Updated 01/01/10


Sufi mystic poet Jelaluddin Rumi

Introduction

In the mountains along a creek half-frozen
with thick ledges of ice,
A friend once handed me an icy drop of dew.
I held it close to my eye like a lens.
The hemlock and the rhododendron and the creek
were suddenly upsidedown above me!
The world reversed in a tear.

Rumi's short poems, the quatrains (Rubaiyat) have many tones and effects: Some of them quick, joyful whimsies - songs a carload of friends might spin off on a trip.

Tonight, a singing competition:
Jupiter, the moon, and myself,
the friends I've been looking for!

Some are finely faceted, abstract statements.

Being is not what it seems,
nor non-being. The world's
existence is not
in the world.

But most do what the dewdrop did, put vast space where you thought you were standing. Like grief, they flip normal, rational perspective to sudden mystery and clarity. And like short poems from other lineages, they require a lot of emptiness, room to wander, sky, the inward space of patience and longing. They are small doors that somehow are the region they open into.

I have lived on the lip
of insanity, wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door. It opens.
I've been knocking from the inside!

Rumi lived most of his life in Konya, Turkey, which in the 13th Century was a meeting-point for many cultures at the western end of the Silk Road, a connective node for Christian, Islamic, Hindu, and even Buddhist, worlds. Rumi weaves elements from these traditions into a whole, a single energy, of which these short bursts are spontaneous fragments.
Though there are suites of poems around a single image or idea, the sequence was not meant to be thematically coherent. Rumi's Rubaiyat is improvised music. Structural arrangement is not primary. Rumi's ideas on Friendship grow, circulate, and clarify as they take on, and explore, various images. The sequence, in fact, is not Rumi's, but his editor's, and this selection is only a small fraction of the quatrains in the Divan.

Here is how one of them sounds in Persian.

joz eshq naebud hirh daemsaz maera
except love not was any companion me-for

nay avvail-o nay arhaer-a aghaz maera
not first-and not last-and beginning me-for

jan midaehaed aez dorunae avaz maera
soul/life gives from inside call me-for

kay kahel-e rah-e eshq daerbaz maera
oh-that ignorant-of way-of love door-open me-for

The poems are sonically very dense. Clusters of similar, or identical, sounds pile quickly one upon the other. These sound patterns are very tricky to duplicate in English. So many rhyming syllables in English usually produce a trivial, light comic effect, or gibberish. We have tried to connect these poems with a strong American line of free-verse spiritual poetry. Whitman, Roethke, Snyder, James Wright. The late Cambridge Islamicist, A.J.Arberry, himself a pioneer Rumi translator, once called for such free-verse poetic translations.





Rumi's Life (1207-1273)

Born in Balkh, in what is now Afghanistan, Jelaluddin Rumi was exiled early in life by the Mongol invasions, to Konya. Following his father, he became the center of a medrese, a learning community. Konya in the mid-13th Century was, at the very least, a trilingual city. Turkish the vernacular, Persian the literary language, and Arabic the language of the Koran and religious ceremony. Rumi wrote, or more often dictated, predominantly in Persian.

Rumi's way of teaching in the medrese seems to have evolved in definite stages: From pre-Shams discourses, to the ecstatic spontaneity of the middle of his life - the strong heart-center poetry - to the later, complex combination of stories and lyricism and teachings, the Mathnavi, which occupied the last twelve years of his life.

The poems in this volume (´Unseen Rainª) come from the middle period, the Divan-i Shamsi Tabriz (1570 pages, 42,000 lines of poetry). Rumi was thirty-seven when he met Shams in 1244, Shams about sixty. Up until then Rumi had been a fairly traditional mystic, one of a long line of scholars and theologians. Shams literally took Rumi's books, his intellectual brilliance, and threw them into a well to show him how he needed to live what he'd been reading.

The two of them went into week-long periods of sohbet, mystical conversation and merging. Certain people became jealous of this consuming absorption in the Friend. They drove Shams off for a time, to Damascus. But he returned, and finally, apparently, they murdered him. The legend varies. What is clear is that the deep friendship with Shams could not be tolerated. There was some danger perceived by the religious community in the continuous ecstacy of Lover and Beloved. They were separated. The excitement of these poems, though, is that in them we overhear those two, Rumi and Shams, still in collusion. These poems are the whispering of two lovers in a crowd.

Before the contact with Shams, and the bewildering wrenching away, Rumi was not really a poet. The poetry sprang into being in celebration of the meeting with Shams and in grief and longing for the Friend's return. The poetry, also, can be seen as a unique record of the union of lover and beloved, soul and spirit, if such intensity can be called a "record." Certainly it's not linear, or completed, or explainable. He hears camel bells in the distance. When the approaching presence calls out, he says, the first word spoken will coincide exactly with the last word of his last poem. For Rumi, poetry is what he does in the meantime, a song-and-dance until the greater reality he loves arrive: A melting tear-gift eye-piece to look through, while it and the scene and the eye dissolve.

Coleman Barks,
John Moyne.
January 30, 1986

[ Introduction from the book "Unseen Rain",
Quatrains of Rumi by John Moyne and Coleman Barks ]

In some languages of the Middle East the word for "rain" and the word for "grace" are the same. These quatrains are evidence of that invisible gift falling on the mature spirit and master poet, Jelaluddin Rumi.
Unseen Rain is the second volume, from Threshold Books, of these two translators, John Moyne and Coleman Barks.

Most of the poems in this collection are from the book:
"Open Secret" &
"The Essential Rumi" by Coleman Barks.
The books are highly recommended.




"In these pages many mysteries are hinted at.
What if you come to understand one of them?"

"Words let water from an unseen, infinite ocean
Come into this place as energy for the dying and even for the dead."

"Bored onlookers, but with such Light in our eyes!
As we read this book, the jewel-lights intensify."




Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu,
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion

or cultural system. I am not from East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up

from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of elements at all. I do not exist,

am not an entity in this world or the next,
did not descend from Adam and Eve or any

origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one and that one call to and know,

first, last, outer, inner, only that
breath breathing human being.




You are the unconditioned Spirit
trapped in conditions.
The Sun in eclipse.




There is a light seed grain inside.
You fill it with yourself, or it dies.

I'm caught in this curly energy! Your hair!
Whoever's calm and sensible is insane!




Ignorance is God's prison.
Knowing is God's palace.

We sleep in God's unconsciousness.
We wake in God's open hand.

We weep God's rain.
We laugh God's lightning.

Fighting and peacefulness
both take place within God.

Who are we then
in this complicated worldtangle?

Nothing.
We are
emptiness.




Last night my teacher taught me the lesson of poverty,
having nothing and wanting nothing.

I am a naked man standing inside a mine of rubies,
clothed in red silk.
I absorb the shining and now I see the ocean,
billions of simultaneous motions
moving in me.
A circle of lovely, quiet people
becomes the ring on my finger.

Then the wind and thunder of rain on the way.
I have such a teacher.




I, you, he, she, we.
In the garden of mystic lovers,
these are not true distinctions.

- Shams of Tebriz




People say that human beings are
microcosms
and this outer universe
a macrocosm,

but for us the outer is
a tiny wholeness
and the inner life
the vast reality.

- Shams of Tebriz




When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you're not here, I can't go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.




The sky is blue. The world is a blind man
squatting on the road.

But whoever sees your emptiness
sees beyond blue and beyond the blind man.

A great soul hides like Muhammad, or Jesus,
moving through a crowd in a city
where no one knows him.

To praise is to praise
how one surrenders
to the emptiness.

To praise the sun is to praise your own eyes.
Praise, the ocean. What we say, a little ship.

So the sea-journey goes on, and who knows where!
Just to be held by the ocean is the best luck
we could have. It's a total waking up!

Why should we grieve that we've been sleeping?
It doesn't matter how long we've been unconscious.

We're groggy, but let the guilt go.
Feel the motions of tenderness around you, the buoyancy.




Friend, our closeness is this:
anywhere you put your foot, feel me
in the firmness under you.

How is it with this love,
I see your world and not you?




When you are with everyone but me,
you're with no one.
When you are with no one but me,
you're with everyone.
Instead of being so bound up with everyone,
be everyone.
When you become that many, you're nothing.
Empty.




Who makes these changes?

I shoot an arrow right.
It lands left.

I ride after a deer and find myself
chased by a hog.

I plot to get what I want
and end up in prison.

I dig pits to trap others
and fall in.

I should be suspicious
of what I want.




Learn about your inner self
from those who know such things,
but don't repeat verbatim what they say.




I used to want buyers for my words.
Now I wish someone would buy me away from words.

I've made a lot of charmingly profound images,
scenes with Abraham, and Abraham's father, Azar,
who was also famous for icons.

I'm so tired of what I've been doing.
Then one image without form came,
and I quit.

Look for someone else to tend the shop.
I'm out of the image-making business.

Finally I know the freedom
of madness.

A random image arrives. I scream,
"Get out!" It disintegrates.

Only love.
Only the holder the flag fits into,
and wind. No flag.




Before now I wanted
to be paid for what I said,
but now I need you
to buy me from my words.

The idols I used to carve
charmed everyone. Now I'm drunk
on Abraham and tired of idols.

An idol with no color or scent
ended my whole career.

Find someone else for the job.

A happy madman without a thought,
I have swept the shop clean.

If something enters my mind,
I say, "Leave. You're a distraction."

Whatever is coarse and heavy, I destroy.
Who should be with Layla?
Someone who can be Majnun.

The man holding up this waving flag
actually belongs to the other side.

Published by Threshold Books
Excerpts from Love is a Stranger
Poetry of Mevl‚na Jal‚luddÓn Rumi
Translated by Kabir Helminski



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.




Does sunset sometimes look like the sun's coming up?
Do you know what faithful love is like?
You're crying. You say you've burned yourself.

But can you think of anyone who's not
hazy with smoke?




All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I'll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I'm like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This poetry. I never know what I'm going to say.
I don't plan it.
When I'm outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.




We have a huge barrel of wine, but no cups.
That's fine with us. Every morning
we glow and in the evening we glow again.

They say there's no future for us. They're right.
Which is fine with us.




There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.

Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace.

Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.

Open your hands,
if you want to be held.

Sit down in this circle.

Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd's love filling you.

At night, your beloved wanders.
Don't accept consolations.

Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover's mouth in yours.

You moan, "She left me." "He left me."
Twenty more will come.

Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.




Gamble everything for love,
if you're a true human being.

If not, leave
this gathering.

Half-heartedness doesn't reach
into majesty. You set out
to find God, but then you keep
stopping for long periods
at mean-spirited roadhouses.




The way of love is not
a subtle argument.

The door there
is devastation.

Birds make great sky-circles
of their freedom.
How do they learn that?

They fall, and falling,
they are given wings.




Wherever you are
and in every circumstance
try always to be a lover
and a passionate lover.

Once you have possessed love
you will remain a lover in the tomb,
on the day of resurrection, in paradise,
and forever.

And if you have not been a lover
count not your life as lived.

On the day of reckoning
it will not be counted.




I am so small I can barely be seen.
How can this great love be inside me?

Look at your eyes. They are small,
but they see enormous things.




Do you think I know what I'm doing?
That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?
As much as a pen knows what it's writing,
or the ball can guess where it's going next.




Dance, when you're broken open.
Dance, if you've torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.

Dance, when you're perfectly free.




Inside the Great Mystery that is,
we don't really own anything.

What is this competition we feel then,
Before we go, one at a time, through the same gate?




You've seen a herd of goats
going down to the river.

The lame and dreamy goat
brings up the rear.

There are worried faces about that one,
but now they're laughing,

because look, as they return,
that one is the leader!

There are many different kinds of knowing.
The lame goat's kind is a branch
that traces back to the roots of presence.

Learn from the lame goat,
and lead the herd home.



Listen to presences inside poems,
Let them take you where they will.

Follow those private hints,
and never leave the premises.




There is a sea that is not far from us.
It is unseen, but it is not hidden.

It is forbidden to talk about,
Yet at the same time,

It is a sin and a sign of ungratefulness
Not to.

(Book: Magnificent One - p.15)




Come to the orchard in Spring.
There is light and wine, and sweethearts
in the pomegranate flowers.

If you do not come, these do not matter.
If you do come, these do not matter.




Walk to the well.
Turn as the earth and the moon turn,
circling what they love.

Whatever circles comes from the center.




Be like the sun for grace and mercy.
Be like the night to cover others' faults.
Be like running water for generosity.
Be like death for rage and anger.
Be like the earth for modesty.

Appear as you Are.
Be as you Appear.




Birdsong brings relief
to my longing.

I am just as ecstatic as they are,
but with nothing to say!

Please, Universal Soul, practice
some song, or something, through me!




Last night I asked an old wise man
to tell me all the secrets of the universe.

He murmured slowly in my ear.
"This cannot be told, but only learned."




The minute I'm disappointed, I feel encouraged.
When I'm ruined, I'm healed.

When I'm quiet and solid as the ground, then I talk
the low tones of thunder for everyone.




One night a man was crying,
Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
"So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?"

The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.

He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.
"Why did you stop praising?"
"Because I've never heard anything back."
"This longing you express is the return message."

The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.

There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.

Give your life
to be one of them.




The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.




Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy,
absentminded. Someone sober
will worry about things going badly.

Let the lover be.




In love, there is no high or low.
No bad behavior, no good behavior,
no leader, no follower, no devotee;
just indifference, tolerance and giving up.




We have nothing but love.
We have no front, no beginning, no end.

The soul yells and screams inside of us,
"Oh, lazy one, this is the way of love.
Reach me, reach me, reach me!"




If you want what visible reality
can give, you are an employee.

If you want the unseen world,
you're not living your truth.

Both wishes are foolish,
but you'll be forgiven for forgetting
that what you really want is

love's confusing joy.




Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other"
doesn't make any sense.




When I die, lay out the corpse.
You may want to kiss my lips,
just beginning to decay. Don't be frightened
if I open my eyes.




Dissolver of sugar, dissolve me,
if this is the time.
Do it gently with a touch of a hand, or a look.
Every morning I wait at dawn. That's when
it's happened before. Or do it suddenly
like an execution. How else
can I get ready for death?

You breathe without a body like a spark.
You grieve, and I begin to feel lighter
You keep me away with your arm,
but the keeping away is pulling me in.




A chickpea leaps almost over the rim of the pot
where it's being boiled.

"Why are you doing this to me?"

The cook knocks him down with the ladle.

"Don't you try to jump out.
You think I'm torturing you.
I'm giving you flavor,
so you can mix with spices and rice
and be the lovely vitality of a human being.

Remember when you drank rain in the garden.
That was for this."

Grace first. Sexual pleasure,
then a boiling new life begins,
and the Friend has something good to eat.




Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.




They try to say what you are, spiritual or sexual?
They wonder about Solomon and all his wives.
In the body of the world, they say, there is a soul
and you are that.

But we have ways within each other
that will never be said by anyone.




The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.





I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.

Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let's buy it.




Who are you?

If you try to label me and confine me
in a box of whole words,
that box will be your coffin.

Because I do not know who I am.

I am an astounding lucid confusion.

I am your own voice,
echoing the walls of God.




All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I'll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I'm like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

This poetry. I never know what I'm going to say.
I don't plan it.
When I'm outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.




We have a huge barrel of wine, but no cups.
That's fine with us. Every morning
we glow and in the evening we glow again.

They say there's no future for us. They're right.
Which is fine with us.




I am part of the load
not rightly balanced.
I drop off in the grass,
like the old cave-sleepers, to browse
wherever I fall.

For hundreds of thousands of years I have been dust grains
floating and flying in the will of the air
often forgetting ever being
in that state, but in sleep I migrate back. I spring loose
from the four-branched, time-and-space cross,
this waiting room.

I walk into a huge pasture.
I nurse the milk of millennia.

Everyone does this in different ways.
Knowing that conscious decisions
and personal memory
are much too small a place to live,
every human being streams at night
into the loving nowhere, or during the day,
in some absorbing work.




I am dust particles in sunlight.
I am the round sun.

To the bits of dust I say, Stay.
To the sun, Keep moving.

I am morning mist,
and the breathing of evening.

I am wind in the top of a grove,
and surf on the cliff.

Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,
I am also the coral reef they founder on.

I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.
Silence, thought, and voice.

The musical air coming through a flute,
a spark of a stone, a flickering

in metal. Both candle,
and the moth crazy around it.

Rose, and the nightingale
lost in the fragrance.

I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,
the evolutionary intelligence, the lift,

and the falling away. What is,
and what isn't. You who know

Jelaluddin, You the one
in all, say who

I am. Say I
am You.




Sometimes a lover of God may faint
in the presence. Then the beloved bends
and whispers in his ear "Beggar spread out
your robe. I'll fill it with gold.

I've come to protect your consciousness.
Where has it gone? Come back into awareness!"

This fainting is because
lovers want so much.

A chicken invites a camel into her henhouse,
and the whole structure is demolished.

A rabbit nestles down
with its eyes closed
in the arms of a lion.
There is an excess
in spiritual searching
that is profound ignorance.

Let that ignorance be our teacher!
The Friend breathes into one
who has no breath.
A deep silence revives the listening
and the speaking of those two
who meet on the riverbank.

Like the ground turning green in a spring wind.
Like birdsong beginning inside the egg.

Like this universe coming into existence,
the lover wakes, and whirls
in a dancing joy,

then kneels down
in praise.




Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes round
in another form. The child weaned from mother's milk
now drinks wine and honey mixed.

God's joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box,
from cell to cell. As rainwater down into flowerbed.
As roses, up from ground.
Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish,
now a cliff covered with vines,
now a horse being saddled.
It hides within these,
till one day it cracks them open.

Part of the self leaves the body when we sleep
and changes shape. You might say, "Last night
I was a cypress tree, a small bed of tulips,
a field of grapevines." Then the phantasm goes away.
You're back in the room.
I don't want to make anyone fearful.
Hear what's behind what I say.

Tatatumtum tatum tatadum.
There's the light gold of wheat in the sun
and the gold of bread made from that wheat.
I have neither I'm only talking about them,

as a town in the desert looks up
at stars on a clear night.




We have this way of talking and we have another.
Apart from what we wish and what we fear may happen,

we are alive with other life, as clear stones
take form in the mountain.




Don't go anywhere without me.
Let nothing happen in the sky apart from me,
or on the ground, in this world or that world,
without my heing in its happening.
Vision, see nothing I don't see.
language, say nothing.
The way the night knows itself with the moon,
be that with me. Be the rose
nearest to the thorn that I am.
I want to feel myself in you when you taste food,
in the arc of your mallet when you work,
when you visit friends, when you go
up on the roof by yourself at night.

There's nothing worse than to walk out along the street
without you. I don't know where I'm going.
You're the road and the knower of roads,
more than maps, more than love.




Behold the body born of dust
how perfect it has become.
Why should you fear it sent
when you were never made less by dying.

When you pass beyond this human form
no doubt you will become an angel
and soar through the heavens.

But don't stop there
even heavenly bodies grow old.

Pass again from the heavenly realm
and plunge!
plunge into the vast ocean of consciousness.

Let the drop of water that is you
become a hundred mighty seas,

but do not think that the drop alone
becomes the ocean,
the ocean too becomes the drop.




One dervish to another, What was your vision of God's presence?
I haven't seen anything.
But for the sake of conversation, I'll tell you a story.

God's presence is there in front of me, a fire on the left,
a lovely stream on the right.
One group walks toward the fire, into the fire, another
toward the sweet fiowing water.
No one knows which are blessed and which not.
Whoever walks into the fire appears suddenly in the stream.
A head goes under on the water surface, that head
pokes out of the fire.
Most people guard against going into the fire,
and so end up in it.
Those who love the water of pleasure and make it their devotion
are cheated with this reversal.
The trickery goes further.
The voice of the fire tells the trurh saying, I am not fire.
I am fountainhead. Come into me and don't mind the sparks.

If you are a friend of God, fire is your water
You should wish to have a hundred thousand sets of mothwings,
so you could burn them away, one set a night.
The moth sees light and goes into fire. You should see fire
and go toward light. Fire is what of God is world-consuming.
Water world-protecting.
Somehow each gives the appearance of the other. To these eyes
you have now, what looks like water
burns. What looks like fire
is a great relief to be inside.
You've seen a magician make a bowl of rice
seem a dish full of tiny, live worms.
Before an assembly with one breath he made the floor swarm
with scorpions that weren't there.
How much more amazing God's tricks.
Generation after generation lies down, defeated, they think,
but they're like a woman underneath a man, circling him.
One molecule-mote-second thinking of God's reversal
of comfort and pain is better
than any attending ritual. That splinter
of intelligence is substance.

The fire and water themselves:
accidental, done with mirrors.




A dervish knocked at a house
to ask for a piece of dry bread,
or moist, it didn't matter.
"This is not a bakery," said the owner.

"Might you have a bit of gristle then?"
"Does this look like a butchershop?"

"A little flour?"
"Do you hear a grinding stone?"

"Some water?"
"This is not a well."

Whatever the dervish asked for.
the man made some tired joke
and refused to give him anything.

Finally the dervish ran in the house,
lifted his robe, and squatted
as though to take a shit.

"Hey, hey!"
"Quiet, you sad man. A deserted place
is a fine spot to relieve oneself,
and since there's no living thing here,
or means of living, it needs fertilizing."

The dervish began his own list
of questions and answers.

"What kind of bird are you? Not a falcon,
trained for the royal hand. Not a peacock,
painted with everyone's eyes. Not a parrot,
that talks for sugar cubes. Not a nightingale,
that sings like someone in love.

Not a hoopoe bringing messages to Solomon,
or a stork that builds on a cliffside.

What exactly do you do?
You are no known species.

You haggle and make jokes
to keep what you own for yourself.

You have forgotten the One
who doesn't care about ownership,
who doesn't try to turn a profit
from every human exchange."




This place is a dream.
Only a sleeper considers it real.

Then death comes like dawn,
and you wake up laughing
at what you thought was your grief.

But there's a difference with this dream.
Everything cruel and unconscious
done in the illusion of the present world,
all that does not fade away at the death-waking.

It stays,
and it must be interpreted.

All the mean laughing,
all the quick, sexual wanting,
those torn coats of Joseph,
they change into powetful wolves
that you must face.

The retaliation that sometimes comes now,
the swift, payback hit,
is just a boy's game
to what the other will be.

You know about circumcision here.
It's full castration there!

And this groggy time we live,
this is what it's like:
A man gues to sleep in the town
where he has always lived, and he dreams he's living
in another town.
In the dream, he doesn't remember
the town he's sleeping in his bed in. He believes
the reality of the dream town.

The world is that kind of sleep.

The dust of many crumbled cities
settles over us like a forgetful doze,
but we are older than those cities.

We began
as a mineral. We emerged into plant life
and into the animal state, and then into being human,
and always we have forgotten our former states,
except in early spring when we slightly recall
being green again.

That's how a young person turns
toward a teacher. That's how a baby leans
toward the breast, without knowing the secret
of its desire, yet turning instinctively.

Humankind is being led along an evolving course,
through this migration of intelligences,
and though we seem to be sleeping,
there is an inner wakefulness
that directs the dream,

and that will eventually startle us back
to the truth of who we are.




I saw grief drinking a cup of sorrow
and called out,
"It tastes sweet,
does it not?"
"You've caught me,"
grief answered,
"and you ruined my business.
How can I sell sorrow,
when you know it's a blessing?"




This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.




Learn about your inner self from those who know such things,
but don't repeat verbatim what they say.
Zuleikha let everything be the name of Joseph, from celery seed
to aloes wood. She loved him so much she concealed his name
in many different phrases, the inner meanings
known only to her. When she said, The wax is softening
near the fire, she meant, My love is wanting me.
Or if she said, Look, the moon is up or The willow has new leaves
or The branches are trembling or The coriander seeds
have caught fire or The roses are opening
or The king is in a good mood today or Isn't that lucky?
or The furniture needs dusting or
The water carrier is here or It's almost daylight or
These vegetables are perfect or The bread needs more salt
or The clouds seem to be moving against the wind
or My head hurts or My headache's better
anything she praises, it's Joseph's touch she means,
any complaint, it's his being away.
When she's hungry, it's for him. Thirsty, his name is a sherbet.
Cold, he's a fur. This is what the Friend can do
when one is in such love. Sensual people use the holy names
often, but they don't work for them.
The miracle Jesus did by being the name of God,
Zuleikha felt in the name of Joseph.

When one is united to the core of another, to speak of that
is to breathe the name Hu, empty of self and filled
with love. As the saying goes, The pot drips what is in it.
The saffron spice of connecting, laughter.
The onion smell of separation, crying.
Others have many things and people they love.
This is not the way of Friend and friend.




Pale sunlight,
pale the wall.

Love moves away.
The light changes.

I need more grace
than I thought.




Sometimes I forget completely
what companionship is.
Unconscious and insane, I spill sad
energy everywhere. My story
gets told in various ways: a romance,
a dirty joke, a war, a vacancy.

Divide up my forgetfulness to any number,
it will go around.
These dark suggestions that I follow,
are they part of some plan?
Friends, be careful. Don't come near me
out of curiosity, or sympathy.




Someone who goes with half a loaf of bread
to a small place that fits like a nest around him,
someone who wants no more, who's not himself
longed for by anyone else,

He is a letter to everyone. You open it.
It says, Live.




The mystery does not get clearer by repeating the question,
nor is it bought with going to amazing places.

Until you've kept your eyes
and your wanting still for fifty years,
you don't begin to cross over from confusion.




I honor those who try
to rid themselves of any lying,
who empty the self
and have only clear being there.




Lovers think they're looking for each other
but there's only one search: wandering
this world is wandering that, both inside one
transparent sky. In here
there is no dogma and no heresy.

The miracle of Jesus is himself, not what he said or did
about the future. Forget the future.
I'd worship someone who could do that.

On the way you may want to look back, or not,
but if you can say There's nothing ahead,
there will be nothing there.

Stretch your arms and take hold the cloth of your clothes
with both hands. The cure for pain is in the pain.
Good and bad are mixed. If you don't have both,
you don't belong with us.

When one of us gets lost, is not here, he must be inside us.
There's no place like that anywhere in the world.




Let the waters settle
you will see stars and moon
mirrored in your being.

This is the miracle of unity consciousness.

The Cosmos is my Body!




Come again, please, come again,
Whoever you are.
Religious, infidel, heretic or pagan.
Even if you promised a hundred times
And a hundred times you broke your promise,
This door is not the door
Of hopelessness and frustration.
This door is open for everybody.

Come, come as you are.




Always stay with me,
and remember me
So that I can be
of some help to you.




Sufi mystic poet Jelaluddin Rumi

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