Monday, February 04, 2008

the cup gets a bad press

Be not intoxicated with these goblets of forms,
Lest you become a maker and worshipper of idols.
Pass by these cups full of forms, linger not;
There is wine in the cups, but it proceeds not from them.
Look to the Giver of the wine with open mouth;
When His wine comes, is not cup too small to hold it?

Rumi: Mathnawi Book VI, Story IX, trans Whinfield

These are the opening verse lines of a story called "The King and his Three Sons". It has a classic fairy tale format in which the eldest and middle sons fail in an important quest but the youngest succeeds. Rumi left the story unfinished with little elaboration on how the third prince achieved what the first and the second did not.

Since Rumi often uses the idea of "the King" as a synonym for God, this story effectively allows that God might have three sons or have a trinity potential that can be manifested or realized as three divine offspring. The Jungians would see this as the Self differentiating into three conscious functions with the two primary ones being inadequate to the task of full individuation. It is the third - or "inferior" - function that connects consciousness to the unconscious and ultimately leads to wholeness or a state of kingliness.

Was Rumi beginning to understand this? Was it dawning on him - or had it already dawned on him - that the Christian trinity had some validity to it? Was this why he balked at finishing this story? According to one tradition - or edition of the Mathnawi - Rumi's own son provided a commentary as follows:

Part of the story remains untold; it was retained

In his mind and was not disclosed.

The story of the princes remains unfinished,

The pearl of the third brother remains unstrung.

Here speech, like a camel, breaks down on its road;

I will say no more, but guard my tongue from speech.

The rest is told without aid of tongue

To the heart of him whose spirit is alive.

by Bahau-'d-Din Sultan Valad according to Bulaq edition of Mathnawi, trans Whinfield as above

fairy tale illustration

Illustration by John D. Batten to the story
"The King of England and his Three Sons"
in Joseph Jacobs: More English Fairy Tales
@ Sacred Texts

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home