The Sufi's Garland
And when I learned, sitting among the shoes and sheets
and shards and sheer that, the mind of man, that the
mind of man too is a solo act, a solo uncontainable act, I lost
my fears, my fears of losing, of losing my mind . . . and
And when I learned that being true must not, must not be a way
to ensure they speak good of you, speak good of you when
you are gone, then I, I lost my fears of not, of not
being able to buy their words worth . . . and spoke freely.
………………………….. –Shabad Shradanjali to Tagore's Gitanjali
Both of these verses are excerpts from a book that came my way. In The Sufi's Garland, which the author, Manav Sachdeva Maasoom, has written as a tribute to Emily Dickinson, Antonio Porchia and Rabindranath Tagore, Maasoom offers a wealth of smart sufi beauty.
Among Maasoom's verses you'll find thoughts as jarringly succinct as this:
I went outside to see
if God's voice
was disturbing anybody
In a world in which it seems God's voice is disturbing few this simply put statement can be read, among other things, as an indictment. But God's voice in the sufi-speak we find in this fine book is not the voice of a quasi-human overseer. This god's voice is beyond God. The voice of the god in The Sufi's Garland is the god that speaks when the God of sects is dumbfounded.
The God of sects would turn this verse of Mansoom's on its head:
seek first to love
then to understand
Speaking through the mouths of every confused or manipulative mullah, priest, or preacher, the God of sects demands that we first understand their singular take on God so that (they insist) we may love. Believe first, they say. In his two lines Mansoom sets us straight.
And, as if to underscore, Mansoom later writes:
When in Iran I prayed to Mohammed
Rasool and PEACE be upon him
one asked me straight—Are you Muslim?
and I told him, with a date
and water, breaking my fast
I don't think Brahma would've minded
But among the visions of god in this book, there are also snapshots of god:
the sheer elegance
……… of the seagulls
……………… startling the Hudson
…………….. of the summer's
…….. first …………….. navels
your faint feistiness to survive gives me strength.
tomorrow foreshadows a tenderness in my kernel that is
yours' to keep. I do not know if the joy waltzing in my eyes
that lights up our hearts' lamps each time I visit is a light I
see in you because my heart is but noir. I do not know if
the joy and sweet in you is the same for each bee
Like everything else in the world the book is not perfect, but there's enough near-perfection, astute perception and wise reflection to be found in The Sufi's Garland to make it a worthwhile garland to have written, to read and to wear.
The Sufi’s Garland
by Manav Sachdeva Maasoom
Published by: ROMAN Books
Publication date: 25th March 2011
Price: $24.95 (Hardcover)
104 pp, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4″