Saturday, April 15, 2006

no cure in sight

I grasp at your feet, I won't let you go.

Your love hurts my heart; whose cure should I seek?

You taunt me; you say that my heart runs dry.

If so, then why does it flow from my eyes?

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

The above quatrain has an alternative (probably earlier) translation here:
I'm grasping your feet, but can't reach your hand.
You hold the cure; it's your kindness I need.
You taunt me; you say that my heart runs dry.
If so, then why does it flow from my eyes?

Today's quatrain sounds like a desperate cry, an almost despairing cry. It has a raw feel that suggests that its low number accords with chronology, that he was still experiencing deep grief at the loss of Shams. It would be fascinating, if at all possible, to trace the development of Rumi's poetic expression, starting with this raw grief and ending with more stable insights reached later. He certainly did find a way through this despair and he did reach calmer moments. However, the pain did return. Unfortunately it does. When some incident triggers its recollection, the pain returns.

I am feeling that myself as I assist my son in his plans to leave home, even leave the country, to work and live overseas. That upcoming loss is triggering the old pain at the loss of the cat I cared for. I lost then and I will lose again a creature whose needs met my own. In my case, I feel whole when I feel needed and nurtured by a creature that I need and nurture in turn. I guess there is a similar relation between a teacher like Shams and a student like Rumi, a student who is being prepared for taking on great spiritual authority in his turn.

However high that authority, however, it could never eclipse the authority of Mohammad and the Quran, claimed to be sent by God Himself. This is such an extraordinary belief, one that leaves the believer so blind and their mind so closed, that no light can enter, none at all. Yet somehow Shams did bring the light, did show Rumi a way.

I have found, when talking to Muslims about Rumi, that he is viewed as just one way to approach and gain a greater understanding of the central truth of the Quran. The Quran is the destination and Rumi is one way. To my mind, Rumi is the way and the Quran is just one road to get there. This difference of opinion and approach mirrors our differences as Muslim and Kafir, as one who is faith bound and one who seeks individual and original revelation. There is no bridge in Rumi between the two, only a destination that lies beyond both.

Sadly, there is no cure or prevention here for the strife and conflict that lies ahead. I see bitter warfare as inevitable and I fear it will be bloody on both sides. I shudder at the thought but I also feel calmer now. Many many people will die and, selfishly but only humanly, I hope the toll will not include myself or my family. And especially not my son, who embodies a saner future.


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