master’s door. A Perfect Master who could give him the perfect wine
Only a Perfect One
Who is always
Laughing at the word
Can make you know
Attar gave him a cup of wine, and it was here where Hafiz is said to have attained “Cosmic Consciousness” – the Oneness with the Perfect One.
Don´t tell me, dear ones,
That what Hafiz says is not true,
For when the heart tastes its glorious destiny
And you awake to our constant need
for your love
God´s lute will beg
For your hands.
And the rock had tipped over!!