Sunday, August 14, 2005

spilling blood

When your love and my joy conspire to spill my blood

My soul flies from the cage that shapes this human mud.

He's a godless infidel who has the chance to taste

The sin of your sweet lips, and lives on, chaste.

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

Search word: blood

There is blood on my feet. They have become so dry that they have cracked up and are oozing blood. Right now, they are soaking in a warm foot bath.

This is a dicey verse from Rumi today, skating very close to heretical thin ice. This is the first time I've encountered this bold set of opposites: the holy and the sinful. In my reading, I'm currently acquainting myself better with Mircea Eliade who was fascinated with the contrast of the sacred with the profane. He was a scholarly authority on religions but he also wrote pornographic fiction. I've often thought of the profane as simply lacking the sacred. The profane simply denies the sacred. Rumi, instead, speaks of the sinful as a prerequisite for godliness. Unless one tastes of sin, one cannot be a true believer. Perhaps this is also what Eliade was getting at.

Looked at from a Jungian perspective (or from an alchemical or gnostic perspective as illuminated by Jung's modern insights), the sacred and the profane, the holy and the sinful, are opposites that we need to express and balance in order to achieve the wholeness that is called the Self or God or the philosopher's stone. There is a special delight in forbidden fruits, no matter what boundaries we ourselves or our culture has set for us. I might be on a diet that does not allow ice cream: this makes ice cream forbidden and especially delicious. I might be a prostitute and high priestess of the profane underworld: a visit to a church is then an awesome experience.

When Rumi responds to his muse and writes his next verse, he pours out his soul which can then live on many centuries after his body has been buried and decayed down to dry bones. He achieves a kind of immortality that, I'm sure, every aspiring published author longs for. This very verse exhibits the danger of thus responding to a muse: she might inspire heretical or blasphemous words which, in a fearful restrictive culture, can easily lead to the shedding of one's own blood in, at the very least, a good flogging. Even without this literal shedding of blood, the muse makes great demands on one's time or life-blood. Rumi seems to be saying that it is time well spent. We should all yield - at least a little - to the muse's temptations.

I can but say "amen" to that!


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