Monday, May 16, 2016

Carpe Diem Theme Week #4 Latifa Prayer episode 2 "I exist"

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome a the second episode of our Theme Week about that wonderful and powerful Latifa Prayer. Today I will introduce to you the first "line" of this prayer, "I exist".

in deep prayer
eyes closed in devotion -
Lotus starts to bloom

© Chèvrefeuille


"I exist" ... what does that mean? Is it what René Descartes meant with his "Cogito Ergo Sum" (I think, therefore I am)? I think so. René Descartes lived in the 17th century and was a great philosopher and his "Cogito Ergo Sum" is what makes us human, but also spiritual. As we give our thoughts the freedom to run than we exist ... than we can see the deeper layers in all that's around us, we are all part of humanity and we are all connected through this "Cogito Ergo Sum".

But as we take a look at the Latifa Prayer's first line than maybe we see something different in it.

I exist or "Nafs":

The word nafs is usually translated as self or psyche. Its etymology is rooted in "breath" (similar to Biblical or Kabbalistic nefesh) and is common to virtually all archaic psychologies where the act of breathing was connected with life, animating otherwise lifeless object. In this respect, ancient notions of "Prana" in Hinduism, Greek "pneuma", Latin "spiritus" or Hebrew "Ruach" -all equate the basic visible process of breathing with energizing principle that confers existence to an individual human being. Some Sufis consider under the term "Nafs" the entirety of psychological processes, encompassing whole mental, emotional and volitional life; however, the majority of Quranic-based Sufis are of the opinion that Nafs is a "lower", egotistical and passionate human nature which, along with Tab (literally, physical nature), comprises vegetative and animal aspects of human life. Ego may be assumed as an equivalent for Nafs in modern psychology. The central aim of the Sufi path is transformation of Nafs (technical term is tazkīyyat an-nafs or "purging of the soul") from its deplorable state of ego-centredness through various psycho-spiritual stages to the purity and submission to the will of God. In essence, this is almost identical to Christian paradigm of "vita purgativa" and various stages the spiritual aspirant traverses in the journey towards God.

In the Latifa Prayer "I exist" is the base of all further spiritual growth through the Latifa Prayer. In this you can see the same thing as we see in e.g. Buddhism, growing through doing good things to become enlightened.

As we look at "I exist" in that way I think the spiritual layer of the Latifa Prayer fits us haiku poets like a glove. To create our haiku we need to understand that we exist and that we are part of nature, we are not nature's superior, but we are its friend and caregiver.
Nature is the base of our wonderful haiku ... so in a way ... I exist is the base for our haiku too.

My response:

At the start of this episode I shared a haiku from my archive with you and that haiku is I exist in the most absolute way ... the Lotus grows from deep down the waters, from the muddy bottom through the breaking light of the sun in the water to its existing as a beautiful flower on the water. The Lotus exists as a "marker" to point us at our goals ... becoming spiritual beings, becoming one with nature and with each other ... that's the message of the Lotus ... I exist lets make the world a little bit more peaceful.

dancing dervishes
reflecting movements
Lotuses dance too

© Chèvrefeuille

It wasn't an easy task to create this episode for you but I think I have done it in the right way. And now it is up to you to create your haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form ... to give room to the idea that "you exist" ...

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 20th at noon (CET). 


  1. You continue to make old brain cells stretch and expand. I may need to ice my brain after this exercise!

  2. Great post and your haiku said so much to me: what a great parallel between 'philosophy and nature...

  3. It's been a while, just thought I would drop by and share a few words...

  4. i look down :
    the man on the lotus
    my self

    for ,

    Dear Kristjaan , pl accept the above haiku as my submission . sorry for the lateness .