Rumi acknowledged Hakim Sanai and Attar as his two primary inspirations, saying, “Attar is the soul and Sanai its two eyes, I came after Sanai and Attar.”
Sanai wrote an enormous quantity of mystical verse, of which From The Walled Garden of Truth or The Hadiqat al Haqiqa is his master work and the first Persian mystical epic of Sufism. Dedicated to Bahram Shah, the work expresses the poet’s ideas on God, love, philosophy and reason. For close to 900 years, From The Walled Garden of Truth has been consistently read as a classic and employed as a Sufi textbook.
Sanai was originally a court poet who was engaged in writing praises for the Sultan of Ghazna. The story is told of how the Sultan decided to lead a military attack against neighboring India and Sanai, as a court poet, was summoned to join the expedition to record the Sultan’s exploits. As Sanai was making his way to the court, he passed an enclosed garden frequented by a notorious drunk named Lai Khur.
As Sanai was passing by, he heard Lai Khur loudly proclaim a toast to the blindness of the Sultan for greedily choosing to attack India, when there was so much beauty in Ghazna. Sanai was shocked and stopped. Lai Khur then proposed a toast to the blindness of the famous young poet Sanai who, with his gifts of insight and expression, couldn’t see the pointlessness of his existence as a poet praising such a foolish Sultan.
These words were like an earthquake to Hakim Sanai, because he knew they were true. He abandoned his life as a pampered court poet, even declining marriage to the Sultan’s own sister, and began to study with a Sufi master named Yusef Hamdani.
Sanai soon went on pilgrimage to Mecca. When he returned, he composed The Walled Garden of Truth. There was a double meaning in this title for, in Persian, the word for a ‘walled garden’ is the same word for ‘paradise,’ but it was also from within a walled garden that Lai Khur uttered the harsh truths that set Hakim Sanai on the path of wisdom.
Click here to purchase From The Walled Garden of Truth by Hakim Sanai at Amazon. And, here’s a sample of Hakim’s words:
We tried reasoning
our way to Him:
it did not work;
but the moment we gave up,
no obstacle remained.
He introduced himself to us
out of kindness: how else
could we have known him?
Reason took us as far as the door;
but it was his presence that let us in.
But how will you ever know him,
as long as you are unable
to know yourself?
Once one is one,
no more, no less:
error begins with duality;
unity knows no error.
The road your self must journey on
lies in polishing the heart.
It is not by rebellion and discord
that the heart’s mirror is polished free
of the rust of hypocrisy and unbelief:
your mirror is polished by your certitude –
by the unalloyed purity of your faith.
from your chains you have forged about yourself;
for you will be free when you are free of clay.
The body is dark – the heart is shining bright;
the body is mere compost – the heart a blooming garden.
He doesn’t know his own self:
how should he know the self of another?
He knows only his hands and feet,
how should he know about God?
This is beyond the sage’s grasp:
you must be a fool
if you think that you know it.
When you can expound on this,
you will know the pure essence of faith;
what have faith and you in common?
It is better to be silent
then to talk nonsense
like one of the learned;
faith is not woven
into every garment.
You were made for work:
a robe of honor awaits you.
How is it that you are satisfied
with mere rags?
How will you ever have riches
if you are idle sixty days a month?
Knowing what you know,
be serene also, like the mountain;
and do not be distressed by misfortune.
Knowledge without serenity is an unlit candle;
together they are honey-comb;
honey without wax is a noble thing;
wax without honey is only fit for burning.
Leave this abode
of birth and decay;
leave this pit,
and make for your destined home.
This heap of dust is mirage,
where fire seems like water.
The pure man unites
two in one;
the lover unites
three in one.
But I am frightened
lest your ignorance and stupidity
leave you stranded on the bridge.
He is the provider
of both faith and worldly goods;
he is none other
than the disposer of our lives.
He is no tyrant:
for everything he takes,
he gives back seventy-fold;
and if he closes one door
he opens ten others for you.
He treasures you more
than you do yourself.
Rise, have done with fairy tales;
leave your base passions,
and come to me.
You have to realize
that it is his guidance
that keeps you on the path
and not your own strength
A Ruby there is just a piece of stone:
and spiritual excellence the height of folly.
Silence is praise – have done with speech;
your chatter will only bring you harm and sorrow –
Belief and unbelief
both have their origin
in your hypocrite’s heart;
the way is long only
because you delay to start on it;
one single step
would bring you to him:
become a slave,
and you will become a king.
The dumb find tongues,
when the scent of life reaches them
from his soul
Listen truly – and don’t be fooled –
this is not for fools:
all these different shades
become one color
in the jar of unity;
the rope becomes slender
when reduced to a single strand.
Your intellect is just hotchpotch
of guesswork and thought,
limping over the face of the earth;
wherever they are, he is not;
they are contained within his creation.
Man and his reason are just the latest
ripening plants in his garden.
Whatever you assert about his nature
you are bound to be out of your depth,
like a blind man trying to describe
the appearance of his mother.
While reason is still tracking down the secret,
you end your quest on the open field of love.
The path consists in neither words nor deeds:
only desolation can come from these,
and never any lasting edifice.
Sweetness and life are the words
of the man who threads this path in silence;
when he speaks it is not from ignorance,
and when he is silent it is not from sloth.
For the wise man
evil and good
are both exceeding good.
No evil ever comes from God;
whenever you think to see
evil proceeding from him,
you were better to look on it
I’m afraid that on the way of faith,
you are like a squinter seeing double,
or a fool quarreling with the shape of a camel.
If he gives you poison, deem it honey;
and if he shows you anger, deem it mercy.
Be contented with your lot;
but if you have any complaints,
go and take them to the Cadi,
and obtain satisfaction from him.
That’s how the fool’s mind works!
Whatever befalls you, misfortune or fortune,
is unalloyed blessing;
the attendant evil
a fleeing shadow.
‘Good’ and ‘evil’ have no meaning
in the world of the Word:
they are names, coined
in the world of ‘me’ and ‘you’.
Your life is just morsel in his mouth;
his feast is both wedding and a wake.
Why should darkness grieve the heart?
– for night is pregnant with new day.
You say you’ve unrolled the carpet of time,
step then beyond life itself and reason,
till you arrive at God’s command.
You cannot see anything, being blind by night,
and by day one-eyed with your foolish wisdom!
My friend, everything existing
exists through him;
your own existence is a mere pretense.
No more nonsense! Lose yourself,
and the hell of your heart becomes a heaven.
Lose yourself, and anything can be accomplished.
Your selfishness is an untrained colt.
You are what you are:
hence your loves and hates;
you are what you are:
hence faith and unbelief.
Hope and fear drive fortune from your door;
lose yourself, and they will be no more.
At his door, what is the difference
between Moslem and Christian,
virtuous and guilty?
At his door all are seekers
and he the sought.
God is without cause:
why are you looking for causes?
The sun of truth rises unbidden,
and with it sets the moon of learning.
In this halt of just a week,
to be is not to be,
and to come is to go.
And does the sun exist
for the cock to crow at?
What is it to him
whether you are there or not?
Many have come, just like you,
to his door.
You won’t find your way
in this street; if there is a way,
it is on your road of sighs.
All of you are far
from the road of devotion:
sometimes you are virtuous,
sometimes you are wicked:
so you hope for yourselves, fear for yourselves;
but when your mask of wisdom and folly
at last turns white, you will see
that hope and fear are one.
If you know your own worth,
what need you care about
the acceptance or rejection of others?
Worship him as if you could see him with your physical eyes;
though you don’t see him,
he sees you.
Whilst in this land
of fruitless pursuits,
you are always unbalanced, always
either all back or all front;
but once the seeking soul has progressed
just a few paces beyond this state,
love seizes the reins.
The coming of death
is the key which unlocks
the unknown domain;
but for death, the door of true faith
would remain unopened,
If you yourself
are upside down in reality,
then your wisdom and faith
are bound to be topsy-turvy.
Stop weaving a net about yourself:
burst like a lion from the cage.
Melt yourself down in his search:
venture your life and your soul
in the path of sincerity;
strive to pass from nothingness to being,
and make yourself drunk with the wine of God.
From Him forgiveness comes so fast,
it reaches us before repentance
has even taken shape on our lips.
He is your shepherd,
and you prefer the wolf;
he invites you to him,
and yet you stay unfed;
he gives you his protection,
yet you are sound asleep:
Oh, well done,
you senseless upstart fool!
He heals our nature from within,
kinder to us than we ourselves are.
A mother does not love her child
with half the love that he bestows.
You have broken faith,
yet still he keeps his faith with you:
he is truer to you
than you are to yourself,
He created your mental powers;
yet his knowledge is innocent
of the passage of thought.
He knows what is in your heart;
or he made your heart along with your clay;
but if you think that he knows
in the same way that you do,
then you are stuck like a donkey
in your own mud.
In His presence, silence is the gift of tongues.
He knows the touch
of an ant’s foot
moving in darkness
over a rock.
He always knows
what is in men’s minds:
you would do well
to reflect on this.
Love’s conqueror is he
whom love conquers.
Apply yourself, hand and foot,
to the search;
but when you reach the sea,
stop talking of the stream.
When he admits you to his presence
ask from him nothing other than himself,
When he has chosen you for a friend,
you have seen all that there is to see.
There’s no duality in the world of love
what’s all this talk of ‘you’ and ‘me’?
How can you fill a cup that’s full already?
Bring all of yourself to his door:
bring only a part
and you’ve brought nothing at all.
It’s your own self defining faith and unbelief:
inevitably it colors your perception.
Eternity knows nothing
of belief or unbelief;
for a pure nature
there is no such thing.
And if, my friend, you ask me the way
I’ll tell you plainly, it is this:
to turn your face towards the world of life,
and turn your back on rank and reputation;
and, spurning outward prosperity, to bend
your back double in his service;
to part company with those who deal in words,
and take your place in the presence of the worldless.
The way is not far
from you to a friend: you yourself are that way:
so set out along it.
You who know nothing of the life
that comes from the juice of the grape,
how long will you remain intoxicated
by the outward form of the grape?
Why do you lie that you are drunk?
How can you go forward?
There is no place to go;
how will you leap?
You have no foot.
Not one knows how far it is
from nothingness to God.
As long as you cling to your self
you will wander right and left,
day and night, for thousands of years;
and when, after all that effort,
you finally open your eyes,
you will see your self, through inherent defects,
wandering around itself like the ox on the mill;
but, if, once freed from your self,
you finally get down to work,
this door will open to you within two minutes.
God will not be yours,
as long as you cling to soul and life:
you cannot have both this and that.
Bruise your self for months and years on end;
leave it for dead, and when you have done with it,
you will have reached eternal life.
Remain unmoved by hope and fear.
To non-existence mosque and church are one;
to a shadow, heaven and hell likewise.
For someone whose guide is love,
belief and disbelief are equally a veil,
concealing the doorway of the friend;
his very being is a veil
which hides God’s essence.
Until you throw your sword way,
you’ll not become a shield
until you lay your crown aside,
you’ll not be fit to lead.
The death of soul
is the destruction of life;
but death of life
is the soul’s salvation.
Never stand still on the path
Non-existent even to the notion
of becoming non-existent.
And when you have abandoned both
individuality and understanding,
the world will become that.
When the eye is pure
it sees purity.
until you see your self as a speck of dust
you cannot possibly reach that place;
self could never breathe that air,
so wend your way there without self.
~Hakim Sanai (1044-1150)
Post Image: Golden Cathedral, by John Fowler, CC BY 2.0.
Featured Image: Edited form of Post Image.
Thank you from me too. I will be back to read more