Saturday, December 10, 2011

Narrow places, the world, and Rumi

Here’s an interesting excerpt from Jalal u’din Rumi’s Mathnawi (Mesnavi), Nicholson translation, beginning of Book 3. While I might argue with Jally concerning his utter disdain, if not revulsion, for this world, this is a great analogy to open into his visions and open our eyes.

If anyone were to say to the embryo in the womb,
“Outside is a world exceedingly well-ordered,
A pleasant earth, broad and long,
Wherein are a hundred delights
And so many things to eat.
Mountains and seas and plains,
Fragrant orchards, gardens and sown fields.
A sky very lofty and full of light,
Sun and moonbeams and a hundred stars.
From the south-wind
And from the north-wind
And from the west-wind
The gardens have wedding-feasts and banquets.
Its marvels are beyond description:
Why art thou in tribulation in this darkness?
(Why) dost thou drink blood
On the gibbet of this narrow place (the womb)
In the midst of confinement and filth and pain?”

The embryo, in virtue of its present state,
Would be incredulous, and would turn away
From this message and would disbelieve it,
Saying, “This is absurd and is a deceit and delusion,”
Because the judgement of the blind has no imagination....

Just as in this world the elevated speak of that world
To the common folk, saying,
“This world is an exceedingly dark and narrow pit;
Outside is a world without scent or color.”
Naught entered into the ear of a single one of them
For desire is a barrier, huge and stout...
Debarred... it (the embryo) knows no breakfast but blood.

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