The previous episodes, those of Series 1, may have appeared a bit strange to the reader. I apologize for that and owe you an explanation. The tags on the post said that the posts in the category “Dehkhoda” would speak of things such as Arabic Culture, A Conference of Birds, philosophy, Quests, Settling the West, Sufiism and Thirty Birds.
As it turns out each of these subjects were included; albeit somewhat hidden.
You see, the series is really based on the poetry of a traveling Sufi poet named Attar. He wrote the original poem around 1100 AD. Attar was a pharmacist in Nishapur, Persia.
Attar’s place of business held all types of drugs and cures. His inventory was so large it took up all the shelves, drawers and corners of his shop. One day a traveling Sufi dervish came into his shop, looked around, and started weeping. Attar asked him “What is it that makes you so sad inside?” The dervish answered. “I am not sad for me, I am sad for you.”
Of course, Attar was puzzled and demanded that the dervish explain himself. The dervish said “Look at all you own. How are you to travel and take all this with you? You must travel if you wish to learn the truth.” Attar, taking the advice to heart, sold his entire inventory and became a traveling Sufi poet. One of the most important poems he left us was “The Conference of the Birds” also sometimes referred to as “Thirty Birds.”
In the poem, the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their sovereign, as they have none. The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should find the legendary Simorgh. The hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom represents a human fault which prevents human kind from attaining enlightenment.
It was written in Persian (“Persian” vs. “Farsi” means written vs. spoken) as a couplet (paired lines that rhyme) with varying meter. However, more important than that, it spoke of Islamic moral issues and the importance of following the Quran; the Islamic equivalent of our old and new testaments, a guide to morality.
It was then translated to English with the same rhyme scheme. This English version was called The Conference of the Birds and was translated by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis, published in 1984. This translation ended up somewhere near 256 pages long.
I found the subject matter to be mesmerizing; the result being my modification of the 256 pages into the American morality of “striving.” However, I could not complete the entire task that I set for myself. Shame on me!
What I have completed (in Series 1 and Series 2) is posted in the Dehkhoda on WordPress. The introduction starts HERE.
I have attempted to keep the last word, only, of each rhyming line, and, the concept of morality; not the Islamic morality but rather the philosophical idea of “striving.” As I have said, striving in the Islamic sense is to follow “the book”, memorize it where possible, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca each year; when possible. Striving in America is to do your best to live a clean life, provide for your family and educate yourself.
Our pilgrims who headed west had this morality.
I have kept a few of Attars poems in the original subject and with the original characters; however, I have changed the words (except for the last one of each line). I felt that they spoke such truth that to change them to American idiom would miss the point of the lesson that Attar was attempting to teach us.
The journey of the Thirty Birds/Conference of the Birds was led by a bird commonly called the Hoopoe. I will spare you the entire story because you can easily find it on Wikipedia.
Here is a synopsis of my version, although I avoid the word chasm whenever possible.
The journey of the settlers took them through the seven chasms; the chasms of the quest, friendship, understanding, freedom and objectivity, unanimity, amazement, and finally hardship and emptiness. In the chasm of the quest they underwent a multitude of adversities and tests.
After their intentions had been confirmed and become unbound, they learned in the chasm of understanding that passion has nothing to do with logic. The chasm of understanding taught them that comprehension is temporary, but wisdom prevails. Conquering their imperfections and failings brings them closer to their objective.
In the chasm of hardship and emptiness they lost any desire to possess and their wish to discover. To pass through this difficult chasm of hardship and emptiness, they became aware of their insignificance and became self-sufficient.
In the chasm of unanimity, the Dehkhoda revealed that although they may see many types of animals and humans, in reality there is only Oneness; which is complete in its combination of nature and man. When unanimity did not exist, the settlers were mentally separated, good and evil arose; but when they lost their selves in the supporting of each other, they rose above through understanding.
When Oneness was achieved, they forgot all and themselves in the chasm of astonishment and bewilderment.
The Dehkhoda confesses that the last chasm of deprivation and death is impossible to explain. In the immensity of the Great Plains the pattern of the present world and the future world dissolves. As they realized that the individual self does not really exist, the release – from self – becomes harmony.
Out of hundreds of settlers traveling with the Dehkhoda, only thirty reach the end of the journey. When the thirty settlers establish their new homesteads, they become aware that everyone and everything is the same; Oneness is Them. They begin a new life in this Oneness and contemplate their new world. By dissolving their selves in “Oneness” they find joy, learn the secrets of life, and receive immortality.
For living life to its fullest – and passing their wisdom on — was their immortality.
Next Post; S2:E2 The Story of the Crow Chief and the Apparition (Part 1)