Ansari of Herat

Passages for Meditation

In the name of God,
Most gracious,
Most merciful.

O thou munificent one
Who art the bestower of all bounties,
O thou wise one
Who overlookest our faults,
O self-existent one
Who art beyond our comprehension,
O thou omnipotent one
Who hast no equal in power and greatness,
Who art without a second:
O thou merciful one
Who guidest stray souls to the right path,
Thou art truly our God.
Give purity to our minds,
Aspiration to our hearts,
Light to our eyes.
Out of thy grace and bounty
Give us that which thou deemest best.

O Lord, out of thy grace
Give faith and light to our hearts,
And with the medicine of truth and steadfastness
Cure the ills of this life.
I know not what to ask of thee.
Thou art the knower;
Give what thou deemest best.

O God, may my brain reel with thoughts of thee,
May my heart thrill with the mysteries of thy grace,
May my tongue move only to utter thy praise.
I live only to do thy will;
My lips move only in praise of thee.
O Lord, whoever becometh aware of thee,
Casteth out all else other than thee.

O Lord, give me a heart
That I may pour it out in thanksgiving.
Give me life
That I may spend it in working
For the salvation of the world.
O Lord, give me that right discrimination
That the lure of the world may cheat me no more.
Give me strength
That my faith suffer no eclipse.
O Lord, give me understanding
That I stray not from the path.
Give me light
To avoid pitfalls.

O Lord, keep watch over me
That I stray not.
Keep me on the path of righteousness
That I escape from the pangs of repentance.

O Lord, judge me not by my actions.
Of thy mercy, save me,
And make my humble efforts fruitful.
O Lord, give me a heart
Free from the flames of desire.
Give me a mind
Free from the waves of egoism.
O Lord, give me eyes
Which see nothing but thy glory.
Give me a mind
That finds delight in thy service.
Give me a soul
Drunk in the wine of thy wisdom.

O Lord, to find thee is my desire,
But to comprehend thee is beyond my strength.
Remembering thee is solace to my sorrowing heart;
Thoughts of thee are my constant companions.
I call upon thee night and day.
The flame of thy love glows
In the darkness of my night.

Life in my body pulsates only for thee,
My heart beats in resignation to thy will.
If on my dust a tuft of grass were to grow,
Every blade would tremble with my devotion for thee.

O Lord, everyone desires to behold thee.
I desire that thou mayest cast a glance at me.
Let me not disgrace myself.
If thy forgiveness awaits me in the end,
Lower not the standard of forgiveness
Which thou hast unfurled.

O Lord, prayer at thy gate
Is a mere formality:
Thou knowest what thy slave desires.
O Lord, better for me to be dust
And my name effaced
From the records of the world
Than that thou forget me.
He knoweth all our good and evil.
Nothing is hidden from him.
He knoweth what is the best medicine
To cure the pain and to rescue the fallen.
Be humble, for he exalteth the humble.

I am intoxicated with love for thee
And need no fermented wine.
I am thy bird, free from need of seed
And safe from the snare of the fowler.
In the Kaaba and in the temple,
Thou art the object of my search,
Else I am freed
From both these places of worship.

Lord, when thou wert hidden from me
The fever of life possessed me.
When thou revealest thyself
This fever of life departeth.

O Lord, other men are afraid of thee
But I – I am afraid of myself.
From thee flows good alone,
From me flows evil.
Others fear what the morrow may bring;
I am afraid of what happened yesterday.

O Lord, if thou holdest me responsible for my sins
I shall cling to thee for thy grace.
I with my sin am an insignificant atom.
Thy grace is resplendent as the sun.

O Lord, out of regard for thy name,
The qualities which are thine,
Out of regard for thy greatness,
Listen to my cry,
For thou alone canst redeem me.

O Lord, intoxicate me with the wine of thy love.
Place the chains of thy slavery on my feet;
Make me empty of all but thy love,
And in it destroy me and bring me back to life.
The hunger thou hast awakened
Culminates in fulfillment.
Make my body impervious to the fires of hell;
Vouchsafe to me a vision of thee in heaven.
The spark thou hast kindled, make it everlasting.

I think of no other,
And in thy love care for none else.
None has a place in my heart but thee.
My heart has become thy abode;
It has no place for another.

O Lord, thou cherishest the helpless,
And I am helpless.
Apply thy balm to my bleeding heart,
For thou art the physician.

O Lord, I, a beggar, ask of thee
More than what a thousand kings may ask of thee.
Each one has something he needs to ask of thee;
I have come to ask thee to give me thyself.

If words can establish a claim,
I claim a crown.
But if deeds are wanted,
I am as helpless as the ant.
Urged by desire, I wandered
In the streets of good and evil.
I gained nothing except feeding the fire of desire.
As long as in me remains the breath of life,
Help me, for thou alone canst hear my prayer.

Watch vigilantly the state of thine own mind.
Love of God begins in harmlessness.

Know that the prophet built an external Kaaba
Of clay and water
And an inner Kaaba in life and heart.
The outer Kaaba was built by Abraham, the holy;
The inner is sanctified by the glory of God himself.

On the path of God
Two places of worship mark the stages,
The material temple
And the temple of the heart.
Make your best endeavor
To worship at the temple of the heart.

In this path, be one
With a heart full of compassion.
Engage not in vain doing;
Make not thy home in the street of lust and desire.

If thou wouldst become a pilgrim on the path of love,
The first condition is that thou become
As humble as dust and ashes.

Know that when thou learnest to lose thy self
Thou wilt reach the Beloved.
There is no other secret to be revealed,
And more than this is not known to me.

Be humble and cultivate silence.
If thou hast received, rejoice,
And fill thyself with ecstasy.
And if not, continue the demand.

What is worship? To realize reality.
What is the sacred law? To do no evil.
What is reality? Selflessness.

The heart inquired of the soul,
What is the beginning of this business?
What its end, and what its fruit?
The soul answered:
The beginning of it is the annihilation of self,
Its end faithfulness,
And its fruit immortality.

The heart asked, what is annihilation?
What is faithfulness? What is immortality?
The soul answered: Freedom from self is annihilation.
Faithfulness is fulfillment of love.
Immortality is the union of immortal with mortal.

In this path the eye must cease to see
And the ear to hear,
Save unto him and about him.
Be as dust on his path;
Even the kings of this earth
Make the dust of his feet
The balm of their eyes.

Ansari of Herat (1006-1088) was a Persian poet and Sufi mystic. This passage is published in Easwaran’s spiritual anthologies, “God Makes the Rivers to Flow” and “Timeless Wisdom.” The audio recording is by Eknath Easwaran.