Enter Into Joy

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Every particle of the world is a mirror.

29 Pieces, No. 9. Cleave the heart of a raindrop, a hundred pure oceans will pour forth.
A beautiful passage by 14th century Sufi poet Mahmud Shabestari, reminds me of amazing connections that reverberate through time, and the futility of analyzing art. The passage, from The Secret Rose Garden, as translated by Jonathan Star, goes like this:

“Every particle of the world is a mirror.
In every atom lies the blazing light of a thousand suns.
Look closely at a grain of sand, the seed of a thousand beings can be seen.
The foot of an ant is larger than an elephant;
in essence, a drop of water is no different than the Nile.
In the heart of a barley-corn lies the fruit of a hundred harvests;
within the pulp of a millet seed an entire universe can be found.
Though the inner chamber of the heart is small,
the Lord of both worlds gladly makes his home there.”

The passage is so visual, and it inspired three of the sculptures in 29 Pieces  (No. 9, 13 & 23). It's used in Passage Meditation, and I memorized it some time ago. A group of us discussed the passage and found surprising connections to things like particle physics and evolutionary biology. But we couldn’t decide what “the foot of an ant is larger than an elephant” meant.  Some time later, I learned more about Sufis, and realized that the passage is only an attempt to describe the experience of union with the Divine: “I am lost to myself and unconscious, and my attributes are annihilated. Today I am lost to all things, and all that remains is a forced expression.” It's the experience of the dervish. 

Susan Sontag said: “interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.” Thinking about the meaning of art is bound to limit the experience of it. As John Katz put it in this blog, not long ago: “art IS sprituality manifest”. And going beyond understanding is one way I evolve. 
- Kelly Nash   


Post a Comment