the Message Continues ... i/8



  Article 13


"Don't believe for a moment that you're healing yourself" 

Childhood Friends 

You may have heard, it's the custom

for Kings to let warriors stand on

the left, the side of the heart, and

courage. On the right, they put the

Chancellor, and various secretaries,

because the practice of bookkeeping

and writing usually belongs to the

right hand.  

In the center, the Sufis, because in

meditation they become mirrors.

The King can look at their faces

and see his original state. 

Give the beautiful ones mirrors,

and let them fall in love with


That way they polish their souls

and kindle remembering in others. 

A close childhood friend once came

to visit Joseph. They had shared the

secrets that children tell each other

when they're lying on their pillows

at night before they go to sleep.

These two were completely truthful

with each other. 

The friend asked, "What was it like

when you realized your brothers were

jealous and what they planned to do?" 

"I felt like a lion with a chain around

its neck. Not degraded by the chain, and

not complaining, but just waiting for my

power to be recognized." 

"How about down in the well, and in

prison? How was it then?" 

"Like the moon when it's getting

smaller, yet knowing the fullness to

come. Like a seed pearl ground in the

mortar for medicine, that knows it will

now be the light of the human eye. 

Like a wheat grain that breaks open in

the ground, then grows, then gets

harvested, then crushed in the mill for

flour, then baked, then crushed again

between teeth to become a person's

deepest understanding.  

Lost in Love, like songs the planters

sing the night after they sow the seed." 

There is no end to any of this.

Back to something else the good man

and Joseph talked about. 

"Ah my friend, what have you brought me?

You know a traveler should not arrive

empty handed at the door of a friend

like me. That's going to the grinding

stone without your wheat. God will ask

at the Resurrection, 'Did you bring Me

a present? Did you forget? Did you think

you wouldn't see Me?' 

Joseph kept teasing,

"Lets have it. I want my gift!" 

The guest began, "You can't imagine how

I've looked for something for you.

Nothing seemed appropriate. You don't

take gold down into a goldmine, or a

drop of water to the Sea of Oman! 

Everything I thought of was like

bringing cumin seed to Kirmanshah where

cumin comes from. 

You have all seeds in your barn. You

even have my love and my soul, so I

can't even bring those. 

I've brought you a mirror. Look at

yourself, and remember me." 

He took the mirror out from his robe

where he was hiding it. 

What is the mirror of being?


Always bring a mirror of non-existence

as a gift. Any other present is foolish. 

Let the poor man look deep into

generosity. Let the bread see a hungry

man. Let kindling behold a spark from

the flint. 

An empty mirror and your worst

destructive habits, when they are held

up to each other,

that's when the real making begins.

That's what art and crafting are. 

A tailor needs a torn garment to

practice his expertise. The trunks of

trees must be cut and cut again

so they can be used for fine carpentry. 

Your doctor must have a broken leg to

doctor. Your defects are the ways that

glory gets manifested. Whoever sees

clearly what's diseased in himself

begins to gallop on the Way. 

There is nothing worse

than thinking you are well enough.

More than anything, self-complacency

blocks the workmanship. 

Put your vileness up to a mirror and

weep. Get that self-satisfaction flowing

out of you! Satan thought, "I am better

than Adam," and that *better than* is

still strongly in us. 

Your stream-water may look clean,

but there's unstirred matter on the

bottom. Your Sheikh can dig a side

channel that will drain that waste off. 

Trust your wound to a Teacher's surgery.

Flies collect on a wound. They cover it,

those flies of your self-protecting

feelings, your love for what you think

is yours. 

Let a teacher wave away the flies

and put a plaster on the wound. 

Don't turn your head. Keep looking at

the bandaged place. That's where the

light enters you.

 And don't believe for a moment

that you're healing yourself.


Mathnawi, I, 3150-3175, 3192-3227

Version by Coleman Barks

(Developed from the translation by Nicholson

"The Essential Rumi"

Harper San Francisco,  1995

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