A Promise Fulfilled

The old faith,
that most beautiful
legacy of youth,
came back to me,
and again
there was joy in my heart,
again, inside,
dawn hushed white
and the sky breathed out,
and in the silence
I heard a voice
like a wave
coming over me,
coming out from me,
in the silence
I heard a voice
telling me to live my life
free of care,
that in the darkest
and most isolated corner
I am seen,
I am living in reciprocity
with life in its entirety,
telling me to unfold
my own myth,
be who I am
by embracing my becoming.

The old faith
came back to me
and again
I found my face,
a flower among flowers
blooming silently,
a star among stars
shining silently,
again I found my face
and there was joy in my heart,
a fulfilling of the promise
that love once made to me.

Coleman Barks – On The Turn

The “turn,” the moving meditation done by Mevlevi dervishes, originated with Rumi. The story goes that he was walking in the gold-smithing section of Konya when he heard a beautiful music in their hammering. He began turning in harmony with it, an ecstatic dance of surrender and yet with great centered discipline. He arrived at a place where ego dissolves and a resonance with universal soul comes in. Dervish literally means “doorway.” When what is communicated moves from presence to presence, darshan occurs, with language inside the seeing. When the gravitational pull gets even stronger, the two become one turning that is molecular and galactic and a spiritual remembering of the presence at the center of the universe. Turning is an image of how the dervish becomes an empty place where human and divine can meet. To approach the whole the part must become mad, by conventional standards at least. These ecstatic holy people, called matzubs in the sufi tradition, redefine this sort of madness as true health.

When he saw the dervishes in Cairo in 1910, Rainer Maria Rilke, the great spiritual poet of this century, said they turn was a form of kneeling. “It is so truly the mystery of kneeling of the deeply kneeling man. With Rumi the scale is shifted, for in following the peculiar weight and strength in his knees, he belongs to that world in which height is depth. This is the night of radiant depth unfolded.” December 17 is celebrated each year as Rumi’s Wedding Night, the night he died in 1273 and reached full union.

— Coleman Barks, Rumi, Selected Poems (Penguin Classics)

Rumi – The Milk of Millennia

“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,
the 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.”

— Rumi

On Men’s Polygamous Need

Men’s inability to devote themselves to a single woman and their insistence on a continuously varying excitement is telling in one fundamental way — they have failed in unifying their energies which peak in reason and love. Hence, the need which drives them like a moth to a flame to viewing women as sexual objects that are to be pursued in such a manner is a result of a fragmented and diffuse psyche and energetic flow that are in constant need to discharge in order to maintain their modicum of inferior dis-unity, a way of achieving a certain harmony in the internal economy of the being that enables it to thrive and struggle through life. The sexual act impoverishes them since it is not the crowning point of their energetic alchemy but is a tension suffered by a diffuse and disorganized creature, one that is bored and does not know what to do with itself; the climax is not followed by joy and a certain sense of hilarity and lightness but is experienced with a foretaste of sadness and depression, self-hate and a hate of the “object” used. A man’s inability to unify and peak his energies is consequential in another fundamental manner — he is unable to penetrate and engage his woman emotionally and intellectually; he thus fails to unify himself in her, through her, and through her with all of life. His life is lacking, as he remains motivated by a lack instead of an overfullness and abundance. He needs, and is driven like a slave to his fateful end.

The way into the arms of grace Rumi points at in his verse, “The kernel of true manhood is the ability to abandon sensual indulgence.” Rumi, in his simple manner, wants to nudge the will, not to repress but to attain control and mastery. Being in control means precisely being in unity; a critical edge where the impulses and faculties of the being are brought into harmony, are willed into harmony.

And a tantric verse, to echo Rumi’s, “One who, possessing desire, represses desire, is a living lie.”

Libertinism (polygamy) and its apparent opposite, asceticism’s abstinence, both have repression at their roots — a diffuse being struggling to maintain itself.

Rumi – Granite and Wineglass

You are granite.
I am an empty wineglass.

You know what happens when we touch!
You laugh like the sun coming up laughs
at a star that disappears into it.

Love opens my chest, and thought
returns to its confines.

Patience and rational considerations leave.
Only passion stays, whimpering and feverish.

Some men fall down in the road like dregs thrown out.
Then, totally reckless, the next morning

they gallop out with new purposes. Love
is the reality, and poetry is the drum

that calls us to that. Don’t keep complaining
about loneliness! Let the fear-language of that theme

crack open and float away. Let the priest come down
from his tower, and not go back up!

~ Rumi

Rumi – The Reed Flute’s Song

Listen to the story told by the reed,
of being separated.

“Since I was cut from the reedbed,
I have made this crying sound.

Anyone apart from someone he loves
understands what I say.

Anyone pulled from a source
longs to go back.

At any gathering I am there,
mingling in the laughing and grieving,

a friend to each, but few
will hear the secrets hidden

within the notes. No ears for that.
Body flowing out of spirit,

spirit up from body: no concealing
that mixing. But it’s not given us

to see the soul. The reed flute
is fire, not wind. Be that empty.”

Hear the love fire tangled
in the reed notes, as bewilderment

melts into wine. The reed is a friend
of all who want the fabric torn

and drawn away. The reed is hurt
and salve combining. Intimacy

and longing for intimacy, one
song. A disastrous surrender

and a fine love, together. The one
who secretly hears this is senseless.

A tongue has one customer, the ear.
A sugarcane flute has such effect

Because it was able to make sugar
in the reedbed. The sound it makes

is for everyone. Days full of wanting,
let them go by without worrying

that they do. Stay where you are
inside such a pure, hollow note.

Every thirst gets satisfied except
that of these fish, the mystics,

who swim a vast ocean of grace
still somehow longing for it!

No one lives in that without
being nourished every day.

But if someone doesn’t want to hear
the song of the reed flute,

it’s best to cut conversation
short, say good-bye, and leave.

Rumi, The Death of Saladin

You left ground and sky weeping,
mind and soul full of grief.

No one can take your place in existence,
or in absence. Both mourn, the angels, the prophets,
and this sadness I feel has taken from me
the taste of language, so that I cannot say
the flavor of my being apart.

The roof of the kingdom within has collapsed.
When I say the word you, I mean a hundred universes.

Pouring grief water or secret dripping
in the heart, eyes in the head,
or eyes of the soul, I saw yesterday
that all these flow out to find you
when you’re not here.

That bright firebird Saladin
went like an arrow,
and now the bow trembles and sobs.

If you know how to weep
for human beings, weep for Saladin.