Listen for the stream
that tells you one thing.

Die on this bank. Begin in me
the way of rivers with the sea.

- Rumi

` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

Version by Coleman Barks
"Open Secret"
Threshold Books, 1984

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The many objects of Desire

"The Many Objects of Desire"

Oh, the many objects of desire,
The many reflections of His beautiful Face.
How can you turn away from such eyes?
Where, where will you turn?

A thousand praises!
A thousand hearts of gratitude!
For your love has given wings to the world.
Wanting to see the dawn of your eternal light,
This old world recites your Name each morning.
You have shared your love;
You have ruled with kindness.
How can there be justice
without your purity and compassion?

I heard that Joseph did not sleep for ten years;
The prince of virtue kept praying to God
for the sake of his brothers:

O God, forgive them –
if not, I'll cry a hundred tears.
Do not punish them
for they truly regret the evil act
they so suddenly committed.

Joseph's feet swelled from standing all night:
His eyes burned from tears and torment.
His cries echoed through the heavens
and rocked the flight of angels;
It caused the Sea of Compassion to boil
and overflow its bounds . . .

Such is the way of spiritual masters –
they work day and night to release mankind
from its pain and moral decay.

After helping one soul, they move on,
and God alone knows
of their great compassion.
Masters always ask God
to rescue those who are lost.
They take away despair,
and replace it with joy;
They remove the tattered clothes of life
and dress everyone in silk.

Enough for now!
I'll tell you the rest tomorrow . . .
Now look how the beauty of the moon
Shows only through a dark night.

-- Ode 929
Version by Jonathan Star
"A Garden Beyond Paradise: The Mystical Poetry of Rumi"
Bantam Books, 1992

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The Oxus become the sea

"The Oxus has become the Sea"

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The Oxus, which had begun to flow because of the love for
the Sea
, has become the Sea – the Oxus has been obliterated.
When it reached Love, it saw an ocean of blood – intellect
sat in the blood's midst.
The waves of blood crashed down upon its head and took
it away from all six directions toward the Directionless,
Until it lost itself completely and became nimble and well
proportioned in Love.
While lost, it reached a place where the earth and the
heavens did not exist.
When it wanted to go forward, it had no feet – but if it
had sat, it would have suffered great loss.
Suddenly it saw from the other side of both obliteration
and the universe an Ineffable Light.
One banner and a hundred thousand spears. It became
enthralled by the Gentle Light:
Its feet had been stuck but began to move; forward it
went in the incredible plain,
Hoping to pass Yonder and be delivered from self and
everything below.
Two valleys appeared upon its path, one full of fire and
the other roses.
A call came, "Go into the fire and find yourself in the
rosegarden of ease!
But if you enter the rosary, you will find yourself in fire
and furnace.
Either fly to the heavens like Jesus, or fall to the depths
like Korah!*"
Flee and seek the sanctuary of the spirit's king so that
you may escape every snare
That Sun of Religion and Pride of Tabriz, who is greater
than any attribute you give him!

*Korah, one of Moses' people, is said to have been the richest
man alive. According to the Koran he was swallowed up by the
earth for his sins and arrogance (XXVIII 81 and other passages).

-- Ghazal (Ode) 1931
Translation by William C. Chittick
"The Sufi Path of Love"
SUNY Press, Albany, 1983

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Not Christian,


Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, nor Hindu
Buddhist, Sufi or Zen. Not any religion
or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up
from the ground, not natural or ethereal or
composed of elements at all. I do not exist,
am not an entity in this world or the next,
did not descend from Adam and Eve or any
origin story. My place is the placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.
I belong to the Beloved, have seen the two
Worlds as one and that one call to and know,
First, last, outer, inner, only that
Breath, breathing Human being.
The Essential Rumi
Translations by
Coleman Barks
With John Moyne


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i've travelled around

i've travelled around
raced through every city
while i knew all along
no place could be found
like the city of love

if i could have known
to value what i owned
i would not have suffered
like a fool
the life of a vagabond

i've heard many tunes
all over the globe
all empty
as a kettledrum
except the music of love

it was the sound of
that hollow drum
that made me fall
from the heavens
to this mortal life

i used to soar
among souls
like a heart's flight
winglessly roaming and
celestially happy

i used to drink
like a flower that drinks
without lips or throat
of the wine that overflows
with laughter and joy

i was summoned by love
to prepare for a journey
to the temple of

i cried desperately
i begged and pleaded
and shredded my clothes
not to be sent
to this world

just the way i fear now
going away
to the other world
i was frightened then
to make my descent

love asked me to go
with no fear to be alone
promising to be close
everywhere i go
closer than my veins

love threw its spell
its magic and allure
using coyness and charm
i was totally sold and
bought everything with joy

who am i to resist
love's many tricks
and not to fall
while the whole world
takes love's bait

love showed me
a path but then
lost me on the way
if i could have resisted
i would have found my way

i can show you my friend
surely how you can get there
but here and now
my pen has broken down
before telling you how

-- Ghazal (Ode) 1509
Translation by Nader Khalili
"Rumi, Fountain of Fire"
Burning Gate Press, Los Angeles, 1994.

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only for an hour
from your endless thoughts
what do you think will happen
if you let yourself sink
just like a fish
into the ocean of our love
what do you think will happen
you are merely
a piece of straw
and we are
that eternal amber
if you leap forth
from your lowly house
to fuse with the amber
what do you think will happen
a hundred times
you've promised yourself
to depart from self-claim
to be humble as earth
only for once
if you keep your word
what do you think will happen
you're a precious
hidden diamond
sunken in the mud
if you wash away
all that impurity
from your gorgeous face
what do you think will happen
if you abandon
for a little while
your ego and greed
tear down your shield
rise with a quest
to unite with the divine
what do you think will happen
ghazal number 844,
translated April 19, 1992,
by Nader Khalili.

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