On the occasion of the centennial of Malak Jan’s birth, an eponymous biography featuring a selection of her mystical poetry, teachings, and photographs was published in French in 2007. The book was subsequently published in Persian (2009), Italian (2010), German (2011), and English (2012). The following is a brief selection of sayings and poems extracted from “Malak Jan Nemati.”

malak-jan-nemati-book

 

Life isn’t short, but time is limited; like a flower, it should be spent in such a way that we will have enjoyed it.


We should draw a lesson from everything that happens to us.


The comprehension of truths is better for human beings than anything else. Try to acquire truth-discerning eyes and a truth-discerning thought so that you are no longer deceived by appearances.


The use of autosuggestion against the imperious self is an excellent practice that not everyone is capable of; it is a level unto itself. We have to reach the point where our own words have an impact on us.


Whether they want to or not, all human beings have to engage spirituality and undertake the process of perfection. Therefore, to say that one is ‘unable’ or ‘afraid’ to do so is incorrect.


When a spiritual student has a heavy heart toward the world [it has no pull or attraction for him], it is indicative that he is in a good spiritual state, whereas when he feels joyous toward the world, the opposite is true.


That which we call divine tests are intended for us to acknowledge our weaknesses.


A spiritual student must defend his rights. He should be diligent and serious, but without expecting a specific result.


The reign of the imperious self eliminates thirst for the divine.


A spiritual student should not become inwardly upset or swayed by his emotions upon receiving either good or bad news of a worldly nature.


In each era, God sends a thought for that time. Human beings should think, and spiritual figures should act, in accordance with their own times.


It is by fighting against the imperious self that the soul advances, not through comfort. Those who love their goal must engage in this struggle. For example, what pleasure were the prophets and saints seeking to endure so much affliction?


Those who are active in spirituality will always encounter the negative. If they don’t exercise kindness, the effect of this negativity will tear them to pieces. There must always be a negative force in opposition to spiritual students, and it is through this force that they must purify themselves.


Every path, whether material or spiritual, has some kind of defensive arms; ours is doing good to others. Even if people were to curse us, it doesn’t matter; we don’t have anything but this. God has put goodness at our disposal—we shouldn’t practice it for the sake of others, either.


Materialism destroys affection, even for one’s children.


The difference between a thought and an impulse is that with the latter, we no longer evaluate its negative aspects and are only concerned with satisfying that impulse.


Anything that you want to attain must be done so in this world; that world is a place for obtaining results.


Observing the laws of nature in moderation is quite beneficial. Though harmful in excess, in moderation it is so beneficial that it’s deemed to be a part of the process of perfection.


I always autosuggest the following: ‘O God, I hope that You educate me in such a way that I take pleasure from nothing but You.’ Autosuggesting this helps us not to pursue worldly pleasures.


I have reached the point where there are no more ‘I’s—‘I do,’ ‘I say,’ ‘I want’ . . . it is the stage of resignation and contentedness. At this stage, one works indifferently [in accordance with one’s duty].

 


 

Composed in her native Kurdish, the following selection of poems by Malak Jan had originally remained in manuscript form. She never considered herself a poet, and as the following poems attest these verses naturally emanated from her love for the Beloved, revealing an intimate knowledge of the various stages and levels in the process of spiritual perfection.

 

Exalted

Without scent
Without color
My Beloved is One
Without scent or color

No wrath or affection
No temperament or mood
No time or place
Neither ancient nor new

Ascribing any quality to the Beloved
Is blasphemy through and through
Rendering me blasphemous
And ignorant, too

O heart, won’t you stir yourself to join the Beloved
Cease your diversions with these scents and colors!
Scents, colors, lights—the whole of creation
Your path to salvation it cannot deliver

Unless and only if
With the help of Ostad
The Beloved were to be pleased with me
Perhaps then might He grant my liberty

On this path that we travel
Ostad Nour Ali is my guide
Draped in sin from head to toe
He is the sanctuary in whom I confide

Jani was a lifeless corpse
A corpse among the dead
Ostad resurrected me
And by His grace exalted me

16 July 1941

 

Intoxication

O heart, be a nightingale
O heart, be intoxicated like a nightingale
May your bird alight on a flower’s stem and sing
May its fragrant core your heart’s desire bring

Behold the flower’s core, so fragrant and sweet
From dawn till dusk, sacred chants gently repeat
This fragrant core to the nightingale’s intoxication leads
From intoxication the process of perfection proceeds

Until one is intoxicated and the ego cast aside
This treacherous path is impossible to stride
O hypocrite, don’t be like those who hibernate
Dead in the winter, come summer they resuscitate

April 1953

 

You

Wherever I look, there is no one but You
O Unique, Peerless, Savior, You!

The door, the ceiling, the veranda, all You
No one is there other than You!

Every manifestation past, and those that come anew
When are you apart from You, O You who are You!

You are the one who rid these eyes of their duplicity
You are the one who revealed the station of Unicity

This world and next, the earth and heavens too
O peerless Unique, they are all but You!

The seeker and the sought, the lover and the beloved
O Necessary Being, are they all not You?

Praise to Your glory, and glory to Your power
For master and disciple at once are You!

A veiled secret how is it You remain?
That my reason is not illumined by knowing You?

1 December 1953

 

Mirror of Wonders

You are the match
and the lamp
The gardener
and the garden

You are the nightingale
and the song
The flower
and the fragrance

You are hundreds of colors
every hour
You are war and peace
both at once

You are the mirror
of wonders
Present and absent
together at once

3 December 1953

 

Eternal Spring

O nightingale, how long in this garden will you stay
On this barren branch passing your life away?

All paths have been blocked by the ice and the snow
You’re dying from the cold, to your homeland go!

O nightingale, this frosty garden don’t you perceive?
For the love of which flower do you refuse to leave?

Return to your homeland, where spring is eternal and green
Where flowers and rosebuds by the thousands teem

December 1955

 

Illustrations by Charles H. Zenderoudi.