It’s said that Hafiz (c. 1320-1389) is the most beloved poet of Persia and is considered to be one of history’s greatest lyrical geniuses. He is one of my favorite of the mystic poets. Here is one of his smaller poems:
THE SUN NEVER SAYS
all this time
the sun never says to the earth,
“You owe me.”
with a love like that—
It lights the whole
This is about relationships, right? It’s about how I treat my spouse, children, parents, relatives, neighbors, co-workers…and why.
The poem raises the question: Why do I do what I do? Why do I treat others the way I would want to be treated? Do I do it hoping it will be appreciated? Or hoping for some kind of response?
Hafiz is suggesting that we’re better off striving to be like the sun: that we do what we do because that is our true nature. We give our gifts of love because that’s who we are. We do right by others because it’s the right thing to do, even if nothing happens.
Sometimes what we do won’t be appreciated. Sometimes it will be taken for granted. We won’t always get the response we would wish for. And that can be disappointing.
Does that mean we call it quits? Or think, “You owe me?” Or become bitter?
Hafiz says, No. That’s when we need to remember that there are deeper reasons to love freely, deeper reasons to keep doing the right thing by people even when nothing happens. There are deep reasons to keep reaching up to that.
For one thing: that is our higher, truer, better self.
For another: that’s how light gets into the world.
As we continue to reflect on poems of some of the mystics, here’s a very short poem from the ever-popular Rumi (1207-1273). This one is just for fun.
Here is a relationship booster
that is guaranteed to
Every time your spouse or lover says something stupid
make your eyes light up as if you
just heard something
Not much to say here. I will only add this:
Someone has said that in life we really only use about 10% of our brains, fulfill only 10% of our potential, experience only 10% of the music and magic and mystery of life.
Now, we humans have been given an incredibly rich and powerful resource called Joy (along with its first-cousin, Humor)—a resource that can grease the wheels of our relationships, smooth out rough patches at work, help us reduce tensions and make connections and make the day feel more fully lived.
And yet, is it possible that we only utilize about 10% of this rich resource?
Consider this: research shows that a little child laughs about 300 times a day. Adults? Only about fifteen times a day.
How do we begin to reverse this downward trend?
Rumi is suggesting one way: to be creative about injecting joy and humor into even the small moments of our day.
Guest Post by Landon Saunders
Forgiveness unburdens the future.
No matter how you look, no matter how many times you’ve performed badly in the past, this is a new day. Forgiveness is the key to that new day because it releases us from the burdens that weigh us down and make us unhappy.
And it applies in some unexpected places.
For example, you might look in the mirror, and decide you don’t like your nose. You must forgive it! It can’t help it, and there’s little you can do about it. The greatest “nose job” is probably nonsurgical. It’s forgiveness. And it’s less expensive.
I’m forgiving myself for losing my hair. What else can I do? Forgive yourself if you think you’re “too short,” “too tall,” or whatever gets between you and feeling better about yourself.
And this applies to parents too. You may feel like you didn’t do your best job as a parent. The truth is, there are no perfect parents. And, if you’ll forgive yourself of any such feelings, your chances of improving the relationship with your children will increase significantly. Forgiveness gets rid of the guilt which makes more room for love.
The psychologist Carl Rogers said, “When we accept ourselves, then we can change.”
Forgiveness is key to that acceptance. You can use it as much as you like as forgiveness has no limits. So, make it the friend you welcome freely into your life. And one thing is for sure: you’ll have more joy!
We continue our look at mystic poets with Hafiz, a beloved poet of Persia (1320-1389 C.E.) who wrote this little poem, How Did The Rose:
did the rose
ever open its heart
and give to the world all of its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light against its being,
otherwise we all remain too
This strikes me as a simple, powerful statement about what it means to be a human being—both as one who needs encouragement and one who seeks to encourage.
Why do we feel dissatisfied? Why does it sometimes seem so hard to fulfill our lives?
Hafiz suggests that the problem is fear.
For example, fear can cause us to hold back on our love and joy and generosity and warmth and presence. Fear can keep us from giving our best gifts. And the world is poorer when this happens.
Fear makes us close up inside ourselves as opposed to opening up to share our warmth and encouragement and humor and humanity with those around us.
That’s why we need courage, (a word that comes from the French word for “heart”).
It takes courage to be encouraged—to be vulnerable, to forgive ourselves, to change and grow.
And it takes courage to encourage—to really listen and move in with warmth and gentleness and learn how to encourage others to be what they can be.
Now, I’m not great at this kind of work, but I’m learning. Because I think it’s important.
I think Hafiz is right: We are all closed-up roses; we all need encouragement to open up and be what we can be and to give what we can give.
But we are also light. We can find the courage to be an encouraging presence. We can encourage the good in people around us—starting with those we care most about and reaching out to some we may find a little difficult. (It helps me to remember that they may be the ones who need encouragement the most!)
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