Friday, December 22, 2006

"How Jesus Fled from Fools" & Notice of Vacation

Today, Sunlight presents a selection from Rumi's epic "Mathnawi"
(variously transliterated as "Masnavi", etc.), Book III, verses 2570-
2599. Two interpretive versions, by Barks and Helminski, precede a
literal translation, with notes and Persian transliteration, by Dr.
Ibrahim Gamard. Sunlight thanks Dr. Gamard for his many

Sunlight will be on vacation until January.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

"What Jesus Runs Away From"

The son of Mary, Jesus, hurries up a slope
as though a wild animal were chasing him.
Someone following him asks, "Where are you going?
No one is after you." Jesus keeps on,
saying nothing, across two more fields. "Are you
the one who says words over a dead person,
so that he wakes up?" "I am." "Did you not make
the clay birds fly?" "Yes." "Who then
could possibly cause you to run like this?"
Jesus slows his pace.

"I say the Great Name over the deaf and the blind,
they are healed. Over a stony mountainside,
and it tears its mantle down to the navel.
Over non-existence, it comes into existence.
But when I speak lovingly for hours, for days,
with those who take human warmth
and mock it, when I say the Name to them, nothing
happens. They remain rock, or turn to sand,
where no plants can grow. Other diseases are ways
for mercy to enter, but this non-responding
breeds violence and coldness toward God.
I am fleeing from that.

"As little by little air steals water, so praise
dries up and evaporates with foolish people
who refuse to change Like cold stone you sit on
a cynic steals body heat. He doesn't actually feel
the sun." Jesus wasn't running from actual people.
He was teaching in a new way.

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


Flee from the foolish; even Jesus fled from them.
Much blood has been shed by companionship with fools!
Air absorbs water little by little;
even so, the fool drains you of spirit.
He steals your heat and leaves you cold,
like one who puts a stone beneath you.
The flight of Jesus wasn't caused by fear,
for he is safe from the mischief of fools;
his purpose was to teach by example.

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


Mathnawi III: 2570-2599

How Jesus Fled From Fools

The escaping of Jesus, (may the) peace (of God) be upon him,
to the top of a mountain (to flee) from fools.

Jesus, (the son) of Mary, was running away to a mountain. You
might say (that) a lion was wanting to spill his blood.
Someone ran behind (him) and said, "(May you be) well! There
isn't anyone following you, (so) why are you fleeing like a bird?"
(But) he kept running in the same manner, bound to urgency, (so)
that he didn't answer him, because of his own haste.
(The man) pressed forward following Jesus (for) one or two
(more) fields. Then he called (out) to Jesus with great seriousness,
Saying, "For the sake of God's approval, stop for a moment! --
since I have a problem in (understanding this) fleeing of yours.
"O noble and generous one! Who are you running from (in) this
direction? (There's) no lion or enemy following you, and no fear or
He answered, "I am escaping from a fool. Go (away)! I'm
rescuing myself, (so) don't restrain me!"
(The man) said, "But aren't you the Messiah,(1) by whom blind
and deaf (people) become normal?"
"Yes," he replied. (The man) asked, "Aren't you the (spiritual)
king who (is) the dwelling place for mysterious spells and
incantations?(2) --
"(So that) if you recite a spell upon a (man's) corpse, he leaps
up (joyfully) like a lion (who has) brought back prey."
"Yes," he answered, "I am that one." (The other) said, "O
beautiful faced one! Don't you make (living) birds out of clay?"(3)
"Yes," he replied. (The other) said, "O pure spirit! Then you can
make (happen) whatever you wish-- (so) who are you afraid of?
"With evidence such as this,(4) who is there in the world who
wouldn't be among your (devoted) slaves?"
Jesus said, "By the Holy Essence of God, the Originator of the
body, the Creator of the soul in (its) superiority!(5)
"(And in) reverence for His Holy Essence and Attributes, (for)
whom the collar of the heavens is torn (in ecstasy)(6):
"(I affirm) that those incantations, as well as the greatest Name
(of God),(7) which I spoke over the deaf and over the blind, were
"I recited (the words) over the rocky mountain (and) it became
split, tearing the robe (which was) upon itself (down) to the navel.
"I spoke (the words) over a dead body (and) it became alive. I
said (them) over a point of nothingness (and) it became something.
"(But) I said those (words) a hundred thousand times with
loving-kindness over the heart of a fool and it was not a cure.(8)
"(Instead), it became(9) a hard rock and didn't change from that
habit; it became sand, from which no seed grows."
(The man) said, "(Then) what is the wisdom that the Name of God
was beneficial in those places, (but) here it had no superiority?(10)
"That is also (a case) of disease, and this is an affliction.
(So) why was it(11) a cure for that (but) not for this?"
(Jesus) replied, "The affliction of foolish stupidity is (caused
by)the overwhelming anger of God. (Normal) afflictions and blindness
are not (from God's) anger-- those are tests and trials."
Trials and hardships are an affliction which [eventually] brings
(Divine) Mercy. (But) ignorant foolishness brings blows and
That which is his scarring has been produced by His seal,(12)
(and) no supporting hand can bring a remedy to it.
(Therefore), escape from foolish people just as Jesus escaped.
(For) companionship with fools has spilled so much blood!
The air steals water very gradually,(13) (and) the fool steals
religion from you also in the same way.
He steals your warmth and gives you cold (in its place), just like
one who puts a rock under (your) bottom.
The escaping of Jesus is not because of (real) fear, (for) he is
secure (from such). (But) is for the sake of teaching (a lesson).(14)
Even if intense cold filled (all) the horizons of the world, what
grief would there be for the radiant sun?

-- From "The Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî"
[Rhymed Couplets of Deep Spiritual Meaning]
of Jalaluddin Rumi.
Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard (with
gratitude for R.A. Nicholson's 1930 British
(c) Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, &

(1) the Messiah: "(And) when the angels said, 'O Mary! Truly God
gives you good news of a word from Him, whose name will be the
Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, [al-masîHu `îsà ibnu maryam]
worthy of honor in this world and the Hereafter and among those
(who are) nearest to God." (Qur'an 3:45)
(2) mysterious spells and incantations: Nicholson translated, "in
whom the spells of the Unseen World have their abode."
(3) (living) birds out of clay: a reference to a verse in the Qur'an
where Jesus was sent as a prophet of God to the Children of Israel
with the message: "Surely, I have come to you with a (miraculous)
sign from your Lord. I will make for you (something) resembling the
shape of a bird and I will breathe into it so that it will become a
(living) bird, by the permission of God. And I will heal the blind and
the lepers, and I make the dead alive, by the permission of God."
(Qur'an 3:49)
(4) With evidence such as this: Nicholson translated, "With such
(miraculous) evidence..."
(5) the soul in (its) superiority: Nicholson translated, "the Creator
of the soul in eternity," and explained, "Literally, 'in priority.'"
(footnote) This refers to the teaching in the Qur'an that God created
Adam as superior to the angels, which they were commanded to
acknowledge (2: 31-34).
(6) (for) whom the collar of the heavens is torn (in ecstasy): refers
to the ancient practice of "rending one's garments" during a state of
extreme devotion. In Islamic culture, public nudity is forbidden.
However, dervishes used to tear their shirts or robes from the collar
to the waist, while in a state of spiritual ecstasy, such as during a
samâ`, or mystical concert, when spontaneous movement (and
sometimes dancing and whirling) occurred while hearing mystical
poetry and music.
(7) the greatest Name (of God) [ism-é a`Zam]: Nicholson translated,
"the Most Great Name." Although the name "Allah" is considered to
be the greatest Name of God, because it contains all of the
traditional Ninety-Nine (and the infinite) Names of God, it probably
refers here to the sufi teaching that God allows a few of His chosen
servants to know His greatest (and most secret) Name-- by which he
allows them to perform miracles [mu`jizât] (if they are prophets,
such as Jesus) and wonders [karâmât] (if they are saints). In a
similar story, Rumi tells about a fool who asked Jesus to teach
him "that sublime Name [nâm-é sanî] by which you make a dead
man alive" (II:142). The man wanted to revive some bones he saw in a
hole. After receiving clarification from God, Jesus pronounced the
Name over the bones, a lion sprung to life and killed the fool.
Nicholson explained the meaning of "that sublime Name" as referring
to "the Greatest name of God (ismu 'lláhi 'l-a`zamu), generally
said to be Allah, wherein Huwa [= He, meaning the Divine Essence] is
contained. Knowledge of the name confers miraculous powers on
those who possess it, viz. prophets and heads of the hierarchy of
saints, and can be communicated" [= to selected others].
(8) it wasn't a cure: "One of the sayings which Moslems attribute to
Jesus is má `ajaztu `an ihyá'i 'l-mawtá kamá `ajaztu `an
'l-ahmaq." [= As much as I worked miracles in regard to reviving the
dead, even so, I was helpless in regard to mending the fool.]
(Nicholson, Commentary)
(9) It became: refers to the heart, mentioned in the previous line.
Nicholson translated, "He became..."
(10) here it had no superiority: Nicholson translated, "(while) it had
no advantage (good effect) here?" And he explained: "I.e. 'in the case
of the fool.'" (footnote)
(11) why was it: Nicholson translated, "why did it (the Name of
(12) his scarring has been produced by His seal: Means that his
punishment has been sealed or stamped upon him by the Decree of
God. "Of course Rúmí does not imply that because the fool acts
according to his predestined folly he is therefore excusable."
(Nicholson, Commentary)
(13) The air steals water very gradually: means through evaporation.
(14) for the sake of teaching (a lesson): "...the prophet or saint,
though 'united' with God and endowed with Divine knowledge,
nevertheless turns to God in solitary prayer and supplication
(khalwat ú namáz). It is in order that his example in this
respect may
be followed by those who seek salvation under his guidance."
(Nicholson, Commentary)


gorêkhtan-é `îsà-- `alay-hi 's-salâm-- farâz-é
kûh az aHmaq-ân

`îsà-yé maryam ba-kôhê mê-gorêkht
shêr gôy-î khûn-é ô mê-khwâst rêkht

ân yakê dar pay dawîd-o goft khayr
dar pay-at kas nêst che gorêz-î chô Tayr?

bâ shetâb ô ân-chon-ân mê-tâkht joft
k-az shetâb-é khwad jawâb-é ô na-goft

yak dô maydân dar pay-é `îsà be-rând
pas ba-jidd-é jidd `îsà-râ be-khwând

k-az pay-é marZât-é Haq yak laHZa b-êst
ke ma-ra andar gorêz-at mushkilê-st

az ke în sô mê-gorêz-î ay karîm
na pay-at shêr-o na khaSm-o khawf-o bîm

goft az aHmaq gorêzân-am, be-raw
mê-rahân-am khwêsh-râ band-am ma-shaw

goft âkhir ân masîHâ na tow-î
ke shaw-ad kûr-o kar az tô mustawî?

goft ârî, goft ân shah nêst-î
ke fusûn-é ghayb-râ ma'wîst-î?

chûn be-khwân-î ân fusûn bar morda'yê
bar jah-ad chûn shêr-é Sayd-âwarda'yê

goft ârî, ân man-am, goft-â ke tô
na ze-gel morgh-ân kon-î ay khwob-rô

goft ârî, goft pas ay rûH-é pâk
har-che khwâh-î mê-kon-î, az kî-st bâk?

bâ chon-în burhân ke bâsh-ad dar jahân
ke na-bâsh-ad mar to-râ az bandag-ân?

goft `îsà ke ba-Zât-é pâk-é Haq
mubdi`-é tan, khâliq-é jân dar sabaq

Hurmat-é Zât-o Sifât-é pâk-é ô
ke bow-ad gardûn garîbân châk-é ô

k-ân fusûn-o ism-é a`Zam-râ ke man
bar kar-o bar kûr khwând-am shod Hasan

bar koh-é sangîn be-khwând-am shod shekâf
khirqa-râ be-drîd bar khwad tâ ba-nâf

bar tan-é morda be-khwând-am gasht Hay
bar sar-é lâ-shay be-khwând-am gasht shay

khwând-am ân-râ bar del-é aHmaq ba-wud
Sad hazâr-ân bâr-o darmânê na-shod

sang-é khârâ gasht-o z-ân khô bar na-gasht
rêg shod k-az way na-rôy-ad hêch kasht

goft Hikmat chî-st, k-ân-jâ ism-é Haq,
sûd kard, în-jâ na-bûd ân-râ sabaq?

ân ham-ân ranj-ast-o în ranjê, che-râ
ô na-shod în-râ-wo ân-râ shod dawâ

goft ranj-é aHmaqî qahr-é khodâ-st
ranj-o kûrî nêst qahr, ân ibtilâ-st

ibtilâ ranjê-st k-ân raHm âwar-ad
aHmaqî ranjê-st k-ân zakhm âwar-ad

ân-che dâgh-é ô-st mohr-é ô karda-ast
châra'yê bar way na-y-ar-ad bord-dast

z-aHmaq-ân be-g'rêz chûn `îsà gorêkht
SuHbat-é aHmaq basê khûn-hâ ke rêkht

andak andak âb-râ dozd-ad hawâ
dîn chon-în dozd-ad ham aHmaq az shomâ

garmiy-at-râ dozd-ad-o sardî deh-ad
ham-chô ân k-ô zêr-é kûn sangê neh-ad

ân gorêz-é `îsà na az bîm bow-ad
âmin-ast ô, ân pay-é ta`lîm bow-ad

zamharîr ar por kon-ad âfâq-râ
che gham ân khworshêd-é bâ-ishrâq-râ?

The media:


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Always be present, attentive, and ready in yourself

If a blow comes to you from Heaven,
be alert to a gift of honor after it;
for He is not the King to slap you
without giving you a crown
and a throne on which to rest.
The whole world is worth only a gnat's wing,
but a single slap may bring an infinite reward.
Slip your neck nimbly out of this golden collar
that is the world, and take the slaps that come from God.
The prophets suffered those blows on the neck,
and from that affliction they lifted their heads high.
But always be present, attentive, and ready in yourself,
youthful one, in order that He may find you at home.
Otherwise He will take back His gift of honor,
saying "I found no one there."

-- Mathnawi VI: 1638-1643
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996

The media:


“Occupy yourself with your own inward self!”

Oh heart, place no honey in the mouth of the
ill! Speak not of entrancing eyes in the assembly of the blind!
Although God is nearer to His servant than his
jugular vein*, He is far from those who are far
from Him.
Occupy yourself with your own inward self!
Then like moons the concealed maidens will come out in
theophany from behind their veils!
Although in this work you will be lost to
yourself and the world, outside of yourself and the world you
will be famous.
If you are the moon of union, give a sign of
your union! Tell of the arms, the silver breasts, and the faces
of the houris!
And if you are yellow gold from separation's
heartache, where is separation's burning brand? Only the coins
of the wretched are so dull and tarnished.
Since you have no love, at least perform the
duties of servanthood, for God will never neglect the wages of
the wage earners.
Know that love for God is Solomon's seal-how
should Solomon's income be related to the wages of ants?
Throw away the garments of thought and
cogitation, for the sun only shines upon the naked!
Seek refuge in the locks of Shams-i Tabrizi, for
they rain down musk and will protect you from tyrants.

-- Ghazal (Ode) 2073
Translation by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love"
SUNY Press, Albany, 1983

*(Koran L 16)

The media:


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"Recall the bounties"

I beg you, ask each part of yourself
to recall the bounties of the World-Provider
which are hidden in the pages of Time.
These dumb parts have a hundred tongues.

By day and by night you are eager to hear stories,
while each part of you sings of His bounties.
Like the ice which is born of winter,
when the winter disappears,
it remains as a reminder of winter's hardships.
In December a few fruits are our reminders of summer's grace.
Similarly, my child, every single part within you
suggests the story of a bounty He bestowed.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bâri aknun to ze har jozvet be-pors
sad zabân dârand in ajzâ-ye khors
Zekr-e ne`mat-hâ-ye Razzâq-e jahân
keh nehân shod ân dar awrâq-e Zamân
Ruz o shab afsâneh juyâni to chost
jozo jozo to fasâneh gu-ye tost
Yâ mesâl-e yakh keh zâyad az shetâ
shod shetâ penhân va ân yakh pish-e mâ
Hast ân yakh zân so`ubat yâdgâr
yâdgâr-e sayf dar Day in semâr
Hamchonân har jozo jozvet ay fati
dar tanet afsâneh gu-ye ne`mati

-- Mathnawi, VI:1794-1796; 1801-1803
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance
Threshold Books, 1996
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra

The media:


Monday, December 18, 2006

"Both Worlds"

"Both Worlds"

There is God's wine, and this
other. Don't mix them. There

are naked pilgrims who wear only
sunlight. Don't give them clothes!

There are lovers content with
hoping. I'm not one of them.

Give a cup of pure fire to your
closest friend, healing salve

to the wounded. To Shams-i
Tabriz, offer up both worlds.

-- Ghazal (Ode) 917
Version by Coleman Barks, with Nevit Ergin
"The Glance"
Viking-Penguin, 1999

The media:


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Urs -- “From this world, Rumi moved on”

This week, Sunlight has offered a series of poems in
commemoration of the Urs, the wedding with the Beloved, of
Jalalu'ddin Rumi (the Urs is known in Persian as "vesal", "reunion
[with the Beloved]"). To close the week, Sunlight offers a poem by
Rumi's son, Sultan Valad*, recording the occasion of the passing of

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

From this foul, fulsome world, Rumi moved on
After ten sweet years with Hosam al-Din*
On a December's day, the seventeenth*
came to pass that proud monarch's moving on
Of years six hundred seventy and two
since the Hijra of the Prophet* had gone by
The eye of mankind wept so sore that day
its lightning struck and burned away the souls
A quaking overtook the earth that moment
in the heavens rose a wail of mourning
The people of the town, both young and old
wailed and wept and sighed in lamentation
The villagers nearby, both Greeks and Turks
in pain upon his loss rent wide their collars
all paid the corpse their last loving respects
Folks from every faith proved faithful to him --
in love with him the people of all nations

-- SVE 121
From Sultan Valad's "Valad nameh" (Persian, "The
Book of Valad), also known as "Ebteda nameh"
Translation by Professor Franklin D. Lewis
"Rumi, Past and Present, East and West"
Oneworld Publications, Oxford, 2000
(This poem edited (c) 12/12/00)

Sunlight notes:

* Sultan Valad -- Rumi's son, his biographer, and his spiritual
successor. Formally founded in the Mevlevi Order of Sufis, following
his father's teachings. Author of five books, four of poetry
("Ebtedâ-nâme, " "Rabâb-nâme," "Entehâ-nâme," "Dîvân-e Soltân
Valad") and one of prose ("Ma`âref")."

* Hosam al-Din -- a sufi shaykh in his own right, Hosam al-Din acted
as Rumi's scribe, editor, and inspiration during the writing of the
Mathnawi. It's interesting to learn that the composition of the
Mathnawi was suspended when Hosam al-Din's wife died and he was
withdrawn in mourning. He also acted as an administrator of Rumi's
school in Konya.
* "December 17th" -- the Christian calendar equivalent of the fifth
day of Jumadi II. "Jumadi II" is the sixth month of the Arabic lunar
* Seventy two and six hundred years since the Hijra of the Prophet --
"Hijra" (Arabic), the flight of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca (in
Sept., 622 A.D. per the Christian calendar) to Medina. The Muslim
calendar dates from the first day of the hijra.

A valuable Rumi link:


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Urs - - Joy returning in another form

Continuing this week's Urs celebration, Sunlight offers Ghazal
(Ode) 1937, from Rumi's Diwan-e Shams, in versions by Jonathan Star
and Coleman Barks, and in the A.J. Arberry translation, upon which
Barks based his interpretive version:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^


Don't weep.
The joy that has gone
will come `round again in another form –
Have no doubt about this!

A child's first joy
comes from its mother's milk;
After the child is weaned
his joy comes from drinking sweet wine.

This supreme joy has no resting place -
It enters one form then another,
from box to box – an eternal movement
between heaven and earth.

Here it comes, pouring down from the sky,
seeping into the earth,
and rising up again as a bed of roses.

Now it is water, now a plate of rice,
Now the swaying trees, now a horse and rider.
It lies within these forms for awhile
then bursts forth to become something new.

Isn't this like our dreams? –
The body sleeps
while the soul moves on
to take other forms.
You say,
I dreamt I was a cypress, a bed of tulips,
the blossoms of roses and jasmines.

Then the soul returns, and you wake up –
the cypress is gone, the roses are gone.

I tell you truly,
everything you now see
will vanish like a dream.

I do not mean to trouble you, O friend,
with words so bold as these.
Perhaps you will only listen to God.
He speaks more gently than I.

But how will you ever hear Him with
All that blathering going on? –
Everyone is speaking about golden bread
yet no one has ever tasted it!

O my soul, where can I find rest
but in the shimmering love of his heart?
Where can I see the pure light of the Sun
but in the eyes of my own Shams-e Tabriz?

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



Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes round
in another form. The child weaned from mother's milk
now drinks wine and honey mixed.

God's joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box,
from cell to cell. As rainwater, down into flowerbed.
As rose, up from the ground.
Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish,
now a cliff covered with vines,
now a horse being saddled.
It hides within these,
till one day it cracks them open.

Part of the self leaves the body when we sleep
and changes shape. You might say, "Last night
I was a cypress tree, a small bed of tulips,
a field of grapevines." Then the phantasm goes away.
You're back in the room.
I don't want to make any one fearful.
Hear what's behind what I say.

Tatatumtum tatum tatadum.
There's the light gold of wheat in the sun
and the gold of bread made from that wheat.
I have neither. I'm only talking about them,

as a town in the desert looks up
at stars on a clear night.

-- Version by Coleman Barks
"Open Secret"
Threshold Books, 1984


Do not grieve over any joy that has gone forever, for it will
return to you in another form, know that for sure.
Did not the child find joy in its nursing and in milk? When the
child was weaned from milk, the joy came from wine and honey.
This joy is an unqualified thing which enters various forms,
moves from box to box between water and clay;
It suddenly displays its grace in the water of the rain, again
enters into the rosebed, and lifts its head from the earth.
Now it comes by water, now by way of bread and meat, now
by way of beauty, now by way of horse and saddle.
From behind these veils suddenly one day it peeps and shat-
ters all the idols, that which is neither that nor this.*
The soul in sleep leaves the body and appears in a phantasm;
the body is deposed and idle -- in another form it is manifest.*
You might say, "In a dream I saw myself like a cypress, my
face as a bed of tulips, my body as roses and jasmine.*
That phantasm of the cypress vanished, the soul returned to
its house; verily in this and that is a warning to all beings.
I fear stirring up trouble, though I would have spoken what
may be spoken, God speaks fairer than I - do not let go of the
saddlestraps of the faith.
Fa'ilatun fa'ilatun fa'ilatun fa'iltat, if you have not gold-
wheat bread, yet speak the golden words.
At last, Tabriz of the soul, look upon the stars of the heart,
that you may see this mundane sun to be a reflection of Shams-e

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

*Any object which keeps one from being absorbed in divine love
is an idol.
*See Nicholson's commentary of I: 400-1.
*"Kiyal (fantasy or phantasm) is the same as the World of Similitude
(`alam-e mesal), of which everything in the sensible world (`alam-e
sahada) is a reflection. The World of Similitude is a purgatory stage
between the worlds of souls and things." Sajjadi Farhang-e `erfani,

The media:


Urs -- “Fly up from this narrow cage”

Here, Sunlight continues this week's series of posts,
remembering Rumi's passing from this life:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

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

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

*Professor Franklin cites this as Ghazal 3172, but the Sunlight
editors have been unable to confirm this in the Foruzanfar one-volume
edition. If subscribers are able to provide further information,
that would be appreciated.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Urs -- "On the day of death"

This week, Sunlight is offering a series of poems in memory of
the passing of Rumi from earthly life, and specifically focused on
his teachings on the subject of mortality. Here, Ghazal (Ode) 911 is
offered, in a translation by Nader Khalili, in a version by Jonathan
Star, and in a translation by A.J. Arberry.

For more information on "Urs", the wedding, Sunlight suggests a
visit to

http://www.dar- al-masnavi. org/wedding- night.html

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

when i die
when my coffin
is being taken out
you must never think
i am missing this world
don't shed any tears
don't lament or
feel sorry
i'm not falling
into a monster's abyss
when you see
my corpse is being carried
don't cry for my leaving
i'm not leaving
i'm arriving at eternal love
when you leave me
in the grave
don't say goodbye
remember a grave is
only a curtain
for the paradise behind
you'll only see me
descending into a grave
now watch me rise
how can there be an end
when the sun sets or
the moon goes down
it looks like the end
it seems like a sunset
but in reality it is a dawn
when the grave locks you up
that is when your soul is freed
have you ever seen
a seed fallen to earth
not rise with a new life
why should you doubt the rise
of a seed named human
have you ever seen
a bucket lowered into a well
coming back empty
why lament for a soul
when it can come back
like Joseph from the well
when for the last time
you close your mouth
your words and soul
will belong to the world of
no place no time

-- Translation by Nader Khalili
"Rumi, Fountain of Fire"
Burning Gate Press, 1994.

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

On that final day
When my casket moves along
Do not think my soul
will stay in this world.

Do not weep for me, crying, Tragedy, tragedy.
You will only fall into the snares of delusion –
Now that's a tragedy!

When you see my lifeless body go by
Do not cry out, Gone, gone.
It is my moment of union.
It is when I come upon
the eternal embrace of my Beloved.

As I am lowered into the ground
Do not say, Farewell, farewell.
For the grave is but a veil
covering the splendor of Paradise.

Having seen the fall
Consider the rise.
What harm ever came to the setting Sun or Moon?

What appears to you as a setting
is for me a rising.
What appears to you as a prison
is for my soul an endless garden.

Every seed that enters the earth will grow.
Should it be any different with a human seed?
Every bucket that is lowered into a well comes up full.
Should I complain when instead of water
I pull up Joseph himself?

Do not look for your words here,
look for them over there.
Sing to me in the silence of your heart
and I will rise up
to hear your triumphant song.

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

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

On the day of death, when my bier is on the move, do not
suppose that I have any pain at leaving this world.
Do not weep for me, say not "Alas, alas!" You will fall into
the devil's snare – that would indeed be alas!
When you see my hearse, say not "Parting, parting!" That
time there will be for me union and encounter.
When you commit me to the grave, say not, "Farewell, fare-
well!" For the grave is a veil over the reunion of paradise.
Having seen the going-down, look upon the coming-up; how
should setting impair the sun and the moon?
To you it appears as setting, but it is a rising; the tomb appears
as a prison, but it is release for the soul.
What seed ever went down into the earth which did not grow?
Why do you doubt so regarding the human seed?
What bucket ever went down and came not out full? Why
this complaining of the well by the Joseph of the spirit?
When you have closed your mouth on this side, open it on
that, for your shout of triumph will echo in the placeless air.

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

The media:
http://tinyurl. com/wa2ln


Monday, December 11, 2006

Urs -- "Take my spirit totally from my body"

This week, Sunlight is offering a series of poems in memory of
the passing of Rumi from earthly life, and specifically focused on
his teachings on the subject of mortality.

Today, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 1716, in a translation by
Professor William Chittick. For more information on "Urs", the
wedding, Sunlight suggests a visit to

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

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

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

The media:


Friday, December 08, 2006

Is this the face of God?

Here, Sunlight offers Ghazal 2219, from Rumi's Diwan-e Shames,
in translations by Kolin & Mafi, Nader Khalili* and Professor
Franklin Lewis*, with a link to Persian and English mixed media,
courtesy of our friend Panevis, in Tehran:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

I am the slave of that perfect Moon!
Don't talk to me of suffering, I don't want to hear.
Talk about light, joy and sweetness
and if you can't, keep silent!

Last night Love found me shouting, mad
and beyond myself, and said:
"I am here, why are you so worried and afraid?"
O Love, I am overwhelmed with fear.
"Be silent, let me whisper a secret in your ear,
just nod your head and don't say a word."

Oh how delicate, how subtle is the path of love!
This most precious Moon-like beauty appeared to me!

My heart, is this the Moon or my imagination?
"Be silent, it is not for you to understand
don't you see, you have been blessed."
But what is this, the face of an angel or a man?
"Be silent, what you see is beyond angels or men."
But what is it, tell me, or I will go out of my mind.
"Do not torment yourself, leave this house of illusions
and say no more."
"O please", I begged, "tell me, is this the face of God"
My heart nodded silently.

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


i'm loyal
to the image and beauty
of my beloved
please speak of that image only
and say no more

whenever you're with me
speak only about
the generosity of candles
the generosity of the sugarcane
and say no more

don't speak of any suffering
show me the treasure that waits
at the end of the road
if you're ignorant of the path
then say no more

last night i was in flame
my beloved saw me and said
"i'm here at last
don't tear your clothes
lament no more"

i begged my beloved
to understand my condition
to sense my fear
my love said "when i'm present
you must seek no more

i'll whisper the words
of secrets into your ear
and you must promise not to answer
just nod your head
and say no more

the face of a sweetheart
has penetrated your heart
the tenderness is all there is
your journey is the journey of love
sense it to the depth and say no more"

i asked if the face
belongs to a human
or that of an angel
"neither this nor that
sense it but say no more"

i said if you don't
identify this for me at once
my life will be shattered
"be shattered at once
but say no more

you're dwelling in
a house filled with
images and dreams
pack all your belongings
move out but say no more"

you're simply expressing
the experience of God
i said to the beloved
"yes this is the answer
but for God's sake say no more"

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

* For more on Nader Khalili, Sunlight suggests a visit to


I serve that orb in heaven
say no word but Orb!
speak to me of nothing
but sweetness and light
Not of bother, but of treasure
and if you cannot find the words
don't bother.

Yesterday a craze came over me
Love saw, came up to me:
Here I am,
don't shout,
don't rip off your shirt,
hush, shh!

I spoke:
Love, I'm scared of that other thing
There is no other thing, say nothing!
I will whisper secrets in your ear
you just nod in asseveration
speak in semaphore

A nova, a celestial love
burst bright above the heartpath
so exquisite the quest of heart,
it cannot be expressed
I asked:
Heart, what orb is this?
heart intimated
beyond fathom
be quiet, forget!
Is this the face of man or angel?
Beyond men and angels

What is it? Tell me, I'm in a whirl
Whirl on, keep quiet!
You sit within this room
whose walls reflect
mere forms and suppositions
Get up, go out, move on,
keep quiet!
I said:
Heart, befather me,
for doesn't this match God's description?
Yes, my son, it does,
but do not tell.

-- Translation by Franklin D. Lewis
"Rumi -- Past and Present, East and West"
Oneworld Publications, Oxford, 2000

Franklin Lewis' notes:

I have used "orb" throughout these translations to render what is
literally "moon" (mah, qamar). this is the shining face of the
beloved, beside which all other thoughts and images pale.
Unfortunately, in English, "moon face" does not have a very happy

*Franklin Lewis is Assistant Professor in the Department of
Middle Eastern Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. A specialist
in Persian literature, his thesis on Sana' i won the 1995 Best
Dissertation of the Year Award from the Foundation for Iranian

The media:

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Friends who guide you"

The reflection cast from good friends is needed
until you become, without the aid of any reflector,
a drawer of water from the Sea.
Know that the reflection is at first just imitation,
but when it continues to recur,
it turns into direct realization of truth.
Until it has become direct realization,
don't part from the friends who guide you—
don't break away from the shell
if the raindrop hasn't yet become a pearl.


`Aks chandân bâyad az yârân-e khvosh
keh shavi az bahr bi `aks âb kash
`Aks k-avval zad to ân taqlid dân
chon payâpi shod shavad tahqiq ân
Tâ na-shod tahqiq az yârân ma-bor
az sadaf ma-gosal na-gasht ân qatreh dorr

-- Mathnawi II: 566-568
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra

The media:

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Stranded Somewhere

Stranded Somewhere

If you are the body, that one is the soul
of the universe. If you're the soul, that

one is the soul within all souls. Wherever
you go, whatever you are, listen for the

voice that asks, "Who will be sacrificed
tonight? "Jump up and volunteer! Accept

this cup that is offered every second.
Love has written the thousand subtleties

of this call on my face. Read. If you're
bored and contemptuous, love is a walk in

a meadow. If you're stranded somewhere
and exhausted, love is an Arabian horse.

The ocean feeds itself to its fish. If
you're ocean fish, why bother with bread

the ground grows? These jars of grief and
trouble we call bodies, throw stones and

break them! My cage is this longing for
Shams. Be my worst enemy: shatter it!

-- Ghazal (Ode) 926
Version by Coleman Barks, with Nevit Ergin
"The Glance"
Viking-Penguin, 1999

The media:

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Truth brings joyous tranquility"

Iblis asked, "Can you tell a lie from the truth,
you who are filled with illusion?"
Mu`awiyah answered, "The Prophet has given a clue,
a touchstone to know
the base coin from the true.
He has said, "That which is false troubles the heart,
but Truth brings joyous tranquility."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Goft chon dâni dorugh o râst-râ
ay khayâl andish por andish-hâ
Goft Payghambar neshâni dâdeh ast
qalb o niku-râ mehakk be-nehâdi ast
Gofteh ast "al-kezb rayb fi al-qolub"
goft "al-sedq tama'nin tarub"

-- Mathnawi II: 2732-2734
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra

The media:

Monday, December 04, 2006

"In this garden"

Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 2389, in a version by Coleman
Barks, in a version by Jonathan Star, and in the translation by A.J.
Arberry, on which Barks based his interpretive version:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^


Who is this standing in my house? He signals with his hand,
"What do you want from me?" Nourishment,
and the privacy of one truth.

There are so many deceptive people pretending
to be faithful. Don't sit among them, eyes shut
like a bud, mouth open like a rose.

The world is a mirror, an imaging of Love's perfection.
No man has ever seen a part greater than the whole.
Go on foot through this garden like the grass does.
Only the rose is riding, all the rest on foot.
Rose, both sword and swordsman,
Reason in the abstract, and reasoning in each of us.

Generous Saladin, let your hand be
a constant necklace on my neck.

-- Version by Coleman Barks
"Open Secret"
Threshold Books, 1984

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

"Soft Petals"

O soul,
Who dwells in the house of my heart?
Who takes the King's royal seat?

The King motions me forward and says,
What do you want from me?

I want the sweetness of love,
A cup of light,
An eternal banquet
on the table of one Truth.

Look how many charlatans are rattling their cups
at this wine-drinker's feast.
O simple and gullible man,
Watch out or you'll be conned!
Beware! Don't sit at their table
lest your eyes close like buds
and your mouth open like a Spring flower.

The world is but a mirror
reflecting Love's perfect image.
How can a part
be greater than the whole?
In this garden
only the Beloved's rose is blooming.
Stay low like the grass
and let His soft petals fall upon your head.

He is both the sword and the swordsman,
the slayer and the slain.
He is the reason
and all that brings reason to naught.

That perfect King makes this world out of gold.
May he live forever.
May his hand be the ageless garland
that graces my neck.

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

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

O soul, who is that standing in the house of the heart? Who
may be on the royal throne but the king and the prince?*
He signaled with his hand, "Tell me, what do you want of
me?" What does a drunken man desire but sweetmeats and a
cup of wine?
Sweetmeats hanging from the heart, a cup of pure light, an
eternal banquet laid in the privacy of "He is the Truth."*
How many deceivers there are at the wine-drinkers' feast!
Beware, lest you fall, soft and simple man!
In the circle of reprobates beware lest you be eye-shut like
the bud, mouth-open like the rose.
The world is like a mirror, the image of the perfection of Love;
men, who has ever seen a part greater than the whole?
Go on foot like the grass, for in this rose garden the Beloved
like a rose is riding; all the rest are on foot.
He is both sword and swordsman, both slain and slayer, all
Reason, and giving reason to the mind.*
That king is Salah-al-din* may he endure forever, may his
bountiful hand be perpetually a necklace on my neck!

-- Translation by A. J. Arberry
"Mystical Poems of Rumi 2"
The University of Chicago Press, 1968

* According to Nicholson (Divan-i Sham, 238, 300) this is a reference
to the hadis' of the Prophet, where God says: "My earth and heaven
contain me not, but the heart of my believing servant contains me."
* "He is the Truth" Qur'an 22:6.
* Reason is annihilated in mystical love.
* "Salah-al-din Zarkub", who died c. 659/1261, was Rumi's pir'
(teacher) after Shams al-Din vanished he is here hailed as an
embodiment of the Spirit of Muhammad, the Perfect Man.

The media:

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Look at me!

Look at me! If you gaze at anyone else, for certain you are
unaware of love for God!
Behold the face that has received its radiance from God!
Perhaps all at once you may win good fortune from it.
Since intellect is your father and the body your mother,
behold the beauty of your father's face! Show that you are his
Know that from head to foot the shaykh is nothing but God's
Attributes, even if you see him in human form.
In your eyes he is like foam, but he describes himself as
the Ocean; in the eyes of men he is standing still, but every
instant he is traveling.
You still find it difficult to grasp the shaykh's state, even
though he displays a thousand of God's greatest signs - how
dull you are!
A spiritual Form, purified of the elements, reached the
heart's Mary from God's Court -
A passing messenger impregnated the heart with a breath
concealing the spirit's mystery.
Oh heart made pregnant by that King! When you put down
your burden, be sure to gaze upon it!
When Shams-i Tabrizi gives form to that burden, you
will become like the heart - and like the heart, you will fly
to the Unseen!

-- Ghazal 3072
Translation by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love"
SUNY Press, Albany, 1983

The media: