Saturday, June 17, 2006

Apr 2006 - Part II

April 18th, 2006

* "The Mathnawi" (also spelled "Masnavi") : the six volume
masterpiece written in Rumi's mature years, consisting of over
25,000 lines of stories and teachings. The term "mathnawi" means
rhymed couplets.

The animal soul, the intellect, and the spirit

The animal soul is Nimrod*;
the intellect and spirit are Abraham, the friend of God.
The spirit is concerned with reality itself,
the ego with the proofs.
These signposts on the way
are for the traveler who at every moment
becomes lost in the desert.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Nafs Namrudast va `aql o jân Khalil
ruh dar `ayn ast va nafs andar dalil
In dalil-râ rah-raw-râ bovad
ku be-har dam dar biyâbân gom shavad

-- Mathnawi II: 3311-3312
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra

*Nimrod -- According to tradition, Nimrod set out to establish an
empire, and began by conquering the cities which had become
established in Mesopotamia. Among these were Babel, Erech, Akkad, and
Calneh in Sumeria, and in Assyria the cities of Rehoboth, Calah, and
Resen. Besides conquering these seven cities he also founded Ninevah.
The Bible is specific in stating that he was the first man after the
flood to become an emperor. He seems to have been impelled and
empowered by super-human force and his onslaught was irresistible.
Genesis 10 describes Nimrod as a "mighty hunter before the LORD." The
term is not complimentary, but implies ruthlessness and a lust for
power. -- Sunlight Ed.

The Persian image:

and the Persian recitation:


April 19th, 2006

my secret beloved
sent me a secret message

"give me your soul
give me your life

wander like a drifter
go on a journey

walk into this fire with grace
be like a salamander

come into our source of flame
fire transmutes to a rose garden

don't you know that my thorn
is better than the queen of roses

don't you know my heresy
is the essence of spirituality

then surrender your spirit
surrender your life"

oh God I know
a garden is better than a cage

I know a palace
is better than a ruin

but I'm that owl in this world
who loves to live in the ruins of love

I may be that poor wandering soul
but watch all the aspiration and light

watch the glow of God
reflecting from my face

-- Ghazal 2508
Translation by Nader Khalili
"Rumi, Fountain of Fire"
Cal-Earth Press, 1994

The Persian image:

and the Persian recitation:


April 20th, 2006

In the well of this world there are optical illusions,
the least of which is that stones appear to be gold.
To the fantasy of children playing
the debris with which they play appears as gold and riches.
Yet through the alchemy God's gnostics practice,
to their eyes, mines of gold become worthless.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hast dar châh en`ekâsât-e nazar
kamtarin ânkeh namâyad sang zar
Vaqt-e bâzi kudakân-râ ze ekhtelâl
mi namâyad ân khazaf-hâ zar o mâl
`refânesh kimiyâgar gashteh-'and
tâ keh shod kân-hâ bar ishân nezhand

-- Mathnawi IV: 675-677
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
(Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra)

The Persian image:

and the Persian recitation:


April 21st, 2006

Oh brother! For a time cling fast to your intellect:
Moment by moment spring and autumn are within you.
Behold the garden of the heart, green and fresh and
new, full of rosebuds and cypress and jasmine -
So many leave that the branches are hidden, so many
roses that the plain and pavilion are concealed!
These words - which derive from the Universal Intellect -
are the fragrance of that rosebud and cypress and hyacinth . . . .
The meaning of dying is need: Make yourself dead in need
and poverty,
So that Jesus' breath may bring you to life and make it
like itself: beautiful and auspicious.
When did stones ever become green through spring?
Become dust, so that you may grow up as multicolored roses.
For years you have been heart-scratching stone - try for
a time being dust!

-- Mathnawi I: 1896-99, 1909-12
Translation by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love"
SUNY Press, Albany, 1983

The Persian image:

and the Persian recitation:



The sleeper dreams of the sore pangs of thirst"

Today, Sunlight offers verses from the Mathnawi, in an interpretive
version by Professor Coleman Barks, and in the translation by Professor
Nicholson, upon which Professor Barks based his version:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

The Water You Want

Someone may be clairvoyant, able to see
the future, and yet have very little wisdom.

Like the man who saw water in his dream,
and began leading everyone toward the mirage.

"I am the one with heart-vision.
I’ve torn open the veil."

So they set out with him inside the dream,
while he is actually sleeping beside a river
of pure water. Any search moves away from
the spot where the object of the quest is.

Sleep deeply wherever you are on the way.
Maybe some traveler will wake you.

Give up subtle thinking,
the twofold, threefold

multiplication of mistakes.
Listen to the sound of waves
within you.

There you are,
dreaming your thirst,
when the water you want
is inside the big vein on your neck.

-- Mathnavi IV: 3226-3241
Version by Coleman Barks
"Say I Am You"
Maypop, 1994

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The eye and spirit that sees (only) the transient falls on its face
continually wherever it goes.
A far-seeing man who lacks knowledge may see far, just as
(one has)far sight in dreams.
You are asleep with parched lips on the bank of the river, and (in
your dream) are running in search of water towards the mirage.
You see the mirage far away and run (towards it): you become in love with
your own sight.
In the dream you boast to your friends, saying, "I am the one
whose heart possesses vision, and (I am) the one that rends the veil.
Lo, I see water yonder: hark, make haste that we may go
there" – and it is (only) the mirage.
At every step you hurry farther away from the water, whilst
you keep running on towards the perilous mirage.
Your very setting-out has become the barrier (which prevents you) from
(seeing) this that has come close to you.
Oh, many a one sets out to some place from the spot where the object of
his quest is (to be found).
The (far) sight and boasting of the sleeper is of no avail; it is
naught but a phantasy: hold aloof from it.
Thou art sleepy, but anyhow sleep on the Way (i.e., do not abandon the
Way and sleep elsewhere): for God’s sake, for God’s sake, sleep on the Way
of God,
That perchance a Traveller (on the Way) may attach himself to thee and
tear thee from the phantasies of slumber.
(Even) is the sleeper’s thought become (subtle) as a hair, he
will not find the way to the Abode by the subtlety.
Whether the sleeper’s thought is twofold or threefold, still it is error
on error on error.
The waves are beating upon him without restraint, (whilst) he asleep is
running in the long wilderness.
The sleeper dreams of the sore pangs of thirst, (whilst) the water is
nearer unto him than the neck-vein.

-- Mathnawi IV: 3226-3241
Translation and Commentary by Reynold A. Nicholson
"The Mathnawi of Jalalu'ddin Rumi"
Published and Distributed by
The Trustees of The "E.J.W. Gibb Memorial"

The Persian image:

the Persian recitation:



I am amazed at the seeker of purity
who when it's time to be polished
complains of rough handling.
Love is like a lawsuit:
to suffer harsh treatment is the evidence;
when you have no evidence, the lawsuit is lost.
Don't grieve when the Judge demands your evidence;
kiss the snake so that you may gain the treasure.
That harshness isn't toward you, O son,
but toward the harmful qualities within you.
When someone beats a rug,
the blows are not against the rug,
but against the dust in it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Man `ajab dâram ze juyâ-ye safâ
ku ramad dar vaqt-e sayqal az jafâ
`Eshq chon da`vâ jafâ didan gavâh
chon gavâhet nist shod da`vâ tabâh
Chon gavâhet khvâhad in qâzi ma-ranj
buseh deh bar mâr tâ yâbi to ganj
n jafâ bâ to na-bâshad ay pesar
balke bâ vasf-e badi andar to dar
Bar namad chubi keh ân-râ mard zad
bar namad ân-râ na-zad bar gard zad

-- Mathnawi III: 4008-4012
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
(Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra)

The Persian image:

the Persian recitation:



Here, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 1393, in versions by Coleman
Barks and Jonathan Star, and in translations by Nader Khalili and
A.J. Arberry:

"Sublime Generosity"

I was dead, then alive.
Weeping, then laughing.

The power of love came into me,
and I became fierce like a lion,
then tender like the evening star.

He said, "You're not mad enough.
You don't belong in this house."

I went wild and had to be tied up.
He said, "Still not wild enough
to stay with us!"

I broke through another layer
into joyfulness.

He said, "It's not enough."
I died.

He said, "You're a clever little man,
full of fantasy and doubting."

I plucked out my feathers and became a fool.
He said, "Now you're the candle
for this assembly."

But I'm no candle. Look!
I'm scattered smoke.

He said, "You are the sheikh, the guide."
But I'm not a teacher, I have no power.

He said, "You already have wings.
I cannot give you wings."

But I wanted his wings.
I felt like some flightless chicken.

Then new eventws said to me,
"Don't move. A sublime generosity is
coming toward you."

And old love said, "Stay with me."

I said, "I will."

You are the fountain of the sun's light.
I am a willow shadow on the ground.
You make my raggedness silky.

The soul at dawn is like darkened water
that slowly begins to say "Thank you, thank you."

Then at sunset, again, Venus gradually
changes into the moon and then the whole nightsky.

This comes of smiling back
at your smile.

The chess master says nothing,
other than moving the silent chess piece.

That I am part of the ploys
of this game makes me
amazingly happy.

-- Version by Colman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 1995


"My King"

I was dead and now I am alive.
I was in tears and now I am laughing.
The power of love swept over my soul
and now I am that eternal power.

My eyes are content.
My soul is fulfilled.
My heart is roaring.
My face glows like Venus.

He said, "But you are not mad with love.
You don't belong in this house."
I went and became mad.
I put chains round my neck.

He said, "But you are not drunk with love.
You don't belong at this party."
I went and became drunk.
I rolled on the floor with joy.

He said, "But you have not tasted the sweetness of death."
I sipped the wine of death
and fell before His life-giving face.

He said, "But you are a worldly man,
you have so many clever questions."
I went and became a fool,
babbling at every street-corner. . . .

He said, "Now you are a candle.
Everyone in the gathering has turned toward you."

"No, I don't belong here.
I am not a candle,
I am a wisp of smoke."

He said, "You are a Shaykh and a Master,
A guide of lost souls."

"No, I am not a Shaykh nor a guide,
I am slave to your every word."

He said, "You can fly.
Why should I give you feathers and wings?"

"For "your" feathers and wings
I would clip my own
and crawl upon the ground. . . ."

You are the majestic fountain of the Sun
that pours upon my head.
I am the shadow of a willow tree
bent over and melting.

When my heart was warmed by your radiant Sun
I took off my torn clothes
and put on fine silk.
My soul was once a slave and a donkey-driver,
Now it swaggers down the street
like a kingly lord.

The knowledge of you has lifted me up,
Now I am a star shining above the seventh heaven.
I was a glitter in the night sky,
Now I am the Moon and the two hundred folds of heaven.
I was Joseph at the bottom of a well,
Now I am Joseph the King!

O famous Moon, shine on me.
A ray of your light
would turn my world into a rosegarden.

Now I will move in silence,
Like a chess piece,
Watching as my whole life
revolves around
the position of my King.

-- Version by Jonathan Star
"Rumi - In the Arms of the Beloved"
Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, New York 1997


i was dead
i came alive
i was tears
i became laughter

all because of love
when it arrived
my temporal life
from then on
changed to eternal

love said to me
you are not
crazy enough
you don't
fit this house

i went and
became crazy
crazy enough
to be in chains

love said
you are not
intoxicated enough
you don't
fit the group

i went and
got drunk
drunk enough
to overflow
with light-headedness

love said
you are still
too clever
filled with
imagination and skepticism

i went and
became gullible
and in fright
pulled away
from it all

love said
you are a candle
attracting everyone
gathering every one
around you

i am no more
a candle spreading light
i gather no more crowds
and like smoke
i am all scattered now

love said
you are a teacher
you are a head
and for everyone
you are a leader

i am no more
not a teacher
not a leader
just a servant
to your wishes

love said
you already have
your own wings
i will not give you
more feathers

and then my heart
pulled itself apart
and filled to the brim
with a new light
overflowed with fresh life

now when the heavens
are thankful that
because of love
i have become
the giver of light

-- Translation by Nader Khalili,
"Rumi, Fountain of Fire"
Cal-Earth Press, 1994


I was dead, I became alive; I was weeping, I became laughing;
the power of love came, and I became everlasting power.
My eye is satiated, my soul is bold, I have the heart of a lion, I
have become shining Venus.
He said, "You are not mad, you are not appropriate to this
house"; I went and became mad, I became bound in shackles.
He said, "You are not intoxicated; go, for you belong not to
this party"; I went and became intoxicated, I became overflowing
with joy.
He said, "You are not slain, you are not drenched in joy";
before his life-giving face I became slain and cast down.
He said, "You are a clever little man, drunk with fancy and
doubt"; I became a fool, I became straightened, I became
plucked up out of all.
He said, "You have become a candle, the qibla of this assem-
bly"; I am not of assembly, I am not candle, I have become
scattered smoke.
He said, "You are shaikh and headman, you are leader and
guide"; I am not shaikh, I am not leader, I have become slave
to your command.
He said, "You have pinions and wings, I will not give you
wings and pinions"; in desire for his pinions and wings I became
wingless and impotent*.
New fortune said to me, "Go not on the way, do not become
pained, for out of grace and generosity I am now coming to you."
Old love said to me, "Do not move from my breast"; I said,
"Yes, I will not, I am at rest and remain."
You are the fountain of the sun, I am the shadow of the
willow; when You strike my head, I become low and melting.
My heart felt the glow of the soul, my heart opened and split,
my heart wove a new satin, I became enemy of this ragged one.
The form of the soul at dawn swaggered insolently; I was a
slave and an ass-driver, I became king and lord.
Your paper gives thanks for your limitless sugar, for it came
into my embrace, and I dwelt in it.
My darkling earth gives thanks for my bent sky and sphere,
for through its gaze and circling I became light-receiving.
The sphere of heaven gives thanks for king and kingdom and
angel, for through his generosity and bounty I have become
bright and bountiful.
The gnostic of God gives thanks that we have outraced all;
above the seven layers* I have become a shining star.
I was Venus, I became the moon, I became the two hundred-
fold sky; I was Joseph, henceforth I have become the waxing
Famous moon, I am yours, look upon me and yourself, for
from the trace of your smile I have become a smiling rosegarden.
Move silently like a chessman, yourself all tongue, for through
the face* of the king of the world I have become happy and

-- Translation by A.J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 1"
University of Chicago Press, 1968, 1991

* "Impotent": i.e. "plucked clean of feathers."
* "The seven layers": the seven heavens.
* Joseph, after coming up from the well, waxed in beauty and
* "The face": a pun on "rukh", which also means "rook".

The Persian image:

the Persian recitation:

the Persian music:



You were the inspirer

Since this house has been emptied of my furniture,
nothing great or small in the house belongs to me.
You have caused the prayer to flow forth from me like water:
give it reality accordingly and let it be granted.
You were the inspirer of the prayer in the beginning:
accordingly, be the hope for its acceptance in the end.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Chon ze rakht-e man tohi gasht in vatan
tar o khoshk-e khâneh na-bud ân-e man
Ham do`â az man ravân kardi cho âb
ham sabâtesh bakhsh va dâresh mostajâb
Ham To budi avval ârandeh-ye do`â
ham To bâsh âkher ejâbat-râ rajâ

-- Mathnawi V: 4161-4163
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
(Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra)

The Persian image:

the Persian recitation:




As the sun goes down in its well,
lovers enter the seclusion of God.

Late at night we meet like thieves
who have stolen gold, our
candlelit faces.

A pawn has become a king.
We sit secretly inside presence
like a Turk in a tent among the Hindus,

and yet we're traveling past
a hundred watchmen, nightfaring,
drowned in an ocean of longing.

Sometimes a body rises to the surface
like Joseph coming out of his well
of abandonment to be the clarity

that divides Egypt's wheat fairly
and interprets the royal dreaming.

Some people say about human beings,
"Dust to dust", but can that be true of
one who changes from road dust to doorway?

The crop appears to be all one thing,
while it's still in the field.

Then a transformation-time arrives,
and we see how it is:
half chaff, half grain.

-- Ghazal (Ode) 524
Version by Coleman Barks
(from a translation by John Moyne)
"Say I Am You"
Maypop, 1994

The Persian image:

the Persian recitation:


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