Monday, October 15, 2007

[Sunlight] "Naught to do with existence"

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Here, Sunlight offers an excerpt from the Mathnawi, Book III, in
an interpretive version by Professor Barks, and in the translation by
Professor Nicholson upon which Barks based his version:

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One day a sufi sees an empty food sack hanging on a nail.
He begins to turn and tear his shirt, saying,
Food for what needs no food!
A cure for hunger!

His burning grows and others join him,
shouting and moaning in the love-fire.

An idle passerby comments, "It's only an empty sack."

The sufi says, Leave. You want what we do not want.
You are not a lover.

A lover's food is the love of bread,
not the bread. No one who really loves,
loves existence.

Lovers have nothing to do with existence.
They collect the interest without the capital.

No wings, yet they fly all over the world. No hands,
but they carry the polo ball from the field.

That dervish got a sniff of reality.
Now he weaves baskets of pure vision.

Lovers pitch tents on a field of nowhere.
They are all one color like that field.

A nursing baby does not know the taste of roasted meat.
To a spirit the foodless scent is food.

To an Egyptian, the Nile looks bloody.
To an Israelite, clear.
What is a highway to one is disaster to the other.

-- Mathnawi III, 3014-30
Version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
Castle Books, 1997

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One day a Sufi espied a food-wallet (hanging) on a nail: he
began to whirl and rend his garments,
Crying, "Lo, the food of the foodless! Lo, the remedy for
famines and pangs (of hunger)!"
When his smoke and tumult (his ecstasy) waxed great, every
one that was a Sufi joined him (imitated has behaviour).
They were shouting and shrieking: several were becoming
intoxicated and beside themselves.
An idle busybody said to the Sufi, "What is the matter?
(Only) a food-wallet said hung (on a nail), and it is empty of bread!"
He (the Sufi) said, "Begone, begone! Thou art a (mere) form
without spirit: do thou seek existence (not no-existence), for
thou art no lover."
The lover's food is love of the bread, without (the existence of)
the bread: no one that is sincere (in his love) is in thrall to
existence.
Lovers have naught to do with existence: lovers have the
interest without (having) the capital.
They have no wings, and (yet) they fly round the world; they
have no hands, and (yet) they carry off the ball from the polo-field.
That dervish who scented (perceived) Reality used to weave
baskets though his hand had been cut off.*
Lovers have pitched their tents in non-existence*: they are of
one color (quality) and one essence; like non-existence.

-- Book III, 3014-24
"The Mathnawi of Jalaluddin Rumi"
Translation and Commentary by Reynold A. Nicholson
Published and Distributed by
The Trustees of The E.J.W. Gibb Memorial

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1 comment:

irving said...

Barks has captured it beautifully :)

Ya Haqq!