Sufi Mystic Hafiz on Art and Creativity

We continue our meditations on the “C” of Creativity in our search for understanding what it means to be human.  We find this dimension to our humanhood celebrated around the world and in all traditions.

Art piece entitled, “Ex Nihilo” (Out of Nothing) by Richard Reich -Kuykendall who is an Author, Artist, and graduate of Matthew Fox’s University of Creation Spirituality.

Hafiz was an artist from the Sufi tradition of Islam.  He has this to say about art and creativity:

Art is the conversation between lovers.

       Art offers an opening for the heart.

True art makes the divine silence in the soul

       break into applause.

This names the organic relationship between the via negativa (silence) and the via creativa (creativity) wonderfully.

Hafiz was a great master of words, images, poetry and humor. When he speaks about his own experience, we naturally listen carefully.

Clip on the Sufi Swirling Dervishes in Istanbul, Turkey. Video posted to YouTube by Davidsbeenhere

My master once entered a phase
That whenever I would see him
He would say,
“Hafiz, How did you ever become a pregnant woman?”

And I would reply,

Dear Attar, you must be speaking the truth,
But all of what you say is a mystery to me.”….

And Attar replied….

Woman posing on beach in the evening; caressing child in the womb. Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash.

Though if you want to know the Truth

I can so clearly see that God has made love with you

And the whole universe is germinating
Inside your belly

And wonderful words,

Such enlightening words

Will take birth from you
and be cradled against thousands of hearts.”

It is interesting that Meister Eckhart also wrote of his experience with pregnancy. He says: I, even though a man, was pregnant with nothingness. And out of this nothingness God was born. 

Hafiz sees art as our sharing in the divine power, evidence of our being sons and daughters of God.

“The Power Point, Findhorn”. Photo by Phila Hoopes.

All the talents of God are within you.
How could this be otherwise
When your soul
derived from His genes!
I love that expression,
”All the talents of God are within you.”
Sometimes Hafiz cannot help but applaud
Certain words that rise from my depths
Like the scent of a lover’s body.

But if our creativity is sharing in the divine work, then it is together that we do the work, as Hafiz sees it in the following poem, a poem about our being co-creators.

It used to be

That when I would wake in the morning

I could with confidence say,

Street Musician in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo by Daniel Angele on Unsplash.

“What am ‘I’ going to do?”
That was before the seed
Cracked open.

Now Hafiz is certain:

There are two of us housed
In this body,
Doing the shopping together in the market and tickling each other
While fixing the evening’s food.

Now when I awake
All the internal instruments play the same music:
God, what love-mischief can ‘We’ do
For the world today?”

It is interesting too that Eckhart talks of the seed cracking open when he says, “if you want the kernel, you must break the shell.”  Breakthrough often follows on break down.  And often amazing things result.  New things, creative things. Again, when he talks of “the seed of God turning into God” in us.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells, pp. 229, 231f.

Also see Matthew Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

Banner Image: Mausoleum of the Sufi mystic Shah Nematollah Vali in Mahan, Kerman (Iran). Photo by Andreas Brunn on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree that all the talents of God are within you? 

What is holding you back? Have you too experienced the seed cracking open in you?

Recommended Reading

One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths

Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

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