“The orient of light”

Although certain facts are crystal clear and are more obvious than an apple being an apple, certain facts strike you with a ferocious force, putting all your thought processes back into action. It probably is because of the mélange of ways in which a certain aspect of an entity can be described. Today, whilst reading about Avicenna, the greatest scientific philosopher of all time, I came across a poem penned down by him, detailing the journey of a gnostic from the ‘world of shadows’ to the ‘orient of light’. As I am acquainted with Sufi thought to a certain degree, the first few bits of the poem did not reveal any surprise, but however, the second half of the poem unarmed me completely. Here is what the poem goes like:

It descended upon thee from out of the regions above,
That exalted, ineffable, glorious, heavenly Dove.
‘Twas concealed from the eyes of all those who its nature would ken,
Yet it wears not a veil, and is ever apparent to men.
Unwilling it sought thee and joined thee, and yet, though it grieve,
It is like to be still more unwilling thy body to leave,
It resisted and struggled, and would be tamed in haste,
Till, forgotten at length, as I ween, were haunts and its troth
Until, when it entered the D of its downward descent,
And to earth, to the C of its centre, nwillingly went,
The eye of (I) infirmity smote it, and lo, it was hurled
Midst the sign-posts and ruined abodes of this desolate world.
With tears welling forth from its eyes without pausing or rest,
And with plaintive mourning it broodeth like one bereft
O’er such trace of its home as the fourfold winds have left.
Thick nets detain it, and strong is the café whereby
It is held from seeking the lofty and spacious sky.
Until, when the hour of its homeward flight draws near,
and ‘tis time for it to return to its ampler sphere,
It carols with jou, for the veil is raised, and it spies
Such things as cannot be witnessed by waking eyes.
On a loft height doth it warble its songs of praise
(For even the lowliest being doth knowledge raise).
And so it returneth, aware of all hidden things
In the universe, while no stain to its garment clings.

Now why from its perch on high was it cast like this
To the lowest Nadir’s gloomy and drear abyss?
Was it God who cast it forth for some purpose wise,
Then is its descent a disciple wise but stern,
That the things that it hath not heard it thus may learn.
So ‘tis she whom Fate doth plunder, while her star
Setteth at length in a place from its rising star
Like a gleam of lightning which over the meadows shone,
And, as though it ne’er had been, in a moment is gone.

The poem beautifully symbolizes the root from which we derive and justify our existence, however, the main question is why did we derive this exhausting ‘lowest Nadir’s gloomy and drear abyss’? Is this all part of a game? Is there a higher cause? The debate is pushed in favor of the judgment day, but however, more than anything a more prudent interpretation of it rather than a hasty interpretation is needed, after all, every entity symbolizes a different meaning at different hierarchies, where nature and all the elements conspire to bring about an action. Second of all, our senses can only journey up to the boundaries after which extends more finites and infinites.


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