On Attar of Nishapur, the 12th century Persian mystical poet, best known in the West for his ‘Conference of the Birds’
The one great theme of Attar’s poetry is how to purify the heart so that one can see God everywhere. Though he has much to tell us on this theme, both from his own experience and from the traditions he industriously gathered, nevertheless, like almost all the great mystics, he professes his own ineptitude and prays to God for light. He addresses God with the following prayer:
I am bewildered and confused over your true nature.
I am drowned deep in the ocean of your attributes.
I am seeking there the pearl of proximity with you in love.
I am imprisoned in the waters of this ocean.
I fell into it all of a sudden.
I have nowhere to go except to you.
Show me the way that I may find the pearl of loving proximity with you,
Hidden as it is in the depths of the ocean of your majesty.
The spiritual life depends on efforts and grace both. We know the Prophet’s reply to the person who asked: ‘Should I tie up my camel at night, or just trust in God?’ It was ‘Trust in God and tie up your camel’.
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