Am I Rendering, Or Surrendering?

Little-Free-Library Am I rendering, or surrendering?I consider the growth of Little Free Libraries to be a wholesome development in a troubled world. They give people a chance to start an exchanging flow by sowing the seed of a book without demanding recompense. They give people a chance to get their hands on a book that they might not be able to find or afford otherwise. It is my sincere hope that this idea will continue to prosper.

Am I rendering, or surrendering?

Mentioning the Little Free Libraries is my way of offering gratitude for a book I found in a Little Free Library this past weekend. It was the book “I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy” This is a book of poetry by the 14th-Century Persian poet Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky. I have shared poems and quotes by Rumi and poems by Kabir. On further review, I consider not sharing any poems by Hafiz to be an omission on my part. It is my sincere hope that Hafiz will become better known in the western world.

Hafiz of Shiraz. Am I rendering, or surrendering?Am I rendering, or surrendering? I have mentioned how Coleman Barks became the go-to Rumi translator for late-20th-early-21st-century America. I have mentioned how Anita Barrows and Joanne Macy are emerging as go-to Rilke translators. I believe that Daniel Ladinsky is emerging as a go-to translator for Hafiz.

Daniel Ladinsky. Am I rendering, or surrendering?

Am I rendering, or surrendering? Daniel Ladinsky has freely admitted that his translations of Hafiz are not exact translations, but attempts to capture the spirit of the author. He wrote something in this book that got my attention. I’m not quoting it exactly, because I gave the book to one of my children to read. But he said something to the effect that rendering an English translation of one of Hafiz’s poems involves a certain surrendering to the material, a certain surrendering to the greater context of Hafiz’s life and work.

Am I rendering, or surrendering? Why did this get my attention? Because Steps to Knowledge, the book of spiritual practice of the New Message from God, uses the phrase “render your gifts” to describe some of the acts and processes of fulfilling one’s purpose in the world. Apparently the rendering of one’s gifts has a certain disruptive influence, especially without a certain preparation:

“Accept the restraint and development that are called for now, for they will protect you and enable you to render your gifts with a minimum of discord and personal risk. They will guarantee the wholeness and worthiness of your contribution, for it will be untainted by selfish motives.” (Step 269, “The power of Knowledge will extend itself from me.”)

Am I rendering, or surrendering? Am I translating the poem that is my gift into a language some people in my world can understand? If so, it would seem I need to surrender to it. It would seem I need to surrender to its greater context, just as Daniel Ladinsky is doing in his surrenderings of Hafiz. What will my surrenderings look like?

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

Only The True Favorites Receive This Longing

alone-with-god Only the true favorites receive this longing.Rainer Maria Rilke is by no means the only poet who writes of the longing for one’s true life. The 13th-century Persian poet Rumi (1207-1273) wrote of this as well. Rumi’s great work, the Masnavi-I Ma’navi (Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning), has taken a while to arrive in the Western world, but I consider it worth the wait. Masnavi was originally a poetic form, but after Rumi, the word became more associated with Rumi’s writings than the poetic form. It is also spelled Mathnavi or Mathnawi. A portion of Book 3 of the Mathnawi (lines 189-197) has been rendered by American poet Coleman Barks as the poem “Love Dogs”

Only the true favorites receive this longing

One night a man was crying,
Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
“So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?”

The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.

He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.

“Why did you stop praising?”
“Because I’ve never heard anything back.”
“This longing
you express is the return message.

The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.

Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.

There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.

Give your life
to be one of them.”

This poem appears in many places, including the book “The Essential Rumi.”

Only the true favorites receive this longing.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

How Long Will You Be Frightened Of The Future?

whirling2Why wait any longer for the world to begin?

Coleman Barks. How long will you be frightened of the future?I am recalling this poem by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks as I ponder the rejection by the New Message from God, of the idea of strengthening preferred outcomes when praying for people.

How long will you be frightened of the future?

Why do we seek to strengthen preferred outcomes? If the chain is followed back far enough, is it because we believe that we will not survive if we don’t?

In the context of this poem, the word “sheikh” refers to a more spiritually advanced individual, and the disciple is a disciple of the sheikh.

A sheikh and a disciple are walking quickly toward a town
where it’s known there is very little to eat. The disciple
says nothing, but he is constantly afraid of going hungry.

The sheikh knows what the disciple thinks. How long
will you be frightened of the future
because you love food? You have closed the eye
of self-denial and forgotten who provides.

Don’t worry. You’ll have your walnuts and raisins and special desserts.
Only the true favorites get hunger for their daily bread.
You’re not one of those. Whoever loves the belly
is brought bowl after bowl from the kitchen.

When such a person dies, bread itself comes to the funeral
and makes a speech: “O corpse, you almost killed yourself
with worrying about food. Now you’re gone and food
is still here, more than enough. Have some free bread.”

Bread is more in love with you than you with it.
It sits and waits for days. It knows you have no will.
If you could fast, bread would jump into your lap
as lovers do with each other.

Be full with trusting,
not with these childish fears of famine.

How long will you be frightened of the future? Until the day when the one who provides, provides new eyes with which to see. In the meantime, please pass the trusting.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

Sometimes I Forget Completely

Rumi wrote a poem "Sometimes I forget completely"

Coleman Barks translated Rumi's poem "Sometimes I forget completely" into English

It took six hundred years, give or take a few, for Rumi’s poetry to appear in English. R. A. Nicholson (1868-1945) gave us the first complete English translation of the Mathnawi. A. J. Arberry (1905-1969) followed in Nicholson’s footsteps, translating Fihi ma fihi (translated as Discourses of Rumi) and many Rumi poems. I believe these men felt like the man in the gospels who discovered the treasure buried in the field, or the merchant of pearls who discovered the pearl of great price.

In 1976, poet Robert Bly showed Coleman Barks some of Arberry’s Rumi translations. Bly suggested to Barks that he make a more modern poetic translation, saying, “Release these (poems) from their scholarly cages.” Oh, what gratitude I have for the human bucket-brigade of A. J. Arberry, Robert Bly, and Coleman Barks, carriers of the celestial nectar!

Sometimes I forget completely

Sometimes I forget completely
what companionship is.
Unconscious and insane, I spill sad
energy everywhere. My story
gets told in various ways: a romance,
a dirty joke, a war, a vacancy.

Divide up my forgetfulness to any number,
it will go around.
These dark suggestions that I follow,
are they part of some plan?
Friends, be careful. Don’t come near me
out of curiosity, or sympathy.

I was inspired by recent events to share this poem. Sometimes I forget completely that I’m not alone, and it drives me mad, as it is a violent violation of one of the great truths of the universe. Please help me to remember, but from a distance.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

The Force of Friendship by Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks

Rumi felt the force of friendship when he met Shams of Tabriz

This poem appears in Book 6 (out of 6) of the Masnavi (I’ve seen it spelled Masnavi, Mathnawi and Mathnavi).

In Islamic tradition, Satan’s great sin was his refusal to bow before Adam (Surah 2:34). This poem references that tradition.

The second half of the poem about the mouse and the frog is the final portion of a much longer story describing the friendship between the mouse and the frog.

The Force of Friendship

In Rumi's poem The Force of Friendship, a dugong finds a special pearl

A sea-cow, a dugong, finds a special pearl
and brings it up on land at night. By the light it gives off
the dugong can graze on hyacinths and lilies.

The excrement of the dugong is precious ambergris
because it eats such beauty. Anyone who feeds on Majesty
becomes eloquent. The bee, from mystic inspiration,
fills its rooms with honey.

So the dugong grazes at night in the pearl-glow.
Presently, a merchant comes and drops black loam
over the pearl, then hides behind a tree to watch.

The dugong surges about the meadow like a blind bull.
Twenty times it rushes at nothing, passing the mound
where the pearl is.

So Satan couldn’t see
the spirit-center inside Adam.

God says, Descend,
and a huge pearl from Aden gets buried under dirt.
The merchant knows,
but the dugong doesn’t.

Every clay-pile with a pearl inside
loves to be near any other clay-pile with a pearl,
but those without pearls cannot stand to be near
the hidden companionship.

Remember the mouse on the riverbank?
There’s a love-string stretching into the water
hoping for the frog.

Suddenly a raven grips the mouse and flies off.
The frog too, from the riverbottom,
with one foot entangled in the invisible string,
follows, suspended in the air.
Amazed faces ask, “When did a raven ever go underwater and catch a frog?

The frog answers, “This is the force of Friendship.”
What draws friends together
does not conform to Laws of Nature.
Form doesn’t know about spiritual closeness.
If a grain of barley approaches a grain of wheat,
an ant must be carrying it. A black ant on black felt.
You can’t see it, but if grains go toward each other,
it’s there.

A hand shifts our birdcages around.
Some are brought closer. Some move apart.
Do not try to reason it out. Be conscious
of who draws you and who not.

Gabriel was always there with Jesus, lifting him
above the dark-blue vault, the night-fortress world,
just as the raven of longing carries the flying frog.

 

 

This rendering of this poem is found in the book This Longing: Poetry, Teaching-Stories, and Letters of Rumi, edited by Coleman Barks and John Moyne.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

The Horseman And The Snake

The-Young-Poet-Rumi-by-Skip-Noah Rumi wrote the story of The Horseman and the Snake

The Young Poet Rumi by Skip Noah

The Rumi story of the rider and the man who swallowed a snake first appears in Book 2 (out of 6) of the Mathnawi.  I have read two later versions of this story.  One of them is the 18th century version by Salim Abdali.  The other is the 20th century version by Coleman Barks, called “Jesus on the lean donkey.”  I am sharing the Salim Abdali version, found in the book “Tales of the Dervishes” by Idries Shah.

I am sharing this story because there is a section in the Coleman Barks version that captures the feeling I felt when I first wrote about Step 65 “I have come to work in the world” of Steps to Knowledge.  The line that skewers my soul is “God’s Silence is necessary, because of humankind’s faintheartedness.”  Here is the story.

The Horseman and the Snake

There is a proverb that the “opposition” of the man of knowledge is better than the “support” of the fool.

I, Salim Abdali, bear witness that this is true in the greater ranges of existence, as it is true in the lower levels.

This is made manifest in the tradition of the Wise, who have handed down the tale of the Horseman and the Snake.

A horseman from his point of vantage saw a poisonous snake slip down the throat of a sleeping man.  The horseman realized that if the man were allowed to sleep the venom would surely kill him.

Accordingly he lashed the sleeper until he was awake.  Having no time to lose, he forced this man to a place where there were a number of rotten apples lying upon the ground and made him eat them.  Then he made him drink large gulps of water from a stream.

All the while the other man was trying to get away, crying “What have I done, you enemy of humanity, that you should abuse me in this manner?”

Finally, when he was near to exhaustion, and dusk was falling, the man fell to the ground and vomited out the apples, the water, and the snake.  When he saw what had came out of him, he realized what had happened, and begged the forgiveness of the horseman.

This is our condition.  In reading this, do not take allegory for history, nor history for allegory. Those who are endowed with knowledge have responsibility.  Those who are not, have none beyond what they can conjecture.

The man who was saved said: “If you had told me, I would have accepted your treatment with a good grace.”

The horseman answered: “If I had told you, you would not have believed.  Or you would have been paralyzed by fright.  Or run away.  Or gone to sleep again, seeking forgetfulness. And there would not have been time.”

Spurring his horse, the mysterious rider rode away.

I read the tale of The Horseman and the Snake, and I cry out that my heart might be less faint.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

These Spiritual Windowshoppers by Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks

Rumi meditatingThere are many Rumi poems I don’t get, but this is one I’d like to think that I do.

Coleman BarksI take great comfort in this poem. I take great comfort that there is an exchanging flow. On my weaker days, I obsess of what people think of me. On my weaker days, I take great comfort in this poem’s advice of the relative non-importance of people’s opinions. On my stronger days, this poem inspires me to start a huge, foolish project.

There are quite a few people in the world who have not taken the second step of desire. There are quite a few people in the world who have waited a long time for the world to begin.  It is my resolve to not be one of them.

These spiritual window-shoppers,
who idly ask, ‘How much is that?’
‘Oh, I’m just looking.’
They handle a hundred items and put them down,
shadows with no capital.

What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping.
But these walk into a shop,
and their whole lives pass suddenly in that moment,
in that shop.

Where did you go? “Nowhere.”
What did you have to eat? “Nothing much.”
Even if you don’t know what you want,
buy something, to be part of the exchanging flow.

Start a huge, foolish project,
like Noah.
It makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you.

This translation of this poem can be found in many places, but it first appeared in the book “Rumi: We Are Three

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.

The Animal Soul by Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks

This is a bit of an experiment.  Poetry seems to be helpful to me in sharing how I think and feel about things, especially things regarding the New Message.  I’m sharing this particular poem because I’ve used the word itches in two previous posts, and this poem paints multiple vivid word pictures of what I mean when I write that.

The Animal Soul

There’s part of us that’s like an itch
Call it the animal soul, a foolishness
That when we’re in it, we make
Hundreds of others around us itchy

And there is an intelligent soul
With another desire, more like sweet basil
Or the feel of a breeze

Listen and be thankful even for scolding
That comes from the intelligent soul
It flows out close to where you flowed out

But that itchiness wants to put food
In our mouths that will make us sick

Feverish with the aftertaste of kissing
A donkey’s rump. It’s like blackening your robe
Against a kettle without being anywhere
Near a table of companionship

The truth of a being human is an empty table
Made of soul-intelligence

Gradually reduce what you give your animal soul
The bread that after all overflows from sunlight

The animal soul itself spilled out
And sprouted from the other

Taste more often what nourishes your clear light
And you’ll have less use for the smoky oven

You’ll bury that baking equipment in the ground!

I’m pleased to announce that I can embed the player from soundcloud.com into journal posts, so that you can hear me recite this poem if you wish.

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Welcome to Mystery of Ascension! Добро пожаловать в Тайну просветления! We document the study of the New Message from God in general, and the book Steps to Knowledge in particular. Мы тут делимся своим опытом изучения Нового Послания от Бога, в общем, и книги Шаги к Знанию в частности. Find out more about us here. Узнайте больше о нас здесь. Find out how to contact us here. Узнайте, как связаться с нами здесь.