The Animal Soul
There's part of us that's like an itch.
Call it the animal soul, a foolishness
that when we're in it, we make
hundreds of others around us itchy.
And there is an intelligent soul
with another desire, more like sweet basil,
or the feel of a breeze.
Listen and be thankful even for scolding
that comes from the intelligent soul.
It flows out close to where you flowed out.
But that itchiness wants to put food
in our mouths that will make us sick,
feverish with the aftertaste of kissing
a donkey's rump. It's like blackening your robe
against a kettle without being anywhere
near a table of companionship.
The truth of a being human is an empty table
made of soul-intelligence.
Gradually reduce what you give your animal soul,
the breath that after all overflows from sunlight.
The animal soul itself spilled out
and sprouted from the other.
Taste more often what nourishes your clear light,
and you'll have less use for the smokey oven.
You'll bury that baking equipment in the ground!
-- Mathnawi IV: 1943-1959
Version by Coleman Barks
"Say I Am You"
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