Saturday, August 27, 2005

channels of blood

The dew of love turned dust of man to mud,

From which sprang up unruly passion's horde.

Their hundred lances pierced the veins of Soul.

What we call Heart is one drop of its blood.

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

Search word: turn

I feel caught up in something I cannot escape, as if there is no turning back. I've become involved out there in the outside world and I feel trapped and out of control. To me, coming from my hermit existence, it seems like a madhouse. I turn to Rumi to see what he makes of turning.

The imagery in this verse is extraordinary. I've not come across it before. There is a connection with yesterday's reflections which ended with Ezekiel's valley of dry bones being transformed by the Lord into living souls. Here humanity is envisioned as dry dust, tiny floating particles, that coalesce only when united by a religious purpose, here imaged as the dew of love. I've searched the Koran but cannot find this precise image of water being added to dust to make mud or clay. It is specified in the Old Testament Bible as follows:

Genesis 2:6-7 (KJV)

But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Rumi then goes on to say that out of this coalesced humanity there arose "unruly passion's horde" with its "hundred lances". This seems to suggest an army and would well describe the effect of Islamic faith on its early followers. It did fuel wars of conquest. However, since the imagery refers to a piercing of soul and a creation of heart or feeling, then this imagery is being used to stand for a passionate assault on humanity's own soul. If the veins are the paths by which blood flows, they might represent human communication especially at the cultural or religious level. A targeted or pointed attack on these lines of communication (which might include sacred scriptures like the Bible and Koran) opens them up to yield a life blood, much like a milking for meaning. An individual heart or personal experience of love becomes then just one drop from this communal well of experience and aspiration.

The closest mythological parallel I can think of is to the slaying of Tiamat:

excerpt from Enuma Elish - The Epic Of Creation [my emphasis]

Now after the hero Marduk had conquered and cast down his enemies,
And had made the arrogant foe even like
And had fullv established Ansar's triumph over the enemy
And had attained the purpose of Nudimmud,
Over the captive gods he strengthened his durance,
And unto Tiamat, whom he had conquered, he returned.
And the lord stood upon Tiamat's hinder parts,
And with his merciless club he smashed her skull.
He cut through the channels of her blood,
And he made the North wind bear it away into secret places.

His fathers beheld, and they rejoiced and were glad;
Presents and gifts they brought unto him.
Then the lord rested, gazing upon her dead body,
While he divided the flesh of the ... , and devised a cunning plan.
He split her up like a flat fish into two halves;
One half of her he stablished as a covering for heaven.
He fixed a bolt, he stationed a watchman,
And bade them not to let her waters come forth.
He passed through the heavens, he surveyed the regions thereof,
And over against the Deep he set the dwelling of Nudimmud.
And the lord measured the structure of the Deep,
And he founded E-sara, a mansion like unto it.
The mansion E-sara which he created as heaven,
He caused Anu, Bel, and Ea in their districts to inhabit.

This tiny four-line verse of Rumi's seems to open up vast vistas for speculation, far too much for me to deal with this morning. I can only begin to pry open the meaning.


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