Monday, May 30, 2005

deep deep trouble

If I wait, pain will come from missing you.

If I declare my love, then jealousy arrives.

So I abstain, keep stone away from glass:

Loving you makes trouble come to pass.

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

My first thought this morning was "I'm still waiting" and wait delivered this verse. I'm having trouble with Rumi's distinction between waiting and abstaining here. If I read this verse as Rumi expressing something about Shams' truth, then I understand "wait" as simply missing him and doing nothing about it. Declaring his love, then, is expressing or elucidating their commonly held beliefs or truths. This would lead to jealousy in the form of allegations of heresy or disloyalty to the status quo. What then is it to "abstain"? Something fragile, the glass, can be shattered by stones. Here, I think of the stoning of an adulteress, a woman who has failed to be loyal to her husband, to stay committed to her marriage. This could echo Rumi's loss of loyalty to Mo and loss of commitment to Islam, deep in his heart at least. On the surface he must dissimulate so as to keep the precious truth intact. To speak openly about it would be to invite further charges of heresy. I think, then, that "abstain" is really meant as "dissimulate" or the act of expressing his love safely and not too openly as "declare" would imply.

The last line, too, is enigmatic. It's hard to pinpoint what trouble Rumi means. Superficially there is the trouble of his anguish, the trouble that always accompanies relationship and loss. If I stay with the idea that Shams' truth is the topic here, then I think that the trouble refers to the difficulty or dilemma of revealing a better or substitute truth to that of Islam as Rumi had inherited it from his father and his culture. That would indeed be deep deep trouble and it might take centuries to reveal itself fully and out in the open.

The time has come, I believe. The time has come.


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