the Message Continues ... 5/31
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sweetness or vinegar
I don't need
a companion who is
nasty sad and sour
the one who is
like a grave
dark depressing and bitter
a sweetheart is a mirror
a friend a delicious cake
it isn't worth spending
an hour with anyone else
a companion who is
in love only with the self
has five distinct characters
unsure of every step
lazy and disinterested
keeping a poisonous face
the more this companion waits around
the more bitter everything will get
just like a vinegar
getting more sour with time
enough is said about
sour and bitter faces
a heart filled with desire for
sweetness and tender souls
must not waste itself with unsavory matters
Ghazal (Ode) 119
Translation by Nader Khalili
"Rumi, Fountain of Fire"
Burning Gate Press, Los Angeles, 1994
The Sweetest Of All Things
Since you are the one who takes life
It is the sweetest of all things to die.
Life is sweet
But merging with you is far sweeter.
Come into the garden!
Join the Friend of the Truth!
In his garden you'll drink the Water of Life,
though it seems like fire to die.
In one moment someone dies,
In the next moment someone is born.
There is a lot of coming and going
no one really dies
nor will I ever die.
Forget the body, become pure spirit.
Dance from here to the other world.
Don't stop Don't try to escape,
even if you are afraid to die.
I swear were it not for His pure nature
The wheel of heaven would turn to dust.
Merge with Him now,
And you'll be sweeter than halva
when it comes time to die.
Why hold on to this life?
True living comes by giving up this life.
Why cling to one piece of gold?
it is a mine of gold to die.
Escape from this cage
and breathe the scented air of His garden.
Break this hard shell
It's like a shining pearl to die.
When God calls and pulls you close,
Going is like paradise
It's like a heavenly river to die.
Death is only a mirror
And your true nature is reflected there.
See what the mirror is saying
it's quite a sight to die!
If you are kind and faithful
Your death will also be that way.
If you are cruel and faithless,
that is the way you will die.
If you are like Joseph,
full of goodness,
That's how your mirror will be.
If not, you will see
only fear and torment
when it comes time to die.
These words are sweet,
but they always fade.
Sh . . . The eternal Khezr
and the Water of Life
have no idea what it means to die.
( Ghazal 2037, from Rumi's "Diwan-e Shams Tabriz " )
-- Version by Jonathan Star
"A Garden Beyond Paradise: The Mystical Poetry of Rumi"
Bantam Books, 1992
Why Jesus fled from the Fool
The son of Mary, Jesus, hurries up a slope
as though a wild animal were chasing him.
Someone following him asks, "Where are you going?
No one is after you." Jesus keeps on,
saying nothing, across two more fields. "Are you
the one who says words over a dead person,
so that he wakes up?" "I am." "Did you not make
the clay birds fly?" "Yes." "Who then
could possibly cause you to run like this?"
Jesus slows his pace.
"I say the Great Name over the deaf and the blind,
they are healed. Over a stony mountainside,
and it tears its mantle down to the navel.
Over non-existence, it comes into existence.
But when I speak lovingly for hours, for days,
with those who take human warmth
and mock it, when I say the Name to them, nothing
happens. They remain rock, or turn to sand,
where no plants can grow. Other diseases are ways
for mercy to enter, but this non-responding
breeds violence and coldness toward God.
I am fleeing from that.
"As little by little air steals water, so praise
dries up and evaporates with foolish people
who refuse to change Like cold stone you sit on
a cynic steals body heat. He doesn't actually feel
the sun." Jesus wasn't running from actual people.
He was teaching in a new way.
Version by Coleman Barks
"The Essential Rumi"
Flee from the foolish; even Jesus fled from them.
Much blood has been shed by companionship with fools!
Air absorbs water little by little;
even so, the fool drains you of spirit.
He steals your heat and leaves you cold,
like one who puts a stone beneath you.
The flight of Jesus wasn't caused by fear,
for he is safe from the mischief of fools;
his purpose was to teach by example.
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Threshold Books, 1996
How Jesus Fled From Fools
Mathnawi III: 2570-2599
The escaping of Jesus, (may the) peace (of God) be upon him,
to the top of a mountain (to flee) from fools.
Jesus, (the son) of Mary, was running away to a mountain. You
might say (that) a lion was wanting to spill his blood.
Someone ran behind (him) and said, "(May you be) well! There
isn't anyone following you, (so) why are you fleeing like a bird?"
(But) he kept running in the same manner, bound to urgency, (so)
that he didn't answer him, because of his own haste.
(The man) pressed forward following Jesus (for) one or two
(more) fields. Then he called (out) to Jesus with great seriousness,
Saying, "For the sake of God's approval, stop for a moment! --
since I have a problem in (understanding this) fleeing of yours.
"O noble and generous one! Who are you running from (in) this
direction? (There's) no lion or enemy following you, and no fear or
He answered, "I am escaping from a fool. Go (away)! I'm
rescuing myself, (so) don't restrain me!"
(The man) said, "But aren't you the Messiah,
(1) by whom blind
and deaf (people) become normal?"
"Yes," he replied. (The man) asked, "Aren't you the (spiritual)
king who (is) the dwelling place for mysterious spells and
(2) "(So that) if you recite a spell upon a (man's) corpse, he leaps
up (joyfully) like a lion (who has) brought back prey."
"Yes," he answered, "I am that one." (The other) said, "O
beautiful faced one! Don't you make (living) birds out of clay?"
(3) "Yes," he replied. (The other) said, "O pure spirit! Then you can
make (happen) whatever you wish-- (so) who are you afraid of?
"With evidence such as this,
(4) who is there in the world who
wouldn't be among your (devoted) slaves?"
Jesus said, "By the Holy Essence of God, the Originator of the
body, the Creator of the soul in (its) superiority!
(5) "(And in) reverence for His Holy Essence and Attributes, (for)
whom the collar of the heavens is torn (in ecstasy)
(6): "(I affirm) that those incantations, as well as the greatest Name
(7) which I spoke over the deaf and over the blind, were
"I recited (the words) over the rocky mountain (and) it became
split, tearing the robe (which was) upon itself (down) to the navel.
"I spoke (the words) over a dead body (and) it became alive. I
said (them) over a point of nothingness (and) it became something.
"(But) I said those (words) a hundred thousand times with
loving-kindness over the heart of a fool and it was not a cure.
(8) "(Instead), it became
(9) a hard rock and didn't change from that
habit; it became sand, from which no seed grows."
(The man) said, "(Then) what is the wisdom that the Name of God
was beneficial in those places, (but) here it had no superiority?
(10) "That is also (a case) of disease, and this is an affliction.
(So) why was it
(11) a cure for that (but) not for this?"
(Jesus) replied, "The affliction of foolish stupidity is (caused
by) the overwhelming anger of God. (Normal) afflictions and blindness
are not (from God's) anger-- those are tests and trials."
Trials and hardships are an affliction which [eventually] brings
(Divine) Mercy. (But) ignorant foolishness brings blows and
That which is his scarring has been produced by His seal,
(12) (and) no supporting hand can bring a remedy to it.
(Therefore), escape from foolish people just as Jesus escaped.
(For) companionship with fools has spilled so much blood!
The air steals water very gradually,
(13) (and) the fool steals religion from you also in the same way.
He steals your warmth and gives you cold (in its place), just like
one who puts a rock under (your) bottom.
The escaping of Jesus is not because of (real) fear, (for) he is
secure (from such). (But) is for the sake of teaching (a lesson).
(14) Even if intense cold filled (all) the horizons of the world, what
grief would there be for the radiant sun?
From "The Mathnawî-yé Ma`nawî"
[Rhymed Couplets of Deep Spiritual Meaning] of Jalaluddin Rumi.
Translated from the Persian by Ibrahim Gamard (with gratitude for R.A. Nicholson's 1930 British translation)
(c) Ibrahim Gamard (translation, footnotes, & transliteration)
(1) the Messiah: "(And) when the angels said, 'O Mary! Truly God gives you good news of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, [al-masîHu `îsà ibnu maryam] worthy of honor in this world and the Hereafter and among those (who are) nearest to God." (Qur'an 3:45)
(2) mysterious spells and incantations: Nicholson translated, "in whom the spells of the Unseen World have their abode."
(3) (living) birds out of clay: a reference to a verse in the Qur'an where Jesus was sent as a prophet of God to the Children of Israel with the message: "Surely, I have come to you with a (miraculous) sign from your Lord. I will make for you (something) resembling the shape of a bird and I will breathe into it so that it will become a
(living) bird, by the permission of God. And I will heal the blind and the lepers, and I make the dead alive, by the permission of God." (Qur'an 3:49)
(4) With evidence such as this: Nicholson translated, "With such (miraculous) evidence..."
(5) the soul in (its) superiority: Nicholson translated, "the Creator of the soul in eternity," and explained, "Literally, 'in priority.'" (footnote) This refers to the teaching in the Qur'an that God created Adam as superior to the angels, which they were commanded to acknowledge (2: 31-34).
(6) (for) whom the collar of the heavens is torn (in ecstasy): refers to the ancient practice of "rending one's garments" during a state of extreme devotion. In Islamic culture, public nudity is forbidden. However, dervishes used to tear their shirts or robes from the collar to the waist, while in a state of spiritual ecstasy, such as during a
samâ`, or mystical concert, when spontaneous movement (and sometimes dancing and whirling) occurred while hearing mystical poetry and music.
(7) the greatest Name (of God) [ism-é a`Zam]: Nicholson translated, "the Most Great Name." Although the name "Allah" is considered to be the greatest Name of God, because it contains all of the traditional Ninety-Nine (and the infinite) Names of God, it probably refers here to the sufi teaching that God allows a few of His chosen servants to know His greatest (and most secret) Name-- by which he allows them to perform miracles [mu`jizât] (if they are prophets, such as Jesus) and wonders [karâmât] (if they are saints). In a similar story, Rumi tells about a fool who asked Jesus to teach him "that sublime Name [nâm-é sanî] by which you make a dead man alive" (II:142). The man wanted to revive some bones he saw in a hole. After receiving clarification from God, Jesus pronounced the Name over the bones, a lion sprung to life and killed the fool. Nicholson explained the meaning of "that sublime Name" as referring to "the Greatest name of God (ismu 'lláhi 'l-a`zamu), generally
said to be Allah, wherein Huwa [= He, meaning the Divine Essence] is contained. Knowledge of the name confers miraculous powers on those who possess it, viz. prophets and heads of the hierarchy of saints, and can be communicated" [= to selected others]. (Commentary)
(8) it wasn't a cure: "One of the sayings which Moslems attribute to Jesus is má `ajaztu `an ihyá'i 'l-mawtá kamá `ajaztu `an isláhi 'l-ahmaq." [= As much as I worked miracles in regard to reviving the dead, even so, I was helpless in regard to mending the fool.] (Nicholson, Commentary)
(9) It became: refers to the heart, mentioned in the previous line. Nicholson translated, "He became..."
(10) here it had no superiority: Nicholson translated, "(while) it had no advantage (good effect) here?" And he explained: "I.e. 'in the case of the fool.'" (footnote)
(11) why was it: Nicholson translated, "why did it (the Name of God)..."
(12) his scarring has been produced by His seal: Means that his punishment has been sealed or stamped upon him by the Decree of God. "Of course Rúmí does not imply that because the fool acts according to his predestined folly he is therefore excusable."
(13) The air steals water very gradually: means through evaporation.
(14) for the sake of teaching (a lesson): "...the prophet or saint, though 'united' with God and endowed with Divine knowledge, nevertheless turns to God in solitary prayer and supplication (khalwat ú namáz). It is in order that his example in this respect may be followed by those who seek salvation under his guidance." (Nicholson, Commentary)
gorêkhtan-é `îsà-- `alay-hi 's-salâm-- farâz-é
kûh az aHmaq-ân
`îsà-yé maryam ba-kôhê mê-gorêkht
shêr gôy-î khûn-é ô mê-khwâst rêkht
ân yakê dar pay dawîd-o goft khayr
dar pay-at kas nêst che gorêz-î chô Tayr?
bâ shetâb ô ân-chon-ân mê-tâkht joft
k-az shetâb-é khwad jawâb-é ô na-goft
yak dô maydân dar pay-é `îsà be-rând
pas ba-jidd-é jidd `îsà-râ be-khwând
k-az pay-é marZât-é Haq yak laHZa b-êst
ke ma-ra andar gorêz-at mushkilê-st
az ke în sô mê-gorêz-î ay karîm
na pay-at shêr-o na khaSm-o khawf-o bîm
goft az aHmaq gorêzân-am, be-raw
mê-rahân-am khwêsh-râ band-am ma-shaw
goft âkhir ân masîHâ na tow-î
ke shaw-ad kûr-o kar az tô mustawî?
goft ârî, goft ân shah nêst-î
ke fusûn-é ghayb-râ ma'wîst-î?
chûn be-khwân-î ân fusûn bar morda'yê
bar jah-ad chûn shêr-é Sayd-âwarda'yê
goft ârî, ân man-am, goft-â ke tô
na ze-gel morgh-ân kon-î ay khwob-rô
goft ârî, goft pas ay rûH-é pâk
har-che khwâh-î mê-kon-î, az kî-st bâk?
bâ chon-în burhân ke bâsh-ad dar jahân
ke na-bâsh-ad mar to-râ az bandag-ân?
goft `îsà ke ba-Zât-é pâk-é Haq
mubdi`-é tan, khâliq-é jân dar sabaq
Hurmat-é Zât-o Sifât-é pâk-é ô
ke bow-ad gardûn garîbân châk-é ô
k-ân fusûn-o ism-é a`Zam-râ ke man
bar kar-o bar kûr khwând-am shod Hasan
bar koh-é sangîn be-khwând-am shod shekâf
khirqa-râ be-drîd bar khwad tâ ba-nâf
bar tan-é morda be-khwând-am gasht Hay
bar sar-é lâ-shay be-khwând-am gasht shay
khwând-am ân-râ bar del-é aHmaq ba-wud
Sad hazâr-ân bâr-o darmânê na-shod
sang-é khârâ gasht-o z-ân khô bar na-gasht
rêg shod k-az way na-rôy-ad hêch kasht
goft Hikmat chî-st, k-ân-jâ ism-é Haq,
sûd kard, în-jâ na-bûd ân-râ sabaq?
ân ham-ân ranj-ast-o în ranjê, che-râ
ô na-shod în-râ-wo ân-râ shod dawâ
goft ranj-é aHmaqî qahr-é khodâ-st
ranj-o kûrî nêst qahr, ân ibtilâ-st
ibtilâ ranjê-st k-ân raHm âwar-ad
aHmaqî ranjê-st k-ân zakhm âwar-ad
ân-che dâgh-é ô-st mohr-é ô karda-ast
châra'yê bar way na-y-ar-ad bord-dast
z-aHmaq-ân be-g'rêz chûn `îsà gorêkht
SuHbat-é aHmaq basê khûn-hâ ke rêkht
andak andak âb-râ dozd-ad hawâ
dîn chon-în dozd-ad ham aHmaq az shomâ
garmiy-at-râ dozd-ad-o sardî deh-ad
ham-chô ân k-ô zêr-é kûn sangê neh-ad
ân gorêz-é `îsà na az bîm bow-ad
âmin-ast ô, ân pay-é ta`lîm bow-ad
zamharîr ar por kon-ad âfâq-râ
che gham ân khworshêd-é bâ-ishrâq-râ?
Come into the sea of reality
You are a bird of the sea,
even though a chicken has sheltered you beneath her wing.
The desire in your heart is for the sea;
your soul has that nature from your mother.
Leave your land-bound nursemaid and move on.
Come into the sea of reality.
You are a waterfowl:
you can live on land and sea.
You are of royal birth, for . . .
"We have ennobled the children of Adam:"*
you walk on both dry land and sea.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Mâdar-e to batt-e ân daryâ bodast
dâyeh-'et khâki bod o khoshki parast
Mayl-e daryâ keh del-e to andarast
ân tabi`at jânet-râ az mâdarast
Mayl-e khoshki mar torâ zin dâyeh ast
dâyeh-râ bo-g'zâr keh u bad-râyeh ast
Dâyeh-râ bo-g'zâr bar khoshk va be-rân
andar â dar bahr-e ma`nâ chon battân
Gar torâ mâdar be-tarsânad ze âb
to ma-tars va su-ye daryâ rân shetâb
To batti bar khoshk va bar tar zendeh-'i
ni cho morgh khâneh khâneh kandeh-'i
To ze "Karramnâ Bani dam"* shahi
ham be-khoshki ham be-daryâ pâ nehi
Version by Camille and Kabir Helminski
Threshold Books, 1994
Persian transliteration courtesy of Yahyá Monastra
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