6 thoughts on “Ghazals

  1. The Student of Bliss | Bob Shepherd

    Sasha considered the many options, the programs and catalogs of the various schools, those close to home, and those far away, and decided to become a student of bliss.

    Bright girl, she could have taken most any course of study. Her parents weren’t happy, of course, that she spent their hard-earned money on something so frivolous.

    “There’s no future in it,” they insisted. “Look, you could be studying Christian Denial, Unbridled Acquisitiveness, Blind Obedience to the State, Home Economics.”

    But Sasha was headstrong and would not be deterred. “Bliss,” she penciled in, during her sophomore year, on the application to degree programs.

    She was incorrigible.

    I know what you are thinking, at least, what you are thinking if you were brought up on American movies: Her story doesn’t end well. Everyone knows that those who follow bliss end up addicted and overweight, dissipated, derelict, in the gutter or hospital or jail, broke and broken, battered and bitter, all blood and spittle, backaches and bile.

    And so it could have been for Sasha, had she followed the standard program of the four-year American colleges. You know the routine: the mandatory tailgate parties and X in the clubs, all jackass-do-you-dare and the little black dress.

    Of course, various educational reformers, all the way back to Guatama and Lao-tze, Al Ghazali and the Baal Shem Tov, had argued that students should not neglect but move quickly through those elementary studies so they can get to the real thing, but it takes time for such critiques to bring about changes in the standard curriculum, and most students only minor in bliss, anyway, so no harm done. Good enough for government work and government schools, some say.

    But Sasha wanted not only the Minor, the Associates’ Degree, the B.A. in Bliss. She was after the PhD., and that’s why she transferred, in her junior year, to the Alternative Program, where she finally got what she was looking for—classes in the iridescence of pigeons’ wings; in the smell of hot sidewalks at dusk; in the sensitivities of earlobes, which are so various (who knew?); in whirling, of course; in the languages of birds; in waking dreaming; in stillness at the center; in liquid repose; in the disrobing of fruits; in the monkey dance.

    She’s now an acknowledged master, so much so that a great tycoon came to her, one who had EVERYTHING: the hedge fund Senior Partnership, the prized collection of local, state, and federal administrative, legislative, and judicial action figures and wind-up toys. He wanted the one thing he didn’t have, to be her student. In truth, he was smitten.

    In her presence, who wouldn’t be?

    She told him what Yeshua told the rich young man who wanted to become His disciple: Go sell everything and give it to the poor. Then come back to me, for we have work to do.

    He was smitten, but stupid. He declined.

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