Thursday, July 28, 2005

saying pooh to death

You're so coupled to life, which lasts but a day,

That you can't even hear talk of death.

Life looks for a home and that home is death,

But your donkey fell asleep on the way.

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

Search words: thank, fun, harass, grateful, glee

I woke feeling thankful for the fun I'm deriving by answering harassment with harassment. None of my search words worked so I chose the next quatrain in the list.

I find this verse difficult because of the "you" which hovers between two types of "you" that Rumi uses. Sometimes "you" is God or Shams or a feminine beloved but sometimes "you" is the reader to whom Rumi is giving advice. Sometimes it's clear that Rumi is aware that he is giving advice to the part of himself that feels a need for it. There is a gentle tone of remonstrance as if he is chiding himself for his love of life. Life ends in death and so death would seem to be the end (or purpose) of life. The image of the donkey falling asleep is so comical, it points to a foolish side of oneself. However, is it so foolish to forget death? I don't think so and that is why I "see" in this verse a merely ironic mocking of Rumi's own love of life.

I'm sure I'm influenced here by my current mood. I have been having power struggles with a government department, finding myself harassed by petty bureaucrats but harassing them in turn. When pushed to its logical conclusions, bureaucratic demands become quite farcical, much like a rehearsal for the next Monty Python movie. I have decided that I actually quite enjoy the experience and I am thankful to the silly bureaucrats for the entertainment they provide. I'm loving life for today and not worrying too much about consequences. This attitude goes right against the societally imposed morality that asks that I examine my motives and consider where all this is leading me.

In Rumi's time, it was emphatically stressed in his society's moral code as expressed through the Koran which has 92 verses referring to death.
Qur'an 3:185 (Yusuf Ali)

Every soul shall have a taste of death: And only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have attained the object (of Life): For the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception.

Methinks Rumi is saying "pooh!" to that but saying it in a safe way.


At Thursday, 28 July, 2005, Blogger none said...

I thought I loved Rumi, but I find in you a more crazed fanatic and that is entertaining, especially taking into account the cryptic comments about the bureacratic animosity. It reminds me of a fabulous passage from Doestoevsky's Notes from the Underground which I am actually going to google and copy/paste. Wait...Here it is:
"When petitioners used to come for information to the table at which I sat, I used to grind my teeth at them, and felt intense enjoyment when I succeeded in making anybody unhappy. I almost did succeed. For the most part they were all timid people--of course, they were petitioners. But of the uppish ones there was one officer in particular I could not endure. He simply would not be humble, and clanked his sword in a disgusting way. I carried on a feud with him for eighteen months over that sword. At last I got the better of him. He left off clanking it. That happened in my youth, though.
But do you know, gentlemen, what was the chief point about my spite? Why, the whole point, the real sting of it lay in the fact that continually, even in the moment of the acutest spleen, I was inwardly conscious with shame that I was not only not a spiteful but not even an embittered man, that I was simply scaring sparrows at random and amusing myself by it. I might foam at the mouth, but bring me a doll to play with, give me a cup of tea with sugar in it, and maybe I should be appeased. I might even be genuinely touched, though probably I should grind my teeth at myself afterwards and lie awake at night with shame for months after. That was my way."

At Thursday, 28 July, 2005, Blogger Arizona said...

Thank you, Renata, for that wonderful passage. So befitting my current predicament, lol. Great to hear from another Rumi lover. :)


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