Friday, June 07, 2013

[Sunlight] Imitating spirituality


Here, Sunlight offers two versions of an excerpt from the
Mathnawi, Book II -- a short version by the Helminski, and a longer
one by Coleman Barks:


The Jesus of your spirit is within you:
ask his aid, for he is a good helper.
Don't seek from your Jesus the comforts of the body.
Don't ask from your Moses the wish of a Pharaoh.
Don't burden your heart with thoughts
of livelihood; livelihood will not fail.
Be constant in attendance at the Divine court.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

`Isâ-ye ruh-e to bâ to hâzer ast
nosrat azu khvâh ku khvosh nâser ast
Zendagi-ye tan ma-ju az `Isâ'et
kâm-e fer`awni ma-khvâh az Musâ'et
Bar del-e khvod kam neh andisheh-ye ma`âsh
`aysh kam na-âyad, to bar dargâh bâsh

-- Mathnawi II: 450; 453-454
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra


"The Lion's Shoulder"

The Jesus of your spirit is inside you now.
Ask that one for help, but don't ask for body-things,
like the foolish young man in the story,
who insisted that Jesus put a body back
around some bones that he had found.

Don't ask Moses for provisions
that you can get from Pharoah.

Don't worry so much about livelihood.
Your livelihood will turn out as it should.
Be constantly occupied instead
with listening to God.

Jesus pronounced the Name over the pile of bones,
and a black lion sprang back into being, swung once
with its paw, and tore the young man's skull open.
The brain-kernel was scattered and smashed.

Jesus asked the lion, "Why did you maul him
so quickly?"
"Because he was troubling you."
"Why didn't you drink the blood?"

Many people are like this lion. They rage
with hunger and then they leave the world
without having eaten what they killed.

They have the material means,
but they stay unsatisfied.

The lion explained, "Killing this man
was a warning to others. I have been dead.
There is no food now for me in this place."

The lion's swift attack is the right punishment
for those who insult the spirit, for those
who find a pure stream and then urinate in it.

If you know the nature of the stream,
bow your head down inside it.

A person meets a prophet
and somehow doesn't say,
"Lord, help me to Be."

How is it that you ask for physical comfort,
and not for a true existence?

Are you dogs that you love bones so?
Are you leeches that you want only blood?

Why are you so blind to what the soul needs?
Weep for yourself as when a cloud weeps,
and then the branch freshens. As when a candle
releases tears and gets brighter.

Wherever people grieve over anything,
you should sit with them and grieve louder,
because you have an even better right to moan.

They lament for what passes away. You cry
for your forgetting what doesn't.

You have been imitating spirituality.

Imitation is a lock on your chest.
Dissolve it with tears.

Imitation may be as small as a piece of straw,
or as huge as a mountain. Imitation
is a blind man describing a landscape
with beautiful words. There's no heart-knowledge.

The blind man gets excited with the words,
but you feel the distance between him and the beauty.

The imitator is a riverbed.
He doesn't drink the water.

It just passes through him on its way
to the water-drinkers. The riverbed
is not thirsty. Nothing stays there.

The imitator is a flute
that sounds pitiful
in order to be bought.

The imitator is a professional mourner,
with no motive but money. The words burn,
but there's no warmth, and no broken-open-ness.

The difference between being with a true knower
and being with an imitator is like
the difference between being
in the actual presence of the prophet David
and being outside somewhere hearing
a vague echo sound.

David is a source. The imitator
has just memorized some psalms.

Do not be fooled. The ox pulls the load,
while the cart makes a creaking noise.

Though even the imitator gets some reward,
as professional mourners get their wages.

But if the imitation-saint could distinguish
between God as God is, and "God" as he says the word,
he would dissolve all interest in self-interest.

For years he carries the Qur'an around,
hoping to make a living by being holy.

Had those words been written inside him,
his body would have shivered into particles.

In sorcery there are demonic helpers
who find ways to make you successful.

You have been doing such things
with the name of God.

A farmer once tied his ox in the stable.
A lion came and ate the ox
and lay down in its place!

The farmer went out late at night
to check on the ox. He felt in the corner
and rubbed his hand along the flank of the lion,
up the back, feeling the shoulder, and around
the chest to the other shoulder.

The lion thinks, "If a light were lit
and this man could suddenly see,
he would die of the discovery.

He's stroking me so familiarly,
because he thinks I'm his ox."

So the imitator doesn't realize
what he's fooling with. God thinks,
"You fake. Sinai crumbled and split
with jets of blood streaming from it
for the sake of the name
that you say so thoughtlessly.

You learned it from your mother and father,
not from your own experience."

If you are not an imitator,
your ego will dissolve, and you
will become a voice in the air.

-- Mathnawi, II, 450-512
Version by Coleman Barks
"Feeling the Shoulder of the Lion"
Threshold Books, 1991




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