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Saturday, December 26, 2009


Christmas Day passed  and as every year past, I will myself to become one with the celebrations and spirit, but who am I kidding? I'm no closer to feeling a 'part of things.' As usual, my efforts are in vain and I fail completely,  effortlessly. It's a curious 'failure:' it nurses a consoling tinge, a melancholic and bittersweet rub on the back, pat on shoulder, as if to say, "I have something else." What exactly do I have, in not group affiliate? A blog is as ready a place to articulate it. I've always stood slightly out of step, standing at the periphery of the circle, looking vaguely in but also askance. No matter which holiday and celebration comes along, I balked at signing up for it--it would require too complete a commitment. More belief than I'm willing to invest. These occasions seem arbitrary, mere conveniences for the species. (The one exception to this, and one I celebrate with every manner of bell and whistle, balloon, favor and fervor,  gifts galore . . . is the birthday! This explosion:  from non-existence to existence . . . existential, indeed--what is more base and essential?)

About Christmas and sundry holidays, the misgivings hurtle within me, rapid-fire in relentless missive. I'm plagued by doubts: "What about all other religions of the world? Are they lesser? To anthropomorphize: if they were people, would they not feel neglected or favored, with worshippers rejecting and accepting? How to limit myself to one notion of 'God?' To what end would I "sign up" for extolling virtues of one religious leader more than another? Why this and what that . . . they're endless, my musings, some idle and others not. I feel an abiding sense of purpose and order in and of the Universe  (deigned 'God'), as much as  random chaos and happenstance, as we stumble along. The order and chaos are not binary, not mutually exclusive: one is not possible without the other.

I shudder as I write, "I'm taking on the little matter of God in a blog?" WTF? Come on now, really! My ambitions precede me . . . and come to a screeching halt. Try as I might, lending language to inchoate impression, eludes me. If I could pen verse, I'd aspire to the 13th century mystic Persian poet Rumi. In his poem, Only Breath, he cuts through it all: fissures of the mind, obliquely eyes the unnamable, unknowable, unwraps the wrapped while with a sleight of hand, wraps the unthinkable with dizzying possibility. It's worth reading for the sheer drama, each line unfurling at breakneck speed, hungry to claim and savage the 'un-claimable.' The fourteen lines below are a marvel of quiet defiant surrender.


By Rumi

Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion

or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up

from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of elements at all. I do not exist,

am not an entity in this world or the next,
did not descend from Adam or Eve or any

origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one and that one call to and know,

first, last, outer, inner, only that
breath breathing human being.

1 comment:

  1. With globalization making rapid progress worldwide, different religions and cultures are also coming closer and closer. Most people now, especially in urban areas, do not pay much attention to what religion the person next door believes in. Even different religious festivals are celebrated together by people following different religions. This is a good development for the humanity to live in peace and harmony. Of course, there are still many who rigidly believe that theirs is the only right religion. But they are being isolated and treated as extremists or fanatics. Hopefully, they too will understand the futility of fighting for their religion, even if it may take much time for this realization.

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful poem. There is another one which comprises similar thoughts.

    Bulla ki jana is a poem of Sufi saint Bulla Shah, written in the 18th century.

    Here is the the English Translation of Bulla Ki Jaana

    Bulla, I know not who I am
    Nor am I the believer in mosque
    Nor am I in idol worship
    Nor am in the pure or the impure
    Nor am I in the Vedas

    Nor am I in the intoxicants
    Nor am I in the carefree deviant
    Nor am I union nor grief
    Nor am I in the pure/impure
    Nor am I of the water nor of the land
    Nor am I fire nor air
    Bulla, I know not who I am

    Nor am I Arabic nor from Lahore
    Nor am I the Indian city of Nagaur
    Nor am I Hindu nor a Peshawari turk
    Nor did I create the difference of faith
    Nor did I create Adam-Eve
    Nor did I name myself
    Beginning or end I know just the self
    Do not recognise ’’the other one’’
    There’s none wiser than I
    Who is this Bulla Shah
    Bulla, I know not who I am