Celebrating Rumi, part 3
"Like This, Here"
If anyone asked you how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting will look, lift your face and say,
When someone mentions the gracefulness
of the night sky, climb up on the roof
and dance and say,
If anyone wants to know what “spirit” is,
Or what “God’s fragrance” means,
Lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.
When someone quotes the old poetic image about clouds
gradually uncovering the moon,
slowly loosen knot by knot the strings of your robe
When someone asks what it means to die for love, point
When lovers moan, they’re telling our story
"Words Swept Out the Window"
Praise to the emptiness that blanks out existence. Existence:Your capacity for sadness is equal to your capacity for joy, and they are the same capacity.
This place made from our love for that 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’s a point that LoraKim and I sometimes make to each other when one of us is forgetting it. We do so reciting a favorite movie quote. From “The Thin Red Line,” about soldiers in World War II. Private Edward Train muses,
“One man looks at a dying bird and thinks there's nothing but unanswered pain. That death's got the final word, it's laughing at him. Another man sees that same bird, feels the glory, feels something smiling through it.”Those with the capacity to stay with the unanswered pain, fully accepting death is the final word, are the ones who might then come feel the glory smiling through. Herein is discovered the sweetness of sorrow, the blessing of tragedy, as Rumi says:
“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’ve ruined my business.
How can I sell sorrow when you know it’s a blessing?”
“The cries of those free from pain are cold and dull:Throughout his works, Rumi articulates the yearning for union: union with the Beloved, with Reality, with all the pain of joy and sadness of ecstasy. Writes Rumi:
The cries of the agonized spring from ecstasy.”
“The authentic human being, then, is one who is never free from striving, who turns restlessly and endlessly about the light of the Majesty.”This yearning for union is our chief business as living creatures – yet we already have it!
“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!”
“’Lo, I am with you always,’ means when you look for God,As Rumi says it in “Love Dogs”:
God is in the look of your eyes,
In the thought of looking.”
“This longing you expressThe longing is itself the fulfillment. And in our very failings is our insight, our salvation.
is the return message.”
The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness that wants help
is the secret cup.”
“The way of love is not a subtle argument.And death may be the final word, but that final word isn’t what you think it is. For one thing, we are the same – no, not the same as if we were two separate beings that happened to be identical. Rather, there is no separation. We are one being. That’s what Rumi means when he says:
The door there is devastation.
Birds make great sky circles of their freedom.
How do they learn it?
They fall and falling, they’re given wings.”
“Even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make any sense.”
“I, you, he, she, we.So death is not possible. Rumi’s not talking about some clichéd child’s story of an afterlife, the ego’s dream of its own permanence. He’s saying that as long as there is life, that’s you. As long as there is anything, as long as there is existence, that’s you. The death that matters is the death of the ego, the death of the illusion of separation.
In the garden of mystic lovers
These are not true distinctions.”
“Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existenceIn the union of Rumi’s yearning, the oneness with the Beloved, with the love that constitutes reality, there is the death of separation, which is the death of life as we have known it. Love and death merge into one.
Proclaims in organ tones,
To Him we shall return.”
“Oh, 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.’”
“You think I know what I’m doing?And yet, the ego, too – yours, mine – is itself an aspect of the glory of The Beloved. For all our sameness, our oneness, we also have our individual uniqueness.
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.”
“Our bodily personalities seem identical, but the globe of soul fruit we make each is elaborately unique.”So we do as we are called to do, but we do not know what will come of it.
“Who makes these changes?We are so small – and yet we contain such vastness. I am so small I can barely be seen. How can this great love be inside me? Look at your eyes. They are so small, but they see enormous things. The one-ness and the uniqueness are both traps, but better to err on the side of love, says Rumi:
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.”
“If you want what visible reality can give, you’re an employee.Rumi makes one more point I want to mention, and I will conclude with. The work – the yearning for submersion in the ocean of the beloved – is not for you to do alone. We do it together. All of us. Each of us. We get nowhere without community. In one poem Rumi retells the familiar tale of seeking to know about an elephant – but then he surprises us with a solution to the conundrum.
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.”
“One by one, we go in the dark and come out saying how we experience the animal.If we each carry a candle – and if we go in together – we can see it.
One of us happens to touch the trunk
'A water-pipe kind of creature.'
Another, the ear, 'A very strong, always moving
Back and forth, fan-animal.'
Another, the leg. 'I find it still
Like a column on a temple.'
Another touches the curved back.
'A leathery throne.'
Another, the cleverest, feels the tusk.
'A rounded sword make of porcelain.'
He’s proud of his description.
Each of us touches one place and understands the whole in that way.
The palm and the fingers feeling in the dark are how the senses explore the reality of the elephant.
If each of us held a candle there,
And if we went in together,
We could see it.”
"Let the Beauty We Love Be What We Do"
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.
This is part 3 of 3 of "Celebrating Rumi"
Part 1: Celebrating Rumi
Part 2: Capacity for Sadness, Capacity for Joy