A Woman of Essence “MYSTICISM AND METAPHYSICS” – Jenayah Hela Tekali / Book review by Leena Rajan, Poet and Author

“A Woman of Essence”


Hela Tekali is a mystical poet from Tunisia. She has authored 5 books which are imbued with the mystical lore.
The present work, Metaphysics: A Mirror To Mysticism is a worthwhile study which compares not only three poets, but
also, three ages and three cultures. In this work, she has taken up John Donne, who represents post-Elizabethan age poetry, Jelalaluddin Rumi, who is a 13th century Persian poet and Dr. Jernail S. Anand, who represents the modern Indian philosophy.
“I am a guest born in this world /allowed to soar as a visitor with the wings of my mystical words”– these lines exactly depict the poet Hela who believes that poets have a duty towards the society they spring from. This work stands in testimony to her following lines:

“You do not need language with the heart.
All the doors to words are useless when the latter plays its part.

” And
“Love is identical to art
Spontaneous, colorless, eternal
Sculpted with genius of the artist
Crafted with gifts of the spirit. “

Poet Hela Tekali’s work presents a lucid explanation of poet’s commitment for the universe. Apart from knowledge and wisdom about self, mind, world, nature, reality, truth and its interconnections to bring Peace to the world appear to be the


chief aim of the poet. What happens when one attains enlightenment or illumination, is the crucial aspect, she is after. It is actually about the question: can we reconcile Metaphysics and deductive logic?
Hela believes that Mystical consciousness is experiential knowledge, knowing by experience or direct consciousness,
while philosophy is a rational knowledge, knowing by reason. Mysticism for some can be considered, gymnastics of the soul, involving the idea of mortification, self-destruction, and selfannihilation of impulse, which actually misdirect the soul.
Metaphysics, on the other hand, reflects more on the divine vision than any scientific field, but the poet feels that separating Metaphysics from physics is the biggest mistake that the scientist, or the physicist has ever committed.
« Mysticism is the individual experience in the heart of spirituality; it is an intimate escape into the womb of the divine whereas metaphysics as a branch of physics, and notably, of natural philosophy, also converses innately and implicitly with the divine as it is firmly rooted in the temple of the mystifying, the unseen, and the invisible face of the Beloved. »
In fact, the human being stands for the microcosm and the divine for the macrocosm. This correlation between microcosm- macrocosm is inherently and succinctly interwoven by the poet. She is of the opinion that we cannot dissociate the individual from the cosmos. The individual is the telescope, and the divine is the universe through which
the telescope sees the cosmos. Writing poetry in this sense is not entirely untied from the metaphysical perception which strives to give meaning to the most intriguing questions that still haunt our mind. Holy curiosity can never be divorced


from the rational, and logical mind but should rather sit hand in hand with the latter, to give a clear-sighted vision of the cosmos we are dwelling in, and to keep us closer to the divine.
Man can never stand as the center of the universe; the one who wholly controls the cosmos (geocentric position), but recognizes the existence of an invisible force in the form of a higher self that dictates his very existence.
John Donne, the great post-Elizabethan love poet, as he is remembered is the greatest love poet of English language too. According to Poet Hela, his creative genius, high intellect,
and eloquent preaching, were highly acknowledged, and far from being discarded in his life time, brought him influential presence in London. He was well-known for his vivacious, complex style (use of conceits), and highly intellectualized use of metaphors,
Hela thinks that for Donne, the only alternative to redemption is to surrender the soul to God, to cleanse it of lust and envy, and accept its punishment. Throughout the ‘Holy Sonnet V’, Donne discloses his feelings of guilt and sin attendant on his guilt. “The good morrow’ underlines that mysticism and metaphysics are not different entities, rather they seem to interlace. Hela thinks that “Mysticism is the individual experience in the heart of spirituality; it is an intimate escape into the womb of the divine whereas metaphysics as a branch of physics, and notably, of natural philosophy, also converses innately and implicitly with the divine as it is firmly rooted in the temple of the mystifying,
the unseen, and the invisible face of the Beloved”. In ‘The sun rising’, Donne elevates the status of man and degrades that of the Sun which in the Elizabethan is occasionally likened with God.


He highlights the fact that both lovers can never fully consummate love through the vehicle of the bodies. But, according to Platonic love, soul’s binding is the crux of fulfillment. This stands in sharp contrast to what John Donne declares in one of his sermons : “All that the soul does, it does, and with, and by the body. ”
John Donne is regarded as the founder of the Metaphysical Poetry, a term created by Samuel Johnson, an eighteenthcentury English essayist, poet, and philosopher.

“I am a little world made cunningly.”

Right in this line, the poet alludes to the microcosmic conception of man with reference to the Renaissance. He gets his inspiration directly from the macrocosm. He presents sin as something that turns the angelic, and perfect world, into a dark and endless night, which is likened to Rumi’s saying “ What hurts you blesses you, darkness is your candle.”
Mawlena Jelaladdin Rumi was a 13th century Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic, originally from Greater Khorasan. He made use of everyday life’s circumstances to describe the spiritual world. The translations of his poems bring to life the poet’s spiritual and ecstatic essence with complex meanings and deeper conjectures. His poems and writings have crossed borders to influence people and societies among Iranians, Turks, Greeks, Central Asian Muslims and many other nationalities. At the age of five, Rumi saw angels and grew agitated at this vision. At that time, a few students used to gather around his father, Baha Valad, and held the boy to their chest to calm him. His father reassured him:’’ these are angels of the
invisible world. They are showing themselves to you to offer


you their favors and they have brought visible and invisible gifts to you. They were nothing to worry about but signs of blessing to you. ”
Rumi is one of the most popular spiritual poets ever in the world. The Sufi mystic was a 13th century poet, theologian, jurist and Islamic scholar. He has been described as one of the
bestselling poets in numerous regions. His poems, mostly written in Persian, have been translated in a number of languages.
Rumi’s poems attend the soul’s flowering from grief, and from every emotion that streams through the guest house of consciousness . They are not religious in the love way but their origin and the longing inside religiousness. Rumi’s poetry transcended the religious arena, for most of his poems were astonishingly imbued with mystic wisdom and prowess of intellect that go beyond the religious sphere and open vistas, for rich cultural and spiritual heritage of long lasting humanity.
Most of Rumi’s poems were inspired by his longing for his soul mate and lifetime companion Shams Eddine Tabrizi. At the age of 63 Rumi published his book fifth of the
Mesnevi, which were regarded as glimpses to his growing excitement about death as an expression of love and detachment from life, it was exactly composed in 1270, three years before his death. It marked his first steps into resurrection and redemption. It highlighted the theme of
transcendence and escape from his mortal body nonetheless it was not separated from his religion of love as he says in those lines:
“The soul has emerged into the sky blue of the heavens


Crying out, to these below, if only everyone knew.”
In ‘You Are Not Your Eyes’ Rumi suggests Shams Tabriz as a sufi master imbued with mystical prowess and wisdom of intellect, to teach seekers to see beyond what their mortal eyes can see. Shams Tabriz can initiate seekers to see beyond the physical spectrum by removing the curtains and leading them to the realm of metaphysics, practical mysticism, where they can see with their minds’ and hearts’ eyes, but before they should not be narcissist, egoistic, but someone who sees with the eye of humility by surrendering the soul to the Beloved and here the Beloved is undoubtedly Shams Tabriz who becomes a mirror / the mystical eye through which they can reflect their true selves. “Shams could help you see who you are, but remember, You are not your eyes.” Rumi the Aleppo-trained imam, whose sermons beguiled both the orthodox and the subversive of the medieval Islamic world. The theologian who likened writing to sticking his hand in tripe. The abstainer from wealth, who hid in the toilet to avoid the company of princely visitors. The Muslim who prayed toward Mecca five times a day so assiduously that he said, “Whoever looks into my face remembers to pray.” Rumi, one of the best-selling poets in the United States. Few religious figures in the history of civilization have as successfully crossed borders of faith, language and geography as nimbly as Jalal al-Din Mohammad Rumi, the great 13thcentury theologian and mystic poet. The son of an eccentric and ambitious Muslim preacher, Rumi, who is known in the Persianate world as Mowlana, “our master, ” circumnavigated the Middle East of the day, then overrun by invading


Mongols and Seljuks, before eventually settling in Konya, in Anatolia .
There Rumi inherited his father’s mantle, presided over a shabby but magnetic seminary, and became one of the most beloved and discussed religious figures in the realm. His reputation and appeal, both across time and in his own, lay in some elusive layering of acute religious knowledge, personal charm and wit, and a capacious spirit that was both deeply human and haloed with otherworldly prescience. He brought musical instruments into prayer and practiced the whirling dance of sama, declaring that these practices helped the human soul connect with its divine source. Princes and commanders flocked to him, tolerating icy reproach. Christians and Jews followed him in the street. Beggars felt comfortable approaching him.
But everything changed when the wild-eyed mystic Shamsuddin of Tabriz showed up in Konya. The two became interlocked in an intense month long encounter that transformed Rumi’s approach to devotion. The devotees around him grew jealous and ultimately ran Shams out of Konya. By then nearing his own middle age, Rumi went searching for him and eventually turned that search inward, infusing the lines of his masterwork, the “Masnavi, ” with allusions to his spiritual teachings. That work remains one of the most widely read texts in the Muslim and Persianspeaking world, both for its Sufi wisdom and poetic force. Within Islam itself, Sufism is a centuries-old current that sees religious practice as a means to oneness with God. Sufis have traditionally infused their devotion with poetry and music, and reached for love as a metaphor to describe the human longing for a relationship with the divine. Like many lay Rumi admirers before him, Brad Gooch, whose subtitle calls


Rumi “the Sufi poet of love, ” projects too much conventional romance onto a relationship that was left deliberately ambiguous in Rumi’s writings. “While no evidence exists of an erotic component, Rumi chose to speak of their spiritual love in the mode of Persian romantic love poetry, and from weaving the two came his evanescent message, ” he writes. But language here should not be used as proof. By Rumi’s time, there was no separate mode for earthly love poetry; the Sufis’ metaphorical use of love had taken over the language of Persian poetry entirely. The nuance of that might be the realm of Persian literary scholars, but too much emphasis on earthly love makes Rumi seem like a 13thcentury Pablo Neruda. Each era will construct its own Rumi. But ultimately it is only by acknowledging his faith that we can appreciate the profound significance of the Islamic world’s tolerance for his dissidence, for being able to cherish and contain it, for this longstanding push and pull between orthodoxy and innovation that is the story of Islam itself.

Dr. Jernail S. Anand is a modern mystical poet from India.
Born in 1955, he is an academic, poet, scholar, a spiritualist and a philosopher. Counted among the top poets whose poetry has a spiritual fervor, Anand believes that God dwells in each one of us. ‘I am a descendant of God. / I must be great/I cannot be otherwise’. This bold assertion connects him directly with the source of all creative power. Dr. Anand believes in the theory of Karma, propounded by Lord Krishana. His writings mostly deal with divine rewards and retribution, and assert that Man himself is responsible for all his suffering as against divine fury. When we go against the rules of nature, nature plays against us spontaneously. But we want to own the credit of it and not the responsibilities or risks and we tactfully blame the nature.


Many of his poems display an ethereal phantasm’, the powerto uplift you to an ethereal experience, having, music,mystery, melancholy, melody, and magic.In his beautiful expression, “we leave no stone unfurled”, wehave wonderful possibilities. We cannot miss the eternalmeaning in his words. That after leaving a shrine, we return to our dirty business in which we target other people withswear, words, jealousies, and hatred too. These lines underlineDr. Anand’ s love for a life which is unified, where there is noduplicity of character. Man’s behavior inside the shrine andoutside the shrine, should match, as he says, “All the day wedo prayers for our own well being”.Dr. Anand is not only a philosopher, but also a master ofwords. He has a penchant for breaking the established hierarchies. He has written a book on Proverbs in which he has not only modified the old proverbs, but also introduced many new proverbs which do make sense.

“Listen to the melody the winds carry
and the music of silences. .
The cosmic voice sings
a primordial tune
which connects me with those
have been of mine
since times immemorial
I trace back my descent to Adam
and beyond him to the Creator himself. “

‘Love and let love’, is his watch word to keep him fastened to him. The poem depicts his ardent desire to preserve original purity and innocence of soul who has travelled a great distance from


the creator experiencing many tribulations. The poet alludesto self-love. He acknowledges that we cannot truly love Godwithout loving ourselves first to better love God.

Hela Tekali has worked hard on the three poets who represent three different ages, and three different societies and cultures. Bringing them together on one stage is a distinct
achievement for the poet. The poet has made a fine distinction between mysticism and metaphysics and tried to work out the contribution of the three poets based on her analysis.
I congratulate Hela Tekali, while welcoming this work as a propitious addition to mystical and metaphysical thought.


By: Leena Rajan, Poet and Author

One thought on “A Woman of Essence “MYSTICISM AND METAPHYSICS” – Jenayah Hela Tekali / Book review by Leena Rajan, Poet and Author

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