Wearing The World Like Clothes
A few years ago I sent out a regular online newsletter called Mystical Quotations
. I found quotations that appealed to me and then wrote commentaries on them. It was fun doing it. One of the people I discovered and fell in love with was Lalla
, a 14th century mystic from Kashmir. When you see who you really are you discover you are capacity
for the world – you are clothed with the world. Lalla saw things in much the same way. Here’s a song of hers, followed by a commentary I wrote for the Mystical Quotations
Dance, Lalla, with nothing on
but air. Sing, Lalla,
wearing the sky.
Look at this glowing day! What clothes
could be so beautiful, or
(From 'Naked Song. Lalla
', transl. by Coleman Barks, pub. by Maypop.)
Here’s my commentary:
Born in Kashmir, Lalla wandered and danced naked as she sang. Her songs flowed from her living experience of God, from her true being which is our true being.
I am imagining Lalla walking down a country road. She is awake to the clarity of her own infinite being, an emptiness that is room for sky and earth and all things in between. Transparent like pure water, lighter than air, the world dances within her. Those leaves trembling in the breeze, these stones on the dry road, this brown mud by the lazy river - she puts them all on like clothes. An ever-changing wardrobe. To be one thing only, to wear your face, your body, as yourself, is no longer to have room for anything else. But to be naked, to be the absolute openness of being - then are you richly attired. I am reminded of the German mystic Meister Eckhart (who died when Lalla was about seven): "As long as I am this or that, I am not all things." I think too of the English poet Traherne: "You never enjoy the world aright till the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars…" Traherne wore different clothes from Lalla – he wore those of seventeenth century England. But his clothes adorned the same naked body of light.
So, Lalla, with nothing on you dance in the tumbling mountain stream, in swans gliding on glistening waters, in the laughing children playing about your feet. And as you dance you sing, Lalla, oh how you sing. Praise overflows from your well-spring of nothing, from the mystery within you - an endless song of God, to God, from God.
Today, Lalla, I find your body everywhere. I see you in the faces of everyone I meet, I taste you in the drink I lift to my lips, I hear you in the crackling fire and in the silent earth, in the cacophony of sounds on city streets, in waves breaking ever new on wide beaches. The stars gaze down with your eyes, Lalla, the bird in flight beats the air with your wings, the flower with petals open to the sun is your beautiful face. Wherever I look I find you. You who are without, are within, my side of every door on which I knock.
Lalla, in the unplanned flow of my own hands and feet when I dance, I unfold in your dance. Reaching out to another, I touch you. Taking off the clothes of my own appearance I am joined with you.
Regards from a lovely warm English summer’s day that now clothes my naked being…
This is so beautiful - thank you again. I feel so much gratitude for having found the teachings of Douglas Harding, this wonderful website and your Reflections. Rohini.
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