Sunday, August 21, 2011

Work In The Invisible

Work in the Invisible

The Prophets have wondered to themselves,
"How long should we keep pounding this cold iron?
How long do we have to whisper into an empty cage?"

Every motion of created beings comes from the creator.
The first soul pushes, and your second soul responds.

So don't be timid.
Load the ship and set out.
No one knows for certain
whether the vessel will sink
or reach the harbor
Just don't be one of those merchants
who won't risk the ocean!
This is much more important
than losing or making money!

This is your connection to God.

Think of the fear and the hope
that you have about your livelihood.
They make you go to work diligently every day.

Now consider what the prophets have done.
Abraham wore fire for an anklet.
Moses spoke to the sea.
David moulded iron.
Solomon rode the wind.

Work in the invisible world
at least as hard as you do in the visible.

Be companions with the prophets
even though no one here
will know that you are,
not even the helpers of the Qutb, the abdals.

You can't imagine what profit will come!
When one of those generous ones
invites you into the fire, go quickly!
Don't say, "But will it burn me? Will it hurt?"

Mathnawi III, 3077-3109
Version by Coleman Barks
"Rumi: One-Handed Basket Weaving"
Maypop, 1991

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Quarreling With God

Just What Kind of Builder Are You?

You created the earth and sky, human and jinn,
Are you some master architect, a builder?

You made the moon and sun, the constellations in the sky -
Are you the maker of these, or just the one who shines them?

You made rivers run without legs and feet,
The ground without foundation, the sky without pillars,
You made them stand just like that,
Are you a prize-winning engineer?

The wind blows without wings or windmills,
Did you make all these mountains with wheelbarrow and shovel?
You deal death to every living creature,
You give life and take life --
Are you a wheeler-dealer?

You built eight heavens for humankind
Your name is rather large
So why did you throw Adam out of Paradise?
Do you need the wheat or what?
Are you a farmer?

When Your name is One -- You made it a thousand,
I have never seen such a skillful hand as Yours,
You create green trees and then you dry them up for wood,
Are you some kind of lumberjack?

You speak to Archangel Gabriel from behind a screen,
Then you descend to earth to listen to Your news,
What have you to do with the fires of hell?
Do you own a bath house, are you its coal-stoker?

You hide Yourself and then you watch us,
You mess with people's mind,
You made that bridge thinner than a human hair,
Do you have a running river on your property?
Are you a landscaper?

You made this summer worth all the winters
You made this autumn to balance the spring,
You made a scale with two sides to measure--
Are you a shop keeper, a vegetable grocer?

It is said that in hell's cauldrons tar is boiling,
Great entertainments under earth now showing,
It is rumored you keep thousands of dragons--
Are you an ice cream seller or a snake charmer?

Are you a slave trader that you make some people slaves?
Are you a teacher that you read and write those books?
Are you a bookkeeper always tallying the figures?
Are you an accountant or an innkeeper?

I'm not afraid of your hundred thousand hells--
The name All Compassionate--doesn't that come from You?
Didn't You call Yourself the pardoner of sins?
Pardon my sins then. Are You a liar?

Would it cost You your reputation to forgive me?
Even the king would pardon me if he heard my case.
I don't think You'd lose anything from Your treasury.
Why don't you forgive me? Are you lacking something?

If humans are imperfect, is that really good for your reputation?
You reside and move in every heart.
You take all these lives and then you return them.
Are you a caravan driver who picks up and delivers?

You know I am the servant, You are the King.
You speak through me as I repeat Your name.
You are in my soul as a cherished guest--
You are my heart's beloved.
Do you think You're a stranger?

You make me the guide, but You speak through my mouth;
You negotiate internally with Azmi.
You take dream excursions to the unfathomable peaks.
Are you the tour guide?
Are you the dreamer?

Azmi (16th c.)
Translated by
Jennifer Ferraro with Latif Bolat

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