Foundation of NJ, USA



the Message Continues 12/36

Newsletter for July  2004 






Jalal al-Din Rumi, Painting by Hossein Behzad

Unto Him shall we return
by Rumi

O my noble friends, slaughter this cow,
if you wish to raise up the spirit of insight.
I died to being mineral and growth began.
I died to vegetable growth and attained to the state of animals.
I died from animality and became Adam:
why then should I fear?
When have I become less by dying?
next I shall die to being a human being,
so that I may soar and lift up my head among the angels.
Yet I must escape even from that angelic state:
everything is perishing except His Face.*
Once again I shall be sacrificed, dying to the angelic;
I shall become that which could never be imagined -
I shall become nonexistent.
Nonexistence sings its clear melody,
Truly, unto Him shall we return!**

Mathnawi III:3900-3906
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Daylight"
Threshold Books, 1994
^           ^           ^           ^           ^           ^

The concepts of "Fana" and "Baqa" 

With hands (swollen) like a tambourine and belly like a drum,
I am beating the drum of (I am proclaiming) my love for the water, as the rose (does).
    If that Trusty Spirit spill my blood, I will drink draught on draught of blood, like the earth.
    I am a blood-drinker, like the earth and like the embryo: (ever) since I became a lover I am (engaged) in this trade.
    During the night I boil on the fire, like a kettle; (all) day till nightfall I drink blood, like the sand.
    I repent that I set contrivance afoot (in order to escape) and fled from that which his anger desired.
    Let him drive on (let him not restrain) his anger against my intoxicated soul: he is the Feast of the Sacrifice, and the lover is the buffalo (for slaughter).
    Whether the buffalo sleep or whether it eat something, he nurtures (fattens) it for the feast and the slaughter.
    Deem me to be (as) the cow of Moses that gave life (to the murdered man): each limb of me is the (means of) raising from the dead every one that is (spiritually) free.
    The cow of Moses was one offered in sacrifice: her smallest limb brought a murdered man to life.
    At its touch the murdered man sprang up from his place-- at the words spoken (by God), strike him with part of her.
    O my noble (friends), slaughter this cow (the fleshly soul), if ye desire to raise to life the spirits (possessed) of insight.
    I died to the inorganic state and became endowed with growth, and (then) I died to (vegetable) growth and attained to the animal.
    I died from animality and became Adam (man): why, then, should I fear? When have I become less by dying?
    At the next remove I shall die to man, that I may soar and lift up my head amongst the angels; And I must escape even from (the state of) the angel: everything is perishing except His Face.
    Once more I shall be sacrificed and die to the angel: I shall become that which enters not into the imagination.
    Then I shall become non-existence: non-existence saith to me, (in tones loud) as an organ, Verily, unto Him shall we return.
    Know death to be (the thing signified by) what the (Mohammedan) community agreed upon, namely, that the Water of Life is hidden in the (Land of) Darkness.
    Grow from this river-bank, like the water-lily, greedy and craving for death as the sufferer from dropsy.
    The water is death to him, and (yet) he is seeking the water and drinking it--and God best knoweth the right course.
    Oh, the cold lover, clad in the felt (garment) of shame, who from fear of (losing) his life is fleeing from the Beloved!
    O thou disgrace (even) to women, behold hundreds of thousands of souls clapping their hands (and rushing) towards the sword of His love!
    Thou hast seen the river: spill thy jug in the river: how should the water take flight from the river?
    When the water in the jug goes into the river-water, it disappears in it, and it becomes the river.
    His (the lover's) attributes have passed away, and his essence remains: after this, he does not dwindle or become ill-favoured.
    I have hanged myself on His palm-tree in excuse for having fled from Him."

    The Mathnawi of Jalalu'din Rumi,
    Translation of Book III, verses 3890-3915
    Edited and translated by Reynold A. Nicholson
    E.J.W. Gibb Memorial

A note by Ghazaleh, a scholar of Rumi

"During the night I boil on the fire, like a kettle; (all) day till nightfall I drink blood, like the sand." -- Rumi

In my limited level of understanding, I think that Rumi is talking about how one needs to let go of the ego (as the center of the conscious personality), in order to make room for the emergence of the Self/Spirit/Soul (as the center and the circumference of the Greater Personality). Through symbolic imagery and poetic language, he demonstrates the process of initiation, traversing the dark night of the soul, transformation and evolution from one level of existence into another.
When water boils, it's nature changes from water to steam. Therefore, it is no longer water, it has died (become "fana"), but its nature has been transformed to a different level of existence, steam, and has thus attained "bagha".

All night, the soul longs for fana. It yearns for dying onto the ego/animalistic desires. This is a realm where there is no true freedom of choice, for how could a tiger not instinctively kill a coyote for survival reasons? But a human being is endowed with the freedom to choose to be transformed into a higher being, and join its original source, the Creator.  In the same manner, water would boil in a kettle, in order to transform into steam and emerge upwards towards the Great Spirit. Steam always rises upwards, towards Spirit, at a higher level of enlightenment. The kettle is a representation of the body or matter, a container or form for the human ego, the less evolved aspect of the human being.

The water, in this context, may symbolize the lover's inner truth contained in the human body; it is a stream that has origniated from the Greater ocean, the Divine Spirit. Unfortunately, this stream (water) has been trapped in matter (the kettle) and therefore, painfully longs to be redeemed and reunited with its source (the Great Spirit). The steam is symbolic of the redeemed water after it has been put to the test and transformed. The fire symbolizes pure and Divine Love and passion for the Beloved. Boiling on the fire, describes the process of initiation or individuation, purification and transformation which, like all initiation, is always very taxing, and sometimes the initiate does not survive through this dark night of the soul, into the light of day. Therefore, even if the initiate does embark on the arduous task of self-realization that s/he is called upon to endure, it will not come to fruition without Divine Grace.

As established by alchemists, and approved by the gnostics who espoused Erfan, two ingredients are absolutely necessary to the process of transformation:

1.  a voluntary and willing sacrifice on the part of the individual who has chosen or has been called upon to journey through this mystic or shamanic path, and
2.  Divine intervention or intention by way of an act of Grace. 

In the same way as water sacrifices itself to steam (or one dies onto the ego to be reborn onto the Self/Beloved), the sand absorbs the blood of the lover who is willing to sacrifice his/her current level of existence into a higher form. If God, the One and only Beloved, spills my (the lover's) blood and
decides on my death in this earthly form, I (the lover) would happily offer myself as sacrifice like Moses' cow, in order to help resurrect a dead man, thus contributing to the act of creation. And I will drink my own sacrificial blood with thirst and desire. Since I have experienced Divine Love, sacrifice or letting go of the ego, is now my way of life. I shall freely accept this death as it will pave the way for me to evolve unto the next, higher level of consciousness, which is cause for celebration. Lovers (spiritual seekers, initiates) attain spiritual ecstasy through self-sacrifice (symbolized by the image of drinking one's own blood), not the sacrifice of the Self.

Like the cow of Moses, each limb of my sacrificed body, or each treasure I have found in my process of individuation or Self-discovery (knowing God within), will help bring about the resurrection of a free (spiritually enlightened) human being. Therefore, it behooves me to sacrifice the cow (symbol of the animal instinct, ego) through transcendent Love, in order to resurrect the wise-old man/woman within.

As such, death is not an absolute state of non-being, but a transition period of evolution from a lower to a higher level of enlightenment.  Therefore, there is no reason to fret death, as it can only enlarge the greater
personality, not take away anything of lasting value. All forms of creation die except for the Creator who is the ruler of our psyche and master of our house. We are all from God and shall return to God.

I long for the water of life and wish I were that eternal water. In fact, I have drunk so much water that it is killing me! This is because the water of life is hidden in the dark. However, we all have the capacity to choose to connect with this eternal water, if we consciously and willingly relinquish our animal instincts and ego desires of this material world. Just as a lily grows in opaque pond water and spreads its wings in the pond, we too can grow in the garden of love and truth, through attaining the state of "fana" known as ego death. By joining our own jug of water with the eternal ocean of the Beloved, we become the Beloved, as we cannot withdraw a stream from the ocean. As such, we die onto our egocentric personal self and are reborn into our higher Self; we attain the final connunctio, coming together of the opposites; we shall have a glimpse of wholeness, the Eternal Truth, the goal of our Heart's desire.    Ghazaleh

A Light Within His Light
by Rumi

I circled awhile with each of the intelligences,
the nine fathers that control the levels
of spirit-growth.  I revolved

for years with the stars through
each astrological sign.

I disappeared into the kingdom of nearness.
I saw what I have seen, receiving nourishment
as a child lives in the womb.

Personalities are born once,
a mystic many times.

Wearing the body-robe, I've been busy
in the market, weighing and arguing prices.

Sometimes I have torn the robe off
with my own hands and thrown it away.

I've spent long nights in monasteries,
and I have slept with those who claim to believe
nothing on the porches of pagodas,
just traveling through.

When someone feels jealous, I am inside
the hurt and the need to possess.

When anyone is sick, I feel
feverish and dizzy.

I am cloud and rain being released,
and then the meadow as it soaks it in.

I wash the rains of mortality
from the cloth around a dervish.

I am the rose of eternity, not made of
water or fire or the wandering wind,
or even earth.  I pay with those.

I am not Shams of Tabriz,
but a light withint his light.

If you see me, be careful.
Tell no one what you've seen.
 Ghazal (Ode) 331
Version by Coleman Barks
 "Say I Am You"
Maypop, 1994





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