We are as the flute, and the music in us is from thee;
we are as the mountain and the echo in us is from thee.
We are as pieces of chess engaged in victory and defeat:
our victory and defeat is from thee, O thou whose qualities are comely!
Who are we, O Thou soul of our souls,
that we should remain in being beside thee?
We and our existences are really non-existence;
thou art the absolute Being which manifests the perishable.
We all are lions, but lions on a banner:
because of the wind they are rushing onward from moment to moment.
Their onward rush is visible, and the wind is unseen:
may that which is unseen not fail from us!
Our wind whereby we are moved and our being are of thy gift;
our whole existence is from thy bringing into being.
- On the DeathbedGo, rest your head on a pillow, leave me alone;
leave me ruined, exhausted from the journey of this night,
writhing in a wave of passion till the dawn.
Either stay and be forgiving,
or, if you like, be cruel and leave.
Flee from me, away from trouble;
take the path of safety, far from this danger.
We have crept into this corner of grief,
turning the water wheel with a flow of tears.
While a tyrant with a heart of flint slays,
and no one says, “Prepare to pay the blood money.”
Faith in the king comes easily in lovely times,
but be faithful now and endure, pale lover.
No cure exists for this pain but to die,
So why should I say, “Cure this pain”?
In a dream last night I saw
an ancient one in the garden of love,
beckoning with his hand, saying, “Come here.”
On this path, Love is the emerald,
the beautiful green that wards off dragonsnough, I am losing myself.
If you are a man of learning,
read something classic,
a history of the human struggle
and don’t settle for mediocre verse.
This MarriageMay these vows and this marriage be blessed.
May it be sweet milk,
this marriage, like wine and halvah.
May this marriage offer fruit and shade
like the date palm.
May this marriage be full of laughter,
our every day a day in paradise.
May this marriage be a sign of compassion,
a seal of happiness here and hereafter.
May this marriage have a fair face and a good name,
an omen as welcomes the moon in a clear blue sky.
I am out of words to describe
how spirit mingles in this marriage.
- This World Which Is Made of Our Love for EmptinessPraise to the emptiness that blanks out existence. Existence:
This place made from our love for that emptiness!
Yet somehow comes emptiness,
this existence goes.
Praise to that happening, over and over!
For years I pulled my own existence out of emptiness.
Then one swoop, one swing of the arm,
that work is over.
Free of who I was, free of presence, free of dangerous fear, hope,
free of mountainous wanting.
The here-and-now mountain is a tiny piece of a piece of straw
blown off into emptiness.
These words I’m saying so much begin to lose meaning:
Existence, emptiness, mountain, straw:
Words and what they try to say swept
out the window, down the slant of the roof.
- “It is said that after Muhammad and the prophets revelation does not descend upon anyone else. Why not? In fact it does, but then it is not called ‘revelation.’ It is what the Prophet referred to when he said, ‘The believer sees with the Light of God.’ When the believer looks with ‘The believer sees with the Light of God.’ When the believer looks with God’s Light, he sees all things: the first and the last, the present and the absent. For how can anything be hidden from God’s Light? And if something is hidden, then it is not the Light of God. Therefore the meaning of revelation exists, even if it is not called revelation.”
quoted from William C. Chittick, The Sufi Path of Love:
The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi
- The drum of the realization of the promise is beating,
we are sweeping the road to the sky. Your joy is here today, what remains for tomorrow?
The armies of the day have chased the army of the night,
Heaven and earth are filled with purity and light.
Oh! joy for he who has escaped from this world of perfumes and color!
For beyond these colors and these perfumes, these are other colors in the heart and the soul.
Oh! joy for this soul and this heart who have escaped
the earth of water and clay,
Although this water and this clay contain the hearth of the
- At every instant and from every side, resounds the call of Love:
We are going to sky, who wants to come with us?
We have gone to heaven, we have been the friends of the angels,
And now we will go back there, for there is our country.
We are higher than heaven, more noble than the angels:
Why not go beyond them? Our goal is the Supreme Majesty.
What has the fine pearl to do with the world of dust?
Why have you come down here? Take your baggage back. What is this place?
Luck is with us, to us is the sacrifice!…
Like the birds of the sea, men come from the ocean–the ocean of the soul.
Like the birds of the sea, men come from the ocean–the ocean of the soul.
How could this bird, born from that sea, make his dwelling here?
No, we are the pearls from the bosom of the sea, it is there that we dwell:
Otherwise how could the wave succeed to the wave that comes from the soul?
The wave named ‘Am I not your Lord’ has come, it has broken the vessel of the body;
And when the vessel is broken, the vision comes back, and the union with Him.
Sausalito, CA: Post-Apollo Press, 1977, 1987.
- Our death is our wedding with eternity.
What is the secret? “God is One.”
The sunlight splits when entering the windows of the house.
This multiplicity exists in the cluster of grapes;
It is not in the juice made from the grapes.
For he who is living in the Light of God,
The death of the carnal soul is a blessing.
Regarding him, say neither bad nor good,
For he is gone beyond the good and the bad.
Fix your eyes on God and do not talk about what is invisible,
So that he may place another look in your eyes.
It is in the vision of the physical eyes
That no invisible or secret thing exists.
But when the eye is turned toward the Light of God
What thing could remain hidden under such a Light?
Although all lights emanate from the Divine Light
Don’t call all these lights “the Light of God”;
It is the eternal light which is the Light of God,
The ephemeral light is an attribute of the body and the flesh.
…Oh God who gives the grace of vision!
The bird of vision is flying towards You with the wings of desire.
- I’ve said before that every craftsman
searches for what’s not there
to practice his craft.A builder looks for the rotten hole
where the roof caved in. A water-carrier
picks the empty pot. A carpenter
stops at the house with no door. Workers rush toward some hint
of emptiness, which they then
start to fill. Their hope, though,
is for emptiness, so don’t think
you must avoid it. It contains
what you need!
Dear soul, if you were not friends
with the vast nothing inside,
why would you always be casting you net
into it, and waiting so patiently? This invisible ocean has given you such abundance,
but still you call it “death”,
that which provides you sustenance and work. God has allowed some magical reversal to occur,
so that you see the scorpion pit
as an object of desire,
and all the beautiful expanse around it,
as dangerous and swarming with snakes. This is how strange your fear of death
and emptiness is, and how perverse
the attachment to what you want. Now that you’ve heard me
on your misapprehensions, dear friend,
listen to Attar’s story on the same subject. He strung the pearls of this
about King Mahmud, how among the spoils
of his Indian campaign there was a Hindu boy,
whom he adopted as a son. He educated
and provided royally for the boy
and later made him vice-regent, seated
on a gold throne beside himself. One day he found the young man weeping..
“Why are you crying? You’re the companion
of an emperor! The entire nation is ranged out
before you like stars that you can command!” The young man replied, “I am remembering
my mother and father, and how they
scared me as a child with threats of you!
‘Uh-oh, he’s headed for King Mahmud’s court!
Nothing could be more hellish!’ Where are they now
when they should see me sitting here?” This incident is about your fear of changing.
You are the Hindu boy. Mahmud, which means
Praise to the End, is the spirit’s
poverty or emptiness. The mother and father are your attachment
to beliefs and blood ties
and desires and comforting habits.
Don’t listen to them!
They seem to protect
but they imprison. They are your worst enemies.
They make you afraid
of living in emptiness. Some day you’ll weep tears of delight in that court,
remembering your mistaken parents! Know that your body nurtures the spirit,
helps it grow, and gives it wrong advise. The body becomes, eventually, like a vest
of chain mail in peaceful years,
too hot in summer and too cold in winter. But the body’s desires, in another way, are like
an unpredictable associate, whom you must be
patient with. And that companion is helpful,
because patience expands your capacity
to love and feel peace.
The patience of a rose close to a thorn
keeps it fragrant. It’s patience that gives milk
to the male camel still nursing in its third year,
and patience is what the prophets show to us. The beauty of careful sewing on a shirt
is the patience it contains. Friendship and loyalty have patience
as the strength of their connection. Feeling lonely and ignoble indicates
that you haven’t been patient. Be with those who mix with God
as honey blends with milk, and say, “Anything that comes and goes,
rises and sets, is not
what I love.” else you’ll be like a caravan fire left
to flare itself out alone beside the road.
- “NOONE” says it better:What is the mi’raj12 of the heavens?
The religion and creed of the lovers is non- existence.
- These spiritual window-shoppers,
who idly ask, ‘How much is that?’ Oh, I’m just looking.
They handle a hundred items and put them down,
shadows with no capital.
What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping.
But these walk into a shop,
and their whole lives pass suddenly in that moment,
in that shop.
Where did you go? “Nowhere.”
What did you have to eat? “Nothing much.”
Even if you don’t know what you want,
buy _something,_ to be part of the exchanging flow.
Start a huge, foolish project,
It makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you.
I died from minerality and became vegetable;And From vegetativeness I died and became animal.I died from animality and became man.Then why fear disappearance through death?Next time I shall dieBringing forth wings and feathers like angels;After that, soaring higher than angels –What you cannot imagine,I shall be that.
Soul receives from soul that knowledge, therefore not by booknor from tongue.If knowledge of mysteries come after emptiness of mind, that isillumination of heart.
If thou wilt be observant and vigilant, thou wilt see at every moment the response to thy action. Be observant if thou wouldst have a pure heart, for something is born to thee in consequence of every action.
I said, ‘Thou art harsh, like such a one.’‘Know,’ he replied,‘That I am harsh for good, not from rancor and spite.Whoever enters saying, “This I,” I smite him on the brow;For this is the shrine of Love, o fool! it is not a sheep cote!Rub thine eyes, and behold the image of the heart.’
Make yourself free from self at one stroke!Like a sword be without trace of soft iron;Like a steel mirror, scour off all rust with contrition.
When a baby is taken from the wet nurse,it easily forgets herand starts eating solid food.Seeds feed awhile on ground,then lift up into the sun.So you should taste the filtered lightand work your way toward wisdomwith no personal covering.That’s how you came here, like a starwithout a name. Move across the night skywith those anonymous lights.(Mathnawi III, 1284-1288)“Say I am You” Coleman Barks Maypop, 1994
God has given us a dark wine so potent that,
drinking it, we leave the two worlds.
God has put into the form of hashish a power
to deliver the taster from self-consciousness.
God has made sleep so
that it erases every thought.
God made Majnun love Layla so much that
just her dog would cause confusion in him.
There are thousands of wines
that can take over our minds.
Don’t think all ecstacies
are the same!
Jesus was lost in his love for God.
His donkey was drunk with barley.
Drink from the presence of saints,
not from those other jars.
Every object, every being,
is a jar full of delight.
Be a conoisseur,
and taste with caution.
Any wine will get you high.
Judge like a king, and choose the purest,
the ones unadulterated with fear,
or some urgency about “what’s needed.”
Drink the wine that moves you
as a camel moves when it’s been untied,
and is just ambling about.
The Essential Rumi, Coleman Barks
Gone to the Unseen
At last you have departed and gone to the Unseen.
What marvelous route did you take from this world?
Beating your wings and feathers,
you broke free from this cage.
Rising up to the sky
you attained the world of the soul.
You were a prized falcon trapped by an Old Woman.
Then you heard the drummer’s call
and flew beyond space and time.
As a lovesick nightingale, you flew among the owls.
Then came the scent of the rosegarden
and you flew off to meet the Rose.
The wine of this fleeting world
caused your head to ache.
Finally you joined the tavern of Eternity.
Like an arrow, you sped from the bow
and went straight for the bull’s eye of bliss.
This phantom world gave you false signs
But you turned from the illusion
and journeyed to the land of truth.
You are now the Sun –
what need have you for a crown?
You have vanished from this world –
what need have you to tie your robe?
I’ve heard that you can barely see your soul.
But why look at all? –
yours is now the Soul of Souls!
O heart, what a wonderful bird you are.
Seeking divine heights,
Flapping your wings,
you smashed the pointed spears of your enemy.
The flowers flee from Autumn, but not you –
You are the fearless rose
that grows amidst the freezing wind.
Pouring down like the rain of heaven
you fell upon the rooftop of this world.
Then you ran in every direction
and escaped through the drain spout . . .
Now the words are over
and the pain they bring is gone.
Now you have gone to rest
in the arms of the Beloved.
“Rumi – In the Arms of the Beloved“, Jonathan Star
New York 1997
How did you get away?
You were the pet falcon of an old woman.
Did you hear the falcon-drum?
You were a drunken songbird put in with owls.
Did you smell the odor of a garden?
You got tired of sour fermenting
and left the tavern.
You went like an arrow to the target
from the bow of time and place.
The man who stays at the cemetery pointed the way,
but you didn’t go.
You became light and gave up wanting to be famous.
You don’t worry about what you’re going to eat,
so why buy an engraved belt?
I’ve heard of living at the center, but what about
leaving the center of the center?
Flying toward thankfulness, you become
the rare bird with one wing made of fear,
and one of hope. In autumn,
a rose crawling along the ground in the cold wind.
Rain on the roof runs down and out by the spout
as fast as it can.
Talking is pain. Lie down and rest,
now that you’ve found a friend to be with.
“These Branching Moments“, Coleman Barks
Copper Beech Press, 1988
He ComesHe comes, a moon whose like the sky ne’er saw, awake or dreaming.
Crowned with eternal flame no flood can lay.
Lo, from the flagon of thy love, O Lord, my soul is swimming,
And ruined all my body’s house of clay!When first the Giver of the grape my lonely heart befriended,
Wine fired my bosom and my veins filled up;
But when his image all min eye possessed, a voice descended:
‘Well done, O sovereign Wine and peerless Cup!’Love’s mighty arm from roof to base each dark abode is hewing,
Where chinks reluctant catch a golden ray.
My heart, when Love’s sea of a sudden burst into its viewing,
Leaped headlong in, with ‘Find me now who may!’As, the sun moving, clouds behind him run,
All hearts attend thee, O Tabriz’s Sun!R. A. Nicholson
Poor copies out of heaven’s originals,
Pale earthly pictures mouldering to decay,
What care although your beauties break and fall,
When that which gave them life endures for aye?Oh never vex thine heart with idle woes:
All high discourse enchanting the rapt ear,
All gilded landscapes and brave glistering shows
Fade-perish, but it is not as we fear.Whilst far away the living fountains ply,
each petty brook goes brimful to the main
Since baron nor fountain can for ever die,
Thy fears how foolish, thy lament how vain!What is this fountain, wouldst thou rightly know?
The Soul whence issue all created things.
Doubtless the rivers shall not cease to flow,
Till silenced are the everlasting springs.Farewell to sorrow, and with quiet mind
Drink long and deep: let others fondly deem
The channel empty they perchance may find,
Or fathom that unfathomable stream.The moment thou to this low world wast given,
A ladder stood whereby thou might’st aspire;
And first thy steps, which upward still have striven,
From mineral mounted to the plant; then higherTo animal existence; next, the Man,
With knowledge, reason, faith. Oh wondrous goal!
This body, which a crumb of dust began-
How fairly fashioned the consummate whole!Yet stay not here thy journey: thou shalt grow
An angel bright and home far off in heaven.
Plod on, plunge last in the great Sea, that so
Thy little drop make oceans seven times seven.‘The Son of God!’ Nay, leave that word unsaid,
Say: ‘God is One, the pure, the single Truth.’
What though thy frame be withered, old, and dead,
If the soul keep her fresh immortal youth?
Up, O ye lovers, and away! ‘Tis time to leave the world for aye.
Hark, loud and clear from heaven the from of parting calls-let none delay!
The cameleer hat risen amain, made ready all the camel-train,
And quittance now desires to gain: why sleep ye, travellers, I pray?
Behind us and before there swells the din of parting and of bells;
To shoreless space each moment sails a disembodied spirit away.
From yonder starry lights, and through those curtain-awnings darkly blue,
Mysterious figures float in view, all strange and secret things display.
From this orb, wheeling round its pole, a wondrous slumber o’er thee stole:
O weary life that weighest naught, O sleep that on my soul dost weigh!
O heart, toward they heart’s love wend, and O friend, fly toward the Friend,
Be wakeful, watchman, to the end: drowse seemingly no watchman may.
‘Tis said, the pipe and lute that charm our ears
Derive their melody from rolling spheres;
But Faith, o’erpassing speculation’s bound,
Can see what sweetens every jangled sound.
We, who are parts of Adam, heard with him
The song of angels and of seraphim.
Out memory, though dull and sad, retains
Some echo still of those unearthly strains.
Oh, music is the meat of all who love,
Music uplifts the soul to realms above.
The ashes glow, the latent fires increase:
We listen and are fed with joy and peace.
There is a Water that flows down from Heaven
To cleanse the world of sin by grace Divine.
At last, its whole stock spent, its virtue gone.
Dark with pollution not its own, it speeds
Back to the Fountain of all purities;
Whence, freshly bathed, earthward it sweeps again,
Trailing a robe of glory bright and pure.
This Water is the Spirit of the Saints,
Which ever sheds, until itself is beggared,
God’s balm on the sick soul; and then returns
To Him who made the purest light of Heaven.
What makes the Sufi? Purity of heart;
Not the patched mantle and the lust perverse
Of those vile earth-bound men who steal his name.
He in all dregs discerns the essence pure:
In hardship ease, in tribulation joy.
The phantom sentries, who with batons drawn
Guard Beauty’s place-gate and curtained bower,
Give way before him, unafraid he passes,
And showing the King’s arrow, enters in.
We are the flute, our music is all Thine;
We are the mountains echoing only Thee;
And movest to defeat or victory;
Lions emblazoned high on flags unfurled-
They wind invisible sweeps us through the world.
First he appeared in the realm inanimate;
Thence came into the world of plants and lived
The plant-life many a year, nor called to mind
What he had been; then took the onward way
To animal existence, and once more
Remembers naught of what life vegetive,
Save when he feels himself moved with desire
Towards it in the season of sweet flowers,
As babes that seek the breast and know not why.
Again the wise Creator whom thou knowest
Uplifted him from animality
To Man’s estate; and so from realm to realm
Advancing, he became intelligent,
Cunning and keen of wit, as he is now.
No memory of his past abides with him,
And from his present soul he shall be changes.
Though he is fallen asleep, God will not leave him
In this forgetfulness. Awakened, he
Will laugh to think what troublous dreams he had.
And wonder how his happy state of being
He could forget, and not perceive that all
Those pains and sorrows were the effect of sleep
And guile and vain illusion. So this world
Seems lasting, though ’tis but the sleepers’ dream;
Who, when the appointed Day shall dawn, escapes
From dark imaginings that haunted him,
And turns with laughter on his phantom griefs
When he beholds his everlasting home.
‘Tis light makes colour visible: at night
Red, greene, and russet vanish from thy sight.
So to thee light by darness is made known:
Since God hat none, He, seeing all, denies
Himself eternally to mortal eyes.
From the dark jungle as a tiger bright,
Form from the viewless Spirit leaps to ligth.
I made a far journey
Earth’s fair cities to view,
but like to love’s city
City none I knew
At the first I knew not
That city’s worth,
And turned in my folly
A wanderer on earth.
From so sweet a country
I must needs pass,
And like to cattle
Grazed on every grass.
As Moses’ people
I would liefer eat
Garlic, than manna
And celestial meat.
What voice in this world
to my ear has come
Save the voice of love
Was a tapped drum.
Yet for that drum-tap
From the world of All
Into this perishing
Land I did fall.
That world a lone spirit
Like a snake I crept
Without foot or wing.
The wine that was laughter
And grace to sip
Like a rose I tasted
Without throat or lip.
‘Spirit, go a journey,’
Love’s voice said:
‘Lo, a home of travail
I have made.’
Much, much I cried:
‘I will not go’;
Yea, and rent my raiment
And made great woe.
Even as now I shrink
To be gone from here,
Even so thence
To part I did fear.
‘Spirit, go thy way,’
Love called again,
‘And I shall be ever nigh thee
As they neck’s vein.’
Much did love enchant me
And made much guile;
Love’s guile and enchantment
Capture me the while.
In ignorance and folly
When my wings I spread,
From palace unto prison
I was swiftly sped.
Now I would tell
How thither thou mayst come;
But ah, my pen is broke
And I am dumb.A..J. Arberry
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.(Mathnawi, VI 216-227) Rumi, ‘We Are Three’