Wednesday, October 26, 2005

work and rest

Tonight's a night of weakness, misery.

Tonight I grapple with heart's mystery.

Its secrets, my friend, are all thoughts of you.

O night, pass quickly: I have work to do.

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

I've woken refreshed after a spell of pain and darkness. The Buddha promises respite from this eternal cycle of abundant joy and deep despair. A calm still point can slowly emerge from the turbulence, a tiny centre around which the things that really matter can gather.

For Rumi, what mattered was the meaning inside his love for Shams and his work was to involve the gradual unfolding of that meaning through his poetry. Even within his grief, even within the very night of his weakness and misery, he wrote this quatrain and thus expressed the truth of his soul and the hope that some purpose or value lay in his suffering. He had a sense of work to be done, work that he was undertaking at that very moment.

I'm beginning to understand what Rumi meant when he wrote: "You're sitting beside the road that you seek." The work and the purpose always begin now, even while we sleep at night, even while we seem to rest. The sitting beside the road and the moving along the road are both part of the journey.


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