Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Way of every Seeker

Gnats inside the wind

Some gnats came from the grass to speak with Solomon.

"O Solomon, you are the champion of the oppressed.
You give justice to the little guys, and they don't get
any littler than us! We are tiny metaphors
for frailty. Can you defend us?"

"Who has mistreated you?"

"Our complaint is against the wind."

"Well," says Solomon, "you have pretty voices,
you gnats, but remember, a judge cannot listen
to just one side. I must hear both litigants."

"Of course," agree the gnats.

"Summon the East Wind!" calls out Solomon,
and the wind arrives almost immediately.

What happened to the gnat plaintiffs? Gone.

Such is the way of every seeker who comes to complain
at the High Court. When the presence of God arrives,
where are the seekers? First there's dying,
then union, like gnats inside the wind.

  Mathnawi III: 4624 - 59
Poetic version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 1995

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Speak Silently

Hidden from all eyes and ears
let us tell each other of our soul.
Smile like a rose with no lips
and keep silent like a thought.
Let us speak silently the secret like Spirit
and avoid talkers who use words in vain.
Let us join our hands
listen to every flutter of our heart
let us become one in silence.
Divine destiny knows our fate to the last detail
let our story be told in a silent way.

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

come let's speak
of our souls
let's even hide from
our ears and eyes

like a rose garden
always keep a smile
like imagination
talk without a sound

like the spirit
reigning the world
telling the secrets
uttering no word

let's get away from
all the clever humans
who put words in our mouth
let's only say what our hearts desire

even our hands and feet
sense every inner move
let's keep silence
but make our hearts move

the mystery of destiny
knows the life of
speck after speck of dust
let's tell our story as a particle of dust

Translation by Nader Khalili
"Rumi, Fountain of Fire"
Cal-Earth Press, 1995

Monday, December 01, 2014

A Small Market Between Towns

There's a town where the soul is fed, where love hears
truth and thrives, and

another town that produces lies that degrade and starve
love. Your voice is

a small market set up between the two towns. Goods arrive
from both directions, flimsy,

fake items and honestly made, wholehearted tools and wares.
Some travelers immediately know

which is which. Some voices open a shop and spend sixty
years chearting customers,

gossiping when they leave, and flattering women to get their
attention. Others weary

of the marketplace altogether and rarely go there.

Mathnawi VI, 4276, 4281-82, 4298-4300
Version by Coleman Barks
"The Soul of Rumi"
HarperCollins, 2001

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ask the Way to the Spring


"When you do things from your soul,
you feel a river moving in you, a joy.

When actions come from another section,
the feeling disappears.

Don't let others lead you. They may be blind,
or worse, vultures. Reach for the rope
of God. And what is that?

Putting aside self-will.

Because of willfulness people sit in jail.
From willfulness, the trapped birds' wings are tied.
From willfulness, the fish sizzles in the skillet.

The anger of police is willfulness. You've seen
a magistrate inflict visible punishment.
Now see the invisible.

If you could leave selfishness, you would see
how your soul has been tortured.

We are born and live inside black water in a well.
How could we know what an open field of sunlight is?

Don't insist on going where you think you want to go.
Ask the way to the Spring.

Your living pieces will form a harmony.

There is a moving palace that floats through the air,
with balconies and clear water running in every part of it,
infinity everywhere, yet contained under a single tent.

  Mathnawi, VI, 3487-3510
Version by Coleman Barks
"We Are Three,"
Maypop, 1987

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Heart and Mind..

if you dwell very long
in a heart depressed and dark
be aware you've fallen low
in will and quest

a heart filled with grief
whirling and spinning endlessly
can never feel at peace

what makes you
tremble in fear
that's your true worth now

whatever seems to be
your healing source
is the cause of your pain

whatever you think
is sure secure and forever
is what has hunted you down

whenever your mind flies
it can only land
in the house of madness

whenever love arrives
there is no more space
for your self claim

a heart filled with love
is like a phoenix
that no cage can imprison

such a bird can only fly
above and beyond
any known universe

Translated by Nader Khalili
"Rumi, Fountain of Fire"
Burning Gate Press, Los Angeles, 1994

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Don't be surprised

When I die, lay out the corpse.
You may want to kiss my lips,
just beginning to decay. Don't be frightened
if I open my eyes.

  Version by Coleman Barks
Open Secret
Threshold Books, 1984

 when i die
hand me over
to my sweetheart
one kiss
on my dead lips
don't be surprised
if I come alive

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


When I die,
lay my copse to rest,
but do not be at all surprised
If His kiss on my tattered lips
brings me back to life.

  Translation by Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi
Rumi: Whispers of the Beloved
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1999
If I die, lay me next to the Beloved.

If He looks at me, don't be surprised.
If He kisses me on the lips, don't be surprised.
If I open my eyes and smile, don't be surprised.

  Version by Jonathan Star
"A Garden Beyond Paradise:
The Mystical Poetry of Rumi"
Bantam Books, 1992

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Spiritual Journey

And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,
no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual journey,
a journey of one inch,
very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,
and learn to be at home.
~ Wendell Berry ~
(Collected Poems)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

If you don't know the way....

If you have a touchstone, go ahead, choose;
otherwise, go and devote yourself
to one who knows the differences.
Either you must have a touchstone
within your own soul,
or if you don't know the way,
find someone who does.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Mathnawi II:746-747
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
Rumi: Daylight
Threshold Books, 1994

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hasbi Allâh (God is sufficient for me)

Love is a ship for the elect:
it is deliverance from disaster.
Sell intelligence and buy bewilderment:
your intelligence may be opinion,
while bewilderment may be naked vision.
Sacrifice your understanding in the presence of Muhammad:
say, God suffices me.*

  Mathnawi IV: 1406-1408

Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Deliver me from this imprisonment of free will

Deliver me from this imprisonment of free will,
O gracious and long-suffering Sustainer!
The one-way pull on the Straight Path*
is better than the two-way pull of perplexity.
Though You are the only goal of these two ways,
still this duality is agnonizing to the spirit.
Though the destination of these two ways is You alone,
still the battle is never like the banquet.
Listen to the explanation God gave in the Qur'ân:
they shrank from bearing it.**
This perplexity in the heart is like war:
when a man is perplexed he says,
"I wonder whether this is better for my situation or that."
In perplexity the fear of failure and the hope of success
always are in conflict with each other, now advancing, now retreating.
From You came this ebb and flow within me;
otherwise, O glorious One, this sea of mine was still.
From that source from which You gave me this perplexity,
likewise now, graciously give me clarity.

Mathnawi VI: 203-211
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hope, the Blind, the Naked and the Worldly

(Image credit : DEVIANT ART)
Hope is the deaf man who has often heard of our dying,
but hasn't heard of his own death or contemplated his own end.

The blind man is Greed: he sees the faults of others,
hair by hair, and broadcasts them from street to street,
but of his own faults his blind eyes perceive nothing.

The naked man fears his cloak will be pulled off,
but how could anyone take the cloak of one who is naked?

The worldly man is destitute and terrified:
he possesses nothing, yet he dreads thieves.
When death comes, everyone around him is lamenting,
while his own spirit begins to laugh at his fear.
At that moment the rich man knows he has no gold,
and the keen-witted man sees that talent does not belong to him.

  Mathnawi III:2628-2635
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996

Monday, September 01, 2014

Come with Us

If you never searched for truth
come with us
and you will become a seeker.
If you were never a musician
come with us
and you will find your voice.
You may posses immense wealth
come with us
and you will become love's beggar.
You may think yourself a master
come with us
and love will turn you into a slave.
If you've lost your spirit,
come with us
take off your silk coverings,
put on our rough cloak
and we will bring you back to life.

  Ghazal (Ode) 74
Rumi: Hidden Music 
Translated by Azima Melita Kolin  and Maryam Mafi
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2001

Sunday, August 31, 2014


I am who I am.
A coincidence no less unthinkable
than any other.
I could have different
ancestors, after all.
I could have fluttered
from another nest
or crawled bescaled
from under another tree.
Nature's wardrobe
holds a fair
supply of costumes:
Spider, seagull, field mouse.
each fits perfectly right off
and is dutifully worn
into shreds.
I didn't get a choice either,
but I can't complain.
I could have been someone
much less separate.
Someone from an anthill, shoal, or buzzing swarm,
an inch of landscape tousled by the wind.
Someone much less fortunate,
bred for my fur
or Christmas dinner,
something swimming under a square of glass.
A tree rooted to the ground
as the fire draws near.
A grass blade trampled by a stampede
of incomprehensible events.
A shady type whose darkness
dazzled some.
What if I'd prompted only fear,
or pity?
If I'd been born
in the wrong tribe
with all roads closed before me?
Fate has been kind
to me thus far.
I might never have been given
the memory of happy moments.
My yen for comparison
might have been taken away.
I might have been myself minus amazement,
that is,
someone completely different.
~ Wislawa Szymborska ~
(Poems New and Collected 1957-1997,
trans. by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

This earthly body of ours

this earthly body of ours
is the light of the heavens
our agile flights
are the envy of angels
one day the celestial bodies
wish to have our pure souls
one day we are a dare devil
who frightens a monster

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

Monday, August 11, 2014

In Uttering it Pt 3 - ALLAHU AKBAR !

Do we know what we say? Do we mean it? Or we just simply say it? Do we have any idea when we utter it?  read....

and more of it....

Now watch this video...

Friday, August 01, 2014

Tell me the absolute truth

The Sunrise Ruby

In the early morning hour, just before dawn, 
lover and beloved wake and take a drink of water.

She ask, "Do you love me or yourself more?
Really, tell the absolute truth."

He says, "There's nothing left of me.
I'm like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Is it still a stone, or a world made of redness?
 It has no resistance to sunlight."

This is how Hallaj said, I am God,
and told the truth!

The ruby and the sunrise are one.
Be courageous and discipline yourself.

Completely become hearing and ear,
and wear this sun-ruby as an earring.

Work. Keep digging your well.
Don't think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.

Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that is a ring on the door.

Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window
and look out to see who's there.

  Version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
Castle Books, 1997

One morning a beloved said to her lover to test him,
"Oh so-and-so, I wonder, do you love me more, or yourself?
Tell the truth, oh man of sorrows!"
He replied, "I have been so annihilated within thee that I am full of thee from head to foot.
Nothing is left of my own existence but the name.
In my existence, oh sweet one, there is naught but thee.
I have been annihilated like vinegar in an ocean of honey."
In the same way, a stone transformed into a
flawless ruby has become full of the attributes of the sun.
The description of that stone does not remain within it – 
full of the sun's description, front and back.
Should it love itself, then that will be love for the sun, oh youth!
Should it love the sun to the bottom of its soul,
without doubt it will be in love with itself.

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

At the hour of the morning-drink a beloved said to her lover by way of trial,
"O such-and-such son of such-and-such,
I wonder, do you love me or yourself more?
 Tell the truth, O man of sorrows."
He replied, "I have become so naughted in thee that I am full of thee from head to foot.
Of my existence there is nothing (left) in me but the name:
in my being there is naught but thee, O thou whose wishes are gratified.
By that means I have become thus naughted, like vinegar, in thee (who are) an ocean of honey."
As the stone that is entirely turned into pure ruby: it is filled with the qualities of the sun.
That stony nature does not remain in it: back and front, it is filled with sunniness.
Afterwards, if it love itself, that (self-love) is love of the sun, O youth;
And if it love the sun with (all) its soul, `tis undoubtedly love of itself.
Whether the pure ruby loves itself or whether it loves the sun,
There is really no difference in these two loves: 
both sides (aspects) are naught but the radiance of the sunrise.
Until it (the stone) has become a ruby, it is an enemy to itself,
because it is not a single "I": two "I's" are there;
For the stone is dark and blind to the day (-light): 
the dark is essentially opposed to light.
(If) it love itself, it is an infidel, because it offers intense resistance to the supreme Sun.
Therefore `tis not fitting that the stone should say "I," (for)
it is wholly darkness and in (the state of) death.
A Pharaoh said, "I am God" and was laid low; 
a Mansur (Hallaj) said, "I am God" and was saved.
The former "I" is followed by God's curse and the latter "I" by God's mercy, O loving man;
For that one (Pharaoh) was a black stone,
this one (Hallaj) a cornelian; that one was an enemy to the Light, 
and this one passionately enamoured (of it).
This "I," O presumptuous meddler, 
was "He" (God) in the inmost consciousness, 
through oneness with the Light,
not through (belief in) the doctrine of incarnation.
Strive that thy stony nature may be diminished, 
so that thy stone may become resplendent with the qualities of the ruby.
Show fortitude in (enduring) self-mortification and affliction;
continually behold everlasting life in dying to self.
(Then) thy stoniness will become less at every moment, 
the nature of the ruby will be strengthened in thee.
The qualities of (self-) existence will depart from thy body,
the qualities of intoxication (ecstasy) will increase in thy head (thy spiritual centre).
Become entirely hearing, like an ear, in order that thou mayst gain an ear-ring of ruby.

  Translation by Reynold A. Nicholson
"The Mathnawi of Jalalu'ddin Rumi"
Published and Distributed by
The Trustees of The "E.J.W. Gibb Memorial

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A quiet man

I dream of a quiet man
who explains nothing and defends
nothing, but only knows
where the rarest wildflowers
are blooming, and who goes,
and finds that he is smiling
not by his own will.
~ Wendell Berry ~

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)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

You are not a single you

When you fall asleep,
you go from the presence of yourself
into your own true presence.
You hear something
and surmise that someone else in your dream
has secretly informed you.
You are not a single "you."
No, you are the sky and the deep sea.
Your mighty "Thou," which is nine hundredfold,
is the ocean, the drowning place
of a hundred "thou's" within you.

Mathnawi III: 1300-1303
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996

Sunday, May 11, 2014


take my spirit totally from my body, 
so that I may no longer have shape and name in the world!
At this moment I am drunk in Thee - give me another cup! 
Then I may be obliterated from the two worlds in Thee, and be done with it.
When I have been annihilated through Thee and be come what Thou knowest,
then I will take the cup of non- existence and drink it, cup after cup.
When the spirit becomes radiant through Thee,
when the candle lights up - if not consumed by Thee it is raw, raw.
Give me now the wine of nonexistence instant by instant; 
when I have entered nonexistence, 
I will not know the house from its roof.
When your nonexistence increases, 
the spirit will prostrate itself to you a hundred times - 
oh you to whose nonexistence thousands of existences are slave!
Give me wine, measure by measure! 
Deliver me from my own existence! 
Wine is Thy special grace, intellect Thy general grace.
Send up waves from nonexistence to steal me away!
How long will I pace the Oceans shore in fear?
The snare of my king Shams al-Din is catching prey in Tabriz, 
but I have no fear of the snare, 
for I am within it.

  Ghazal 1716
Translation by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love"
SUNY Press, Albany, 1983

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Make yourself low

Loving kindness is drawn to the saint, as medicine goes
to the pain it must cure.
Where there is pain, the remedy follows:
wherever the lowlands are, the water goes.
If you want the water of mercy, make yourself low;
then drink the wine of mercy and be drunk.
Mercy upon mercy rises to your head like a flood.
Don't settle on a single mercy, O son.
Bring the sky beneath your feet
and listen to celestial music everywhere.
Mathnawi II: 1938-1942
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight", Threshold Books, 1994

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Chinese and The Greek Arts

(Credit : Henry Westheim)

The Prophet said,
 "There are some who see Me by the same Light in which I am seeing them.
Our natures are ONE.
Without reference to any strands  of lineage,
 without reference to texts or traditions,
we drink the Life-Water together."
Here's a story about that hidden mystery:

The Chinese and the Greeks were arguing as to who were the better artists.
The King said,
"We'll settle this matter with a debate."
The Chinese began talking, but the Greeks wouldn't say anything.
They left.

The Chinese suggested then that they each be given a room to work on
with their artistry, two rooms facing each other and divided by a curtain.
The Chinese asked the King for a hundred colors, all the variations,
and each morning they came to where the dyes were kept and took them all.
The Greeks took no colors.
"They're not part of our work,"
They went to their room and began cleaning and polishing the walls. 
All day every day they made those walls as pure and clear as an open sky.

There is a way that leads from all-colors to colorlessness.
Know that the magnificent variety of the clouds and the weather comes from
the total simplicity of the sun and the moon.

The Chinese finished, and they were so happy.
They beat the drums in the joy of completion.

The King entered their room,
astonished by the gorgeous color and detail.

The Greeks then pulled the curtain dividing the rooms.
The Chinese figures and images shimmeringly reflected on the clear Greek walls. 
They lived there, even more beautifully, and always changing in the light.

The Greek art is the Sufi way.
They don't study books of philosophical thought.

They make their loving clearer and clearer.
No wantings, no anger.
In that purity they receive and reflect the images of every moment,
from here, from the stars, from the void.

They take them in as though they were seeing with the Lighted Clarity
that sees them.

  Mathnawi, I, 3462-3485, 3499
version by Coleman Barks
Delicious Laughter
Maypop, 1990

Friday, April 11, 2014

This Love

This Love is the king,
yet a throne cannot be found.
It is the essence of the Koran
yet a verse cannot be found.
Any lover hit by the Hunter’s arrow
will bleed all over,
yet a wound cannot be found.

  Version by Jonathan Star and Shahram Shiva
A Garden Beyond Paradise
Bantam Books, 1992
 This Love is a King
but his banner is hidden.
The Koran speaks the Truth
but its miracle is concealed.
Love has pierced with its arrow
the heart of every lover.
Blood flows but the wound is invisible.

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

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

This Cage

You who fly up from this narrow cage
veering off beyond the heavens
you'll see a new life after this;
how long will you bear this life's drear? . . .
This body wore a butler's garb
now sports a more fashionable form.
Death means life and this life is death
though heathen eyes see negative
All souls departed from this body
live on, but hidden now, like angels . . .
When body's bricks crumble, don't wail
Sir, you've only been in a jail
when you emerge from jail or pit,
you stand regal, tall, like Joseph

  Ghazal 3172 - "Diwan-e Shamsi Tabrizi"
Translation by Franklin D. Lewis
"Rumi, Past and Present, East and West"
Oneworld Publications, Oxford, 2000

Friday, March 21, 2014

Born of the Divine Breath

Within the human being is a jungle.
You, born of the Divine Breath, be aware.
Wolves and pigs by the thousands are within,
the fair and the foul.
What dominates you is what you are.
If your gold outweighs your copper,
you will be known as gold.
Whatever you most are
is the form in which you will resurrect.

  Mathnawi II: 1416-1419
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight", Threshold Books, 1994
A Goat Kneels!

The inner being of a human being is a jungle. 
Sometimes wolves dominate, sometimes wild hogs. 
Be wary when you breathe!

At one moment gentle, generous qualities,
like Joseph's, pass from one nature to another.
The next moment vicious qualities
move in hidden ways.

Wisdom slips for a while into an ox!
A restless, recalcitrant horse suddenly becomes obedient and smooth-gaited.

A bear begins to dance.
A goat kneels!

Human consciousness goes into a dog,
and that dog becomes a shepherd,
or a hunter.

In the Cave of the Seven Sleepers
even the dogs were seekers.

At every moment a new species rises in the chest -
now a demon, now an angel, now a wild animal.

There are also those in this amazing jungle
who can absorb you into their own surrender.

If you have to stalk and steal something,
steal from them!

  Mathnawi II: 1416-1429
Version by Coleman Barks
"Delicious Laughter"
Maypop, 1990

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Don't Think

Don’t think.
Don’t get lost in your thoughts.
Your thoughts are a veil on the face of the Moon.
That Moon is your heart,
and those thoughts cover your heart.
So let them go.
Just let them fall into the water.

Version by Jonathan Star and Shahram Shiva
A Garden Beyond Paradise
Bantam Books, 1992
(Image credit : Quote for healing)

don’t think too much
put yourself to sleep
thinking is a veil
on the face of the moon
your heart is like the moon
don’t cover it with thought
cast your thinking on the water
Translation by Nader Khalili
Rumi, Dancing the Flame
Cal-Earth Press, 2001

Saturday, March 01, 2014

No longer a secret...

I may be clapping my hands,
but I don't belong to a crowd of clappers.
I'm neither this nor that.

I'm not part of a group that loves flute music,
or one that loves gambling,
or one that loves drinking wine.

Those who live in time,
descended from Adam,
made of earth and water,
I'm not part of that.

Don't listen to what I say,
as though these words came from an inside
and went to an outside.

Your faces are very beautiful,
but they are wooden cages.

You'd better run from me.
My words are fire.

I have nothing to do with being famous,
or making grand judgments,
or feeling full of shame.

I borrow nothing.
I don't want anything from anybody.

I flow through all human beings.
Love is my only companion

When Union happens, my speech
goes inward, toward Shams.

At that meeting,
all the secrets of language
will no longer be secret.

Version by Coleman Barks (from a translation by A.J. Arberry)
"Like This" , Maypop, 1990

If I am hand-clapping, I belong not to the clappers; 
I am neither of this nor of that, I am of that mighty city.
I am not for fluting and gambling, I am not for wine and liquor, 
I am neither leaven nor crop-sickness, 
I am neither like this nor like that.

If I am drunk and dissolute, I am not drunk with wine like you; 
I am not of earth nor of water,
I am not of the people of time.

The mind of the son of Adam – what knowledge has it of this utterance? 
For I am hidden by two hundred veils from the world entire.

Hear not these words as from me, nor from this clear thought,
for I neither receive nor seize this outward and inward.
Though your face is beautiful, the cage of your soul is of wood; 
run away from me or you will burn, for my tongue is a flame.

I am not of scent nor colour, I am not of fame nor shame;
beware of my poplar arrow, for God is my bow.

I seize not raw wine, nor borrow from anyone,
I seize neither breath nor snare, 
O my youthful fortune.

I am as the rosebower of paradise, 
I am the joy-garden of the world, 
for my spirit is flowing through the spirits of all men.

The sugarbed of your phantom brings rose-sugar to me; 
in the garden of realities I scatter the rose of a hundred petals.
When I enter the rose-showering garden of union with you,
make me sit down, for I am a target for your brand.

Love, what a mate you are, how strange, how marvellous!
When you seized my mouth, my expression went inwards.
When my soul reaches Tabriz, to come to Shams al-Haqq u Din,
I will bring to an end all the secrets of speech.

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

Friday, February 21, 2014

Seek delicious and sweet company

Don’t sit with a sad person,
Only sit with those who are sweet and kind-hearted.
When you’ve entered a beautiful garden
Why spend your time with the weeds?
Stay with the jasmine and the jonquil.

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

i told you don’t sit around
with unhappy folks
don’t seek the company of any
but those delicious and sweet
when you’re in a garden
make your way
around the thorns
seek the company
of narcissus and jasmine
every flower and more

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