Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"The sea is seeking you"


^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Silence is the sea, and speech is like the river.
The sea is seeking you: don't seek the river.
Don't turn your head away from the signs offered by the sea.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Khâmoshi bahrast va goftan hamcho ju
bahr mi juyad torâ ju-râ ma-ju
Az eshârât-hâ-ye daryâ sar ma-tâb
khatm kon wa-Allâhu a`lam bi-al-sawâb

-- Mathnawi IV:2062-2063
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra

The media:

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"The Pleiades"


^ ^ ^ ^ ^

"The Pleiades"

In absence, aloe wood burns fragrant.
The love we feel is smoke from that.

Existence gets painted with non-existence,
its source, the fire behind the screen.

Smoke born of this fire hides the fire!
Pass through the smoke. Soul, a moving

river; body, the riverbed. Soul can
break the circle of fate and habit.

Take hold the hand of absence and let
it draw you through the Pleiades,

giving up wet and dry, hot and cold.
You become a confidante of Shams Tabriz.

You see clearly the glory of nothing
and stand, inexplicably, there.

-- Ghazal (Ode) 2949
Version by Coleman Barks, with Nevit Ergin
"The Glance"
Viking-Penguin, 1999

The media:

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"Love is a Stranger"


^ ^ ^ ^ ^

"Love is a Stranger"

Heart came on solid footing with breath
to warn the best of communities.
Heart placed your head
like a pen on the page of love.

We are joyous pennants in your just wind.
Master, to where do you dance?

"Toward the land of liberation,
toward the plain of non-existence. "

Master, tell us which non-existence you mean.
"The ear of eternity knows the letter of eternity."

Love is a stranger with a strange language,
like an Arab in Persia. I have brought a story;
it is strange, like the one who tells it.
Listen to your servant.

Joseph's face enlightened the well in which he was suspended.
His imprisonment became a palace
with orchards and meadows, a paradise,
a royal hall, and a chamber of sanctity.

Just as you toss a stone into the water,
the water at that very moment parts to receive it.
Just as a cloudy night is dispelled by a clear dawn,
from his humiliation and loss he views high heaven.

Reason, do not envy my mouth.
God witnesses the blessings.
Though the tree drinks from hidden roots,
we see the display of its branches.
Whatever the earth took from heaven,
it yields up honestly in spring.

Whether you have stolen a bead or a jewel,
whether you have raised a flag or a pen,
the night is gone and the day has arrived
and the sleeper shall see what he has dreamed.

-- Ghazal (Ode) 1769
Version by Kabir Helminski
"Love is a Stranger"
Threshold Books, 1993

The media:

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"Escape from it before it flies from you"


^ ^ ^ ^ ^

The penetrating intellect, when separated from its friends,
becomes like an archer whose bow is broken.
When something makes you rejoice in this world,
consider at that moment the parting from it.
Many have been gladdened by what made you glad,
yet in the end like the wind it escaped.
It will escape from you, too: don't set your heart upon it.
Escape from it before it flies from you.
Before the slipping away of your possessions,
say to the form of created things, like Mary,
"I take refuge from you with the Merciful God."*

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

`Aql-e darrâk az ferâq-e dustân
hamcho tir-andâz eshkasteh kamân
Harche az vay shâd gardi dar jahân
az ferâq-e u biyandish ân zamân
Zânche gashti shâd bas kas shâd shod
âkher az vay jast va hamchon bâd shod
Az to ham be-jahad to del bar vay ma-neh
pish az ân ku be-jahad az vay to be-jah
Hamcho Maryam gui pish az fawt-e molk
naqsh-râ ka-al-`awdh "bi-al-Rahmâni mink"*

*Maryam, 18

-- Mathnawi III: 3693; 3698-3700
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
(Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra)

The media:

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Song of the Reed


In memory of the birth of Maulaana Jalalludin Balkhi, known as
Rumi, Sunlight offers the first verses from his Mathnawi, the story
of The Song of the Reed, in an interpretive version by Jonathan Star,
in translation by Dr. Franklin Lewis, and in translation by Dr.
Ibrahim Gamard, accompanied by a Persian transliteration.

Sunlight note: Dr. Gamard's unpublished translations of verses
from the Mathnawi received this review from Professor Lewis,
in "Rumi, Past and Present, East and West" (Oneworld, 2000): "Gamard
learned Persian out of devotion to Rumi and, judging from the samples
that have appeared on the Sunlight email list, the Gamard-Farhadi
translation ... preserves more of the poetic quality of the work than
Nicholson's parenthetic prose. (Further translations) will be warmly

Sunlight thanks Dr. Gamard for his generous contributions.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

The Song of the Reed

Listen to the song of the reed,
How it wails with the pain of separation:

"Ever since I was taken from my reed bed
My woeful song has caused men and women to weep.
I seek out those whose hearts are torn by separation
For only they understand the pain of this longing.
Whoever is taken away from his homeland
Yearns for the day he will return.
In every gathering, among those who are happy or sad,
I cry with the same lament.
Everyone hears according to his own understanding,
None has searched for the secrets within me.
My secret is found in my lament
But an eye or ear without light cannot know it . . ."

The sound of the reed comes from fire, not wind
What use is one's life without this fire?
It is the fire of love that brings music to the reed.
It is the ferment of love that gives taste to the wine.
The song of the reed soothes the pain of lost love.
Its melody sweeps the veils from the heart.
Can there be a poison so bitter or a sugar so sweet
As the song of the reed?
To hear the song of the reed
everything you have ever known must be left behind.

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

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

as this reed
pipes its plaint
unfolds its tale
of separations:
Cut from my reedy bed
my crying
ever since
makes men and women
I like to keep my breast
carved with loss
to convey
the pain of longing ---
Once severed
from the root
thirst for union
with the source

I raise my plaint
in any kind of crowd
in front of both
the blessed and the bad
For what they think they hear me say, they love me --
None gaze in me my secrets to discern
My secret is not separate from my cry
But ears and eyes lack light to see it.

Not soul from flesh
nor flesh from soul are veiled
yet none is granted leave to see the soul.
Fire, not breath, makes music through that pipe --
Let all who lack that fire be blown away.
It is love's fire that inspires the reed
It's love's ferment that bubbles in the wine
The reed, soother to all sundered lovers --
its piercing modes reveal our hidden pain:
(What's like the reed, both poison and physic,
Soothing as it pines and yearns away?)
The reed tells the tale of a blood-stained quest
singing legends of love's mad obsessions

Only the swooning know such awareness
only the ear can comprehend the tongue

In our sadness time slides listlessly by
the days searing inside us as they pass.

But so what if the days may slip away?
so long as you, Uniquely Pure, abide.

Within this sea drown all who drink but fish
If lived by bread alone, the day seems long
No raw soul ever kens the cooked one's state
So let talk of it be brief; go in piece.

Break off your chains
My son, be free!
How long enslaved
by silver, gold?
Pour the ocean
in a pitcher,
can it hold more
than one day's store?
The jug, like a greedy eye,
never gets its fill
only the contented oyster holds the pearl

The one run ragged by love and haggard
gets purged of all his faults and greeds
Welcome, Love!
sweet salutary suffering
and healer of our maladies!

cure of our pride
of our conceits,
our Plato,
Our Galen!
By Love
our earthly flesh
borne to heaven
our mountains
made supple
moved to dance

Love moved Mount Sinai, my love,
and it made Moses swoon. [K7:143]

Let me touch those harmonious lips
and I, reed-like, will tell what may be told

A man may know a myriad of songs
but cut from those who know his tongue, he's dumb.
Once the rose wilts and the garden fades
the nightingale will no more sing his tune.

The Beloved is everything -- the lover, a veil
The Beloved's alive -- the lover carrion.
Unsuccored by love, the poor lover is
a plucked bird
Without the Beloved's
surrounding illumination
how perceive what's ahead
and what's gone by?

Love commands these words appear
if no mirror reflects them
in whom lies the fault?
The dross obscures your face
and makes your mirror
unable to reflect

-- Mathnawi I: 1 - 34
Translation by Professor Franklin D. Lewis
"Rumi -- Past and Present, East and West"
Oneworld, Oxford, 2000

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

The Song of the Reed
Mathnawi I: 1-18

Listen* to the reed (flute),* how it is complaining! * It is
telling about separations, *
(Saying), "Ever since I was severed from the reed field,* men and
women have lamented in (the presence of) my shrill cries.*
"(But) I want a heart (which is) torn, torn from separation, so
that I may explain* the pain of yearning."*
"Anyone one who has remained far from his roots,* seeks a return
(to the) time of his union.*
"I lamented in every gathering; I associated with those in bad or
happy circumstances.
"(But) everyone became my friend from his (own) opinion; he did
not seek my secrets* from within me.
"My secret is not far from my lament, but eyes and ears do not
have the light* (to sense it).
"The body is not hidden from the soul, nor the soul from the body;
but seeing the soul is not permitted."*
The reed's cry is fire* -- it's not wind! Whoever doesn't have
this fire, may he be nothing!*
It is the fire of Love that fell into the reeds. (And) it is the
ferment of Love that fell into the wine.*
The reed (is) the companion of anyone who was severed from a
friend; its melodies tore our veils.*
Who has seen a poison and a remedy like the reed? Who has seen
a harmonious companion and a yearning friend like the reed?
The reed is telling the story of the path full of blood;* it is
telling stories of Majnoon's (crazed) love.*
There is no confidant (of) this understanding* except the senseless!
* There is no purchaser of that tongue* except the ear [of the
In our longing,* the days became (like) evenings;* the days
became fellow-travellers with burning fevers.
If the days have passed, tell (them to) go, (and) don't worry.
(But) You remain!* -- O You, whom no one resembles in Purity!
Everyone becomes satiated by water,* except the fish. (And)
everyone who is without daily food [finds that] his days become
None (who is) "raw" can understand the state of the "ripe."*
Therefore, (this) speech must be shortened. So farewell!*

-- From "The Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî" [Rhymed
Couplets of Deep Spiritual Meaning] of
Jalaluddin Rumi.
Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard
(with grateful acknowledgement of R.A. Nicholson's
1926 translation)
(c) Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, and

*Listen: states of spiritual ecstasy were induced in sufi gatherings
by listening to mystical poetry and music. During such a "mystical
concert" [samâ`-- literally, "audition" or "hearing" session] some
dervishes would enter a spiritual state of consciousness and
spontaneously begin to move. Sometimes they would stand up and
dance or whirl. They would listen to the poetry or music as if they
were hearing the voice of God, the Beloved. Such gatherings were
controversial, were criticized by orthodox Muslim leaders, and were
practiced by very few sufi orders-- usually with restrictions and high
standards for participants.

*the reed [nay]: a flute made by cutting a length of a naturally
hollow reed cane and adding finger holes. "The nay or reed-flute as
the poet's favourite musical instrument and has always been associated
with the religious services of the Mawlawي ["Whirling Dervish"]
Order, in which music and dancing are prominent features."
(Nicholson, Commentary). The reed flute symbolizes the soul which
is emptied of ego-centered desires and preoccupations and is filled
with a spiritual passion to return to its original nearness to God.
Rumi said, "The world (is) like a reed pipe [sornây], and He blows
into every hole of it; every wail it has (is) certainly from those two
lips like sugar. See how He blows into every (piece of) clay (and)
into every heart; He gives a need and He gives a love which raises up
a lament about misfortune." (Ghazal 532, lines 5664-5665) Rumi
also said, "We have all been part of Adam (and ) we have heard those
melodies in Paradise. Although (bodily) water and clay have cast
skepticism upon us, something of those (melodies) comes (back) to
our memory.... Therefore, the mystical concert has become the food
of the lovers (of God) for in it is the image of (heavenly) reunion."
(Mathnawî IV: 736-737, 742)

*separations: "The point is that while self-conscious lovers complain
of separation from the beloved one, and reproach her for her cruelty,
the mystic's complaint (shikلyat) is really no more than the tale
(hikلkat) of his infinite longing for God-- a tale which God
inspires him to tell." (Nicholson, Commentary). Rumi said: "I'm
complaining [shikâyat mê-kon-am] about the Soul of the soul;
but I am not a complainer [shâkê] -- I'm relating words
[rawâyat mê-kon-am]. (My) heart keeps saying, 'I'm afflicted by
Him!' And I have been laughing at (its) feeble pretense." (Mathnawî I:
1781-82). "Be empty of stomach and cry out, in neediness (neyâz),
like the reed flute! Be empty of stomach and tell secrets like the
reed pen!" (Divan: Ghazal 1739, line 18239). "Lovers (are) lamenting
like the reed flute [nây], and Love is like the Flutist. So, what
things will this Love breathe into the reed pipe [sôr-nây] of
the body?! The reed pipe is visible, but the pipe-player is hidden.
In short, my reed pipe became drunk from the wine of His lips.
Sometimes He caresses the reed pipe, sometimes he bites it. (Such) a
sigh, because of this sweet-songed reed-breaking Flutist!" (Divan:
Ghazal 1936, lines 20374-20376)
Nicholson later changed his translation, based on the earliest
manuscripts of the Mathnawi, to "Listen to this reed how it
complains: it is telling a tale of separations" (from, "Listen to the
reed how it tells a tale, complaining of separations. " This is what
the earliest known manuscript has. (This is the "Konya Manuscript,"
completed five years after Rumi died, and written by Muhammad ibn
Abdullâh Qûnyawî, a disciple of Rumi's son, Sultân Walad,
under his supervision together with Husâmuddîn Chelabî --
who was present with Rumi during the dictation of every verse of the
Mathnawi.) All manuscripts and editions after the 13th century
adopted a changed (and "improved") version of this line: "Listen
from the nay, how it tells a story... [be-sh'naw az nay chûn
Hikâyat mê-kon-ad / az jodâ'îy-hâ shikâyat

*the reed field [nay-estân]: lit., "place of reeds." A symbol for
the original homeland of the soul, when it existed harmoniously in the
presence of God. "... referring to the descent of the soul from the
sphere of Pure Being and Absolute Unity, to which it belongs and
would fain return." (Nicholson, Commentary)

*in (the presence of) my shrill cries: Nicholson later changed his
translation, based on the earliest manuscript, to: "man and woman
have moaned in (unison) with my lament" [dar nafîr-am] (from, "my
lament hath caused [az nafîr-am] man and woman to moan").

*explain: a pun on the two meanings of the same word [sharH],
"explanation" and "torn."

*the pain of yearning: The longing of love is painful, because of
separation-- yet also sweet. This is because the longing brings
remembrance of the beloved's beauty. Longing for nearness to a
human beloved, such as a spiritual master, is a means for the
spiritual disciple to increase his longing for nearness to God, the
only Beloved. Rumi said: "If thought of (longing) sorrow is
highway-robbing (your) joy, (yet) it is working out a means to
provide joy.... It is scattering the yellow leaves from the branch of
the heart so that continual green leaves may grow.... Whatever
(longing) sorrow sheds or takes from the heart, truly it will bring
better in exchange." (Mathnawi V:3678, 3680, 3683)

*roots: also means foundation, source, origin.

*union: also means being joined.

*my secrets: "The Perfect Man (prophet or saint) is a stranger in the
world, unable to communicate his sorrows or share his mystic
knowledge except with one of his own kind; he converses with all
sorts of people, worldly and spiritual alike, but cannot win from
them the heartfelt sympathy and real understanding which he craves.
This is the obvious sense of the passage, and adequate so far as it
goes, but behind it lies a far-reaching doctrine concerning the
spiritual "Descent of Man.' .... The whole series of planes forms the
so-called 'Circle of Existence', which begins in God and ends in
God and is traversed by the soul in its downward journey through
the Intelligences, the Spheres, and the Elements and then upward
again, stage by stage-- mineral, vegetable, animal, and man-- till as
Perfect man it completes its evolution and is re-united with the
Divine Soul..." (Nicholson, Commentary)

*the light: refers to the ancient Greek theory of Galen, that vision
is caused by an "inner light" within the eye. Similarly, the faculty
of hearing was believed to be caused by an "inner air" within the ear.

*not permitted: "As the vital spirit, though united with the body, is
invisible, so the inmost ground of words issuing from an inspired
saint cannot be perceived by the physical senses." (Nicholson,
Commentary) The reed flute's speech ends here, and Rumi's
commentary begins next.

*The reed's cry is fire: Nicholson, in his Commentary, quotes
Rumi's verse (Divan, Ghazal 2994, line 31831): "The flute is all afire
and the world is wrapped in smoke; / For fiery is the call of Love
that issues from the flute."

*may he be nothing [nêst bâd]: a pun on another meaning of these
words -- "it's not wind." It means, "May he experience absence of
self so that he may burn with yearning love for the presence of the
Beloved." Nicholson interpreted that this means, "The Mathnawي is
not mere words; its inspiration comes from God, whose essence is
Love. May those yet untouched by the Divine flame be naughted, i.e.
die to self!" He said that the words here [nêst bâd] "should
not be taken as an imprecation [== a cursing]; the poet, I think,
prays that by Divine grace his hearers may be enraptured and lose
themselves in God." (Commentary)

*into the wine: "i.e. Love kindles rapture in the heart and makes it
like a cup of foaming wine." (Nicholson, Commentary)

*tore our veils [parda-hâ]: a pun on the two meanings of this word,
"veils" and "melodies." The meaning of this line is that the sounds of
pure yearning from the reed flute tore through the veils covering up
the inward spiritual yearning of listening mystics -- the sufis, who
have had the capacity to understand the meaning of the reed flute's
melodious wails. This is a reference to the "mystical concert"
[samâ`] of the Mevlevi ("Whirling") dervishes in which the reed
flute is prominent.

*the path full of blood: "the thorny path of Love, strewn with
(Dيwلn, SP, XLIV, 6) 'with thousands slain of desire who
manfully yielded up their lives'; for Love 'consumes everything else
but the Beloved' (Math. V 588)." (Nicholson, Commentary)

*Majnoon's crazed love: "Majnْn: the mad lover of Laylà: in
Sْfي literature, a type of mystical self-abandonment. "
(Nicholson, Commentary). Majnoon (lit., "jinn-possessed" ) was a
legendary Arab lover whose love for the beautiful Laylà [lit., "of
the night"] made him crazy. Majnoon's love for Layla also symbolizes
the perception of spiritual realities seen only by mystics, as in
Rumi's lines: "The Caliph said to Layla, Are you the one by whom
Majnoon became disturbed and led astray? You are not more (beautiful)
than other fair ones. She said, Be silent, since you are not Majnoon!"
(Mathnawi I: 407-08; see also V:1999-2019, 3286-99) This
"craziness" of being an ecstatic mystic lover of God is quite
different from the craziness of being psychotic or mentally ill.
*this understanding: "the spiritual or universal reason (`aql-i
ma`لd) and transcendental consciousness of those who have escaped
from the bondage of the carnal or discursive reason (`aql-i
ma`لsh)." (Nicholson, Commentary)

*the senseless [bê-hôsh]: a play on "understanding" (hôsh),
and also means devoid of understanding lacking reason, swooned and
insensible. The meaning is that no one can understand mystical
understanding except one who is able to transcend the intellect.
*that tongue: an idiom for language. The meaning is that only a
mystic who is capable of passing beyond the senses and ordinary
mind has an "ear" which can understand the "tongue" or language of
the heart. Nicholson explained: "i.e. every one desires to hear what
is suitable to his understanding; hence the mysteries of Divine Love
cannot be communicated to the vulgar" [== ordinary people].

*longing [gham]: lit., "grief." An idiom here, meaning the suffering
of longing love.

*evenings [bê-gâh]: An idiom meaning "evening." Means that the
days became quickly used-up. Nicholson (1926) erred in translating
this idiom too literally as "untimely." (I am indebted to Dr. Ravan
Farhadi, an Afghan scholar, for this understanding of the idiom.)

*but You remain: 26. God is addressed directly as "Thou," or
perhaps indirectly as "Love." "The meaning is: 'What matter though
our lives pass away in the tribulation of love, so long as the Beloved
remains?'" (Nicholson, Commentary)

*water (âbash): Nicholson later corrected his translation to,
"except the fish, every one becomes sated with water" (from, "Whoever
is not a fish becomes sated with His water"). As Nicholson pointed
out, the word for "water" here [âbash] is a noun (as in III: 1960--
Commentary). It therefore does not mean "his water" or "water for
him" [âb-ash]. Nicholson also explained: "The infinite Divine grace
is to the gnostic [== mystic knower] what water is to the fish, but
his thirst can never be quenched." (Commentary)

*become long: Nicholson mentions this as "alluding to the proverb,
harkih bي-sيr-ast rْz-ash dيr-ast" [The day are long for
whoever is without satisfaction] (Commentary)

*the state of the ripe [pokhta]: refers to the spiritual state of the
spiritually mature, experienced, refined. This contrasts to the state
of the raw [khâm]-- the unripe, immature, inexperienced, uncooked,
the one who bears no fruit. Rumi has been quoted as saying, "The
result of my life is no more than three words: I was raw [khâm], I
became cooked [pokhta], I was burnt [sokht]." However, this is not
supported by the earliest manuscripts (collected by Faruzanfar), only
one of which contains the following: "The result for me is no more
than these three words: I am burnt, I am burnt, I am burnt (or: I am
inflamed, burned, and consumed-- Divan, Ghazal 1768, line 18521).
In Rumi's famous story of the man who knocked on the door of a
friend, the visitor was asked who he was and he answered, "Me."
He was told to go, for he was too "raw" [khâm]. The man was then
"cooked" by the fire of separation and returned a year later. Asked
who he was, he answered, "Only you are at the door, O beloved."
His spiritual friend then said, "Now, since you are me, O me, come
in. There isn't any room for two me's in the house!" (Mathnawi I:

*farewell: Here, Rumi's famous first eighteen verses end. Rumi's
close disciple, Husamuddin Chelebi had asked him one night: "'The
collections of odes [ghazalîyât] have become plentiful... .
(But) if there could be a book with the quality of (the sufi poet
Sana'i's) 'Book of the Divine,' yet in the (mathnawi) meter of (the
sufi poet Attar's) 'Speech of the Birds,' so that it might be
memorized among the knowers and be the intimate companion of the
souls of the lovers ... so that they would occupy themselves with
nothing else...' At that moment, from the top of his blessed turban,
he [Rumi] put into Chelebi Husamuddin's hand a portion (of verses),
which was the Explainer of the secrets of Universals and particulars.
And in there were the eighteen verses of the beginning of the
Mathnawi: 'Listen to this reed, how it tells a tale...." (Aflaki, pp.
739-741) After that, Husamuddin was present with Rumi for every verse
he composed of the Mathnawi during the next twelve years until Rumi's
death. The number eighteen has been considered sacred in the Mevlevi
tradition ever since.

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

be-sh'naw în nay chûn shikâyat mê-kon-ad
az jodâ'îy-hâ hikâyat mê-kon-ad

k-az nayestân tâ ma-râ bo-b'rîda-and
dar nafîr-am mard-o zan nâlîda-and

sîna khwâh-am sharHa sharHa az firâq
tâ be-gôy-am sharH-é dard-é ishtiyâq

har kasê k-ô dûr mând az aSl-ê khwêsh
bâz jôy-ad rôzgâr-é waSl-é khwêsh

man ba-har jam`îyatê nâlân shod-am
joft-é bad-Hâl-ân-o khwash-Hâl-ân shod-am

har kasê az Zann-é khwad shod yâr-é man
az darûn-é man na-joft asrâr-é man

sirr-é man az nâla-yé man dûr nêst
lêk chashm-o gôsh-râ ân nûr nêst

tan ze-jân-o jân ze-tan mastûr nêst
lêk kas-râ dîd-é jân dastûr nêst

âtesh-ast în bâng-é nây-o nêst bâd
har-ke în âtesh na-dâr-ad nêst bâd

âtesh-é `ishq-ast k-andar nây fotâd
jôshesh-é `ishq-ast k-andar may fotâd

nay Harîf-é har-ke az yârê bor-îd
parda-hâ-ash parda-hâ-yé mâ darîd

ham-chô nay zahrê wo tiryâqê ke dîd?
ham-cho nay dam-sâz-o mushtâqê ke dîd?

nay HadîS-é râh-é por khûn mê-kon-ad
qiSSa-hâ-yé `ishq-é majnûn mê-kon-ad

maHram-é în hôsh joz bê-hôsh nêst
mar zabân-râ mushtarê joz gôsh nêst

dar gham-é mâ rôz-hâ bê-gâh shod
rôz-hâ bâ sôz-hâ ham-râh shod

rôz-hâ gar raft gô raw bâk nêst
tô be-mân ay ân-ke chûn tô pâk nêst

har-ke joz mâhê ze-âbash sêr shod
har-ke bê-rôzî-st rôz-ash dêr shod

dar na-yâb-ad Hâl-é pokhta hêch khâm
pas sokhon kôtâh bây-ad wa s-salâm

(meter: XoXX XoXX XoX)

The media:

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"From a thought, every craft in the world"


^ ^ ^ ^ ^

When you see that from a thought,
every craft in the world arises and subsists —
that houses and palaces and cities,
mountains and plains and rivers,
earth and ocean as well as sun and sky,
derive their life from it, as fish from the sea —
then why in your foolishness, O blind one,
does the body seem to you a Solomon,
and thought only as an ant?

~ ~ ~

Pas cho mi bini keh az andisheh-'i
qâyemast andar jahân har pisheh-'i
Khâneh-hâ o qasr-hâ o shahr-hâ
kuh-hâ o dasht-hâ o nahr-hâ
Ham zamin o bahr va ham mehr o falak
zendeh az vay hamcho az daryâ samak
Pas che-râ az ablahi pish-e to kur
tan Solaymânast va andisheh cho mur

-- Mathnawi, II:1034-1037
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra

The media:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^


“The thief among us”


Here, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 2172, from Rumi's
"Diwan-eShams" , in versions by Coleman Barks and
Kabir Helminski, and in a translation by Peter Lamborn
Wilson and Nasrullah Pourjavadi:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Totally conscious, and apropos of nothing, he comes to see me.
Is someone here? I ask.
The moon. The full moon is inside your house.

My friends and I go running out into the street.
I'm in here, comes a voice from the house, but we aren't
We're looking up at the sky.
My pet nightingale sobs like a drunk in the garden.
Ringdoves scatter with small cries. Where, Where.
It's midnight. The whole neighborhood is up and out in
the street
thinking, The cat-burglar has come back.
The actual thief is there too, saying out loud,
Yes, the cat-burglar is somewhere in this crowd.
No one pays attention.

Lo, I am with you always, means when you look for God,
God is in the look of your eyes,
in the thought of looking, nearer to you than your self,
or things that have happened to you.
There's no need to go outside.
Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.

A white flower grows in the quietness.
Let your tongue become that flower.

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

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

"And He is With Us"

Totally unexpected my guest arrived.
"Who is it?" asked my heart.
"The face of the moon," said my soul.

As he entered the house,
we all ran into the street madly looking for the moon.
"I'm in here," he was calling from inside,
but we were calling him outside unaware of his call.
Our drunken nightingale is singing in the garden,
and we are cooing like doves, "Where, where, where?"

A crowd formed: "Where's the thief?"
And the thief among us is saying,
"Yeah, where's the thief?"
All our voices became mixed together
and not one voice stood out from the others.

"And He is with you" means He is searching with you.
He is nearer to you than yourself. Why look outside?
Become like melting snow; wash yourself of yourself.
With love your inner voice will find a tongue
growing like a silent white lily in the heart.

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

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

A Thief in The Night

(yet somehow expected)
he arrived, the guest....
the heart trembling "Who's there?"

and soul responding
"The Moon..."
came into the house, and we lunatics
ran into the street, stared up
for the moon.

Then--inside the house--
he cried out "Here I am !"
and we, beyond earshot
running around, calling him...

crying for him
for the drunken nightingale
locked lamenting
in our garden
while we mourning ringdoves
murmured "Where Where?"

As if at midnight
the sleepers bolt upright
in their beds
hearing a thief
break into the house
they stumble about
crying "Help!
A thief! A thief!"

but the burglar himself
mingles in the confusion
echoing their cries:
"..... a thief!"
till one cry
melts with the others.

-- Ghazal (Ode) 2172
"The Drunken Universe"
Translation by Peter Lamborn Wilson
and Nasrullah Pourjavadi
Omega Publications, New Lebanon, 1987

The media:

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

"If you have newly become a lover"


^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Out of jealousy, Love makes the lover appear
like everyone's enemy. Once it has made people reject him, he
turns to It.
He who is worthy of the creatures is not worthy
for Love -- only the whore's soul marries a hundred husbands.
Since the lover is not suited for "others," let
them all reject him -- then the King of Love will make him His
sitting companion.
When the creatures drive him from themselves,
he cuts himself off from their company; he accustoms his
outward and inward to sweet-natured Love.
But when the creatures accept him, his mind
drags him in their direction and his heart turns furtively this
way and that toward anyone's love.
When Love sees this It says, "My tresses have
thrown a shadow, so the lover smells there the fragrance of
musk and ambergris.
I will make these two scents the enemy of his
mind and brain -- he will have to abandon both.
Though the lover has sniffed the musk in
remembrance of Me, only a beginner on the Path wanders like
a child saying, 'Where? Where?'
Once he has left childhood, he will open the
eye of knowledge -- why should he run to and fro on the river
bank looking for water?"
If you have newly become a lover, take the
bitter medicine and drink it, so that Shirin may make you
sweeter than Khusraw's honey.*
Perhaps Shams-I Tabrizi will intoxicate you
from beyond the two worlds and remove you from

-- Ghazal (Ode) 742
Translation by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love"
SUNY Press, Albany, 1983

* King Khusraw and Shirin are a pair of lovers often
celebrated in Persian verse. Khusraw I or "royal" honey
was a famous kind of exquisite honey. Shirin, whose
name literally means "sweet," of course represents the

The media:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^


"Don’t set your heart on bones"


^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Little by little God takes away human beauty:
little by little the sapling withers.
Go, recite "To whomever We give a length of days,
We also cause them to decline."*
Seek the spirit;
don't set your heart on bones.


Andak-e andak mi setânad ân jamâl
andak-e andak khoshk mi gardad nehâl
Raw "nu`ammiruhu nunakkis'hu" be-khvân
del talab kon del ma-neh bar estekhvân

-- Mathnawi, II:714-715
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra

* Quran 36:68

The media:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"Without you my heart is shattered"


^ ^ ^ ^ ^

I am a sculptor
I carve new shapes and forms each day
but when I see you they all melt.

I am a painter
I create images and bring them to life
but when I see you they all vanish.

Who are you my Friend
the promised lover or the deceitful enemy?
You ruin everything I build.
My soul has sprung from yours and
it carries the scent of your perfume.
But without you my heart is shattered,
please, come back or let me leave
this lonely world.

-- Ghazal (Ode) 1462
"Rumi: Hidden Music"
Translated by Azima Melita Kolin
and Maryam Mafi
HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2001

The media:
http://tinyurl. com/37zghb

^ ^ ^ ^ ^



"Hundreds of thousands of trials"


^ ^ ^ ^ ^

There are hundreds of thousands of trials for anyone who claims,
"I am the commander of the gate."
If the vulgar don't put him to the test,
the adepts of the way will demand the token of his sincerity.
When a roughneck pretends to be a tailor,
the king will throw down a piece of satin in front of him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Sad hazârân emtehânast ay pedar
har keg guyad "Man shodam sarhang-e dar"
Gar na-dânad `âmmeh u-râ ze emtehân
pokhtegân-e râh juyandesh neshân
Chon konad da`vâ khayyâti khasi
afgand dar pish-e u shah atlasi

-- Mathnawi III: 682-684
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
(Persian transliteration courtesy of YahyÙ„ Monastra)

The media:
http://tinyurl. com/2np3qp

^ ^ ^ ^ ^


"Out of my own control"

Today, Sunlight offers Ghazal (Ode) 1688, from the Divan-e
Shams, in the version which Coleman Barks derived from the Arberry
translation, and in translation by A.J. Arberry:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

"I Am Not This"

I am not this. Your beauty closes
my eyes, and I am falling into

that. You cut the umbilical with
this love that's been with me since

birth. My mother saw your mountain
reflected in my face, you that lift

coverings, you that bring death. We
agreed on this before creation. I've

been so hidden. Ask my body who I
am. It says "solid ground." Ask my

soul. "Dizzy as the wind." Neither,
I stand here facing Shams of Tabriz.

-- Version by Coleman Barks, with Nevit Ergin
"The Glance"
Viking-Penguin, 1999

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

I have got out of my own control, I have fallen into uncon-
sciousness; in my utter unconsciousness how joyful I am with
The darling sewed up my eyes so that I might not see other
than him, so that suddenly I opened my eyes on his face.
My soul fought with me saying, "Do not pain me"; I said,
"Take your divorce." She said, "Grant it"; I granted it.
When my mother saw on my cheek the brand of your love she
cut my umbilical cord on that, the moment I was born.*
If I travel to heaven and read the Tablet of the Unseen, O you
who are my soul's salvation, without you how I am ruined!*
When you cast aside the veil the dead became alive; the light
of your face reminded me of the Covenant of Alast.*
When I became lost, O soul, through love of the king of the
peris, hidden from self and creatures, I am as if peri-born myself.
I said to the Tabriz of Shams-e Din, "O body, what are you?"
Body said, "Earth"; Soul said, "I am distraught like the wind."

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

* "the moment I was born" -- To experience divine love is a
spiritual regeneration or birth for a Sufi. This is why the soul
in the world is compared to the embryo in the womb, and when it
becomes a babejust born into a new world. Cf. Math. notes, 1: 19,
3180. Rumi says that such a love was inborn in him and from the
beginning he embarked on his Sufi mission. "On that" refers to that
love. It was a common superstition that if, while cutting the
umbilical cord, one made a wish, the child would attain it.

* "Lawh-e gayb" (the Unseen Tablet) seems to be the same as
"lawh-e mahfuz (the Preserved tablet, Quran 85:22) which refers to
the Quran. It is said to have been in heaven before its revelation.
The Sufis interpret it as the First Intelligence (aql-e avval) or
Logos or the Active Intellect (aql-e fa'al). See Sajjadi, "Farshang-
erfani", 405, and Nicholson's note on Math. 1:296.

* Covenant of Alast: "Alastu bi rabbikum?", "Am I not your Lord?"
(Quran 7:171). Thus God addressed the future generations of men
(according to the Sufis their souls). They answered "Yes", and
acknowledged God's right to judge their actions and to punish their

The media:
http://tinyurl. com/2ol9mq

^ ^ ^ ^ ^


Friday, February 09, 2007

"In this house we are all guests"


^ ^ ^ ^ ^

How do you know what birds we are or what we recite every
moment beneath our breath?
How can anyone bring us to hand? We are sometimes the
treasure, sometimes the ruins!
The heavens revolve for our sake - that is why we keep on
turning like a wheel.
How should we remain in this house? In this house we are
all guests.
Although in form we are beggars in the lane, behold our
attributes! Then you will know what sort of sultan we are!
Since tomorrow we will be king of all of Egypt, why should
we grieve if today we are imprisoned?
As long as we have been in this form, no one has troubled us,
nor have we troubled anyone.
When Shams-i Tabrizi becomes our guest, we are multiplied
hundreds of millions of times!

- - Ode 1767
Translation by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love - The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi"
State University of New York Press, Albany, 1983

The media:

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"A goodly core"


^ ^ ^ ^ ^

The core of every fruit is better than its rind:
consider the body to be the rind,
and its friend the spirit to be the core.
After all, the Human Being has a goodly core;
seek it for one moment
if you are of those inspired by the Divine Breath.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Maghz-e har miveh behast az pustesh
pust dân tan-râ va maghz ân dustesh
Maghz naghzi dârad âkher آdami
yek dami ân-râ talab gar ze ân Dami

-- Mathnawi III:3417-3418
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
(Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra)

The media:

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Choosing to burn"


Here, Sunlight offers Ghazal 2523, from the Diwan-e Shams, in
poetic translation by Nader Khalili, and in literal translation by
A.J. Arberry:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

my dear heart
you're a fire worshiper
an explosive in flame

call on the cupbearer
to sprinkle the wine on you
to soothe your burn with water

that special cupbearer
the same one who sizzles
lives with wine and lips with kisses

the one who first calmed my mind
gave me a cup of fiery wine
and took me to a secret house
in that special house
dwelled a precious sweetheart
who offered me a choice

a tray full of gold
a tray full of flame
a few words i was told

this gold is soaked with fire
this fire is filled with gold
if you choose fire you'll end up with gold

if you choose the burden of gold
you'll lay heavy and cold
take the fire of the beloved and leap with joy

-- Translation by Nader Khalili
"Rumi - Fountain of Fire"
Cal-Earth Press, 1995

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

Fire-worshipping heart of mine who spins like a ball in the fire*,
say to the Saqi, "Quick now, a glass of lees to begin with!"
Come, lip-biting Saqi, cook with wine and raw ones; bravo,
garden and orchard of vine from which you pressed the grapes!
I will give a hint no one gives; the hint is this, O fair of
stature, that on that night you transported me unselfed, you com-
mitted me to that moonface of mine.
You, reason, do you remember how, when the king of reason
out of love bestowed that fiery wine on me, at the first breath
you died?
That darling brought two dishes, one of fire, one full of gold;
if you take gold, it becomes fire, and if you set on fire, you win
the game.
See the proud Saqi! Extinguish that pretty fire! What do you
know of the power of fire, for there you are a little child?
Get out of the fire, you will rise happy out of Shams-al-din
Tabrizi; and if you flee into the gold, like gold you will have

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

* Perhaps a better translation is,
"... who burns like sulphur in a fire". (Arberry's footnote)

The media:

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"Love hath naught to do with the five senses"


Today, Sunlight offers a selection from the Mathnawi, from the
classic translation by Professor Nicholson, with a Persian
transliteration by Dr. Gamard, followed by a link to online mixed
media, courtesy of our friend Panevis, in Tehran:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Mathnawi VI, 5-21

Love hath naught to do with the five (senses) and the six
(directions) : its goal is only (to experience) the attraction
exerted by the Beloved.
Afterwards, maybe, permission will come (from God): the secrets
that ought to be told will be told,
With an eloquence that is nearer (to the understanding) than these
subtle recondite allusions.
The secret is partner with none but the knower of the secret;
in the sceptic's ear the secret is no secret (at all).
But (the command) to call (the people to God) comes down from the
Maker: what has he (the prophet or saint) to do with (their)
acceptance or non-acceptance?
Noah continued to call (the people to God) for nine hundred years:
the unbelief of his folk was increasing from moment to moment.
Did he ever pull back the rein of speech? Did he ever creep into
the cave of silence?
He said (to himself), "Does a caravan ever turn back from a
journey on account of the noise and clamour of dogs?
Or on a night of moonlight is the running of the full-moon in its
course retarded by the dog's outcry?
The moon sheds light and the dog barks: every one proceeds
according to his nature.
(The Divine) Destiny hath allotted to every one a certain service,
suitable to his essential nature, (to be performed) in (the way of)
Since the dog will not leave off his pestilent howling, I (who)
am the moon, how should I abandon my course?"
Inasmuch as the vinegar increases acidity, therefore it is
necessary to increase the sugar.
Wrath is (like) vinegar, mercy like honey; and these twain are
the basis of every oxymel.
If the honey fail to withstand (be overpowered by) the vinegar,
the oxymel will be spoilt.
The people were pouring vinegar on him (Noah), and the Ocean
(of Divine Bounty) was pouring more sugar for Noah.
His sugar was replenished from the Sea of Bounty, therefore
it was exceeding the vinegar of (all) the inhabitants of the world.

-- "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"

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

`ishq-râ bâ panj-o bâ shash kâr nêst
maqSad-é ô joz ke jaZb-é yâr nêst

bowk fî-mâ ba`d dastûrê ras-ad
râz-hâ-yé goftanî gofta shaw-ad

bâ bayânê ke bow-ad nazdêktar
zîn kinâyât-é daqîq-é mustatar

râz joz bâ râz-dân anbâz nêst
râz andar gôsh-é munkir râz nêst

lêk da`wat wârid-ast az kerdegâr
bâ qabûl-o nâ-qabûl ô-râ che kâr?

nûH nohSad sâl da`wat mê-namûd
dam ba-dam inkâr-é qawm-ash mê-fozûd

hêch az goftan `inân wâ pas kashîd
hêch andar ghâr-é khâmôshî khazîd?

goft az bâng-o `alâlâ-yé sag-ân
hêch wâ gard-ad ze râhê kârwân?

yâ shab-é mahtâb az ghawghâ-yé sag
sost gard-ad badr-râ dar sayr-tag?

mah fashân-ad nûr-o sag `aw`aw kon-ad
har kasê bar khilqat-é khwad mê-tan-ad

har kasê-râ khidmatê dâda qaZâ
dar khwar-é ân, gawhar-ash dar ibtilâ

chônke nag'Zâr-ad sag ân na`ra-yé saqam
man mah-am sayrân-é khwad-râ chôn hel-am?

chônke serka serkagî afzûn kon-ad
pas shakar-râ wâjib afzûnî bow-ad

qahr serka, luTf hamchûn angabîn
k-în dô bâsh-ad rukn-é har iskanjabîn

angabîn gar pâ-yé kam âr-ad ze khal
ây-ad ân iskanjabîn andar khalal

qawm bar way sarke-hâ mê-rêkht-and
nûH-râ daryâ fazûn mê-rêkht qand

qand-é ô-râ bod madad az baHr-é jûd
pas ze serka-yé ahl-é `âlam mê-fazûd

-- Mathnawi VI, 5-21
Transliteration (c) by Ibrahim Gamard

The media:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^


Monday, February 05, 2007

"God in the Stew"


^ ^ ^ ^ ^

God in the Stew

Is there a human mouth that doesn't
give out love-sound? Is there love,

a drawing-together of any kind, that
isn't sacred? Every natural dog

sniffs God in the stew. The lion's
paw trembles like a rose petal.

He senses the ultimate spear coming.
In the shepherd's majesty wolves

and lambs tease each other. Look
inside your mind. Do you hear

the crowd gathering? Help coming,
every second. Still you cover

your eyes with mud. Watch the horned
owl. Wash your face. Anyone who

steps into an orchard walks inside
the orchard keeper. Millions of

love-tents bloom on the plain. A
star in your chest says, None

of this is outside you. Close your
lips and let the maker of mouths

talk, the one who says things.

-- Ghazal (Ode) 958
Version by Coleman Barks, with Nevit Ergin
"The Glance"
Viking-Penguin, 1999

The media:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^


Saturday, February 03, 2007

"O, how the Beloved fits inside my heart"


Today, Sunlight offers two interpretations of Quatrain 569:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

This moment this love comes to rest in me,
many being in one being.
In one wheat-grain a thousand sheaf stacks.
Inside the needle's eye, a turning night of stars.

- Version by Coleman Barks,
from a translation by John Moyne
"Unseen Rain"
Quatrains of Rumi
Threshold Books, 1986

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

O how the Beloved fits inside my heart;
Like a thousand souls in one body,
A thousand harvests in one sheaf of wheat,
A thousand whirling heavens
in the eye of a needle.

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

The media:

^ ^ ^ ^


Turned by the waves of Love


^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Know that the wheeling heavens are turned by waves of Love:
were it not for Love, the world would be frozen, stiff.
How would an inorganic thing transform into a plant?
How would living creatures sacrifice themselves
to become endowed with spirit?
How would the spirit sacrifice itself for the sake of that Breath
by which Mary was made pregnant?
Each one of them would be unyielding and immovable as ice:
how could they be flying and searching like locusts?
Every one is in love with that Perfection
and hastening upward like a sapling.
Their haste implicitly is saying, "Glory to God!"
They are purifying the body for the sake of the spirit.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dawr-e gardun-hâ ze mawj-e `Eshq dân
gar na-budi `Eshq be-fesordi jahân
Kay jamâdi mahv gashti dar nabât
kay fedâ-ye ruh gashti nâmiyât
Ruh kay gashti fedâ-ye ân Dami
kaz nasimesh hâmeleh shod Maryami
Har yeki bar jâ toranjidi cho yakh
kay bodi parrân o juyân chon malakh
Zarreh zarreh `âsheqân-e ân Kamâl
mi shetâbad dar `olu hamchon nehâl
Sabbaha Allâh hast eshtâbeshân
tanqiyeh-ye tan mi konad az bahr-e jân

-- Mathnawi V: 3854-3859
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
(Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyل Monastra)

The media:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^


"All praise be to God and thanksgiving!"


Here, Sunlight offers Rumi's Ghazal (Ode) 123, in a translation
by William Chittick, and in a version by Jonathan Star:

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

I saw that good and beautiful King, that Eye
and Lamp of the breast,
That Intimate and Comforter of the heart, that
spirit-increasing Spirit and World.
I saw Him who gives intellect to the intellect
and purity to purity,
That Object of adoration for the moon and the
heavens, that Kiblah of the spirits of the saints.
Each one of my particles called out with its
own voice, "All praise be to God and thanksgiving! "
When Moses suddenly saw that Light from the
He said, "I have been delivered from seeking!
For I have been given this gift."
God said, "Oh Moses, leave aside traveling!
Throw down thy staff! (XXVII 10)"
At once Moses cast out from his heart friends,
fellows, and kin.
This is the significance of Put off thy two shoes!
(XX 12): "Cut off thy love from the two worlds!"
The house of the heart has no room for any but
God-- the heart knows the jealousy of the prophets.
God said, "Oh Moses, what is that in thy hand?"
He replied, "That is my staff for the road" (XX 17-18).
He said, "Cast it down (XX 19) and see the
marvels of heaven!"
He threw it down and it became a serpent;
when he saw the serpent he fled (XX 20-21).
God said, "Take it and I will make it your staff
once more" (XX 21):
"I will make your enemy your assistant, your
adversary your support.
Then you will know that faithful and gentle
friends derive only from My Bounty.
When We give pain to your hands and feet,
they become serpents in your eyes.
Oh hand, seize naught but Us! Oh foot, seek
naught but the Goal!
Flee not from the suffering We inflict, for
wherever you find suffering, there also you find a way to the
No one has ever fled from suffering without
finding something worse in return.
Flee from the bait-- that is where fear lies.
Leave fear of places for the intellect.
Shams of Tabriz has shown his gentleness, but
when he went away, he took it with him.

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

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

"Throw Down Your Staff"

I saw that good and beautiful King,
That Witness of the heart's light,
That comforter and friend of the soul,
That spirit of all the world.

I saw the One who gives
wisdom to the wise,
purity to the pure;
The one adorned by the Moon and stars,
The one toward whom all saints bow.

Every cell of my body called out,
Praise God! Glory to God!

When Moses saw the radiant fire of the bush, he said:
"After finding this gift I need nothing more."

God said, "O Moses, your wandering is over.
Throw down your staff."
In that moment Moses cast from his heart
all friends, relatives, and kinsmen.

This is the meaning of "Take off both your shoes" -
Remove from your heart the desire of both worlds.
The abode of the heart has room for God alone.
You will know this through the grace of the prophets.

God said, "O Moses, what do you hold in your hand?"
Moses replied, "This is my rod for the journey."

God said,
"Throw it down and behold the marvels within yourself!"
Moses tossed his rod to the ground
and it became a serpent.
When Moses saw the serpent he ran in fear.

God said,
"Pick it up and I will turn it
into a staff once again.
Through my grace your foes will grant you blessings,
Your enemies will reach out in friendship.
When We bring suffering to your hands and feet
like the burning pain of snake-bites - carry on."

O hand, keep reaching for Us.
O feet, keep walking toward the Goal!
Do not run from the hardship We give you,
For wherever you find hardship
you will also find the means to its end.

No one has ever escaped from hardship
without something worse happening in return.

Don't take the bait! -
It will only lead to disaster.
Don't give in to your doubts! -
It will shake you from your ground.

Now Shams has shown us his mercy -
He went away
and left us with nothing but ourselves.

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

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