Only God I Saw

Interior of Tomb of Baba Kuhi in Shiraz, Iran

Interior of Tomb of Baba Kuhi in Shiraz, Iran

I am leaving for a one-week silent meditation retreat, so instead of a specific d’var on this week’s Torah portion, I’d like to offer a short reflection on the known Hassidic saying in Yiddish, alz is gat (אַלץ איז גאָט), “everything is God.” The commentary is in the form of a Sufi poem by Baba Kuhi of Shiraz, “Only God I Saw”:

In the market, in the cloister–only God I saw.
In the valley and on the mountain–only God I saw.
Him I have seen beside me oft in tribulation;
In favour and in fortune–only God I saw.
In prayer and fasting, in praise and contemplation,
In the religion of the Prophet–only God I saw.
Neither soul nor body, accident nor substance,
Qualities nor causes–only God I saw.
I oped mine eyes and by the light of His face around me
In all the eye discovered–only God I saw.
Like a candle I was melting in His fire:
Amidst the flames outflashing–only God I saw.
Myself with mine own eyes I saw most clearly,
But when I looked with God’s eyes–only God I saw.
I passed away into nothingness, I vanished,
And lo, I was the All-living–only God I saw.

(Translated by Reynold A. Nicholson)