I am happy to let you know that a new German translation of Lalla’s poems (from the French version by Daniel Odier) has appeared. It was joyful and deeply moving to translate them into German together with my friend Veronika Sellier.
Lalla is an Indian mystic and poet of the 14th century. Already as a child, she longed to receive the deep teachings of oneness. When Lalla was a teenager, she beseeched her guru to accept her as his disciple. After finally acknowledging her, her teacher locked her up in a room where she would stay for two years. There, she realized her true nature.
Lalla’s years in this room – which I imagine darkened and empty – have been very present to me in the time of quarantine. Her poetry lead me through days and nights and continues to do. The months spent at home with Lalla’s words drew me into the sacredness of life in any moment of the day, into the depth of being. It let me dwell in simplicity and wondering. In the shining nature of life.
Now that life seems to go on as it was before quarantine, I am grieving for those luminous spring days. While the summer world is bursting with activity and airplanes are crossing the sky again, I long for the dark, quiet room in myself that lets the colors and the light truly abound. It hurts when I resume “normal life” and add too many activities to my days, so many that the controlling mind takes over what is beyond the rhythm of my breath.
Yet, the Corona months taught me that it is not activity itself that is painful. It’s my beliefs that let me do too much and move too fast. When hasting, the light is becoming flat, a neon tube, and the world loses its splendor. Lalla tells me:
Let go of needless ideas,
Give space back to longing until it dissolves.
Return home to the intimacy of the Self!
Don’t search it outside.
Then emptiness inhabits space.
Lass die unnötigen Vorstellungen fahren,
Gib den Raum dem Sehnen bis zu seiner Auflösung zurück.
Kehre heim zur Innigkeit des Selbst!
Suche es nicht aussen.
Dann bewohnt die Leere den Raum.
The fast pace of our society is based on ideas like survival of the fittest, permanent growth, performance, competition. When I remain inside instead of acting from these beliefs, emotions of rage and grief come up from behind these ideas which are so destructive to life, to love. The rage and grief lead my energy to what I truly desire. I am taken home to the dark room in myself, where I belong, where I can rest. And between the twitching of my mind I feel peace spread, the peace of nowhere to go, nothing to do: “emptiness inhabits space”.
I, Lalla, searched for Him, waited for Him.
I hunted for Him with endless patience.
I wanted to catch His gaze,
But His door remained closed.
My longing became deeper,
And now I await Him in myself.
Ich, Lalla, habe Ihn gesucht, habe auf Ihn gewartet.
Ich habe Ihn gejagt mit endloser Geduld.
Ich wollte einen Blick von Ihm erhaschen,
Aber seine Türe blieb verschlossen.
Mein Sehnen wurde tiefer,
Und jetzt erwarte ich Ihn in mir selbst.
When my longing relaxes in the dark room, the electric light bulbs and neon tubes are turned out. The electricity in my body stops and a much softer, richer and more powerful light spreads. Now the synthetic light, the mental pull, just stops to bother me. I can walk slowly inside the frenzied civilization when the inner light moves me. And really: I “begin to dance, naked”, as Lalla writes in one of her poems.
I wish you a wonderful summer with Lalla’s poems! You can order the book here: https://www.fairbuch.de/shop/article/42686145/daniel_odier_lalla.html
If you do not read French or German, there is a beautiful English translation by Ranjit Hoskote available: https://www.fairbuch.de/shop/article/21272990/lal_ded_i_lalla.html