Wednesday, September 20, 2006

"Only the one who searches"

Today, Ghazal 617 is offered, in a version by Professor Coleman
Barks, along with a recent translation, with footnotes and
transliteration, by Dr. Ibrahim Gamard. Sunlight gratefully
acknowledges Dr. Gamard's contributions to this community.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^


An eye is meant to see things.
The soul is here for its own joy.
A head has one use: for loving a true love.
Legs: to run after.

Love is for vanishing into the sky. The mind,
for learning what men have done and tried to do.
Mysteries are not to be solved. The eye goes blind
when it only wants to see why.

A lover is always accused of something.
But when he finds his love, whatever was lost
in the looking comes back competely changed.
On the way to Mecca, many dangers: thieves,
the blowing sand, only camel's milk to drink.
Still, each pilgrim kisses the black stone there
with pure longing, feeling in the surface
the taste of the lips he wants.

This talk is like stamping new coins. They pile up,
while the real work is done outside
by someone digging in the ground.

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


The eye must search for that one* so that it may see an amazing
thing. (And) the soul must search for that one so it may experience
delight and joy.
The head must search for that one so it may be drunk for an idol.*
Or it must search for that one so it may experience hardship for the
beloved's sake.
Love must search for that one so it may fly toward the sky.
(And) the intellect must search for that one so it may find
(spiritual)knowledge and learning.
The secrets and marvels are beyond causes. Any (physical) eye is
veiled, for it may see (only) all the causes.
The lover [on] this Way who becomes disreputable with a hundred
suspicions (upon him)-- when the turn for union* comes, he will
find a hundred [beautiful] names and nicknames.*
It is worthwhile (to travel) through sands and deserts for the
sake of the Pilgrimage (to Mecca). He adapts to [living on] the milk
of camels (and) he suffers the vandalism of the Arab (Beduins).*
[At last] the pilgrim gives a kiss from (his) heart upon the Black
Stone,* so that he may experience the pleasure of (his) lips from the
lips of a Beloved.*
On account of the present coin of the beloved's speech, take care
(and) don't mint* (any) other. For (only) the one who searches may
find the gold mine.

-- From the Dîwân-é Kabîr (also known as "Kulliyat-é
Shams" and "Dîwân-é Shams-é Tabrîz")
of Jalaluddin Rumi
Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard, 4/15/00
(c) Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, &

*that one: means Shams-i Tabriz, Rumi's beloved spiritual master.
*drunk for an idol: means spiritual ecstasy caused by being in the
presence of the beloved spiritual master. This is a common
"provocative" metaphor in Persian sufi poetry, since idolatry and
consumption of alcohol are contrary to Islam.
*hardship for the beloved's sake: the lover must suffer rejection
and separation from the beloved in order to become worthy of union.
*union: Although the belief in "unification with God" is heretical in
Islam, Muslim sufis on the path of mystical love have often spoken of
"union with the beloved" to symbolize a kind of spiritual union with a
sufi master (mystical "annihilation" in the master) and to mean a
spiritual state of nearness to God, which is likened to union.
*names and nicknames: a word-play, since "disreputable" [bad-nâm]
literally means "of bad-name." The meaning is that the lover will be
given disgraceful names by the externalists who don't understand
mystical love, but in the end the beloved (meaning the spiritual
master)will bestow names of praise and affectionate nick-names upon
the true spiritual lover.
*the vandalism of the Arab (Beduins): Arab desert tribesmen often
attacked and robbed caravans of pilgrims on their way to Mecca.
*the Black Stone: a black stone (perhaps a meteorite) which is
attached to an outside corner of the Ka'ba in Mecca, Arabia. The
Ka'ba is a cube-shaped temple which was emptied of all idols when
the Prophet Muhammad returned victoriously to Mecca (in the year
630). The ancient sacred Black Stone (which was not an idol) was
kept on the southeast corner, and is believed by Muslims to represent
the "Hand of God" which is to be kissed reverently. To this day,
while most pilgrims are performing the sacred circling of the Ka'ba
(continuously, day and night, every day of the year), there is a
constant "mash" of pilgrims at the southeast corner striving with
intense yearning to reach and kiss the Black Stone-- which is only
possible one at a time.
*a Beloved: means God.
*don't mint: a word-play. "Present coin," is an idiom meaning,
"current," "present." Minting another coin means here, "adding any
words of your own." Rumi's odes often end with a call to silence
and a reminder that Truth and Love are beyond words. The
meaning of this line is that only the one who sincerely and
persistently searches for Love beyond words and
concepts has any hope of finding the source of "gold."


chashm az pay-é ân bây-ad tâ chêz-é `ajab bîn-ad
jân az pay-é ân bây-ad tâ `aysh-o Tarab bîn-ad

sar az pay-é ân bây-ad tâ mast-é botê bâsh-ad
yâ az pay-é ân bây-ad k-az yâr ta`ab bîn-ad

`ishq az pay-é ân bây-ad tâ sôy-é falak par-ad
`aql az pay-é ân bây-ad tâ `ilm-o adab bîn-ad

bêrûn-é sabab bâsh-ad asrâr-o `ajâyib-hâ
maHjûb bow-ad chashmê k-ô jomla sabab bîn-ad

`âshiq ke ba-Sad tuhmat bad-nâm shaw-ad în sô
chûn nawbat-é aSl ây-ad Sad nâm-o liqab bîn-ad

arzad ke barây-é Haj dar rêg-o beyâbân-hâ
bâ shîr-é shotor sâz-ad yaghmây-é `arab bin-ad

bar sang-é seyah Hâjî z-ân bôsa zan-ad az del
k-az la`l-é lab-é yârê ô laZat-é lab bîn-ad

bar naqd-é sokhon-é jânâ hîn sikka ma-zan dêgar
k-ân-kas ke Talab dâr-ad ô kân-é Zahab bîn-ad

[meter: XXooXoXX XXooXoXX]

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