Monday, July 21, 2014

The Shape of My Tongue

This mirror inside me shows . . .
I can't say what, but I can't not know!

I run from body. I run from spirit.
I do not belong anywhere.

I'm not alive!
You smell the decay?

You talk about my craziness.
Listen rather to the honed-blade sanity I say.

This gourd head on top of a dervish robe,
do I look like someone you know?

This dipper gourd full of liquid,
upsidedown and not spilling a drop!

Or if it spills, it drops into God
and rounds into pearls.

I form a cloud over that ocean
and gather spillings.

When Shams is here,
I rain.

After a day or two, lilies sprout,
the shape of my tongue.

  Version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 1995

My soul is a mirror that reveals secrets,
I may not speak about them but
cannot deny knowing.
I run away from body and soul
where I belong, I swear, I do not know.
Seeker, if you want to know the secret,
first you must die to your self.
You may see me but do not think I am here
I have vanished into my Beloved
graced by the essence of love.
My arched back is the bow and my words,
the unbending arrows aimed at Truth.
My tears are testimony of my devotion to Shams
and from those tears white lilies will grow
that will speak the Truth.

Translation by Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi
"Rumi: Hidden Music"
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2001

Like a mirror my soul displays secrets; 
I am not able to speak;
but I am unable not to know.
I have become a fugitive from the body, 
fearful as to the spirit; 
I swear I know not -- I belong neither to this nor to that.
Seeker, to catch a scent is the condition of dying; 
look not upon me as living, for I am not so.
Look not on my crookedness, but behold this straight word;
my talk is an arrow, and I am as a bow.
This gourdlike head on top of me, 
and this dervish habit of my body -- 
whom am I like, whom am I like in this market of the world?
Then this gourd on my head, full of liquor -- 
I keep it upside down, yet I do not let a drop trickle from it.
And even if I do not let trickle, do you behold the power of God,
that in exchange for that drop I gather pearls from the ea.
My eyes like a cloud gather pearls from that sea; 
this cloud of my spirit rises to the heaven of fidelity.
I rain in the presence of Shams al-Haqq-i Tabriz, 
that lilies may grow in the form of my tongue.

  Translation by A. J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 1"
The University of Chicago Press, 1968

Friday, July 11, 2014

If you are a man of this life

if you are a man of this life
then march on this path like a man
or retire and take refuge in your house
since you're not ready for this battle

real men drank a thousand seas and
still died of thirst
you only had a cup
yet boasted of overflowing

you claimed to reach your quest
you'll raise all the dust
yet you've traveled no distance
you've left no mark

now humbly turn to dust
under the gallop of real men
then you'll rise and
become a part of their journey

if you crawl for years
on the path of your quest
do not yield to grief
do not submit to distress

  Ode (Ghazal) 3277
Translated by Nader Khalili
Rumi: Fountain of Fire
Cal-Earth Press, 1994

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Let the thief take something less

Whenever you entrust your heart to a thought,
something will be taken from you inwardly.
Whatever you think and acquire, the thief will
enter from that side where you feel safe.
So busy yourself with that which is better, so
that something less may be taken from you.

  Mathnawi II:1505-1507
Translation by William Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love"
SUNY Press, Albany 1983

No matter what plans you make,
no matter what you acquire,
the thief will enter from the unguarded side.
Be occupied, then, with what you really value
and let the thief take something less.

  Mathnawi II:1505-1507
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Call from the Unseen

A baby pigeon on the edge of the nest hears the call and begins his flight.
How can the soul of the seeker not fly when a message arrives saying,
"You have been trapped in life like a bird with no wings, 
in a cage with no doors or windows
come, come back to me!"
How can the soul not rip open its coverings, and soar to the sky.

What is the rope that pulls the soul from above?
What is the secret that opens the door?
The key is the flutter of the heart's wings and its endless longing.
When the door opens, walk on the path where abundance awaits you,
where everything old becomes new and never look back.
Drink from the hands of the wine bearer and you will be blessed
even in this life.

Translation by Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi
Rumi: Hidden Music
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2001

 A baby pigeon stands on the edge of a nest all day.
Then he hears a whistle, Come to me.
How could he not fly toward that?
Wings tear through the body's robe when a letter arrives that says,
"You've flapped and fluttered against limits long enough.

You've been a bird without wings
in a house without doors or windows.

Compassion builds a door.
Restlessness cuts a key.

Ask. Step off into air like a baby pigeon.
Strut proudly into sunlight,
not looking back.

Take sips of this pure wine being poured.
Don't mind that you've been given a dirty cup."

  Version by Coleman Barks
"These Branching Moments,"
Copper Beech Press, 1988

This fledgling pigeon essayed the air and flew off 
when he heard a whistle and a call from the unseen.
When that Desire of all the world send a messenger saying,
"Come to Me," how should not the disciple's soul take flight?
How should it not fly upwards on discovering such pinions,
how should it not rend the body's robe on the arrival of such a missive?
What a moon it is that draws all these souls!
What a way is that secret way by which it drew!
Divine compassion sent a letter saying,
"Come back hither, for in this narrow cage your soul has fluttered much.
But in the house without doors you are like a bird without wings; 
so the fowl of the air does when it has fallen low*.
Restlessness opens to it the door of compassion at last;
beat your wings against door and roof – this is the key.
Until you call on Me, 
you do not know the way of returning
for by Our calling the way becomes manifest to the reason."
Whatever mounts up, if it be old it becomes new; 
whatever new descends here, through time it becomes threadbare.
Ho, strut proudly into the unseen, do not look back, 
in God's protection, for there all is profit and increase.
Ha, silent one, depart to the Saki of Being, 
who gave you His pure wine in this sullied cup.

  Translation by A.J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 1"
The University of Chicago Press, 1968

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My heart is so small

My heart is so small
it's almost invisible.
How can You place
such big sorrows in it?
"Look," He answered,
"your eyes are even smaller,
yet they behold the world."
~ Rumi ~
(Whispers of the Beloved  by Maryam & Azima Melita Kolin)

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Behind the veils..

Can the intellect perceive thee, or love, or the pure spirit? 
Does the Guarded Tablet know thee, do the angels in heaven?*
Do Gabriel or Jesus or Moses even see thee in their dreams? 
Is the celestial sphere worthy to be thy abode, or the Lote Tree of the Far Boundary?
Moses' Mount Sinai has become blood many times in love's madness, 
because an echo of Lord Shams al- Din's fame fell upon it.
The jealousy of the One has woven radiance upon radiance over his face. 
Muhammad's spirit shouts,
 "Oh, how I desire to meet him!"*
God's Jealousy would burn the two worlds to a cinder 
if a single hair of his beauty were to appear to us without veil.
His beauty has shone forth from behind a hundred thousand veils. 
The spirit has fallen to shouting,
"Welcome, oh king, welcome!"
The elegant cypress has bent itself double in prostrating itself before Tabriz; 
tiny Suha* shines forth over Tabriz like a sun.

  Ghazal 144
Translation by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love"
SUNY Press, Albany, 1983

* The Guarded Tablet (lawh-i mahfuz), mentioned in the Koran as the locus wherein the Koran is inscribed (LXXXV 22), is usually interpreted in a cosmological sense to mean the Universal Soul, the passive pole of spiritual existence. Within it the Pen--the Universal Intellect--inscribes the knowledge of all things which are to come into existence. As a result, the created universe is born.

* The Prophet said, "Oh how I desire to meet my brothers," a saying that is taken to refer to the saints who would be born in coming generations.

* "Suha" -- the name of a small star

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter 1
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter 2
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter 3
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
Chapter 4
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
Chapter 5
I walk down another street.

~ Portia Nelson ~
 (There's a Hole in My Sidewalk)
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