Two poems by Rumi
This is love: to fly toward a secret sky,
to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment.
First, to let go of life.
In the end, to take a step without feet;
to regard this world as invisible,
and to disregard what appears to be the self.
Heart, I said, what a gift it has been
to enter this circle of lovers,
to see beyond seeing itself,
to reach and feel within the breast.
The Divani Shamsi Tabriz, XIII
Love is reckless; not reason.
Reason seeks a profit.
Love comes on strong,
consuming herself, unabashed.
Yet, in the midst of suffering,
Love proceeds like a millstone,
hard surfaced and straightforward.
Having died of self-interest,
she risks everything and asks for nothing.
Love gambles away every gift God bestows.
Without cause God gave us Being;
without cause, give it back again.
Mathnawi VI, 1967-1974
What shall we call the presence that arrives?
Beloved, friend? Pride and joy, love-thief, gratitude, patience?
I have no patience anymore.
Go away, you names and mental formations.
A new shape has come that flies our flag upside down,
the form no door lets in.
Rather, the walls around us fall outward.
Floor and roof too drop away.
–Rumi (Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī)
How will you know the difficulties
of being human, if you’re always
flying off to blue perfection?
Where will you plant your grief seeds?
Workers need ground to scrape and hoe,
not the sky of unspecified desire.
The Soul of Rumi
~ a new collection of ecstatic poems
translations by Coleman Barks
This We Have Now
This we have now
is not imagination.
This is not
grief or joy.
Not a judging state,
or an elation,
Those come and go.
This is the presence that doesn’t.
From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks
The way is full of genuine sacrifice.
The thickets blocking the path are anything
that keeps you from that, any fear
that you may be broken to bits like a glass bottle.
This road demands courage and stamina,
yet it’s full of footprints! Who are
these companions? They are rungs in your ladder. Use them!
With company you quicken your ascent.
There is some kiss we want with
our whole lives, the touch of
spirit on the body. Seawater
begs the pearl to break its shell.
And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild darling! At
night, I open the window and ask
the moon to come and press its
face against mine. Breathe into
me. Close the language-door and
open the love-window. The moon
won’t use the door only the window.
transl. by Coleman Barks
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you are bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here’s the joyful face you have been waiting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small
contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated