Cast all Your Votes for Dancing

What better way to start this blog than with my favourite poem by the 14th century sufi mystic Hafiz (or Hafez).

I am particularly fond of the verse:

Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,
But then drag you for days
Like a broken man
Behind a farting camel.

The poem was introduced to me on a yoga retreat in 2004 by Paul Wooden of the Gertrude Street Yoga and Healing centre in Melbourne.

Here is the poem as translated by Daniel Ladinsky in I Heard God Laughing – Renderings of Hafiz.

Cast All Your Votes For Dancing

I know the voice of depression
Still calls to you.

I know those habits that can ruin your life
Still send their invitations.

But you are with the Friend now
And look so much stronger.

You can stay that way
And even bloom!

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions’ beautiful laughter.

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From the sacred hands and glance of your Beloved
And, my dear,
From the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.

Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,
But then drag you for days
Like a broken man
Behind a farting camel.

You are with the Friend now.
Learn what actions of yours delight Him,
What actions of yours bring freedom
And Love.

Whenever you say God’s name, dear pilgrim,
My ears wish my head was missing
So they could finally kiss each other
And applaud all your nourishing wisdom!

O keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions’ beautiful laughter

And from the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.

Now, sweet one,
Be wise.
Cast all your votes for Dancing!

~ Hafiz ~

Interesingly, the word Hafiz, or Hafith (literally meaning guardian) is a term used by Muslims for people who have completely memorized the Qur’an.