Saturday, April 23, 2005

clear and simple

The word "clear" suggested itself this morning and a perfect quatrain came up to express it.
Those who flow like water, clear and simple,

Flow like wine in us, through mind and vein.

I stretched out straight and let myself lie low,

A ship where straight and humble men may go.

#504: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

This encapsulates so many values that I hold dear. I simply must juxtapose it with this Shaker hymn on much the same theme.
Simple Gifts

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free;
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be;
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed
To turn, turn will be our delight,
'Til by turning, turning we come round right.

It is one of the great ironies of both Christianity and Islam that both were spread and sustained through worldly power and dominance, or "through the sword" as classically expressed. Either religion can provide a scaffolding for this humble approach to life; either religion can fuel the very opposite, an arrogant insistence on having one's own way at the expense of others. The Muslim who truly submits to Allah is doing essentially the same thing as the Christian who truly delivers his fate into the hands of the Almighty. Both are humbly serving their deity and not asking that the world conform to their ego's desires or ambitions.

Sufism did often suffer persecution at the hands of an orthodox and literalist Islam and I would guess that this is also why Rumi speaks of lying low. His words are a vehicle or aid for others who would tread the straight and simple path. And stay out of the way of the bullies.


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