Daniel Ladinsky (born 1948) is an American poet and interpreter of mystical poetry, born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Over a twenty-year period, beginning in 1978, he spent extensive time in a spiritual community at Meherabad, in western India, where he worked in a rural clinic free to the poor, and lived with the intimate disciples and family of Meher Baba.
He has written four works based on poetry of 14th-century Persian Sufi poet Hafiz: I Heard God Laughing (1996), The Subject Tonight Is Love (1996) The Gift (1999), and A Year With Hafiz:Daily Contemplations, (2011) as well as an anthology, Love Poems from God:Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West (2002), and The Purity of Desire:100 Poems of Rumi (2012). In introductions to his books, Ladinsky notes that he offers interpretations and renderings of the poets, rather than literal or scholarly translations. His work is based on conveying and being "faithful to the living spirit" of Hafiz, Rumi, as well as other mystic poets.
Ladinsky was born and brought up in suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, where his father was a wealthy developer. He grew up with two brothers, and had a Jewish upbring as his father was Jewish, though he has also baptized as a Catholic, as his mother was Christian. After studying in small colleges, at age 20, he enrolled at the University of Arizona. During this period he came across the book God Speaks, by Meher Baba, and poetry by Rumi, both of which had a deep impact on him. At the back of the Meher Baba book, he found the address of the five centers dedicated to the spiritual master. Some time later, as Ladinsky recounted in an interview, intending to driving towards the Andes mountain, he took a detour of a thousand miles, and stopped the Meher Baba Center at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Here, he met a disciple Kitty Davy, then in her seventies, who had spent twenty years in India with Meher Baba. He stayed at the Center for a few months, when Davy advised him to go back to his family, and to find a job that would let him work with his hands. Back home, his father helped him join a carpentry school.
He worked for a few years at a carpentry job, and thereafter joined his father's investment company. But unable to find fulfillment, he visited the Meher Baba Center in South Carolina again. Then, in 1978, Davy advised him to visit the Meher Baba ashram, at Meherabad, near Ahmednagar, India. Here he met Meher Baba’s sister Mani Irani, and his close disciple, Eruch Jessawala. Though, Ladinsky's first visited lasted only for two weeks, it started a process which continued with regular visits for the next two decades, and Jessawala became his spiritual teacher. He even lived at a nearby spiritual community at Meherazad for six years, working at the local free clinic and spending time with Jessawala.