Heroes, by Rumi

HEROES

Does any artist paint for the sake of the picture itself, without the hope of offering some good?

No, but for the sake of  the viewers and the young who will be drawn by it and freed from cares.

Or does any potter hastily throw a pot or a bowl without any thought of what it will hold?

Does any calligrapher write for the script alone without any regard for the reader?

The external form is for the sake of something unseen, and that took shape for something else unseen.

Just as the moves in a game of chess reveal the results of each move in what follows.

They make one move to conceal another move, and that for something else, and so on and on.

So move on, aware of reasons within reasons, one move after another, to checkmate.

One step is for the sake of another, like the rungs of a ladder, to reach the roof.

The hunger for food produces semen; semen is for procreation, and the light in the parent’s eyes.

Someone with dulled vision sees no further than this: his intelligence has no movement; it vegetates.

Whether a plant is summoned or not, it stays planted within the soil.

Don’t be deceived if the wind bends it.

It’s head says, “We obey the zephyr’s request,” while its feet say, “Leave us alone!”

Since he does not know how to move, he advances on trust like the blind.

Consider what acting on trust means in a war: it’s like a gambler trusting the throw of the dice.

But if someone’s insight is unfrozen, it penetrates the veil.

He sees with his own eyes in the present what will come to pass in ten year’s time.

In the same way, everyone perceives the invisible future, whether good or bad, according to the measure of his insight.

When barriers in front and behind are removed, the eye penetrates and reads the Tablet of the Unseen.

When he looks back to the origin of existence, the beginning and all the past display themselves, including the argument between the angels of earth and Divine Majesty, their resistance to recognizing our Father Adam as God’s steward.

And when he casts his eye forward, he sees all that will come to pass until the Gathering.

Therefore he sees back to the root of the root, and forward to the Day of Decision.

Anyone, to the degree of his enlightenment, sees as much as he has polished of himself.

The more he polishes, the more he sees, the more visible do the forms become.

If you say purity is by the grace of God, this success in polishing is also through that Generosity.

That work and prayer is in proportion to the yearning: People have nothing but what they have striven for.

God alone is the giver of aspiration: no rough brute aspires to kingliness, nor does God’s gift of good fortune preclude one’s own consent and will and choice.

But when He brings trouble upon some ill-fated person, he ungratefully packs off in flight.

Whereas when God brings trouble upon a blessed man, he just draws nearer to God.

In battle the cowardly, from fear of their lives, have chosen their means of escape.

But heroes are borne forward by their fear and pain.

From fear, too, the weak soul dies within itself.

Tribulation and fear for one’s life are touchstones to distinguish the cowardly from the brave.

– Rumi

(translated by Kabir Helminski)

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The Water We Seek

Not long ago I found one of poem by Rumi which I found to be inspiring and insightful.  It’s called The Water We Seek

The eye or the spirit that focuses on the transient
falls on its face wherever it goes.
Someone who focuses on the distance,
without knowledge, may see far,
but just as we do in a dream.

Asleep on the bank of a river, lips parched,
you dream you are running toward water.
In the distance you see the water of your desire
and, caught by your seeing, you run toward it.

In the dream you boast,
“I am the one whose heart can see through the veils.”
Yet every step carries you further away
toward the perilous mirage.

From the moment you dreamed you set out
you created the distance
from that which had been near to you.
Many set out on a journey
that leads them farther away from their goal.

The intuitive claims of the sleeper are a fantasy.
You, too, are sleepy; But for God’s sake,
if you must sleep, sleep on the Way of God,
and maybe some other seeker on the Way
will awaken you from your fantasies and slumber.

No matter how subtle the sleeper’s thought becomes,
his dreams will not guide him Home.
Whether the sleeper’s thought is twofold or threefold,
it is error multiplying error.

While he dreams of running through the wilderness,

the waves are lapping so near.

While he dreams of the pangs of thirst,

the water is nearer than his jugular vein.