Friday, October 06, 2017

Attar: 'The Conference of the Birds' (1187 A.D.) , Part the First

Attar, The Conference of the Birds (1187 C.E.), translated by Sholeh Wolpé. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2017. 

Such a cool Sufi-inspired work by Persian herbalist and poet Farīd ud-Dīn Aṭṭār of Nishapur (circa 1145-1220/21)!

At a global conference of the birds, a leader is chosen to guide a volunteer flock of various types to seek the Simorgh, the Great Bird (aka godhead or avatar of Paradise). Most of the the birds are either too scared to go, or find other reasons. But the vast flight journey is indeed made in a self-selecting migration. . .

The Hoopoe becomes migration leader. Addressing the conference of the birds, he addresses people of the 21st century, too:

"Cast off the shame of narcissism.
How long will you keep this faithlessness, this disgrace?
. . . Surrender your ego and step into the Path,
cross that threshhold [threshold] dancing."  (Page 43).

As various birds try to get out of the adventure, the Hoopoe responds. The Heron, for example, wants only to love water, inland or by the sea.

The Hoopoe replies:

"Heron, you know nothing of the sea.
It is full of crocodiles and fierce creatures in its deep . . .
It has smashed many a great ship.
Many have swirled into its cyclone and died . . .

Who can hope for comfort from such a faithless entity?

If you don't step away from the sea,
It will draw you in and drown you . . ." (pages 67-68).
Another message for the 21st century:

"You who are drunk on love of treasures,
suppose you come across one.
You will guard it until you are dead,
and while your life slips away, you gain nothing.
                                     . . . . .
If your heart is flawed by love of gold,
you will enter eternity with a face ugly with greed." (page 70.) 

"This Road is not for the lazy or the idle." (page 74).

(To be continued). 

Today's Rune: Growth.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

The sea, the faithless sea.