Readings — From the March 2015 issue

What Do I Know About Who I Am?

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From Sufi Lyrics, by Bullhe Shah, published by Harvard University Press in January as part of the Murty Classical Library of India. Bullhe Shah was an eighteenth-century Sufi poet and philosopher. Translated from the Punjabi by Christopher Shackle.

Bullha, what do I know about who I am?
I am not a believer in the mosques, nor do I follow the rites of unbelief. I am not among the pure or the polluted. I am not Moses or Pharaoh.
I am not in the Vedas or in the scriptures; I am not in drugs or in liquor. I am not among the drunken reprobates. I am not in waking, nor am I in sleep.
I am not in joy or in sadness, nor am I in pollution or purity. I am not of water or of earth, nor am I fire or air.
I am neither an Arab nor from Lahore, nor an Indian from the city of Nagaur. I am not a Hindu, nor a Turk from Peshawar. Nor do I live in Nadaun.
I have not discovered the secret of religion, nor am I born of Adam and Eve. I have not given myself a name, nor am I found in sitting or moving about.
I know myself to be first and last, I do not recognize anyone else. No one is wiser than I am. Bullha, who is the lord standing here?

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