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.

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.

Three Pieces Of Advice

Perhaps this young man will receive three pieces of advice

This story is from the book Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah.  I recalled this story when I wrote about Step 56 of Steps to Knowledge.  As I considered the general spirit of Step 56, I recalled one of the characters in this story.

This story was first found in the ILahi Nama (Divine Book) of Persian poet Farad Al Din Attar (1145-1220).

The story "Three Pieces of Advice" is found in the Divine Book of Farad al-Din Attar

Rumi put it in the Mathnawi (Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning) about 50 years later.

Three Pieces of Advice

A man once caught a bird.  The bird said to him. “I am of no use to you as a captive.  But let me free, and I will give you three valuable pieces of advice.”

Would you accept three pieces of advice from this bird?

The bird promised to give the first piece of advice while still in the man’s grasp, the second when he reached a branch, the third when he had gained the top of a mountain.

The man agreed, and asked for the first piece of advice.

The bird said:

“If you lose something, even if it be valued by you as much as life itself – do not regret it.”

Now the man let the bird go, and it hopped to a branch.

It continued with the second piece of advice:

“Never believe anything which is contrary to sense, without proof.”

Then the bird flew to the mountain-top.  From here it said:

“O unfortunate one!  Within me are two huge jewels, and if you had only killed me they would have been yours!”

The man was anguished at the thought of what he had lost, but he said, “At least now tell me the third piece of advice.”

The bird replied:

“What a fool you are, asking for more advice when you have not given thought to the first two pieces! I told you not to worry about what you had lost, and not to believe in something contrary to sense.  Now you are doing both.  You are believing something ridiculous and grieving because you have lost something!  I am not big enough to have inside me huge jewels.”

“You are a fool.  Therefore you must stay within the usual restrictions imposed on man.”

 

As I share this story, I recall the Bible proverb, “Like the useless legs of one who is lame, is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.” (Proverbs 26:7, New International Version)

Three pieces of advice?  Maybe we only need one: wake up!

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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.