Thursday, January 26, 2006

eternal delights

The heart says, "Savor the garden's delight;

Taste the fruits of morning, and more tonight."

But mind bites its lip and says, "Not so fast!

The blessings are real but the trouble's not past."

#1232: From Rumi's Kolliyaat-e Shams-e Tabrizi

I woke this morning still pissed off after a disappointing turn of events last night. I've been watching the Australian Open tennis tournament live on TV but last night they played the matches two hours after they occurred. They completely lost their impact since the live scores were available on the internet. Who wants to watch a competitive game whose outcome is already known or knowable? I was also pissed off because the TV station showed the games as if they were live. This was a blatant and transparent lie.

If my heart has been savoring the delights of tennis' garden then it has also come up with the trouble or disappointment that inevitably accompanies pleasure. For the players, I can see that victory is so sweet but every victory is also a defeat. Every match produces one winner and one loser. The pleasure-loving heart revels in only the one side of that result. The realistic mind is cynical about whether anything has been gained at all.

I suspect the mystic is the smarter if he can find release from any kind of care or expectation. I don't think this means the mystic is untouched or oblivious to this kind of competitive excitement. It's just that he experiences it and notices it without becoming totally entangled or absorbed by it. Instead, he keeps one foot inside and one outside of the tournament. And if mystical gains or successes become themselves the competitive game then a similar indifference must be found. Who cares, after all, whether they attain to the community of saints? Is becoming a Great Saint any different from becoming a Great Tennis Player?

When Rumi speaks of the garden's delight, he is referring to spiritual insight, that delightful "aha!" experience when seeing through a delusion. As welcome and delightful as that may be, there are plenty more such experiences awaiting us, every day. That can only mean that plenty more delusions continue to grow in our gardens. As Khayyam would put it, we are no more or less tomorrow than today:

And if the Wine you drink, the Lip you press
End in what All begins and ends in--Yes;
Think then you are To-day what Yesterday
You were--To-morrow You shall not be less.

Omar Khayyam, XLII of an Edward Fitzgerald version here.
(for Bob since Khayyam/Fitzgerald is a favourite)



At Thursday, 26 January, 2006, Blogger Bob Hoeppner said...

Thanks for the Fitzgerald quote. Ah! that brings back memories...


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