Saturday, April 11, 2015

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

If you can only reflect like a clean mirror

if you can only reflect
like a clean mirror
you'll be that magical spirit

transmute from a wave
to an ocean
from an abyss
to surpass an angel

your soul and mine
used to be mingled
breathing as one
journeying as one

though you're in the limelight now
you must still kiss a candle
to feel the essence
to feel the light

Ghazal (Ode) 3264
Translated by Nader Khalili
"Rumi, Fountain of Fire"
Burning Gate Press, Los Angeles, 1994

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Not dawdling

Not dawdling
not doubting
intrepid all the way
walk toward clarity
with sharp eye
With sharpened sword
clearcut the path
to the lucent surprise
of enlightenment
At every crossroad
be prepared to bump into wonder
~ James Broughton ~

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Love embraces all

any one in love
will have no religion
in the religion of love
there is no heresy or faith
love know no
body heart or soul
there is only
oneness and no more

Translation by Nader Khalili
Rumi, Dancing the Flame
Cal-Earth Press, 2001

Be certain
in the religion of Love
there are no
believers or unbelievers.
Love embraces all.

Translation by Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi
Rumi: Whispers of the Beloved
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1999

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

In this house we are all guests

How do you know what birds we are or what we recite every
moment beneath our breath?

How can anyone bring us to hand? We are sometimes the
treasure, sometimes the ruins!

The heavens revolve for our sake - that is why we keep on
turning like a wheel.

How should we remain in this house? In this house we are
all guests.

Although in form we are beggars in the lane, behold our
attributes! Then you will know what sort of sultan we are!

Since tomorrow we will be king of all of Egypt, why should
we grieve if today we are imprisoned?

As long as we have been in this form, no one has troubled us,
nor have we troubled anyone.

When Shams-i Tabrizi becomes our guest, we are multiplied
hundreds of millions of times!

Ode 1767
Translation by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love - The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi"
State University of New York Press, Albany, 1983

Sunday, March 01, 2015

This Useless Heart

Heart, since you embraced the mysteries,
you have become useless for anything else.
Go mad, don't stay sane.
People meditate to get something.
All you do is give.
Crazy Majnun's priorities are now yours, too.

If you want to be respectable,
why do you go downtown drunk?
It's no good just sitting in some corner,
once you've made friends with the dissolute of this path.

Go back to the desert;
leave this shabby town.
There's the smell of a tavern
somewhere in this neighborhood,
and it's already got you high.

Now follow it. Go to Qaf Mountain like the Simurgh,*
leave these owls and herons.
Go into the thicket of Reality like a lion.
Why linger with hyenas and dogs?
Don't go after the scent of Joseph's shirt,
you are already mourning his death like Jacob, his father.

  Version by Kabir Helminski
"Love is a Stranger"
Threshold Books, 1993

*"The Simurgh" -- the phoenix, which dwells upon Mount Qaf. In sufi symbolism, the phoenix often symbolizes the spirit of the saint, or the saint himself, while Mount Qaf is his station in God's presence. -- Sunlight footnote from Chittick's "The Sufi Path of Love"

Heart, since you have become understanding of the mysteries,
you have become useless for all other employments.
Be still mad and insane; why have you come to your senses
and recovered your wits?

Meditation is all for the sake of acquiring; you have become
entirely giving.

Preserve that same order of Majnun, for you have become in-
different to all orderings.

If you desire to be veiled and prudent, why did you go about
drunk in the market?
To sit in a corner yields you no profit once you have become
the friend of the dissolutes of this path.

Go forth into the desert, that same desert where you were; you
have wandered long enough in these ruins.

There is a tavern in your neighborhood, from the scent of its
wine you have become intoxicated.
Seize this scent and go to the tavern, for you have become
nimble-paced as that scent.

Go to the mountain of the Qaf like the Simorg; why have you
become the friend of owl and heron?
Go like a lion into the thicket of reality; why have you become
the friend of the fox and the hyena?

Go not after the scent of the shirt of Joseph, for like Jacob, you
are in mourning.

  Translation by A.J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 1"
University of Chicago Press, 1995

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Too Vast for Partnership

Will it be better for us when we
dissolve into the ground, or worse?

Let's learn now what will happen.

This is lovers' work, to break through and become this earth,
 to die before we die. 
Don't think of pairing up somehow with God! 
That claim is a religious self-indulgence. 
You know it by the smell:
smoke coming off dried dung is different from that of aloe wood! 
The presence that one second is soil, then water, fire,
smoke, woof, warp, a friend, a shame, a modesty, 
is too vast and intimate for partnership!
Observers watch as presence takes thousands of forms.

But inside your eyes the presence doesn't brighten or dim;
it just lives there. 
A saint or a prophet,
one like Muhammad can see the trees of heaven,
the fruit hanging so close he could reach and pick one for his friend. 
But it's not time for that.

They melt and flow away from sight.

  Ghazal (Ode) 941
Version by Coleman Barks, with Nevit Ergin
"The Glance"
Viking-Penguin, 1999
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