One of the best contemporary books on Sufism is The Taste for Hidden Things by Sara Sviri. It combines interesting quotations from classical sources with insights from more recent practitioners. Much more interesting than the usual introductory books. Here’s a poem by an unnamed student of the author called “Mudtarr” (constrained).
It is always like two people trying to pass
through a door at the same time.
We collide with the eager, bothersome wayfarer
who wants to go everywhere with us,
but is the main reason why we lag behind.
Do we humor this ubiquitous companion?
Berate or ignore?
The path of spiritual enlightenment
stretches away in front, and we don’t
get past the first hurdle because we
are occupied with this little self,
this little pleasure-seeker, who
applauds every successful step forward,
and pulls as back to admire it.
We find ourselves in the desert,
the valley of confusion, stationery.
Longing to be detached from the shadow
which clings, and not yet grasping
the fringes of God’s robe.
The Absolute cannot free us from
this paralysis, lift us straight to the place
of clear seeing, until
we are constrained – yoked without knowing it
to the end we desire
receptive as a cup waiting to be filled,
looking at nothing and
consequently no longer distracted
by the cavorting exhibitionist;
and therefore, to our astonishment,
-The Taste for Hidden Things by Sara Sviri.