Permanence بقاء

"Barefooted and naked of breast,
I mingle with the people of the world.
My clothes are ragged and dust-laden,
and I am ever blissful.
I use no magic to extend my life;
Now, before me, the dead trees
become alive."
— From the Ten Ox-Herding Pictures

Gold leaf 23.75 ct and acrylic on wood, 40x40 cm.

Date28 March 2016

Baqâ’ (بقاء) is a Sufi term describing the station of “abiding in God” that comes after the Annihilation of Fanâ’: a return to the world, to “chop wood, carry water”. Ibn Arabi describes it as “life with God, through God, in God, for God.” In the Zen Ox-herding Pictures, it is described by the final picture quoted above.

In an older version of this design, I had made the word solid against the background. It became clear to me recently that this wasn’t right: in this state, one is not an entity self-contained and separate from all else; life flows through.

Watch the making of this piece:

A penny for your thoughts...