Monday, June 21, 2010

[Sunlight] "There is no dervish"


Sunlight offers two presentations of the verses from the Mathnawi*, Volume III, lines 3669 - 3685 -- the first an interpretive version by Coleman Barks, which Barks developed from Reynold Nicholson's translation; and the second, Nicholson's literal translation:



Someone said, "There is no dervish, or if there is a dervish,
that dervish is not there."

Look at a candle flame in the bright noon sunlight
if you put cotton next to it, the cotton will burn,
but its light has become completely mixed
with the sun.

That candlelight you can't find is what's left of a dervish.

If you sprinkle one ounce of vinegar over
two hundred tons of sugar,
no one will ever taste the vinegar.

A deer faints in the paws of a lion. The deer becomes
another glazed expression on the face of the lion.

These are rough metaphors for what happens to the lover.

There's no one more openly irreverent than a lover. He, or she,
jumps up on the scale opposite eternity
and claims to balance it.

And no one more secretly reverent.

A grammar lesson: "The lover died."
"Lover" is subject and agent, but that can't be!
The lover is defunct.

Only grammatically is the dervish-lover a doer.

In reality, with he or she so overcome,
so dissolved into love,
all qualities of doingness

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


The speaker said, "There is no dervish in the world; and if
there be a dervish, that dervish is (really) non-existent."
He exists in respect of the survival of his essence, (but) his
attributes have become non-existent in the attributes of Him
Like the flame of a candle in the presence of the sun, he
is (really) non-existent, (though he is) existent in (formal)
Its (the flame's) essence is existent, so that, if you put cotton
upon it, it (the cotton) will be consumed by the sparks;
(But) it is (really) non-existent: it gives you no light: the sun
will have naughted it.
When you have thrown an ounce of vinegar into two hundred
maunds of sugar, and it has become dissolved therein,
The flavour of the vinegar, when you taste (the sugar), is non-
existent, (though) the ounce exists (as a ) surplus when you weigh.
In the presence of a lion a deer becomes senseless: her
existence becomes a (mere) veil for his existence.
These analogies drawn by imperfect men concerning the
action of the Lord are (like) the emotion of love, (they are) not
from irreverence.
The lover's pulse bounds up without reverence, he lays him-
self on the scale of the King's balance.*
None is more irreverent than he in the world (outwardly);
none is more reverent than he is secret (inwardly).
Know, O chosen one, that these two opposites also, "re-
verent" and "irreverent," are reconciled by means of relation.
He (the lover) is irreverent when you regard the outward
aspect, for his claim of love is (involves) equality (with the
(But) when you regard the inward aspect, where is the claim?
He and (his) claim are naughted in the presence of that Sultan.
Mata Zayd (Zayd died): if Zayd is the agent (grammatical
subject), (yet) he is not the agent, for he is defunct.
He is the agent (only) in respect of the grammatical expres-
sion; otherwise, he is the one acted upon (the object of the
action), and Death is his slayer.
What agent (is he), since he has been so overpowered and all
the qualities of an agent have been removed from him?

-- Translation and Commentary by Reynold A. Nicholson
"The Mathnawi of Jalalu'ddin Rumi"
Published and Distributed by
The Trustees of The "E.J.W. Gibb Memorial"

* Fana, "passing away from self-existence", baqa, "subsistence
in God."
*i.e. "levels himself with the King."


* "The Mathnawi" (also spelled "Masnavi") : the six volume
masterpiece written in Rumi's mature years, consisting of over
25,000 lines of stories and teachings. The term "mathnawi" means
rhymed couplets.



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