Saturday, June 17, 2006

Jan 2006 - Part II

Wed Jan 18, 2006

Who is there who discovers the dawn?

Sunlight presents Ode 598 - a poetic version Coleman Barks, a poetic
translation by Jonathan Star and Shahram Shiva, and a literal translation
by A.J. Arberry:

Who gets up early to discover the moment light begins?
Who finds us here circling, bewildered, like atoms?
Who comes to a spring thirsty
and sees the moon reflected in it?
Who, like Jacob blind with grief and age,
smells the shirt of his lost son and can see again?
Who lets a bucket down and brings up
a flowing prophet? Or like Moses, goes for fire
and finds what burns inside the sunrise?

Jesus slips into a house to escape enemies,
and opens a door to the other world.
Solomon cuts open a fish, and there's a gold ring.
Oman storms in to kill the Prophet
and leaves with blessings.
Chase a deer and end up everywhere!
An oyster opens his mouth to swallow one drop.
Now there's a pearl.
A vagrant wanders empty ruins.
Suddenly he's wealthy.

But don't be satisfied with stories, how things
have gone with others. Unfold
your own myth, without complicated explanation,
so everyone will understand the passage,
We have opened you.

Start walking toward Shams. Your legs will get heavy
and tired. Then comes a moment
of feeling the wings you've grown,

-- Version by Coleman Barks
"These Branching Moments"
Copper Beech Press, 1988



O friend,
You came to see the Sun rise,
But instead you see us,
Whirling like a confusion of atoms -
Who could be so lucky?

Who comes to a lake for water
And sees the reflection of the moon?

Who, blind like Jacob,
Seeks his lost son,
And regains the light of his own eyes?

Who, parched with thirst,
Lowers a bucket into a well
And comes up with an ocean of nectar?
Who could be so lucky?

Who, like Moses, approaches a desert bush
And beholds the fire
of a hundred dawns?

Who, like Jesus, enters a house to avoid capture,
And discovers a passage to the other world?

Who, like Solomon, cuts open the stomach of a fish
And finds a golden ring?
Who could be so lucky?

An assassin rushes in to kill the Prophet
And stumbles upon a fortune.

An oyster, opens his mouth for a drop of water,
And discovers a shining pearl within himself.

A poor man, searches through a heap of garbage
And finds a magnificent treasure -
Who could be so lucky?

O friend,
Forget all your stories and fancy words.
Let friend and stranger look upon you
And see a flood of light! -
The door of heaven opening!
Let them be so lucky!

And what of those
Who walk toward Shamsuddin?
Their feet grow weary,
They fall to the ground in utter exhaustion
But then come the wings of His love,
Lifting them,

Who could be so lucky?

-- Poetic translation by Jonathan Star and Shahram Shiva*
A Garden Beyond Paradise: The Mystical Poetry of Rumi
Bantam Books, 1992

* Sunlight note: Star's presentations of these poems are usually
referred to as "versions," as his work is generally based on
translations he did not himself carry out. In this case, however, he
worked directly with the translator Shahram Shiva.


Morn-arising friends, who is there that discovers the dawn,
who discovers us dancing in confusion like atoms?
Who has the luck to come to the brink of a river to drink
water from that river, and to discover the reflection of the
Who is there that like Jacob from the shirt of Joseph seeks
the scent of his son, and instead discovers the light of his eyes?*
Or athirst like the bedouin casts a bucket into the well, and
in the bucket discovers a beauty like an ass-load of sugar?*
Or like Moses seeking fire, who seeks out a bush, comes to
gather the fire, and discovers a hundred dawns and sunrises?*
Jesus leaps into the house to escape from the foe; suddenly
from the house he discovers a passage to heaven.
Or like a Soloman he splits a fish, and in the belly of that
fish he discovers a ring of gold.
Sword in hand, "Umar comes intending to slay the Prophet;
he falls into God's snare, and discovers a kindly regard from
Or like Adham's son he drives towards a deer to make the
deer his prey, and instead discovers another prey.*
Or like a thirsty oyster shell he comes with gaping mouth to
take a drop of water into himself, and discovers a pearl within
Or a man foraging who turns towards desolations, and
suddenly in a desolation he discovers news of a treasure.
Traveller, have done with legends, so that intimate alike
and stranger may discover without your exposition the light of
Did We not open.*
Whoever strides sincerely towards Shams al-Din, though
his foot may grow weary, he will discover two wings from

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

* Koran 12:94
* Koran 12:19
*Koran 20:9-10
* See "Discourses of Rumi" 171.
* For the famous conversion of Ibrahim ibn Adham (d.160/776),
see E.I. II:433.
* "Did we not open": Koran 94:I.


Thu Jan 19, 2006

The body is manifest; Life's spirit is hidden

When a dispute arises
as to the ownership of the husk,
the husk belongs
to the one who possesses the kernel.
The heavenly sphere is the husk;
the light of the spirit is the core.
This sky is visible; spirit is not;
but don't stumble because of this.
The body is manifest;
Life's spirit is hidden:
The body is like a sleeve;
the spirit is the hand.

~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Chon tanâzo` dar fotad dar tang-gâh
dâneh ân kist ân-râ kon negâh
Pas falak qeshrist va nur-e ruh maghz
in padidast ân khafi zin ru ma-laghz
Jesm zâher ruh makhfi âmadast
jesm hamchon âstin jân hamcho dast

-- Mathnawi II: 3251-3253
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra

Fri Jan 20, 2006

Something better in return

Should heartache enter your mind and ambush your joy, yet
it prepares the way for happiness.
Quickly it sweeps all others out of the house so that joy
may come to you from the Source of good.
It shakes the yellow leaves from the branch of the heart,
so that fresh leaves may grow continuously.
It pulls up the root of old happiness so that a new ecstasy
may stroll in from Yonder.
Heartache pulls up withered and crooked roots so that no
root may remain concealed.
Through heartache may extract many things from the heart,
in truth it will bring something better in return.

-- Mathnawi V: 3678-83
Translation by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love"
State University of New York Press, Albany, 1983

Tue Jan 24, 2006

How will this soil become a rose garden

Seeing a man who was tilling the earth,
a fool, unable to control himself, cried out,
"Why are you ruining this soil?"
"Fool," said the man, "leave me alone:
try to recognize the difference
between tending the soil and wasting it.
How will this soil become a rose garden
until it is disturbed and overturned?"

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

n yeki âmad zamin-râ mi shekâft
ablahi feryâd kard va bar na-tâft
"Kin zamin-râ az cheh virân mi koni
mi shekafi va parishân mi koni"
Goft "Ay ablah be-raw bar man ma-rân
to `emârat az kharâbi bâz dân
Kay shavad golzâr o gandom-zâr in
tâ na-gardad zesht o virân n zamin
Kay shavad bostân o kesht o barg o bar
tâ na-gardad nazm-e u zir o zabar

-- Mathnawi IV: 2341-2345
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
(Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra)

Wed Jan 25, 2006

Look now, here is a bargain

Here, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode ) 2577, in six presentations --
versions by Barks, Star, and Helminski, a second generation
translation, from the Turkish, by Nevit Ergin (thanks, Arsalaan), and
translations by both Arberry and Nicholson.

There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street
and being the noise.

Drink all your passion
and be a disgrace.

Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.

Open your hands,
if you want to be held.

Sit down in this circle.

Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd's love filling you.

At night, your beloved wanders.
Don't accept consolations.

Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover's mouth in yours.

You moan, "She left me." "He left me."
Twenty more will come.

Be empty of worrying.
Think who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.

-- Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi "
Castle Books, 1997


The Shepherd's Care

Join the community of saints
and know the delight
of your own soul.
Enter the ruins of your heart
and learn the meaning of humility.

Drain the cup of passion
and walk steadfast
on the path of Truth.
Close both eyes
and see the mysteries
with your inner eye.

Open your arms if you want the Beloved's embrace.
Break your bonds with this body
is you want to see
His pure and radiant Face.

Would you marry an old woman
to gain a dowry of a few pennies?
Would you face the threat of swords and spears
for three loaves of bread?

The Saqi is not a tyrant.
So come and sit within her circle.
How long will you stay outside
and watch her dance
the way you watch the circling night sky?

God's creation is vast
Why do you sit all day in a tiny prison?

Look! He's giving you a real bargain
Give up one and get a hundred.
Stop running around like a wolf or a dog
stay and receive the Shepherd's care.

You say, He stole away my sweetheart!
Forget it: twenty more sweethearts will come.

Thoughts of the Beloved will feed your soul.
How can your hunger be satisfied
by thought of bread alone?

Speak little,
Learn the words of eternity.

Go beyond your tangled thoughts
and find the splendor of Paradise.
Go beyond your little world
and find the grandeur of God's world.

-- Version by Jonathan Star
"In the Arms of the Beloved"
Putnam, 1997


Empty the Glass of Your Desire

Join yourself to friends
and know the joy of the soul.
Enter the neighborhood of ruin
with those who drink to the dregs.

Empty the glass of your desire
so that you won't be disgraced.
Stop looking for something out here
and begin seeing within.

Open your arms if you want an embrace.
Break the earthen idols and release the radiance.
Why get involved with a hag like this world?
You know what it will cost.

And three pitiful meals a day
is all that weapons and violence can earn.
At night when the Beloved comes
will you be nodding on opium?

If you close your mouth to food,
you can know a sweeter taste.
Our Host is no tyrant. We gather in a circle.
Sit down with us beyond the wheel of time.

Here is the deal: give one life
and receive a hundred.
Stop growling like dogs,
and know the shepherd's care.

You keep complaining about others
and all they owe you?
Well, forget about them;
just be in His presence.

When the earth is this wide,
why are you asleep in prison?
Think of nothing but the source of thought.
Feed the soul; let the body fast.

Avoid knotted ideas;
untie yourself in a higher world.
Limit your talk
for the sake of timeless communion.

Abandon life and the world,
and find the life of the world.

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


You color yourself with
The color of the community;
Taste the pleasure of Soul.
Come to the neighborhood of the tavern,
And watch the ones who drink heavy wine.

Drink a glass from Love.
Leave shame and modesty; become disgraceful.
Close the eye of your head
So the eye of your soul will be open.

If you want to reach the shore,
Let your arms drop to the side.
Break this idol which is made of soil;
See the faces of beauty,
And enjoy that beauty.

How long will you be worrying
About the price of betrothal for an old woman?
How long will you be a target
For all kinds of swords
just for a few mouthfuls of bread?

Here is the cupbearer who doesn't
Know torment or oppression.
Glasses turn around in his assembly.
Enter among the ones who are sitting.
How long will you be whirling by the universe?

There is a good deal here:
Give one soul, and take a hundred.
Act less like a dog or a wolf,
So you can gain the love of the shepherd.

Night has been your friend all along-
Don't swallow opium tonight.
Quit eating and drinking;
That taste of your mouth will come back to you.

You say the enemy separated so and so from me.
Go, give up this so and so,
And you will get twenty of this and that.

Don't get involved with any thought
Other than the one who created thought.
Is the worry of bread and meals
Better than the Beloved's worry and concerns?

When God's place is so big,
Why do you cage yourself in this jail?
Don't bind this knot
Of thought too closely, because then
You can't see the openness of the heart.
Watch the endless heart.

Quit talking. Abandon soul
And the universe, so you
Can see the Soul and the world.

-- Translation by Nevit Ergin
(From the Turkish translation by Mevlevi scholar
Abdulbaki Golpinarli)
"Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi: Divan-i Kebir,"
Meter 3, #213, pg 366 (1995)


Become of one hue with the community, that you may feel
spiritual delight; enter the street of the tavern, that you may
behold the dregs-drinkers*.
Drain the cup of passion, let it be that you become a disgrace;
close up the eyes of your head, that you may see the secret eye.
Open your two hands if you desire an embrace; break the idol
of clay, that you may see the face of the idols**.
How long for the sake of an old woman will you endure such a
How long for the sake of three loaves will you face sword and
Lo, the saaqi who is no tyrant, in this assembly there is a
circle -- enter and sit in that circle; how long will you gaze on the
circling of fate?
Here is a good bargain -- give a life and receive a hundred;
cease to act the wolf and dog, that you may behold the shepherd's
By night, the Beloved goes about; do not take opium tonight,
close your mouth against food, that you may feel the taste of the
You say, "the enemy took so-and-so away from me"; go,
abandon so-and-so, that you may see twenty so-and-so's.
Think of naught but the creator of thought; thought for the
Beloved is better than thinking about bread.
With the breadth of God's earth, why have you clung to prison?
Knot care less, that you may see the expanse of Paradise****.
Silence this speech, that you may gain speech one day; pass
down from the soul and the world, that you may behold the Soul of the

-- Translation by A.J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 2"
University of Chicago Press, 1991, A. J. Arberry

Arberry's footnotes:
* Nicholson comments: "Jama-a means the community or
brotherhood of saints and spiritual men".
** "The idol of clay" is the "self" which veils man from God.
*** In Persian literature the world is often likened to an
old woman who survives many bridegrooms.
**** "Was not God's land wide enough that you might
take refuge in it?" Qur'an 4:99. The prison refers to earthly
involvements separating man from God. "Knot care less" --
Nicholson translates this phrase as "Avoid entangled
thoughts" or "Do not bewilder yourself by useless thinking."


Make yourself like to the community,* that you may feel
spiritual joy;
Enter the street of the tavern,* that you may behold the
Drain the cup of passion, that you may not be shamed;
Shut the eyes in your head, that you may see
the hidden eye.*
Open your arms,* if you desire and embrace;
Break the idol of clay,* that you may behold the face of
the Fair.
Why, for an old woman's sake,* do you endure so large
a dowry,*
And how long, for the sake of three loaves,* will you
look on the sword and the spear?
Always at night returns the Beloved: do not eat opium*
Close your mouth against food, that you may taste the
sweetness of the mouth.*
Lo, the cup-bearer* is no tyrant, and in his assembly there
is circle:*
Come into the circle, be seated; how long will you regard
the revolution (of time)?
Look now, here is a bargain: give one life and receive
a hundred.
Cease to behave as wolves and dogs, that you may
experience the Shepherd's love.
You said: "my foe took such an one away from me':
Go, renounce that person* in order to contemplate the
being of Him.
Think of nothing except the creator of thought;
Care for the soul is better than feeling care for one's
Why, when God's earth is so wide,* have you fallen
asleep in a prison?*
Avoid entangled thoughts,* that you may see the
explanation in Paradise.
Refrain from speaking,* that you may win speech
Abandon life and the world, that you may behold the
Life of the world.

-- T.319.6 ("Tabriz Edition of the Divani Shamsi Tabriz)
Edited and translated by Reynold A. Nicholson
"Selected Poems from the Divani Shamsi Tabriz"
Cambridge, At the University Press, 1898, 1952

Nicholson's notes:

* "Make yourself like to the community" the interpretation of
these words is doubtful. (1) the community means the community
Cf. Nafahatu'l Unus, p. 206. 1.5: "Associate with God, or if ye
cannot, with those who are the associates of God, in order that the
blessing of their society may lead you to him.' Jalal'uddin gives
the same advice in the Masnavi (22.4; Redhouse, p. 53, 1.412).
(2) the community is used mystically= divine unity, the All. Cf.
Attar, Mantiqu'ttair, 1315:

Whoever is not of one essence with his Beloved,
His love is no better than colour and perfume.

For the community of Mohammedan Theology= consensus of
opinion in the Church,' see Dozy "Supplement aux Dictionnaires
Arabes." Naturally Jalalu'ddin, in his condemnation of schism,
is not speaking as one of the orthodox.
"the street of the tavern":-- the tavern signifies God. Cf.
"Gulshani Raz," 839 seq.
"wine bibbers" those who drain to the lees the cup of celestial love.
* "the hidden eye": Cf. The oculus cordis described by Hugo of St.
Victor: an eye within . . . one that beholds at once the past, the
present, and the future; which diffuses through all things the
keen brightness of its vision; which penetrates what is hidden,
investigates what is impalpable; which needs no foreign light
wherewith to see, but gazes by a light of its own, peculiar to
itself' (Vaughan, "Hours with the Mystics," Vol. I. p. 305).
* "Open your arms": this may also mean: "be open-handed,
sacrifice all that you have. Cf. Masnavi, 370.13

Tis my business to yield up life unselfishly,
To bestow life is the business of our King of kings.

* "Break the idol of clay" destroy self,' which veils you
from God.
* "for an old woman's sake" meaning for the sake of the world.
* " *do you endure so large a dowry why do you consent to pay
so heavy a price? By Mohammedan law the dowry is paid to the wife
(see Lane's "Arabian Nights," Vol. I. p. 321; "Modern Egyptians,"
Vol. I. p. 212). Cf. Hafez, I. 438. 5:

The world is a fair bride as to outward looks,
But he who weds with her gives his life's joy in exchange.

Cf. Omar Khayyam, Quatrain 59:

To Destiny, my bride, I said: "What is thy dowry?"
"My dowry," she answered, "is thy heart's happiness."

* "three loaves" the petty doles of Fortune, contrasted with
divine beneficence.
* "opium" Virgil's soporiferum papaver.
* "sweetness of the mouth" the fragrant lips of the Beloved.
Food and sleep produce spiritual lethargy.
* "cupbearer" the cupbearer is God, who intoxicates all creation
with the rapture of love (see "Gulshani Raz, 805 seq.).
* "in his assembly there is a circle" like circulus in Latin, denotes
any company for social and convivial intercourse. Here it may refer
to the mystic dance (Sama). Cf. Brown's "Dervishes," p. 225:
"They (the Mevlevees) commence by forming a circle, seated on
sheep-skins spread on the floor at equal distances from each other;
they remain nearly a half-hour in this position, the arms folded, the
eyes closed, the head inclined, and absorbed in profound meditation."
* "renounce that person" that person is here an abstract noun.
The misra should be rendered:

Go, renounce personality, that you may regard the being
of the Person.

When "that person" is used of God, it means "the love of God".
* "Why, when God's earth is so wide" Koran IV. 99: "Was
not God's earth wide enough that ye might take refuge therein?
Notwithstanding, nevertheless.
* " have you fallen asleep in a prison?" why are you fast asleep
in the chains of sense and worldly illusion? Our birth is but
a sleep and a forgetting.'
* "Avoid entangled thoughts" do not bewilder yourself by
useless thinking. . . Translate:

Pass away from thought of the knot (problem), that you
may see the solution in Paradise.

This rendering brings out more clearly the double contrast of
"entangled" with "explanation" and of "thought" (opinion)
with "that you may see" (actual vision).

The calligraphy:

The recitation:

Thu Jan 26, 2006

Never to be freed again

Serve God, so by chance you may become a lover:
devoted service is a means toward Love.
The servant desires to be freed from fate,
but God's lover wishes never to be freed again.
Some servants seek benefits and robes of honor;
the lover's robe of honor is vision of the Beloved.
Not contained by speech or hearing,
Love is an ocean whose depth cannot be seen.
The drops of this Sea are innumerable:
in comparison all Seven Seas disappear.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bandegi kon tâ shavi `âsheq la`all
bandegi kasbist âyad dar `amal
Bandeh âzâdi tama` dârad ze jadd
`âsheq âzâdi na-khvâhad tâ abad
Bandeh dâyem khel`at o edrâr just
khel`at-e `âsheq hameh didâr-e Dust
Dar na-ganjad `Eshq dar goft o shenid
`Eshq daryâyist qa`resh nâ-padid
Qatr-hâ-ye Bahr-râ na-tavân shomard
Haft Daryâ pish-e ân Bahrast khord

-- Mathnawi V :2728-2732
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
(Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra)

The calligraphy:

The recitation:

Fri Jan 27, 2006

I become like a pen

Here, Sunlight offers Ghazal 2530 from the Diwan-e Shams,
in a version by Coleman Barks, in translation by Annemarie
Schimmel, and in translation by A.J. Arberry:

I become a pen in the Friend's hand,
tonight writing "say," tomorrow "ray."
He trims the pen for fine calligraphy.
The pen says, "I am here, but who am I?"

He blackens the pen's face.
He wipes it in his hair. He holds it upside down.
Now he begins to use it.

On one sheet he cancels everything.
On another he adds a dangerous conjunction.
The writing depends entirely on the scribe,
who knows how to split the head of the pen.

Galen knows what a patient needs.
The pen cannot speak for itself, or know what
to disapprove of in its own nature.

Whether I say "pen" or "flag", it is with this wonderful
conscious unconsciousness: the mind unable to include
its own description, composing blindly.
Held in a hand, yet free.

-- Version by Coleman Barks
(Based on the translation by A.J. Arberry)
"These Branching Moments"
Copper Beech Press, 1988


My heart became like a pen
that's in the Beloved's fingers:
Tonight he may write a Z,
perhaps tomorrow, a B.
He cuts and prepares his pen well
to write in riqa and naskh;*
The pen says: "Lo, I obey,
for you know best what to do."
Sometimes he blackens its face,
he wipes it then in his hair,
He holds it now upside down,
sometimes he writes with it too. . .

-- Translation by Annemarie Schimmel
"I Am Wind, You are Fire"
Shambhala, 1992

*riqa and naskh: two styles of writing Persian.


My heart came like a pen in the fingers of the Beloved; tonight
it is writing "zay," tomorrow it will write "ray."*
He trims a pen for epistolary style, copying and the rest; the
pen says, "I am resigned, you know; who am I, lord?"
Now he blackens its face, now he rubs it in his hair; now he
holds it upside down, now he uses it for a task.
On one sheet he cancels a world and makes it headless; on
another sheet he delivers a [perilous] conjunction from calamity.
The splendor of the pen is according to the dignity of the
scribe, whether it is in the hand of a king or a commander.
He splits its head for the reason he knows; Galen* knows best
what is best for the patient.
That pen is unable to utter by its own reason any applause;
that pen knows not of its own nature to make disapproval.
Whether I call it pen or all it flag, in it is sense and senselessness --
bravo, the conscious senseless one!
The mind can not compass its description, for in it is the union
of opposites, a composition without composition, amazing! --
constrained yet with free will.

-- Translation by A. J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 2"
The University of Chicago Press, 1991

Sunlight footnotes:
*zay and ray: the letters "z" and "r," respectively.
*Galen: the famous second century Greek physician.

-- Footnotes (c) Ibrahim Gamard, 2000


Fri Jan 27, 2006


O harp,
the strains of a longing heart is my wish.
O flute,
your burning cry is my wish.

Play the great song of Arabia;
I am the Great Bird,
and the song of Solomon is my wish.

Play the song of Iraq,
and let its soothing melody
calm the hearts of its people –
this is my wish.

Play on! Play on! –
High notes, low notes, every note.

I have fallen into a dream
with your peaceful melody.
Now awaken me with a loud gong –
this is my wish.

I hear your song –
the voice of God,
a symphony of love playing to the world.
That music is my witness –
I am a pious man,
pure faith is my wish.

O love, vanquish the intellect;
O love, that bewildering moment
is my wish.

O sweet wind,
passing over love's grass,
blow in my direction,
for the fragrance of love is my wish.

In the Face of my master, all beauty is revealed.

One sight –
One sight –

that is my wish.

-- Ode 0457
Version by Jonathan Star
"A Garden Beyond Paradise: The Mystical Poetry of Rumi"
Bantam Books, 1992

Mon Jan 30, 2006

His form has passed away and he has become a mirror

Here, Sunlight offers a Mathnawi story of the dervish Bayazid
Bestami, in a version by Barks, and a translation by Nicholson:


That magnificent dervish, Bayazid Bestami,
came to his disciples and said,
"I am God."
It was night, and he was drunk with his ecstasy.
"There is no God but me. You should worship me."

At dawn, when he had returned to normal,
they came and told him what he'd said.
"If I say that again,
bring your knives and plunge them into me. God
is beyond the body, and I am in this body.
Kill me when I say that."
Each student then sharpened
his knife, and again Bayazid drank the God-Wine.
The sweet dessert-knowing came. The Inner Dawn
snuffed his candle. Reason, like a timid advisor,
faded to a far corner as the Sun-Sultan
entered Bayazid.
Pure spirit spoke through him.
Bayazid was not there. The "he" of his personality
dissolved. Like the Turk who spoke fluent Arabic,
then came to, and didn't know a word.
The Light
of God
poured into the empty Bayazid and became words.

Muhammed did not dictate the Qur'an. God did.
The mystic osprey opened its wings in Bayazid
and soared.
"Inside my robe
there is nothing but God.
How long will you keep looking elsewhere!"

The disciples drew their knifes and slashed out
like assassins, but as they stabbed at their Sheikh,
they did not cut Bayazid. They cut themselves.

There was no mark on that Adept,
but the students were bleeding and dying.

Those who somewhat held back, respecting their Teacher,
had only lightly wounded themselves.
selfless One
disappears into Existence and is safe there.
He becomes a mirror. If you spit at it,
you spit at your own face.

If you see an ugly face there, it's yours.
If you see Jesus and Mary, they're you.

Bayazid became nothing,
that clear and that empty.

A saint puts your image before you.
When I reach this point, I have to close my lips.

Those of you who are love-drunk on the edge of the roof,
sit down, or climb down. Every moment spent in Union
with the Beloved is a dangerous delight,
like standing on a roof-edge.
Be afraid up there,
of losing that connection, and don't tell anybody
about it. Keep your secret.

-- Mathnawi IV: 2102-2148
Version by Coleman Barks
"Delicious Laughter"
Maypop, 1990


The story of Bayazid's - may God sanctify his spirit- saying, "Glory
to me! How grand is my estate!" and the objection raised by his
disciples, and how he gave them an answer to this, not by the way
of speech but by the way of vision (immediate experience).

That venerable dervish, Bayazid, came to his disciples, saying,
"Lo, I am God."
That master of the (mystic) sciences said plainly in drunken
fashion, "Hark, there is no god but I, so worship me."
When that ecstasy had passed, they said to him at dawn,
"Thou saidest such and such, and this is impiety."
He said, "This time, if I make a scandal, come on at once and
dash knives into me.
God transcends the body, and I am with the body: ye must
kill me when I say a thing like this."
When that (spiritual) freeman gave the injunction, each
disciple made ready a knife.
Again he (Bayazid) became intoxicated by that potent flagon:
those injunctions vanished from his mind.
The Dessert came: his reason became distraught. The Dawn
came: his candle became helpless.
Reason is like the prefect: when the sultan arrives, the help-
less prefect creeps into a corner.
Reason is the shadow of God: God is the sun: what power
hath the shadow to resist His sun?
When a genie prevails over (gains possession of) a man, the
attributes of humanity disappear from the man.
Whatsoever he says, that genie will (really) have said it: the
one who belongs to this side will have spoken from (the control
of) the one who belongs to yonder side.
Since a genie hath this influence and rule, how (much more
powerful) indeed must be the Creator of that genie!
His (the possessed man's) "he" (personality) is gone: he has
in sooth become the genie: the Turk, without (receiving) Divine
inspiration, has become a speaker of Arabic*.
When he comes to himself, he does not know a word (of
Arabic). Inasmuch as a genie hath this essence and quality,
Then how, pray, should the Lord of genie and man have in-
feriority to the genie?
If a pot-valiant fellow has drunk the blood of a fierce lion, you
will say that the wine did it, not he;
And if he fashion words of old (pure) gold*, you will say that
the wine has spoken those words.
A wine hath this (power to excite) disturbance and com-
motion: hath not the Light of God that virtue and potency
To make you entirely empty of self, (so that) you should be
laid low and He should make the Word lofty (within you)?
Though the Qur'an is (dictated) from the lips of the Prophet
if any one says God did not speak it, he is an infidel.
When the huma of selflessness took wing (and soared),
Bayazid began (to repeat) those words.
The flood of bewilderment swept away his reason: he spoke
more strongly than he had spoken at first,
(Saying), "Within my mantle there is naught but God: how
long wilt thou seek on the earth and in heaven?"
All the disciples became frenzied and dashed their knives at
his holy body.
Like the heretics of Girdakuh, every one was ruthlessly*
stabbing his spiritual Director.
Every one who plunged a dagger into the Shaykh was re-
versely making a gash in his own body.
There was no mark (of a wound) on the body of that possessor
of the (mystic) sciences, while those disciples were wounded and
drowned in blood.
Whoever aimed a blow at his throat saw his own throat cut,
and died miserably;
And whoever inflicted a blow on his breast, his (own) breast
was riven, and he became dead for ever;
And he that was acquainted with that (spiritual) emperor of
high fortune, (and) his heart (courage) did not consent to strike
a heavy blow,
Half-knowledge tied his hand, (so that) he saved his life and
only wounded himself.
Day broke, and the disciples were thinned: wails of lamenta-
tion arose from their house.
Thousands of men and women came to him (Bayazid), saying,
"0 thou in whose single shirt the two worlds are contained,
If this body of thine were a human body, it would have been
destroyed, like a human body, by the daggers."
A self-existent one encountered a selfless one in combat: the
self-existent one drove a thorn into his own eye (hurt himself).
0 you who stab the selfless ones with the sword, you are
stabbing your own body with it. Beware!
For the selfless one has passed away (in God) and is safe: he is
dwelling in safety for ever.
His form has passed away and he has become a mirror:
naught is there but the form (image) of the face of another.
If you spit (at it), you spit at your own face; and if you strike
at the mirror, you strike at yourself;
And if you see an ugly face (in that mirror), 'tis you; and if
you see Jesus and Mary, 'tis you.
He is neither this nor that: he is simple (pure and free from
attributes of self): he has placed your image before you.
When the discourse reached this point, it closed its lips; when
the pen reached this point, it broke to pieces.
Close thy lips (0 my soul): though eloquence is at thy com-
mand, do not breathe a word and God best knoweth the right
0 you who are drunken with the wine (of love), you are on
the edge of the roof: sit down or (else) descend, and peace be
with you!
Every moment when you enjoy (union with the Beloved),
deem that delightful moment to be the edge of the roof.
Be trembling for (fear of losing) the delightful moment: con-
ceal it like a treasure, do not divulge it.
Lest calamity suddenly befall (your) plighted love, take heed,
go very fearfully into that place of ambush.
The spirit's fear of loss at the moment of enjoyment is (the
sign of its) departure (descent) from the hidden roof-edge.
If you do not see the mysterious roof-edge, (yet) the spirit is
seeing, for it is shuddering (with fear).
Every sudden chastisement that has come to pass has taken
place on the edge of the turret of enjoyment.
Indeed there is no fall except (on) the edge of the roof: (take)
warning from (the fate of) the people of Noah and the people of

-- "The Mathnawi of Jalalu'ddin Rumi"
Edited and translated by Reynold A. Nicholson
Volume IV, verses 2102-2154
Published by "E.J.W.Gibb Memorial",
Cambridge, England.
First published 1926, Reprinted 1990.

Nicholson's notes:

* "if he fashion words of old (pure) gold":
I.e. "if he speak with perfect eloquence."
* "like the heretics of Girdakuh": The Assassins.
* "every one was ruthlessly stabbing his spiritual Director":
Literally, "without distress or fatigue."

The picture:

The recitations:


Tue Jan 31, 2006

Strip the raiment of pride from your body

Strip the raiment of pride from your body:
in learning, put on the garment of humility.
Soul receives from soul the knowledge of humility,
not from books or speech.
Though mysteries of spiritual poverty are within the seeker's heart,
she doesn't yet possess knowledge of those mysteries.
Let her wait until her heart expands and fills with Light:
God said, "Did We not expand your breast. . .?*
For We have put illumination there,
We have put the expansion into your heart."
When you are a source of milk, why are you milking another?
An endless fountain of milk is within you:
why are you seeking milk with a pail?
You are a lake with a channel to the Sea:
be ashamed to seek water from a pool;
For did We not expand. . .? Again, don't you possess the expansion?
Why are you going about like a beggar?
Contemplate the expansion of the heart within you,
that you may not be reproached with, Do you not see?**

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Pas lebâs-e kebr birun kon ze tan
malbas-e zoll push dar âmukhtan
Dânesh ân-râ satânad jân ze jân
nah ze rah-e daftar o nah az zabân
Dar del-e sâlek agar hast ân romuz
ramz dâni nist sâlek-râ hanuz
Tâ delesh-râ sharh ân sâzad ziyâ
pas A-lam nashrah* be-farmâyad Khodâ
Keh darun sineh sharhet dâdeh-'im
sharh andar sineh-'et be-nehâdeh-'im
To hanuz az khârej ân-râ tâlebi
mohlebi az digarân chon hâlebi
Cheshmeh-ye shirast dar to bi kenâr
to cherâ mi shir juyi az taghâr
Manfazi dâri be-bahr ay âb-gir
nang dâr az âb jostan az ghadir
Keh A-lam nashrah nah sharhet hast bâz
chon shodi to sharh ju o kodyeh sâz
Dar negar dar sharh-e del dar andarun
tâ niyâbad ta`neh-ye Lâ tubsirûn**

*al-Sharh, 1
**al-Dhâriyât, 21

-- Mathnawi V:1061; 1064-1072
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
(Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra)


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