The Gift: Poems by the Great Sufi Master By Hafiz, Daniel Ladinsky

Posted: April 24, 2010 in Book Notes
Tags: , ,

I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through – listen to this music.


  • For Hafiz reveals a God with a billion IQ – a God that would never cripple us with guilt or control us with fear.
  • The voice of the river that has emptied into the Ocean, Now laughs and sings just like God.
  • It is a tremendous venture to translate an “untranslatable” masterpiece such as Hafiz’s verse, with its brilliant whirling synergy of idioms, especially into a language as spiritually young and evolving as English.
    • To translate Light into words – to make the luminous resonance of God tangible to our finite senses.

The Life and Work of Hafiz by Henry Mindlin

  • Poetry is a national art in Persia, somewhat like opera in Italy.
    • Even in modern Iran, people at social level know the great poets, argue passionately about their favorites, and quote them constantly in everyday conversation.
  • Along the way, the student’s limited ego is dissolved – ground to dust.
    • Hafiz, so to speak, broke his head at the feet of his master.
  • In spiritual literature, “forty” is often used to indicate a term of learning or change.
    • A glass or cup – vessel – the human heart
    • Wine – love
    • Aged wine – purified (distilled) essence of knowing or love
  • A Perfect Master experiences life as an infinite and continuous flow of divine love, swirling in, around and through all forms of life and all realms of creation. It is an experience of total unity with all life and all beings. A Perfect Master personifies perfect joy, perfect knowing, and perfect love and expresses these qualities in every activity of life.
  • Hafiz shares his intoxication with the magic and beauty of divine life that pulsates everywhere around us and within us. He urges us to rise on the wings of love. He challenges us to confront and master the strongest forces of our own nature. He encourages us to celebrate even the most ordinary experiences of life as precious divine gifts. He invites us to “awake awhile” and listen to the delightful music of God’s laughter.
  • Hafiz’s life can be seen to illustrates central stages of the Sufi “path of love or inner unfolding:

Hafiz begins his spiritual journey as nearly everyone does – he is awakened to love. An ideal of human beauty and perfection seizes his heart. Desperate to win his ideal, he fully explores the realm of human love (his poems and songs celebrate her beauty and his longing for her).

Finally, he directs all the energies of his life to the pursuit of love (a forty-day vigil).

When his longing reaches its highest pitch (dawn of the final day), a new and higher dimension of love reveals itself (Gabriel). He is able to respond to the beauty of this higher understanding (“I want God!”), and his response ushers him into a new phase of learning and a new relationship of love (with a spiritual teacher).

This new term of growth (forty years) is exponentially longer than the first one. Attar leads Hafiz through a review of increasingly broader and more encompassing levels of love (a poem a day). Hafiz becomes restless as his love for God grows stronger. Attar constantly counsels “patience” to remind Hafiz that every stage of love must be fully explored, honored, and lived.

As the terms nears its end, Hafiz reaches a new height of desperation and longing for his Beloved. he again seeks to devote all his energies to love (another forty-day vigil). This time he binds himself within a circle (of perfection or completion), literally circumscribing all his thoughts and actions to a single focus – God. He strives to perfect his love for God until nothing else exists for him.

When he has truly accomplished this (dawn of the final day), he finds that the force of love has consumed his limited personality and all its desires, even the desire for God. He has realized that one cannot “master” love, one can only serve as a vessel of love (a glass of wine).

Emerging from the circle, Hafiz is now able to approach and embrace every experience of life with the unlimited wisdom of love (he and his teacher embrace). He and Attar now share the same perfect knowing (the aged wine of love’s maturity). The “glass of aged wine” now becomes a symbol for the “the embodiment of perfect love” – Hafiz himself.


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