The following poem is taken from The Diwan of Inayat Khan, (Diwan or Divan = a collection of poems), some of Hazrat Inayat’s compositions rendered into English verse by the poet Jesse Duncan Westbrook. The Diwan was published in 1915, and readers who trouble themselves to follow the poetic language of an earlier age will find great wisdom in these verses. For more about the collaboration with Jesse Westbrook, see this post.
Dialogue between Murshid and Mureed
Whence have we come, O Murshid, whither pass we
After this life, woven of joy and pain?
From out of the life unconscious and immortal
Our soul is drawn and must return again.
O tell me what is God, and what may Man be,
And what within us is this life and breath,
What fate involved us in the web of being,
And why comes suffering, and what is Death?
God is Eternal and is self-existent,
Himself in earth and man He manifests,
He acts in all that lives and moves and suffers,
And yet remote, withdrawn, aloof He rests.
When was this mighty Universe created,
Shall it pursue its course, and be destroyed?
And how can man by seeking gain perfection,
And Death, the Hunter of the Soul, avoid?
Again and yet again Creation’s morning
Has summoned up new wondrous worlds, and then
The night of dark Destruction has descended
Dissolving them to Chaos once again.
But Man, self-mastering, can win perfection,
Merging his puny self into the Whole,
The Self of God, that ocean-like surrounds him;
Death holds his body, not his kingly soul.
And after death do we again awaken
In Heaven exulting, or despair in Hell?
These, child are names and nothing, vain delusions,
The soul doth deathless, birthless, changeless, dwell,
Serene and ever-lasting, self-sufficient,
And all the earth’s experience shall seem,
Toil being finished and desire transcended,
The fevered vision of a troubled dream.