Sunday, April 24, 2005

simply rhyming

I woke this morning with the word neat in mind and I followed it with rhyming words like feat, beat, eat, meet, bleat, greet, seat, fleet. Neat itself did not turn up in the Rumi quatrains but seat did and it dragged with it complete and eat.

Beside your love, your soul's jewel, find your seat.

Seek him who's yours, forever and complete.

Call him not dear, who's sorrow to your soul.

The bread he brings you is unfit to eat.

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

This quatrain brings to mind my own of last night in which I wrote "Joy or sorrow in the heart, Embrace this as your dearest". In an eerily precise response, Rumi is saying here: No, reject that which brings sorrow to your soul. It seems like an opposing view at first but it is not if distinctions are kept clear. Embracing sorrow itself is what I wrote about while Rumi is writing about that which brings sorrow to the soul, that is, the source or trigger of sorrow. Still, the translator has used the verb is (implicitly) rather than brings and there does seem to be some overlap of meaning there, a fuzzy border between the sorrow and the source of sorrow.

Is this a juxtaposition of opposites? Is Rumi not saying that we should love love and hate hate? I'm OK with the idea that we should take a stand ("find your seat") on things that are of value to us ("your soul's jewel"). This is where we will find things that have permanence and that feel whole for us ("forever and complete"). That which we hate needs to be identified as such ("call him not dear") and rejected as poisonous ("unfit to eat"). This resonates with the proverb: One man's meat is another man's poison.

In seeking what is true and right for us we use a dual navigation aid: joy or love attracts us toward our goal and sorrow or hate keeps us away from experiences that are not suited to our natural growth as a unique person with a unique destiny. It is this dual navigation aid that tells me that I love the gentle wisdom in Rumi but hate the crass hatred and intolerance implicit in the Qur'an. Rumi's major opus, the Masnavi (or Masnawi), has been described as "the Qur'an in Persian". To me, this is offensive to Rumi's opus for his work is literate, articulate, refined, deeply wise and spiritual while the Qur'an is none of these. Rumi writes straight from the heart and his voice is authentic and original. The Qur'an is entirely derivative, based on what Mo had heard tell and then retold with no original spin except the colouring from Mo's baser emotions like mistrust, resentment, arrogance and just plain paranoia. Rumi is like crystal clear spring water to Mo's mud.

I read Rumi as saying just that. I read Rumi as saying that any writing should be shunned if it results in negativity, in pain or sorrow or conflict or distress. Islam's central text does all that. Would that it could be replaced with something cleaner and clearer.


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