Kundalini Splendor

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Sacred Books for Gifts (from Ivan Granger) 

Ivan Granger suggested the following books as possible gifts for the holidays, and added his commentary for each book. (See poetry chaikhana listed under links.)

Here is what Ivan wrote:

As we enter the holiday season, please remember that books of sacred poetry make wonderful gifts (including gifts to yourself.

I've found that a collection of poetry by several poets makes an especially good introduction for people -- a holiday sampler.

Here are a few of my favorite general collections of sacred poetry:

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, by Stephen Mitchell

This is a compact anthology, but a wonderful collection that includes Li Po, Wu-Men, Rumi, Kabir, Mirabai, Rilke. . . One of my personal favorites!

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, Edited by Jane Hirshfield

This is the first anthology I got years ago that made me say, Wow! Includes Sappho, Rabia, Yeshe Tsogyel, Hildegard of Bingen, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Hadewijch of Antwerp, Lal Ded, Mirabai, Bibi Hayati, Tsvetaeva. The best collection I've found of women's voices in sacred poetry.

The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry, Translated by Peter Lamborn Wilson / Translated by Nasrollah Pourjavady

One of my favorite collections of the Persian Sufi poets, some you m ay have heard of and others who may be new to you: Jami, Attar, Hamadani, Iraqi, Hafez, Ibn Arabi, Sanai, and many others. If you like Sufi poetry, this is a book you should have.

Love's Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition, Translated by David Fideler and Sabrineh Fideler

Another very good collection of Persian Sufi poetry. This book focuses on poems and poets that are not as well known in the West. A very good place to discover some new names.

Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from the Sufi Wisdom, Edited by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut

Something about Andrew Harvey's selections and translations always strike a pure note. This book is a delightful collection of poetry and Sufi wisdom stories. Rumi, Kabir, al-Hallaj, Shabistari, Ansari. . . This is one I return to again and again.

To Touch the Sky: Poems of Mystical, Spiritual & Metaphysical Light
, Translated by Willis Barnstone


Willis Barnstone's translations balance the scholarly with the poetic -- a real treat! This anthology ranges from Sappho and early Biblical utterances, to Wang Wei, Rilke, and St. John of the Cross. I like to leave through the pages until something catches my attention and I'm pleasantly lost in the page.

The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhalla Library), Edited by Sam Hamill and J. P. Seaton

A very nice sampler of Japanese and Chinese Zen poetry. Han Shan, Li Po, Wang Wei, Basho, Soseki, Ryokan, Issa... The book fits well in your hand when you're walking to the riverside or the local coffee shop.

Songs of Spiritual Experience: Tibetan Buddhist Poems of Insight & Awakening
, Translated by Thupten Jinpa and Jas Elsner

Believe it or not, I found this one in a discount bin at my local bookstore -- but what a find! One of the best general anthologies of Tibetan Buddhist poems I've found. Several verses attributed to Milarepa, as well as many other Tibetan yogis and masters. If you haven't read much Tibetan poetry, this book is an excellent place to start.

Speaking of Siva, by A K Ramanujan

This book became an immediate favorite of mine ever since I picked up a copy of it a couple of years ago. Stunning poems from the Shiva bhakti tradition of India. Basavanna, Devara Dasimayya, Mahadevi, Allama Prabhu. The commentary in the book, though a little academic, is genuinely insightful. Enthusiastically recommended!

And at the end of his list, Ivan adds:

May you and your loved ones have a special holiday season during this time when the sacred light renews itself in the midst of darkness –

I strongly second his blessings and wish you all rich enjoyment and spiritual renewal in the coming days.


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