Thursday, August 11, 2011

[Sunlight] A Children's Game


Here, Sunlight offers a selection from the Mathnawi, in a
version by Coleman Barks, accompanied by the Nicholson translation
from which Barks derived his interpretive version:

A Children's Game

Listen to the poet Sanai,
who lived secluded: "Don't wander out on the road
in your ecstasy. Sleep in the tavern."

When a drunk strays out to the street,
children make fun of him.
He falls down in the mud.
He takes any and every road.
The children follow,
not knowing the taste of wine, or how
his drunkenness feels. All people on the planet
are children, except for a very few.
No one is grown up except those free of desire.

God said,
"The world is a play, a children's game,
and you are the children."
God speaks the truth.
If you haven't left the child's play,
how can you be an adult?
Without purity of spirit,
if you're still in the middle of lust and greed
and other wantings, you're like children
playing at sexual intercourse.
They wrestle
and rub together, but it's not sex!

The same with the fightings of mankind.
It's a squabble with play-swords.
No purpose, totally futile.

Like kids on hobby horses, soldiers claim to be riding
Boraq, Muhammad's night-horse, or Duldul, his mule.

Your actions mean nothing, the sex and war that you do.
You're holding part of your pants and prancing around,
Dun-da-dun, dun-da-dun.

Don't wait till you die to see this.
Recognize that your imagination and your thinking
and your sense-perception are reed canes
that children cut and pretend are horsies.

The Knowing of mystic Lovers is different.
The empirical, sensory, sciences
are like a donkey loaded with books,
or like the makeup woman's makeup.
It washes off.
But if you lift the baggage rightly, it will give you joy.
Don't carry your knowledge-load for some selfish reason.
Deny your desires and willfulness,
and a real mount may appear under you.

Don't be satisfied with the name of HU,
with just words about it.

Experience that breathing.
From books and words come fantasy,
and sometimes, from fantasy, comes union.

-- Mathnawi I: 3426-3454
Version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
HarperSanFrancisco, 1995


Explaining that one must keep one's own (spiritual) state and
(mystical) intoxication hidden from the ignorant.

Hearken to the words of the Sage (Hakim) who lived in
seclusion(1), "Lay thy head in the same place where thou hast
drunk the wine."(2)
When the drunken man(3) has gone astray from a tavern, he
becomes the children's laughing-stock and playing.
Whatever way he goes(4), he is falling in the mud, (now) on
this side and (now) on that side, and every fool is laughing at
He (goes on) like this, while the children at his heels are
without knowledge of his intoxication and the taste of this wine.
All mankind are children except him that is intoxicated with
God; none is grown-up except him that is feed from sensual
He (God) said, "This world is a play and pastime, and ye are
children"(5) ; and God speaks truth.
If you have not gone forth from (taken leave of) play, you are
a child: without purity of spirit how will you be fully intelligent
(like an adult)?
Know, O youth, that the lust in which men are indulging
here (in this world) is like the sexual intercourse of children.
What is the child's sexual intercourse? An idle play, compared
with the sexual intercourse of a Rustam and a brave champion
of Islam.
The wars of mankind are like children's fights--all
meaningless, pitchless, and contemptible.
All their fights are (fought) with wooden swords, all their
purposes are (centered) in furtility;
They all are riding on a reed-cane (hobby-horses), saying,
"This is our Buraq (6) or mule that goes like Duldul(7)."
They are (really) carrying (their hobby-horses), but in their
folly they have raised themselves on high: they have fancied
themselves to be riders carried along the road.
Wait till the day when those who are borne aloft by God shall
pass, galloping, beyond the nine tiers (of Heaven)!
"The spirit and the angles shall ascend to Him"(8) : at the
ascension of the spirit Heaven shall tremble.
Like children, ye all are riding on your skirts: ya have taken
hold of the corner of your skirts (to serve) as a horse.
From God came (the text), "Verily, opinion doth not enable
(you) to dispense (with the Truth)"(9) : when did the steed of
opinion run (mount) to the Heavens?
While preferring (in case of doubt) the stronger of the two
(alternative) opinions, do not doubt whether you see the sun
when it is shining!
At that time (when the spirit returns to God) behold your
steeds! Ye have made a steed of your own foot.
Come, recognize that your imagination and reflection and
sense-perception and apprehension are like the reed-cane on which
children ride.
The sciences of the mystics(10) bear them (aloft): the
sciences of sensual men(11) are burdens to them.
When knowledge strikes on the heart (is acquired through
mystical experience), it becomes a helper (Yari) ; when knowledge
strikes on the body (is acquired through the senses), it becomes a
burden (bari).
God hath said, "(Like an ass) laden with his books"(12) :
burdensome is the knowledge that is not from Himself.
The knowledge that is not immediately from Himself does not
endure, (it is) like the tirewoman's paint.
But when you carry this burden well, the burden will be
removed and you will be given (spiritual) joy.
Beware! Do not carry this burden of knowledge for the sake of
selfish desire (but mortify yourself), so that you may ride on the
smooth-paced steed of knowledge,
So that you may mount the smooth-paced steed of knowledge,
(and that) afterwards the burden may fall from your shoulder.
How wit thou be freed from selfish desires without the cup of
Hu (Him), O thou who hast become content with no more of Hu than
the name of Hu?(13)
From attribute and name what comes to birth? Phantasy; and
that phantasy shows the way to union with Him.

-- Mathnawi I: 3426 - 54
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"

(1) Literally, "the sage of a purdeh." The Persian poet Sana'i is
meant. Hakim Sana'i was born in 437/1045-6. He is a celebrated writer
of religious poetry for which there appeared to exist a lively
interest. The Hadiqat al-haqiqat is the first specimen of a mystical
Mathnawi inPersian literature and has had a considerable impact on
later writers in the same genre, notably on Jalaluddin Rumi, whose
Mathnawi yi-Ma'nawi was composed after the example given by Sana'i.
(Sunlight footnotes)
(2) Here, in this line Rumi quotes from Sana'i's Hadiqat
al-haqiqat. (Professor Este'lami's commentary--Persian scholar)
(3) Drunken men are the ones who are drunken from Divine
wine, and often misunderstood by the ordinary people.(Este'lami's
(4) Literally, "on every road."
(5) The animal ridden by the Prophet when he ascended to
(6) A mule belonging to the Prophet.
(7) Qur'an,XXIX,64
(8) Qur'an, LXX,4
(9) Qur'an, X,36
(10) Literally, "the men of heart."
(11) Literally, "the men of body."
(12) Qur'an, LXII,5
(13) Hu is an Arabic name for God, also it is a famous Zikr
(meditation mantra) among the Mevelvieh Sufi Order. (Gulpinarly's
commentary -- Turkish scholar).




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