Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Question : A very topsy-turvy game

One dervish to another, 
"What was your vision of God's presence"?

I haven't seen anything.
But for the sake of conversation, I'll tell you a story.

God's presence is there in front of me - 
a fire on the left, a lovely stream on the right. 
One group walks toward the fire, into the fire, 
another toward the sweet flowing water. 
No one knows which are blessed and which not.
Whoever walks into the fire appears suddenly in the stream. 
And then a head goes under on the water surface, 
that head pokes out of the fire. 

Most people guard against going into the fire, 
and so end up in it. 
Those who love the water of pleasure and make it their devotion 
are cheated with this reversal.

The trickery goes further. 
The voice of the fire tells the truth saying,
 "I am not fire. I am fountainhead. Come into me and don't mind the sparks."

If you are a friend of God, fire is your water. 
You should wish to have a hundred thousand sets of mothwings, 
so you could burn them away, one set a night.
The moth sees light and goes into fire. You should see fire 
and go toward light. Fire is what of God that is world-consuming.

Water, world-protecting. 
Somehow each gives the appearance of the other.
To these eyes you have now,
what looks like water burns.
What looks like fire is a great relief to be inside.

You've seen a magician make a bowl of rice
seem a dish of tiny, live worms.
Before an assembly with one breath he made the floor swarm
with scorpions that weren't there.

How much more amazing God's tricks.
Generation after generation lies down, defeated, they think,
but they're like a woman underneath a man, circling him.
One molecule-mote-second thinking of God's reversal 
of comfort and pain is better than any attending ritual.
That splinter of intelligence is substance. 

The fire and water themselves:
accidental, done with mirrors."

Poetic version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 1995

Monday, February 11, 2013

Your beginning and your end

"I am only the house of your beloved,
not the beloved herself:
true love is for the treasure,
not for the coffer that contains it."

The real beloved is that one who is unique,
who is your beginning and your end.

When you find that one,
you'll no longer expect anything else:
that one is both the manifest and the mystery.
That one is the lord of the states of feeling,
dependent on none:
month and year are slaves to that moon.
When He bids the "state,"
it does His bidding;
when that one wills, bodies become spirit.

Mathnawi III: 1417-1421 
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996

Friday, February 01, 2013

Seek That...

The Seeker Self....

There is a force within
Which gives you life –
seek That.
In your body
Lies a priceless gem – 
seek That.
O wandering Sufi,
if you want to find
the greatest treasure
Don’t look outside,
Look inside, and seek That.

Version by Jonathan Star and Shahram Shiva
A Garden Beyond Paradise
Bantam Books, 1992

there is a soul
within your soul
seek it out
there is a tresure
in your mountain
seek it out
a mystic in motion
if that’s what you are
don’t seek out there
seek inside

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