Shabistari: The Meaning of Wine

What is the meaning of wine, candle-flame and Witness?
What is intended by the words, “being a tavern drunk”?*


Wine, candle-flame and Witness are of one meaning
Since every form is a Self-disclosure of God.

Wine means ecstasy and candle the mystical ‘tasting,’
Gaze on the Witness who is hidden from no one.

Wine means the glass case, candle the lamp inside,
witness the bright rays emanating from spirit.**

Sparks of the Witness burned in the heart of Moses.
His wine was the fire and his candle that glowing bush.

Wine and candle are the spirit and light of the ascension,
but the beautiful Witness is His greatest sign.

Wine, candle and Witness are all present,
so don’t be absent from delighting in beauty!

Come drink the wine of selflessness for a time
to find safety from the tight grip of self.

Drink the wine that will release you from self
so the drop’s existence may be joined to the sea.

Drink this wine whose goblet is the Beloved’s Face.
The cup is the pure eye of that Drunkard.

Search for a wine poured in neither cup nor bowl,
a wine-drinking wine, a drinker of cupbearers!

Drink wine from the cup of his Everlasting Face.
“Their lord gave them to drink” is a true cupbearer.***

Pure is the wine that from the stain of existence
washes you clean with a time of pure drunkenness.

Drink wine! Free yourself from cold-heartedness.
This drunkenness is better than being a ‘good man.’

*This is the fourteenth inquiry answered by Mahmud Shabistari (1288-1340 CE) in his “Garden of Mystery.” It deals with images traditionally used in Sufi poetry; see for example this recent post of Hafiz.

**A reference to a verse of the Sura an-Nur of the Koran:
Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.
A parable of His Light is a niche wherein is a lamp—
the lamp is in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star—
lit from a blessed olive tree,
neither eastern nor western,
whose oil almost lights up,
though fire should not touch it.
Light upon light.
Allah guides to His Light whomever He wishes.
Allah draws parables for mankind,
and Allah has knowledge of all things.

***Reference Koran 76:21: “Upon the inhabitants will be green garments of fine silk and brocade. And they will be adorned with bracelets of silver and their Lord will give them a purifying drink.”

from Garden of Mystery, The Gulshabn-i-raz of Mahmud Shabistari
tr. Robert Abdul Hayy Darr

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