He laughs when you laugh, sneezes in your sleep,
yawns for you, coughs for you.
He bathes every day in the river of your thoughts.
He’s naked, all year round, and walks where you walk.
Just go up and introduce yourself.
(from I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded)
This poem by Lalla—the 14th century yogini and mystic-poet steeped in the wisdom of Kashmir Shaivism—was translated into English by Ranjit Hoskote, who offers the following commentary:
“As she does in poem 1, Lalla reminds the ascetic, who attempts to store up merit by visiting one shrine and pilgrimage centre after another, that the Divine is neither outside nor far away, but within.
She administers this insight through a series of physical, viscerally intimate images: the Divine is not merely a Doppelgänger to the self, but laughs, sneezes, yawns and coughs for the self, as the self; and indeed, while performing all these clumsy variations on the practice of Yogic exhalation, is the self/Self.
The slash between the two is eliminated when Lalla suggests the simple civility of recognition.”