Sunday, 20 October 2019

Who is this Shams of Tubriz?

I have the standard American collection of Rumi (Jalaluddin Rumi 13thC) for the spiritual bedrock that he is.  Translated into the idiom some of these poems are a bit hit or miss.  We take what we like, Isherwood’s Bhagavad Gita for instance is my favourite version so far of that illuminating manuscript. And in all the poems before me Rumi shines.  Poetry is somewhat spiritual, what more can I say, Seek and ye shall find?   
Here’s a good-natured, work-a-day version of a piece included in the Shambhala Classics text:
The Mill, the Stone and the Water

All our desire is a grain of wheat.
Our whole personality is the milling-building.
But this mill grinds without knowing about  it.

The millstone is your heavy body.
What makes the stone turn is your thought-river.
The stone says: I don’t know why we do all this, but the river has knowledge!

If you ask the river, it says,
I don’t know why I flow.
All I know is that a human opened the gate!

And if you ask the person, he says:
All I know, oh gobbler of  bread, is that if this stone
stops going around, there’ll be no bread for your bread-soup!

All this grinding goes on, and no one has any knowledge!
So just be quiet, and one day turn
to God, and say: What is this about bread-making?

(trans Robert Bly)

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