Monday, July 31, 2006

"Rush Naked"

A lover looks at creek water and wants to be that quick
to fall, to kneel, then all

the way down in full prostration. A lover wants to die of
his love like a man with

dropsy who knows that water will kill him, but he can't deny
his thrist. A lover loves

death, which is God's way of helping us evolve from mineral
to vegetable to animal, the one

incorporating the others. Then animal becomes Adam, and the
next will take us beyond what

we can imagine, into the mystery of we are all returning.
Don't fear death. Spill your

jug in the river! Your attributes disappear, but the essence
moves on. Your shame and fear

are like felt layers covering coldness. Throw them off, and
rush naked into the joy of death.

-- Mathnawi III: 3884-89
Version by Coleman Barks
"The Soul of Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 2001

The media:


Friday, July 28, 2006

"Like Sunlight Upon the Earth"

I am from you, and at the same time, you have devoured me.
I melt in you since through you I froze.
You squeeze me with your hand,
and then you step on me with your foot.
This is how the grape becomes wine.
You cast us like sunlight upon the earth.
And our light, passing through the body
as if it were an open window to our Source,
returns, purified, to You.
Whoever sees that sun says,
"He is alive,"
and whoever sees only the window says,
"He is dying."
He has veiled our origin in that cup of pain and joy.
Within our core we are pure;
all the rest is dregs.
Source of the soul of souls, Shams, the Truth of Tabriz,
a hundred hearts are afire for you.

-- Ode 2399
Version by Kabir Helminski
"Love is a Stranger"
Threshold Books, 1993

The image:


Thursday, July 27, 2006

This world is a game

In this world you have become clothed and rich,
but when you come out of this world, how will you be?
Learn a trade that will earn you forgiveness.
In the world beyond there's also traffic and trade.
Beside those earnings, this world is just play.
As children embrace in fantasy intercourse,
or set up a candy shop, this world is a game.
Night falls, and the child
comes home hungry, without his friends.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dar jahân pushideh gashti va ghani
pisheh-'i âmuz k-andar âkherat
andar âyad dakhl-e kasb-e maghferat
آn jahân shahrist por bâzâr o kasb
tâ na-pendâri keh kasb ast la`b-e kudakân
Hamcho ân tefli keh bar tefli tanad
shakl-e sohbat kon mesâsi mi-konad
Kudakân sâzand dar bâzi dokkân
sud na-bovad joz keh ta`bir-e zamân
Shab shavad dar khâneh âyad goresneh
kudakân rafteh be-mândeh yek taneh

-- Mathnawi II: 2593-2599
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra

The media:


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Because of your love"

i'm not going to leave
this house and set out
on a journey any more
i've everything right here

in every corner
a garden of memories
devoid of darkness
devoid of fear

the news of my journey
spreading in this town
is but a rumor of envy
sent around by the enemy

how can i think
of going very far
how can i walk headless
how can i go with no soul

how can i ever find
anywhere in this world
a more beautiful face
a more desired beloved

even the moon
is seeking for this love
to see its reflection
to find its adornment

if i ever talk about
going to travel
or leaving this town
break my teeth with no qualms

i've lost my feet
going to the sea of love
but like a boat
i need no feet to crawl

and even if you
throw me out of your door
i'll come back
through the roof hole

because of your love
i'll be dancing and floating
in this air as a speck of dust
to finally settle into your house

-- Ode (Ghazal) 2614
Translated by Nader Khalili
"Rumi, Fountain of Fire"
Burning Gate Press, Los Angeles, 1994

The media:


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"Speech confuses the sight: be silent"

Carry your baggage toward silence:
when you seek the signs of the Way,
don't make yourself the focus of attention.
The Prophet said, "Know that amid the sea of cares
my Companions are like guiding stars."
Fix your eye on the stars and seek the Way;
speech confuses the sight: be silent.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Rakht-hâ-râ su-ye khâmushi keshân
chon neshân juyi ma-kon khvod-râ neshân
Goft Payghambar keh "Dar bahr-e homum
dar dalâlat dân to Yârân-râ nojum"
Cheshm dar estâregân neh rah be-ju
notq tashvish-e nazar bâshad ma-gu

-- Mathnawi VI:1594-1596
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra

The media:


Monday, July 24, 2006

The Mathnawi Story of Moses and the Shepherd

Today, Sunlight offers the story of Moses and the shepherd,
from the Mathnawi, Book II, verses 1720-1796, in a poetic version by
Professor Coleman Barks, and in the literal translation by Professor
Reynold Nicholson, from which Barks derived his version. Our friend
Panevis, in Tehran, has added a rich selection of audio and visual
media, for which Sunlight is happily grateful.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^


Moses heard a shepherd on the road, praying,
where are you? I want to help you, to fix your shoes
and comb your hair. I want to wash your clothes
and pick the lice off. I want to bring you milk
to kiss your little hands and feet when it's time
for you to go to bed. I want to sweep your room
and keep it neat. God, my sheep and goats
are yours. All I can say, remembering you,
is 'ayyyy' and 'ahhhhhhhhh.' "

Moses could stand it no longer.
"Who are you talking to?"
"The one who made us,
and made the earth and made the sky."
"Don't talk about shoes
and socks with God! And what's this with 'your little hands
and feet'? Such blasphemous familiarity sounds like
you're chatting with your uncles.
Only something that grows
needs milk. Only someone with feet needs shoes. Not God!
Even if you meant God's human representatives,
as when God said, `I was sick, and you did not visit me,'
even then this tone would be foolish and irreverent.

Use appropriate terms. 'Fatima' is a fine name
for a woman, but if you call a man 'Fatima',
it's an insult. Body-and-birth language
are right for us on this side of the river,
but not for addressing the origin,
not for Allah."

The shepherd repented and tore his clothes and sighed
and wandered out into the desert.
A sudden revelation
then came to Moses. God's voice:
'You have separated me
from one of my own. Did you come as a Prophet to unite,
or to sever?
I have given each being a separate and unique way
of seeing and knowing that knowledge.

What seems wrong to you is right for him.
What is poison to one is honey to someone else.

Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship,
these mean nothing to me.
I am apart from all that.
Ways of worshipping are not to be ranked as better
or worse than one another.
Hindus do Hindu things.
The Dravidian Muslims in India do what they do.
It's all praise, and it's all right.

It's not me that's glorified in acts of worship.
It's the worshipers! I don't hear the words
they say. I look inside at the humility.

That broken-open lowliness is the reality,
not the language! Forget phraseology.
I want burning, burning.
Be friends
with your burning. Burn up your thinking
and your forms of _expression!
those who pay attention to ways of behaving
and speaking are one sort.
Lovers who burn
are another.'
Don't impose a property tax
on a burned-out village. Don't scold the Lover.
The "wrong" way he talks is better than a hundred
"right" ways of others.
Inside the Kaaba
it doesn't matter which direction you point
your prayer rug!
The ocean diver doesn't need snowshoes!
The love-religion has no code or doctrine.
Only God.
So the ruby has nothing engraved on it!
It doesn't need markings.
God began speaking
deeper mysteries to Moses. Vision and words,
which cannot be recorded here, poured into
and through him. He left himself and came back.
He went to eternity and came back here.
Many times this happened.
It's foolish of me
to try and say this. If I did say it,
it would uproot our human intelligences.
It would shatter all writing pens.

Moses ran after the shepherd.
He followed the bewildered footprints,
in one place moving straight like a castle
across a chessboard. In another, sideways,
like a bishop.
Now surging like a wave cresting,
now sliding down like a fish,
with always his feet
making geomancy symbols in the sand,
his wandering state.
Moses finally caught up
with him.
"I was wrong. God has revealed to me
that there are no rules for worship.
Say whatever
and however your loving tells you to. Your sweet blasphemy
is the truest devotion. Through you a whole world
is freed.
Loosen your tongue and don't worry what comes out.
It's all the light of the spirit."
The shepherd replied,
"Moses, Moses,
I've gone beyond even that.
You applied the whip and my horse shied and jumped
out of itself. The divine nature and my human nature
came together.
Bless your scolding hand and your arm.
I can't say what's happened.
What I'm saying now
is not my real condition. It can't be said."

The shepherd grew quiet.
When you look in a mirror,
you see yourself, not the state of the mirror.
The flute player puts breath into a flute,
and who makes the music? Not the flute.
The flute player!
Whenever you speak praise
or thanksgiving to God, it's always like
this dear shepherd's simplicity.
When you eventually see
through the veils to how things really are,
you will keep saying again
and again,
"This is certainly not like
we thought it was!"

-- Mathnawi II:1720-1796
Poetic version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco 1995


Moses saw a shepherd on the way, who was saying, "0 God
who choosest (whom Thou wilt),
Where art Thou, that I may become Thy servant and sew Thy
shoes and comb Thy head?
That I may wash Thy clothes and kill Thy lice and bring milk
to Thee, 0 worshipful One;
That I may kiss Thy little hand and rub Thy little foot,
(and when) bedtime comes I may sweep Thy little room,
0 Thou to whom all my goats be a sacrifice, 0 Thou
in remembrance of whom are my cries of ay and ah!"
The shepherd was speaking foolish words in this wise.
Moses said, "Man, to whom is this (addressed)?"
He answered, "To that One who created us; by whom this earth
and sky were brought to sight."
"Hark!" said Moses, "you have become very backsliding
(depraved); indeed you have not become a Moslem,
you have become an infidel.
What babble is this? what blasphemy and raving? Stuff
some cotton into your mouth!
The stench of your blasphemy has made the (whole) world
stinking: your blasphemy has turned the silk robe
of religion into rags.
Shoes and socks are fitting for you, (but) how are such
things right for (One who is) a Sun?
If you do not stop your throat from (uttering) these words,
a fire will come and burn up the people.
If a fire has not come, (then) what is this smoke? Why has
your soul become black and your spirit rejected
(by God)?
If you know that God is the Judge, how is it right for you
(to indulge in) this doting talk and familiarity?
Truly, the friendship of a witless man is enmity: the high
God is not in want of suchlike service.

A revelation came to Moses from God-"Thou hast parted
My servant from Me.
Didst thou come (as a prophet) to unite, or didst thou
come to sever?
So far as thou canst, do not set foot in separation:
of (all) things the most hateful to Me is divorce.
I have bestowed on every one a (special) way of acting:
I have given to every one a (peculiar) form of
In regard to him it is (worthy of) praise, and in regard
to thee it is (worthy of) blame: in regard to
him honey, and in regard to thee poison.
I am independent of all purity and impurity, of all slothfulness
and alacrity (in worshipping Me).
I did not ordain (Divine worship) that I might make any profit;
nay, but that I might do a kindness to (My) servants.
In the Hindoos the idiom' of Hind (India) is praiseworthy; in
the Sindians the idiom of Sind is praiseworthy.
I am not sanctified by their glorification (of Me);
'tis they that become sanctified and pearl-scattering
(pure and radiant).
I look not at the tongue and the speech; I look at the inward
(spirit) and the state (of feeling)."

-- Mathnawi II - 1720-1734, 1750-1764
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 English media:

The Persian media:


Friday, July 21, 2006

"Again we have returned from the tavern drunk"

Again we have returned from the tavern drunk,
again we have escaped from above and below.
All of the drunkards are joyful and dancing -
clap your hands, oh idols, clap! Clap!
The fish and the sea are all intoxicated, for the
hooks are the tips of Thy tresses!
Our ruins have been turned upside down, the
vat has been upset and the jar broken.
When the shaykh of the Ruins saw this tumult,
he came to the roof and jumped.
A wine began to ferment, making existence
nonexistent and nonexistence existent.
The glasses broke and the pieces fell in every
direction -- how many drinkers wounded their feet!
Where is he who cannot discern his head from
his feet? He has fallen drunk in the lane of Alast.
The wine-worshipers are all busy with revelry -
listen to the strumming of the lute, oh body-worshiper!

-- Ghazal (Ode) 516 (listed in book incorrectly as Ode 515)
Translated by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love -
The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi"
State University of New York Press, Albany, 1983
(Footnotes follow, courtesy of Ibrahim Gamard)

* tavern (may-khâna): symbolizes the gathering place of the sufis,
where they engage in mystical prayers and become "drunk" on
spiritual "wine."
* ruins (kharâbât): also an idiom meaning "tavern," and sometimes
translated as "tavern of ruin." Likewise, in the next line, "shaykh
of the Ruins" can also be translated "shaykh of the Tavern."
* Alast: the primordial covenant made between God and the
souls of all mankind, mentioned in the Qur'an: "And when your Lord
drew forth from the children of Adam, from their loins, their seed,
and made them testify concerning themselves, 'Am I not your Lord
(a-lastu bi-Rabbi-kum)?' they said, 'But of course! We do testify!'"
(7:172). In Islamic mysticism this is called the "Day of Alast." A
major goal of sufi mystics has been to "remember" within the soul
a full awareness (that is sometimes ecstatic and blissful) of the
Presence of God that has been forgotten by most of humanity.

The media:


Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Like one soul"

God said, "Truly there has never been a people
lacking a friend of God,"
someone with the power of the spirit;
and it is he who makes soul-birds sing
unanimously, sincerely,
free of all ill-will.
They become as kind as a mother:
Muhammad said of the Muslims,
"They are like one soul."
Through the Messenger of God they become one;
otherwise they were all enemies absolutely.

` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

Goft khvod khâli na-budast ommati
az khalifeh-ye Haqq o sâheb-e hemmati
Morgh-e jân-hâ-râ chonân yekdel konad
kaz safâshân bi ghashsh va bi ghell konad
Moshfeqân gardand hamchon vâledeh
Moslemun-râ goft "Nafsun wâhidah"
Nafs-e vâhed az Rasul-e Haqq shodand
var nah haryek doshmani-ye motlaq bodand

-- Mathnawi II: 3709-3712
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra

The media:


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"A new rule"

Here, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 1861, from the Diwan-e
Shams*, in versions by Coleman Barks and Kabir Helminski,
and in translation by A.J. Arberry:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

The New Rule

Its the old rule that drunks have to argue
and get into fights.
The lover is just as bad. He falls into a hole.
But down in that hole he finds something shining,
worth more than any amount of money or power.

Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street.
I took it as a sign to start singing,
falling up into the bowl of sky.
The bowl breaks. Everywhere is falling everywhere.
Nothing else to do.

Here's the new rule: break the wineglass,
and fall toward the glassblower's breath.

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


A New Rule

It is the rule with drunkards to fall upon each other,
to quarrel, become violent, and make a scene.
The lover is even worse than a drunkard.
I will tell you what love is: to enter a mine of gold.
And what is that gold?

The lover is a king above all kings,
unafraid of death, not at all interested in a golden crown.
The dervish has a pearl concealed under his patched cloak.
Why should he go begging door to door?

Last night that moon came along,
drunk, dropping clothes in the street.
"Get up," I told my heart, "Give the soul a glass of wine.
The moment has come to join the nightingale in the garden,
to taste sugar with the soul-parrot."

I have fallen, with my heart shattered -
where else but on your path? And I
broke your bowl, drunk, my idol, so drunk,
don't let me be harmed, take my hand.

A new rule, a new law has been born:
break all the glasses and fall toward the glassblower.

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


It is the rule with drunkards to fall upon one another, to fight
and squabble and make tumult.
The lover is worse than the drunkard; the lover also belongs
to that party. I will tell what love is; it is to fall into a goldmine.
What may that gold be? The lover is the king of kings; it
means becoming secure from death and not caring for the
golden crown.
The darvish in his cloak, and in his pocket the pearl - why
should he be ashamed of begging from door to door?
Last night that moon came along, having flung his girdle on the road, so
drunken that he was not aware that his girdle had fallen.
I said, "Leap up, my heart, place wine in the hand of the soul;
for such a time has befallen, it is time to be roistering.
"To become hand in hand with the garden nightingale, to fall
into sugar with the spiritual parrot."
I, heart-forlorn and heart-yielded, fallen upon your way - by
Allah, I know of no other place to fall.
If I broke your bowl, I am drunk, my idol. I am drunk - leave
me not from you hand to fall into danger.
This is a newborn rule, a newly enacted decree - to shatter
glasses, and to fall upon the glassmaker!

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

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

*The "Divan-e Shams" is the "Collection of Shams", the collection
of Rumi's lyrical "Ghazals", named for his great friend, teacher, and
inspiration, Shams of Tabriz. -- Sunlight Ed.

The media:


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"Only now do you apprehend"

I've paid no attention to Your warnings:
while claiming to be an idol-breaker, I've really been an idol-maker.
Should I pay more attention to Your works or to death?
Let it be death, for death is like autumn,
and You are the root from which all leaves spring.
For years death has been beating the drum,
but only when time has fled does your ear hear.
In agony the heedless man cries from the depths of his soul,
"Alas, I am dying!" Has death only just now awakened you?
Death is hoarse from shouting:
from so many astounding blows, his drum skin has split,
but you enmeshed yourself in trivialities;
and only now do you apprehend this mystery of death.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Az nasihat-hâ-ye To kar budeh-'am
bot shekan da`vâ botgar budeh-'am
Yâd-e son`et farz-tar yâ yâd-e marg
marg mânand khazân To asl-e barg
Sâl-hâ marg tablak mi zanad
gush-e to bigâh jonbesh mi konad
Guyad andar naz` az jân "Âh marg"
in zamân kardet ze khvod âgâh marg?
In golu-ye marg az na`reh gereft
tabl-e u be-shekâft az zarb-e shekeft
dar daqâyeq khvish-râ dar bâfti
ramz-e mordan in zamân dar yâfti

-- Mathnawi VI:771-776
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra

The media:


Monday, July 17, 2006

"Watch a One-Year-Old"

Watch a One-Year-Old

Anger rises when you're proud
of yourself. Humble that. Use

the contempt of others, and your
own self-regarding, to change, like

the cloud in folklore that became
three snake shapes. Or if you like

the dog-barking lion wrath, enjoy
the hurt longer. Watch a one-year-

old, how it walks, the slow wisdom
there. Sometimes a sweet taste

makes you sour and mean. Listen
to the voice that says, It was for

you I created the universe. Then
kill and be killed in love. You've

been two dogs dozing long enough!

-- Ghazal (Ode) 2198
Version by Coleman Barks
"The Soul of Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 2001


Friday, July 14, 2006

"Inside the Rose"

That camel there with its calf running
behind it, Sutur and Koshek, we're like

them: mothered and nursed by where and
who we are from, following our fates

where they lead, until we hear a drum
begin, grace entering our lives, a prayer

of gratitude. We feel the call of God,
and the journey changes. A dry field

of stones turns soft and moist as cheese.
The mountain feels level under us. Love

becomes agile and quick, and suddenly
we're there! This traveling's not done

with the body. God's secret takes form
in your loving. But there are those in

bodies who are pure soul. It can happen.
These messengers invite us to walk with

them. They say, "You may feel happy
enough where you are, but we can't do

without you any longer! Please." So
we walk along inside the rose, being

pulled like the creeks and rivers are,
out from the town onto the plain. My
guide, my soul, your only sadness is when
I am not walking with you. In deep silence,

with some exertion to stay in your company,
I could save you a lot of trouble!

-- Ghazal (Ode) 200
Version by Coleman Barks, with Nevit Ergin
"The Glance"
Viking-Penguin, 1999

The image:


Thursday, July 13, 2006

"For the sake of the one who sees"

If anyone has eloquence, a listener draws it out:
the teacher's enthusiasm and energy
are derived from the child he teaches.
When the harpist who plays twenty-four musical modes
finds no ear to listen, his harp becomes a burden:
no song comes to mind, his ten fingers will not function.
If there were no ears to receive the message from the Unseen,
no prophet would have brought a revelation from Heaven.
And if there were no eyes to see the works of God,
neither would the sky have revolved,
nor would the earth have smiled with fertile greenness.
The declaration lawlâka* means this,
that the whole business of creation
is for the sake of the perceiving eye
and the one who sees.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Jazb-e sam`ast ar kasi-râ khvosh labist
garmi o jedd-e mo`allem az sabist
Changiyi-râ ku navâzad bist o châr
chon niyâbad gush gardad chang bâr
Nah harâreh yâdesh âyad nah ghazal
nah dah angoshtesh be-jonbad dar `amal
Gar na-budi gush-hâ-ye Ghayb gir
vahy na-âvordi ze Gardun yek bashir
Var na-budi did-hâ-ye son` bin
nah falak gashti nah khandidi zamin
Ân dam-e lawlâka* in bâshad keh kâr
az barâ-ye cheshm-e tizast o nazzâr

*"But for you," referring to the Holy Tradition (hadith qudsi): "But
for you (O Muhammad) I would not have created the worlds."

-- Mathnawi: VI: 1656-1661
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance
Threshold Books, 1996
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra

The image:

The Persian recitation:

A Persian interpretation:


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The final merging, everlasting beauty


Now comes the final merging,
Now comes everlasting beauty.
Now comes abundant grace,
Now comes boundless purity.

The infinite treasure is shining,
The mighty ocean is roaring,
The morning of grace has come -
Morning? - No!
This is the eternal Light of God!

Who occupies this beautiful form?
Who is the ruler and the prince?
Who is the wise man? -
Nothing but a veil.

The wine of love removes these veils.
Drink with your head and your eyes -
Both your eyes,
and both your heads!

Your head of clay is from the earth,
Your pure awareness is from heaven.
O how vast is that treasure
which lies beneath the clay!
Every head you see depends on it!

Behind every atom of this world
hides an infinite universe.

O Saaqi, free us from the facade of this world.
Bring wine - barrels full!
Our eyes see too straight -
straight past the truth!

The Light of Truth shines from Tabriz.
It is beyond the beyond
yet it is here,
shining through every particle of this world.

-- Ghazal (Ode) 464
Version by Jonathan Star
"Rumi - In the Arms of the Beloved "
Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, New York 1997

The image:

The Persian recitation:

The Persian Music:


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

With trust in God

Listen, put trust in God, don't let your hands and feet tremble with fear:
your daily bread is more in love with you than you with it.
It is in love with you and holding back
only because it knows of your lack of self-denial.
If you had any self-denial, the daily bread
would throw itself upon you as lovers do.
What is this feverish trembling for fear of hunger?
In possession of trust in God one can live full-fed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Hin tavakkol kon ma-larzân pâ o dast
rezq-e to bar to ze to `âsheq-tarast
`sheqast o mi zanad u mul mul
keh ze bi sabriyet dânad ay fozul
Gar torâ sabri bodi rezq âmadi
khvishtan chon `âsheqân bar to zadi
In tab-e larzeh ze khawf-e ju` chist
dar tavakkol sir mi tânand zist

-- Mathnawi V: 2852-2854
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
(Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra)

The image:

The Persian recitation:

A Persian interpretation:


Monday, July 10, 2006


Sunlight offers the verses from Rumi's Mathnawi, Volume IV,
lines 3748-3754, in an interpretive version by Coleman Barks,
and in the literal translation by Nicholson, on which Barks
based his version:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

A Zero-Circle

Be helpless and dumbfounded,
unable to say yes or no.

Then a stretcher will come
from grace to gather us up.

We are too dulleyed to see the beauty.
If we say "Yes we can," we'll be lying.

If we say "No, we don't see it,"
that "No" will behead us
and shut tight our window into spirit.

So let us not be sure of anything,
beside ourselves, and only that, so
miraculous beings come running to help.

Crazed, lying in a zero-circle, mute,
we will be saying finally,
with tremendous eloquence, "Lead us."

When we've totally surrendered to that beauty,
we'll become a mighty kindness.

-- Mathnawi IV, 3748-3754
Coleman Barks
Say I am You
Maypop, 1994


Therefore be dumbfounded without nay or yea, in order
that a litter may come from (the Divine) Mercy to carry you.
Forasmuch as you are too dull to apprehend these
wonders (of God), if you say "yea" you will be prevaricating;
And if you say "nay," the "nay" will behead (undo) you:
on account of that "nay" (the Divine) Wrath will shut your
spiritual window.
Be, then, only dumbfounded and distraught, nothing else,
that God's aid may come in from before and behind.
When you have become dumbfounded and crazed and
naughted, you have said with mute eloquence, "Lead us."
It (the wrath of God) is mighty, mighty; but when you begin
to tremble, that mighty shape is for (terrifying) the unbeliever;
when you have become helpless, it is mercy and kindness.

-- Mathnawi IV, 3748-3754
The Mathnawi of Jalalu'ddin Rumi
Translation and Commentary by Reynold A. Nicholson
Published and Distributed by
The Trustees of The "E.J.W. Gibb Memorial

The image:

The Persian recitation:

A Persian interpretation:


Friday, July 07, 2006

Sacred paradoxes

Sunlight offers Ghazal 1869, from the Diwan-e Shams-e
Tabrizi, in a translation by William Chittick, a version from
Jonathan Star, and a translation by A.J Arberry:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Off with you! Know that the lover's religion is
contrary to other ways, for false dealings from the Friend
are better than sincerity and kindliness.
What is unthinkable for Him is the actual state, His
chastisement the reward, all of His tyranny justice, His
slander equity.
His harshness is soft, His synagogue the Kaaba –
the thorn driven home by the Heart-ravisher is sweeter than
roses and basil.
When He is sour, He is more excellent than a house
of sugar; when He comes to you in annoyance, He is all
affection and kisses.
When He says to you, "By God, I am sick of you!",
that is Khidr's elixir from the Fountain of Life.
When He says "No!" a thousand yea's are hidden
within it; in this religion of the selfless, He becomes family
and self by remaining a stranger.
His unbelief is faith, His stones all coral, His miser-
liness generosity, His offenses all forgiveness.
If you taunt me and say, "Your religion is bent out
of shape!" – well, I have bought the religion of His bent
eyebrow for the price of my spirit.
This bent religion has made me drunk! Enough!
I will shut my lips – you continue, oh illuminated heart, and
recite the rest silently!
Oh Lord! Oh Shams of God Tabrizi! What sugar
you pour down! You voice a hundred arguments and
proofs from my mouth!

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


A Sacred Blasphemy

Be off and know
That the way of lovers is opposite all other ways.
Lies from the Friend
Are better than truth and kindness from others.

For Him
The impossible is commonplace,
Punishment is reward,
Tyranny is justice,
Slander is the highest praise.

His harshness is soft,
His blasphemy is sacred.
The blood that drips from the Beloved's thorn
is sweeter than roses and basil.

When He's bitter
it's better than a candy-shop.
When He turns his head away
it's all hugs and kisses.
When He says, "By God, I've had enough of you!"
it's like an eternal spring
flowing from the fountain of life.

A "No" from his lips is a thousand times "Yes."
On this selfless path
He acts like a stranger
yet He's your dearest friend.

His infidelity is faith,
His stones are jewels,
His holding back is giving,
His ruthlessness is mercy.

You may laugh at me and say,
"The path you're on is full of curves!"
Yes – for the curve of His eyebrow
I have traded in my soul!

This curvy path has gotten me drunk,
I cannot say another word!
Carry on, my glorious heart,
finish the poem in silence . . .

O Shams, Lord of Tabriz,
What sweetness you pour upon me –
All I need to is open my mouth
and all your songs flow out.

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


Go, know that the code of lovers is opposite to all other ways,
for from the Beloved lies are better than truth and beneficence.
His impossibility comes to pass, his insalubriousness is a
bonus, his injustice is all rectitude. Calumny from him is justice.
His hard is soft, his synagogue is the Kaaba, the Beloved's
thorn is better than roses and basil.
The moment when he is bitter is better than a sweetshop, and
the moment when he becomes weary, that is kissing and em-
The moment when he says to you, "By Allah, I am indifferent to you" --
that is the water of Khidr from the fountain of life.*
The when he says "No," in his "No" are a thousand "Yeses"; his
strangerhood is kinship according to the code of the unselfed.
His infidelity becomes all faith, his stone all coral, his miser-
liness all benificence, his crime all forgiveness.
If you criticize, you say, "You have a crooked way of going
on"; I have bought the way of his brow and given my life.
I am drunk with this crooked way; I have made enough, and
closed my lips -- rise up, bright heart, and recite the rest of it.
Shams-al-Haqq Tabrizi! Dear Lord, what sugar you sprinkle!
You might say that out of my mouth proceed a hundred proofs
and demonstrations.

-- Translation by A.J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 2"
University of Chicago Press, 1979, 1991

*The Water of Life (Ab-e hayvan, or hayatI) is the Fountain of Life in the Land of Darkness. Nizami, in his "Sikander-nama" describes how Alexander was guided by the prophet Khidr to the Fountain but could not reach it.

The image:


Thursday, July 06, 2006

"How should he have any doubt?"

Since wisdom is the stray camel of the faithful believer,
he knows it with certainty from whomever he hears it.
When he finds himself right in front of it,
how should he have any doubt?
How should he mistake himself?

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

Pas cho hekmat zâlleh-ye mo'men bovad
ân ze har keh bo-sh'nud muqen bovad
Chonke khvod-râ pish-e u yâbad faqat
chon bovad shakk chon konad khvod-râ ghalat

-- Mathnawi II: 3591-3592
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra

The image:

The recitation:

A Persian interpretation:


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

"Created in God's light, immersed in His glow"

where have you gone
the settler of my soul
did you fly away
or hide in your home

as soon as you saw
the loyalty of my heart
you turned around and
flew like a bird

your vision captured
the wandering of our spirits
then away from the crowd
you journeyed in solitude

you went away so quick
as though you were
a morning breath
carrying a flower's aroma

but you really didn't fly away
as a bird or a breeze
you were created from God's light
you went immersed in His glow

-- Ghazal 2587
Translated by Nader Khalili
"Rumi, Fountain of Fire"
Burning Gate Press, Los Angeles, 1994

The image:

The Persian recitation:


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"Conventional opinion is the ruin of our souls"

Conventional opinion is the ruin of our souls,
something borrowed which we mistake as our own.
Ignorance is better than this; clutch at madness instead.
Always run from what seems to benefit your self:
sip the poison and spill the water of life.
Revile those who flatter you;
lend both interest and principle to the poor.
Let security go and be at home amidst dangers.
Leave your good name behind and accept disgrace.
I have lived with cautious thinking;
now I'll make myself mad.


`Elm-e taqlidi vabâl-e jân-e mâst
`âriyeh-st va mâ neshasteh k'ân-e mâst
Zin kherad jâhel hami bâyad shodan
dast dar divanegi bâyad zadan
Har cheh bini sud-e khvod ze ân mi goriz
zahr nush va âb-e hayvân-râ be-riz
Har keh bastâyad terâ doshnâm deh
sud o sarmâyeh be-mofles vâm deh
Aymani be-gozâr va jâ-ye khawf bâsh
be-gozar az nâmus va rasvâ bâsh o fâsh
zmudam `aql-e durândish-râ
ba`d azin divâneh sâzam khvish-râ

-- Mathnawi II: 2327-2332
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra

The Persian image:

The English image:

The Persian recitation:

A Persian interpretation:


Monday, July 03, 2006

Splitting the moon

Sunlight presents Ghazal 2967, in a poetic version by
Coleman Barks and in translation by A.J. Arberry, with added

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

It's lucky to hear the flutes for dancing
coming down the road.
The ground is glowing.
The table set in the yard.

We will drink all this wine tonight
because it's Spring. It is.
It's a growing sea. We're clouds
over the sea,
or flecks of matter
in the ocean when the ocean seems lit from within.
I know I'm drunk when I start this ocean talk.

Would you like to see the moon split
in half with one throw?

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


Once again a melody has come from the reed pipe of fortune;
O soul, clap hands, O heart, stamp feet.
A mine has become aglow, a world is laughing, a table is
adorned, acclamation is coming.
We are drunk and roaring in hope of the spring over the
meadow, adoring one of handsome cheek.
He is the sea, we are a cloud; he the treasure, we a ruin;
in the light of a sea we are as motes.
I am distracted, I am excused; suffer me to brag – with
the light of Mostafa* I will split the moon.* **

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

*The splitting of the moon will be the sign of the approaching
end of the world (Qur'an 54:1)

Additional notes from Ibrahim Gamard:

*Mostafa: a well-known title of the Prophet Muhammad, meaning the
"Chosen one."
**will split the moon: refers to an early interpretation of Qur'an 54:1
("and the moon is split asunder"), that (rather than a future sign of the
coming of the Day of Judgment) it meant a miracle witnessed by
several of the Prophet's companions (that the moon appeared one
night as if split into two parts). This is the interpretation believed by
Muslims for centuries (and believed by Rumi, as shown by II: 1606:
"The unbelievers viewed Muhammad as an (ordinary) man because
they did not see 'the moon is split asunder' (caused) by him").

The image: