Notes from The Conference of the Birds

Also known as:
Reading Note Convention

This is the convention being followed for all reading notes exported after January 31, 2023 (and some previous exports):

KOReader/Exported Kindle Meaning
Lighten/Normal Yellow Quotables, concepts, and general ideas.
Underline Orange Further thought is required on this for clarity.
Highlighted/Bold Blue Something strikingly novel/Deeply moving/Highly thought-provoking.
Strikeout Pink In discord with this opinion.

The Conference of the Birds



Page: 5 (1.59%) @ 30 Jan 2024 10:40:16 AM

Attar believes that suffering destroys the ego. And since suffering is born out of love, love is also the destroyer of ego. When the ego is annihilated, the inner eye blinks open.

Thought Provoking


Page: 7 (2.23%) @ 30 Jan 2024 12:06:14 PM

In one such story, when the Mongols invaded Nishapur, they took Attar prisoner. Someone came along and offered to buy Attar’s release, but Attar advised the Mongol soldier against selling him for silver. The Mongol, perhaps hoping for gold, refused the sale. Soon, another buyer offered gold. Again, Attar advised his captor not to sell. The soldier, driven by greed, refused that sale as well. Finally, along came a man with a donkey who, seeing Attar in chains, offered the soldier a sack of straw in exchange for the elderly poet’s life. Attar then urged the soldier to accept the offer, saying: “Now you have been offered what I am truly worth.” Upon hearing this, the angry soldier picked up his sword and beheaded Attar in one swoosh.


Page: 8 (2.55%) @ 30 Jan 2024 12:11:26 PM

The central idea in the Sufi movement is that the soul, in the prison of the body, awaits release. Once freed, it returns to the source which is the Creator. This reunion can be experienced while we are still bound by the body through looking inward and through purification.

Thought Provoking: Analogous to 'Moksha'.

Page: 8 (2.55%) @ 30 Jan 2024 12:13:43 PM

Hallaj (858–922 CE) was the first Sufi to speak about Iblis, the devil or Satan, not as an evil entity but as an angel who loved God more than others. According to Christian and Muslim scriptures, when God asked his angels to bow before Adam, all obeyed except Iblis. Hallaj argued that there was a big difference between God’s command to the angels to bow before Adam and His desire that they must bow before no one but God. Iblis understood this duality and wishing to obey God’s desire, he disobeyed God’s command. Therefore, Hallaj argued that Iblis was the angel who loved God the most.


Page: 9 (2.87%) @ 30 Jan 2024 12:15:14 PM

In the end, what led to Hallaj’s execution was his most famous and controversial declaration about the Divine within us, which he had taken from the oral teachings of Bastami and others before him; Hallaj took from the Quran the phrase God is the Truth (Hov-al-Haq) and announced to the world: I am the Truth (An-al-Haq). As punishment, Hallaj was tied up and stoned; his limbs were then cut off and burned. His execution gave rise to a myth: It is said that when Hallaj’s limbs were burned, the river Tigris became violent and threatened to swallow the land. It was calmed only when Hallaj’s ashes were given to its waters.

Quotable/Concept/General Idea

Page: 9 (2.87%) @ 30 Jan 2024 12:15:55 PM

Hamedani (1098–1131 CE) was a student of and influenced by Ahmad Ghazali, a Persian mystic famous for his writings on love and that all created beauty was an exhalation of the Divine beauty. Hamedani was a young philosopher who believed that religious texts should be read according to the interpretation of the reader. He stated that the reader is like a mirror who reflects the text as a critic during whatever particular point in time he or she exists.

Thought Provoking

The Birds of the World Gather

Page: 23 (7.32%) @ 30 Jan 2024 01:35:43 PM

Enter, then exit your self,
and intellect will guide you to insight.
When from insight you have found wisdom,
the immortal prophet Khidr will offer you
the water of everlasting life.

Quotable/Concept/General Idea

Page: 24 (7.64%) @ 30 Jan 2024 01:36:46 PM

Become a flawless bird in the Beloved’s path,
so that what remains of you will not be just you,
but will be the Beloved too.


The Birds Confer and Make Excuses

Page: 39 (12.42%) @ 31 Jan 2024 12:11:37 AM

The Beloved is a grand ocean in which
the Garden of Paradise is but a tiny ball of dew.
If you have the Ocean, you have the drop.
Don’t settle for less, don’t seek anything but the Ocean.


Page: 40 (12.74%) @ 31 Jan 2024 12:12:18 AM

Desire all, be all, become all.
Choose everything.
Choose everything.


Page: 40 (12.74%) @ 31 Jan 2024 12:14:49 AM

Those who go to Paradise expecting the promised ambrosia,
well, that’s all they will get, because that’s all they know and believe.


The Birds Prepare for the Journey

Page: 66 (21.02%) @ 02 Feb 2024 04:45:39 PM

sheikh was aware that he served as an exemplar to his followers and was therefore greatly alarmed when he found himself dreaming the same disturbing dream night after night. In this dream, he prostrated himself over and over, before an idol, inside a temple. Finally, one night that Awake One woke up and cried out, “Horror! Pity! The graceful Joseph has fallen into the well; I have come upon a difficult passage in the Path. I do not know if I can survive this pain, for I would rather die than give up my faith.”

Thought Provoking: The dark night of the soul perhaps?

The Birds Begin the Journey

Page: 83 (26.43%) @ 03 Feb 2024 10:52:36 PM

But, wonder of wonders, the road was featureless.
Wonder of wonders, not a speck of evil or good was in view.
All looked serene and still, lacking nothing,
burdened by nothing.
A bird asked:
Why is this road devoid of everything?
The Hoopoe replied:
It’s because of the glory of the Beloved.


The Birds Complain and Boast

Page: 100 (31.85%) @ 03 Feb 2024 11:43:34 PM

Parable of Jars of Honey

A Sufi was on his way to Baghdad when he heard someone call: “I have jars of honey. I’m selling them cheap. Where is everyone?”
The Sufi asked: “Good man, will you give me some for nothing?”
The man replied: “Away with you, are you mad? Are you the father of greed? Who sells anything for nothing?”
A voice from On High called and said: “Sufi, come away, there is a better seller than this. Come to a place where for nothing you will be given everything, and more.”
Compassion is a sun that shines
on all the atoms that float in its rays.
The Almighty rebukes even a prophet
for the sake of a wayward soul.


Page: 101 (32.17%) @ 03 Feb 2024 11:46:03 PM

Parable of a Sinner in Paradise

A young man who had led a life full of misdeeds died. As people carried his casket in the funeral procession, praying, a devout believer happened to pass by and objected: “Why pray for a wrongdoer?”
That night that pious man had a dream in which he saw that same dead sinner bathed in light in Paradise. He said in wonder: “Lad, you were mired in sin, you were rolling in it from head to toe. Tell me, how did you find such an exalted station?”
The lad replied: “It was your lack of compassion that brought me the Almighty’s forgiveness.”


The Birds Voice Their Fears

Page: 136 (43.31%) @ 06 Feb 2024 12:30:15 AM

When Socrates was in the throes of death, one of his students asked: “Master, after we have washed your body and wrapped it in a shroud, where should we bury you?”
He replied, “If you can find me, my boy, bury me wherever you like. I’ve lived long and while alive I was not able to find myself; how then can you find me in death? As I exit this world, not even a strand of my hair truly knows itself.”


The Birds Ask About the Beloved

Page: 151 (48.09%) @ 08 Feb 2024 08:47:38 AM

When the Almighty pulls you into an affair,
you can’t make love to any other.
Yes, this is a difficult love affair,
even more difficult than enduring war
or negotiating peace.

Thought Provoking

God of the Sufis is a loving one, and very much anthropomorphic too. It has its faults like jealousy.

Page: 181 (57.64%) @ 12 Feb 2024 06:58:11 PM

Parable of the Blemish in a Beloved’s Eye

There once was a lion heart, a vanquisher of enemies, who loved a woman for five years. This lovely woman had a blemish as small as the tip of a fingernail in one of her eyes. The man never saw this white blemish, even though he gazed into her eyes all the time. How can a man so deeply in love notice a fault in the eye of his beloved?
After a while, however, love cooled in the man’s heart like a sickness calmed by medicine. His love for the woman waned and he no longer felt the pain of love. That’s when he noticed the deformity in her eye and asked: “When did that blemish appear in your eye?”
She replied: “The moment your love for me began to die. When your love faded, so did the perfection of my eyes.”

Quotable/Concept/General Idea

Page: 188 (59.87%) @ 12 Feb 2024 07:12:20 PM

Questioner, do as I say and take with you
what cannot be found in that Highest Court.
Whatever you can think of is already there—
wisdom, learning, mysteries, even
the ample worship of angels—
why bother taking such things?
What no one possesses there
is a burning soul, a heart’s fevered pain.
A single sigh rising from your innermost being
will carry the aroma of your yearning to that court.
Your special abode is the kernel, your soul,
encased in the shell of your rebel ego.
If your sigh rises from the special home of your soul,
the shell will break, the kernel freed.


Page: 191 (60.83%) @ 16 Feb 2024 09:51:41 AM

If you don’t arrive with a wounded heart,
the Beloved’s glance will pass over you.
Step into the Path, bring your branded heart,
for true lovers know each other by their scars.


The Seven Valleys

Page: 216 (68.79%) @ 16 Feb 2024 10:21:07 AM

Parable of a Man Turned to Stone

There was once a man who solidified into a rock in the mountains of China. He shed mournful tears that fell as pebbles. If clouds were to rain such tears, the world would always be miserable.
Knowledge is like that man, truthful and pure. Go seek that knowledge, even if it takes you as far as China, for knowledge has petrified in grief for want of a seeker’s zeal, the absence of those who value and seek it.
In the house of affliction, where darkness rules, knowledge is a shining rare jewel. Let your soul be guided by its effulgence, for it is the light of science, the kind that expands the realm of the soul. In this limitless dark, you are like the guideless Alexander who was told if he took even a tiny piece of the night-illuminating jewel66 he’d regret it, and if he didn’t take any, he’d be even sorrier.


Page: 230 (73.25%) @ 16 Feb 2024 10:07:49 PM

Valley of Unity

Arrive in the Valley of Unity
and give up everything except the absolute.
All who traverse this valley
will leave sharing a single collar.
Here, the many and the few
will merge and meld into one.
When many are united in the One forever,
then all inside the One is a perfection.
This is not a place for uniformity;
here you find unity in diversity.
Everything here is outside of time,
outside of measurements,
so forget about the Beginning,
forget about the End.
The Beginning is lost;
the End stretches into eternity.
Don’t bother with them, they’re irrelevant.
And since all is really nothing,
then nothing is truly everything.

Thought Provoking

Page: 231 (73.57%) @ 16 Feb 2024 10:09:10 PM

A Wayfarer sees the Beloved in everything,
looks at a pagan temple
and sees only the Beloved’s home,
hears and listens to the Almighty’s words
and finds strength only through that Great One.


Page: 233 (74.20%) @ 17 Feb 2024 07:43:04 PM

Wayfarer, when you reach the Valley of Unity,
you will disappear from yourself.
You’ll become lost because
the Beloved will appear;
you’ll become mute because
the Beloved will speak.

Quotable/Concept/General Idea

Page: 234 (74.52%) @ 17 Feb 2024 07:43:38 PM

In the school of such wondrous mysteries
you will find countless intellects,
all of them parch-lipped.
Reason here is like a desperate deaf child
abandoned by its mother.

Quotable/Concept/General Idea

Page: 243 (77.39%) @ 17 Feb 2024 08:37:02 PM

Parable of the Sheikh of Nasrabad and the Fire

Seized by the pain of ardor, the Sheikh of Nasrabad67 made forty pilgrimages to the Holy City. On each trip he took no aid or provisions, putting all his trust in the Almighty. What a man!
Later, a fellow saw the sheikh on the road, gray, emaciated, half-naked, heart aflame and soul ablaze. He wore an infidel’s belt and with his hand outstretched, he circumambulated the pagan fire. This he did with no pretension or deception.
The man said to the sheikh: “Great one of the age, what’s all this? Shame on you. After all your pilgrimages and attaining great eminence, now you’ve become a pagan? Such conduct comes from vanity and stupidity. You give the people of the Path a bad name. What kind of a sheikh behaves this way? Don’t you know whose path you are now on and whose fire you are circling?”
The sheikh replied: “I fell on hard times. A fire consumed my house and blew my harvest to the wind. With it all went my name and my honor too. I have become bewildered and don’t know what else to do. When such fire consumes the soul, why would it not also consume name and honor? As soon as this flame engulfed me, I became disgusted with the Kaaba and all temples. If you experience even a sliver of this wonderment, great regret and discontent will overtake you as well.”

Thought Provoking

Page: 245 (78.03%) @ 17 Feb 2024 08:40:05 PM

When you are a polluted soul,
the Ocean will not refuse you;
you will merely sink to its floor
and remain yourself.
But if you come to it as a pure drop,
you will lose yourself in the Ocean,
becoming one with its vast water.
The Ocean’s currents
will become yours, too—
its shining beauty, yours.
You will be and not be.



Page: 283 (90.13%) @ 17 Feb 2024 11:02:46 PM

How long do you think your life’s ocean will surge?
Give in, relinquish your soul;
then hush, be at peace.


Page: 286 (91.08%) @ 17 Feb 2024 11:08:02 PM

This book is all madness.
Reason is alien to these pages.
Not until the soul breathes in
the fragrance of its own lunacy
can it stop being a stranger to itself.

Thought Provoking