I really want to talk about Light, for I have learned in these four years since Iran and I had our inevitable meeting that all things come from Light and all to Light return. And I intend to talk about Light but in order to do so it is also necessary to talk about Darkness.

And so, as I told you, I looked into the flames on September 11, 2001, and then I found Forough’s poem about Light at the end of ’03. These two “events” I singled out as significant markers on the initial journey, and as you can see, they were both suffused in Light, albeit Light of two very different kinds.

But there was a third “event” the following year, and that event was a person. And I owe everything to this person, who walked me through the Valleys of Dark and Light. And Attar’s Seventh Valley, Fanaa, extinction, is known in English as the Valley of Death. This is not an accurate translation, but for the purposes of my personal journey, it is.

It is my stated intention in this blog to post the poems I wrote about my Iranian experiences, which form a collection called “Notebooks from the Persia Within. The title came from this person, this “event” who called the place of inner fear “the Persia Within.” He said when we confront our fears, immediately we will know them, and they will vanish.

But this was not the case for me. My fears never vanished, instead they were transmuted into something golden. And it took a long, long time for that transformation to be completed. Nothing happened immediately, and nothing vanished. As the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas says, “Dark is a way and light is a place.”

This is the what I first wrote when I began my descent into the Way of Darkness.

Dakhmah *

From a hole I came

To a hole I go

We all walk through a tunnel.

The way is dark

The walls enclose

And fear becomes the tunnel.

Tower of silence tower of silence

Offer me to your air

Open me up and make me the carrion

Free me from my fear.

Soon soon fresh and clean

the sky shall meet the bone.

Iranzamin Father of birds

Expose me to your crows.


*The place where Zoroastrians dispose of their dead.

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