Hafiz


And Applaud

Once a young man came to me and said,

“Dear Master,
I am feeling strong and brave today,
And I would like to know the truth
About all of my–attachments.”

And I replied,

“Attachments?
Attachments!

Sweet Heart,
Do you really want me to speak to you
About all your attachments,

When I can see so clearly
You have built, with so much care,
Such a great brothel
To house all of your pleasures.

You have even surrounded the whole damn place
With armed guards and vicious dogs
To protect your desires

So that you can sneak away
From time to time
And try to squeeze light
Into your parched being
From a source as fruitful
As a dried pit
That even a bird
Is wise enough to spit out.

Your attachments! My dear,
Let’s not speak of those,

For Hafiz understands the sufferings
Of your heart.

Hafiz knows
The torments and the agonies
every mind on the way to Annihilation in the Sun
Must endure.

So at night in my prayers I often stop
And ask a thousand angels to join in
And Applaud,

And Applaud
Anything,
Anything in this world
That can bring your heart comfort!”

Rumi


An Understanding of the Question

Why doesn’t a soul fly when it hears the call?
Fish on the beach always move toward the wave-sound.

A falcon hears the drum and brings the quarry home.
Why isn’t every dervish dancing in the sun?

You have escaped the cage. Your wings
are stretched out. Now, fly.

You have slept in sheds and out-buildings
so long you think you live there.

How many years, like children,
do we have to collect sticks and pieces
of broken pottery and pretend they’re valuable?

Leave childhood. Go to the banquet
of true human beings. Split open the cultural mould.
Put your head up out of the sack.

Hold this book in the air with your right hand.
Are you old enough to know right from left?

God said to clarity, Walk.
To death, Help them with discipline.

To the soul, Move into the invisible
and take what’s there.

Don’t sing the sadness anymore.
Call out that you have been given both
the answer and an understanding of the question.

 

 

*translated by Coleman Barks

Søren Kierkegaard

A man may perform astonishing feats and comprehend a vast amount of knowledge, and yet have no understanding of himself. But suffering directs a man to look within. If it succeeds, then there, within him, is the beginning of his learning.”

Rumi


Moses And The Shepherd

Moses heard a shepherd on the road praying,
“God,
where are you? I want to help You, to fix Your shoes
and comb your hair. I want to wash Your clothes
and pick the lice off. I want to bring You milk,
to kiss Your little hands and feet when it’s time
for You to go to bed. I want to sweep Your room
and keep it neat. God, my sheep and my goats
are Yours. All I can say, remembering You,
is ayyyyyyy and ahhhhhhhh.”

Moses could stand it no longer.
“Who are you talking to?”

“The one who made us,
and made the earth and made the sky.”

“Don’t talk about shoes and socks with God!
And what’s this with Your little hands and feet?
Such blasphemous familiarity sounds like
you’re chatting with your uncles.

Only something that grows needs milk.
Only someone with feet needs shoes. Not God!
Even if you meant God’s human representatives,
as when God said, ‘I was sick, and you did not visit me,’
even then this tone would be foolish and irreverent.

Use appropriate terms. Fatima is a fine name
for a woman, but if you call a man Fatima,
it’s an insult. Body-and-birth language
are right for us on this side of the river,
but not for addressing the Origin,
not for Allah.”

The shepherd repented and tore his clothes and sighed
and wandered out into the desert.

A sudden revelation
came then to Moses. God’s voice:

You have separated Me
from one of my own. Did you come as a prophet to unite,
or to sever?
I have given each being a separate and unique way
of seeing and knowing and saying that knowledge.
What seems wrong to you is right for him.
What is poison to one is honey to someone else.
Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship,
these mean nothing to Me.
I am apart from all that.
Ways of worshipping are not to be ranked as better
or worse than one another.
Hindus do Hindu things.
The Dravidian Muslims in India do what they do.
It’s all praise, and it’s all right.
It’s not Me that’s glorified in acts of worship.
It’s the worshippers! I don’t hear the words
They say. I look inside at the humility.
That broken-open lowliness is the Reality,
not the language! Forget phraseology.
I want burning, burning.
Be friends
with your burning. Burn up your thinking
and your forms of expression!
Moses,
those who pay attention to ways of behaving
and speaking are one sort.
Lovers who burn are another.”

Don’t impose a property tax
on a burned out village. Don’t scold the Lover.
The “wrong” way he talks is better than a hundred
“right” ways of others.
Inside the Kaaba
it doesn’t matter which direction you point
your prayer rug!
The ocean diver doesn’t need snowshoes!
The Love-Religion has no code or doctrine.
Only God.
So the ruby has nothing engraved on it!
It doesn’t need markings.
God began speaking
deeper mysteries to Moses. Vision and words,
which cannot be recorded here, poured into
and through him. He left himself and came back.
He went to eternity and came back here.
Many times this happened.
It’s foolish of me
to try and say this. If I did say it,
it would uproot our human intelligences.
It would shatter all writing pens.

Moses ran after the shepherd.
He followed the bewildered footprints,
in one place moving straight like a castle
across a chessboard. In another, sideways,
like a bishop.
Now surging like a wave cresting,
now sliding down like a fish,
with always his feet
making geomancy symbols in the sand,
recording his wandering state.

Moses finally caught up with him.
“I was wrong. God has revealed to me
that there are no rules for worship.
Say whatever
and however your loving tells you to. Your sweet blasphemy
is the truest devotion.
Through you a whole world is freed.
Loosen your tongue and don’t worry what comes out.
It’s all the light of the Spirit.”

The shepherd replied,
“Moses, Moses,
I’ve gone beyond even that.
You applied the whip and my horse shied and jumped
out of itself. The Divine Nature and my human nature
came together.
Bless your scolding hand and your arm.
I can’t say what has happened.
What I’m saying now
is not my real condition. It can’t be said.”

The shepherd grew quiet.

When you look in a mirror,
you see yourself, not the state of the mirror.
The flute player puts breath into a flute,
and who makes the music? Not the flute.
The flute player!

Whenever you speak praise
or thanksgiving to God, it’s always like this
dear shepherd’s simplicity.
When you eventually see
through the veils to how things really are,
you will keep saying again
and again,

“This is certainly not like
we thought it was!”

*Translated by Coleman Barks

The Fly


I have been taught to see not the fly
But the germs on its legs.
The shit it just landed on,
Twisting together between its hands
Like a sadistic movie villain
Planning his elaborate trap,
Muttering his plan
“Shigella, Campylobacter, Enterococcus
for the human.”

I have been taught not its life
But its rein of terror.
From maggot to kamikaze biological weapon
In just three weeks.

I have also been taught of the saprophytes
Whose job is to decay and decompose,
Giving soil life.
But you are not a saprophyte.

I have been instructed of the Great Chain of Being.
You are given as food for the frogs
And work your way up to my own nutrition.
But moths could just as well be the entree.
Food for disease. The trade off. A poor deal all around.

I have been taught that you are a pest,
The label for those whose role we don’t understand.
You exist on the waste of humans.
Is that the whole of your existence?
The meaning of your brief life?

 

You land before me.
My two eyes locking with your many.
What do they see?
Ten thousand worlds
Beyond comprehension.

You pause momentarily
As I raise my hand to swat,
And I just catch the faintest sound-

Human
You are just like me.

My hand holds.

I whisper back with a smile,
You are wrong my friend.

For I have seen and heard you.
And in this moment I have changed.
That is what makes us different.
Now, you must tell me,
Just what you meant-

What makes us the same?

I set my hand back down
And lean in close.
The fly steps back,
But holds its wings still-
Desperate for this new attention.

I will teach you the great secret.
Just give me your ear for this brief moment
And never forget for the rest of your life-
The fly rubs its hands,
Shit spraying all over the table-

 

I’m sorry. I really am.
He made me promise not to tell.

You must find your own friend,
And discover at least a few
of the ten thousand worlds.