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Remove the Rust from your Heart

from Lalla to Nuruddin by Jaishree K. Odin

Lalla was born in Kashmir sometime in the early 1300s.  Her aphoristic verses have been an integral part of Kashmir culture for centuries. Her verses, originally uttered in the old Kashmiri, are filled with vivid images that capture thoughts and experiences of her life. Some verses deal with the beginning of her quest as she struggles to discipline her body and mind. As Lalla begins her quest, she describes the worldly life in terms of a river, which she needs to cross in order to reach the other shore. She burns the "impurities of the heart" and kills her "desires" as she surrenders completely.

She "suffers the fire of love"

as she awakens

the Beloved within her.

Nuruddin says that a person to whom the divine knowledge is revealed, he continuously remembers God. He renounces love for the body and the ego and believes he is nobody has no name. The focus here is not on adopting divine attributes: it is rather on renouncing human traits, which opens the individual to the Divine attributes. Thus he says:

Remove the rust from your heart as if from a mirror.

That is how you will be acquainted with Him.

So youthful is your face and body.

Die before your death -

that is knowledge. (v. 64)

To the extent that the traveller on the path diminishes his own egocentric self, the base human traits associated with him also diminish in intensity. He thus opens the way for the manifestation of divine traits as he approaches closer to God. The aim of spiritual practice is to eventually experience the non-existence of one's own essence, as the state of existence is a borrowed affair from God. This idea is expressed in the following verse:

If you realise the One, the self will disappear.

So much brilliance emanates from the One.

Intellect and anxiety have no place there.

Who could drink from that river, my dear? (v.42)