I am the slave of the Master who has not released me from ignorance:
Like a planet round the shining sun I am content to swing in His dance.
A bit of an opening surprise to find the quotation from Hafiz of which Meher Baba was so fond, and which he had read out in his last days, radically altered. This is one way to capture the attention. With considerable ingenuity and wit the poem goes on to justify this opening.
Hafiz’ third couplet had said “I am the slave of the Master Who has released me from ignorance. Whatever my Master does is of the highest benefit to all concerned.” Here Francis is willing to leave it all to Baba,taking the passive role in the dance as the planets respond to the sun’s attractive power. And in the square dancing Francis liked the dancers revolved their patterns around the voice of the caller.
The moment of my Self-knowledge was fixed by Him at the time of the Creation
When the suns were born from His singing Word, and I in their midst shouted with elation.
Except for brief moods of home-sickness, ever since then I have been dancing
To the calls of this singing Caller and to the tune of His love-glancing.
In these poems any desire to think we have been released from ignorance is viewed with wary alarm. Everything including our ‘Self-knowledge’ comes from God. During the glorious epic dance of verses2 and 3, he has been sustained by a dialogue, a dialogue made possible by God as Preserver or Sustainer, verse 4 –
All our association has been a dialogue which He was sustaining
To keep me going on the long journey and make me forget my complaining.
Now by the Master’s grace he has returned to stone state, submitting to a stillness of desire which makes possible a return to dust under the Master’s feet.
Now the talk has been swallowed up in His Silence, the dance is ended;
I have danced my way back to stone-state, completing the Journey Splendid.
Now there remains only the breaking of this stone head with His hammer
To release my Self-song and put an end forever to this stammer.
But it is not until the last verse that we can fully understand the opening gratitude for not being released from ignorance. He could never have kept going if it had not been for the ignorant illusion that he was almost at the journey’s goal. Maybe now as stone, he is immune from this yearning but it has been a necessary carrot up until now. Perhaps we can read this as a little dry humour at the end. Blessed are the ignorant for they will keep going!
How lovingly my Beloved has kept me in ignorance on this journey,
Heartening me at every stage by the thought that with the next step I’d be free.
In a way our dance has been a ‘stammer’ repeatedly trying to utter the word that would free us.