“Monday Musings” for Monday December 22, 2014
Volume IV, No. 51/207
The Night of Yalda, more from Mowlana Rumi (Rumi-nation)
By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, DLFAPA*
There is a syzygy in the holy month of December. The stars are aligned to bring us four events carefully choreographed to produce a cosmic feast. The first event, of course, is Christmas on December 25. The other three events are Winter Solstice, December 21, the longest night of the year, Shab-e-Yalda (see below) and the shortest day of the year. The third event, to some of us equally important, is the birth of Ludwig Van (not Von) Beethoven on December 16, which this year is the beginning of Hanukah. Although not a religious holiday like Yom Kippur, Hanukkah is about rededication to the will of Yahweh. Reading religious holy books including Zoroaster’s Avesta; Hindu’s sacred and magnificent book, Bhagavad Gita; Moses’ Torah, Christians’ Bible, especially Paul’s letters in the New Testament; and Islam’s Qur’an, one becomes acutely aware of commonality of the message of these books: love, duty, responsibility, redemption, promise and possibilities for all humans, for all children of God.
December 21 is the longest night of the year. In Mede and Persian history and Zoroastrian tradition, it is a holy night, “Night of Birth”, the birth of Mithra, the God of illumination and salvation. The birth of Ahura Mazda. Persian poets have written extensively about the night of Yalda (Shab-e-Yalda). Here is a stanza from Baba Taher Oryan (950-1019), the mystical Persian poet who roamed the mountains of Hamadan naked:
“Shab-e-Yalda is the longest night of the year,
To have more time to read and learn…
To have more time to worship….
To have more time to reflect…
To have more time to connect with the beloved and
To have more time to nurture one’s soul…”
We know that Plato wrote extensively about the soul, Zoroastrianism, and the night of Yalda…
May you have a fruitful and joyous Yalda night.
For those hungry souls who write and want more of the wisdom and poetry of Mowlana, here is a bit of “Rumi-nation” (pun intended). This poem is about evolution:
Low in the earth
I lived in realms of ore and stone;
And then I smiled in many flowers;
Them roving with the wild and wandering hours,
O’er earth and air and ocean’s zone,
In a new birth,
I dived and flew,
And crept and ran,
And all the secret of my essence drew
Within a form that brought them all to view-
And lo, a Man!
And then my goal.
Beyond the clouds, beyond the sky,
In realms where none may change or die-
In angel form; and then away
Beyond the bounds of night and day,
And Life and Death, unseen or seen,
Where all that is hath ever been,
As One and Whole.
(Rumi: Thadani’s Translation.)
*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association, and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He serves as a Visiting Scholar and lecturer on Medicine, the Arts and Humanities at his alma mater the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health.