the mantra of hope,
the sound of absence,
a breeze through the empty room
lost in the wood
at the day’s darkest moments,
there is a candle I can faintly see
if I look with a softened heart,
my eyes are able to shut
this is how I sleep these days.
- Category Archives uncategorized
The slow crawl of unkempt grasses
there is so much absurdity
to a chair that never accepts
that it is a toppled chair,
to see, it is the rest of the world
who must be titled
it’s easy to ignore the beauty of discarded chairs
the spaces they once occupied have forgotten them,
oh, it is not what we throw away,
but where is it thrown,
did its function fade with its color,
did its color fade in the withdraw of love.
Beauty is rebellious… An essence within the march of surly youthful endeavors to always buck the establishment. Beauty usurps beauty in a multispectral uprising against the status quo. It seeks the foreground of awareness, and the ever-expanding symmetry behind which banality and inattention frets.
Beauty is the catalyst of carefully culled confusion – the “aha moment” of clarity, where a single deep blue river inhales and braids exhaustively into scintillating rivulets. It is the sound of swooping translucent wings, slicing contrails through sunlight above the alpine tree line – dancing curves bent delicately across stark still tundra.
Beauty is the viscous glaze of realization settling over the jagged latticework of our city’s brick and mortar… the orange spark from the knap of the sculptor’s chisel. It is the song of a dove at dawn intermingled with that of an owl at dusk.
Beauty is the intricately folded fingers of my grandfather praying to something he cannot see, that he can hardly believe, and diligently hope.
Beauty longs with endless desperation to be described by an artist who herself has been bested by the glory of her own rebellious desire to endlessly create anew.
To be beautiful is to be an aesthetic nihilist – to replace all that has ever been beautiful with all that is beautiful now in a search for all that is beautiful next.
“Carry your baggage toward silence:
when you seek the signs of the Way,
don’t make yourself the focus of attention.
The Prophet said, “Know that amid the sea of cares
my Companions are like guiding stars.”
Fix your eye on the stars and seek the Way;
speech confuses the sight: be silent.”
“Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance”
Camille and Kabir Helminski, 1996
December 17th is Shebi-Arus, the celebrated “wedding night” of the adored 13th century mystic poet and teacher, Jalal-a-din Rumi. This was the night of his passing and his reunion with the Beloved. On that day, there was much lament for the loss of a man and yet there was rejoicing in the elevation of his soul.
Many are surprised to find out that Rumi is among the most widely read poets in America. Yet, despite his poetic couplets and ghazals being so prolific, many do not realize it is his that they are reading. It is amusing to think that many believe his passages are by writers for Hallmark. Most of his poems originally written in pristine Persian, have been translated to English over many decades and centuries.[oftentimes poorly or with incorrect citation of authorship]. It is never authentic to break apart poems into greeting cards; but who is really speaking Rumi’s words anyway? If this is how the fragrance of the message is passed, so be it.
Kabir Helminski is an esteemed Sufi scholar, beloved devotee, and renown Shaikh of the Mevlevi Order of Sufi. The Mevlevi order was founded around 1273 by Rumi’s followers after his death, particularly by his successor Hüsamettin Çelebi and Rumi’s son, Baha al-Din Muhammad-i Walad. Anointed as Shaikh, Kabir is a widely read and listened to translator of Rumi and cofounder and codirector of the Threshold Society, dedicated to Sufism. He is one the world’s most influential Muslim spiritual leaders. His translations of Rumi are indeed beautiful and faithful.
Kabir explains that Rumi’s original name was Muhammad and that he was given the title Jalal (glory, splendour) al-Din (of the religion) meaning the great [one] of religion. Later he was also named Molana meaning lord or master. The name “Rumi” refers to his place of origin, in this case, from Rum (or Rome). Ottomans named the Eastern Roman Empire as Rum and since Rumi lived most of his life and is enshrined in Konya, Turkey, his name endures. Actually, Rumi was born in Balkh (now Afghanistan) so he is also called Balkhi.
Kabir tells us that Khamush, the Silent, is a sobriquet that Rumi (also referred to as Mevlana or Maulana) often used in his poems. More than a thousand of his poems end with reference to his beloved teacher and friend, Shams-i Tabrizi, and about five hundred odes end with khamush. The word “khamush” has many meanings when spoken in Farsi, Urdu, and Hindi; but in all applications, it means silent, mute, and quiet. Rumi makes reference to silence because only silent contemplation can lead one to the Way of Sufis, to self knowledge, and ultimately the knowledge (reunion) amidst God.
The true translations of Rumi’s poetry, while fragile and sometimes contested between native Persian speakers and others, are faithfully accomplished less by scholars than by impassioned lovers of esoteric divine expression. The original light of Divine Love is expressed from pre-eternity across centuries and diverse cultures through a succession of metaphoric glass panes of many a lamp; each pane being that of a prophet or teacher’s clarity. Often we do not even see the glass, so pure is the teacher. What we behold instead is simply the source of light itself – the timeless intention of Love.
The veils that intercede with the light of loving consciousness are raised by the limited mind, but lowered by the purified heart. One does not polish panes of glass (of understanding) with broadcast words, but rather with devotional silence; khamush. This silence is a still and untainted awareness, not muddled by words and rationalizations. To feel the Love of Rumi, say nothing with your mouth and listen without ears. Let the senses slip back to the sea of deep consciousness.
“There’s a moon inside every human being.
Learn to be companions with it. Give
more of your life to this listening. As
brightness is to time, so you are to
the one who talks to the deep ear in
your chest. I should sell my tongue
and buy a thousand ears when that
one steps near and begins to speak.”
We are not all attuned to perceiving the mystical properties of Divine Love. And even those that are, long to behold the dream vision of God and of the prophets. Rumi conveys to us the relieving words of the Prophet Mohammed, “… Happy [is] he that has seen me and [happy is] he that looks at him that saw my face.”
Extending this further as a metaphor, I would say that few, if any, can stare at the sun without being blinded. We can, however, gaze without harm at its light reflecting in the face of the moon. The moon, who directly and forever faces the sun (the Beloved), is the beautiful glowing lover. Rumi reflects (transmits) Shams this way. If we stay in the presence of lovers, we can feel the Sun.
“When a [glass] lamp has derived [its] light from a candle [within], every one that sees it [the lamp] certainly sees the candle. If transmission [of the light] occurs in this way till a hundred lamps [are lighted], the seeing of the last [lamp] becomes a meeting with the original [light]. Either take with [all] thy soul from the hindmost [last in succession] light— there is no difference— or from the candelabrum [lamp].”
Rumi is the flame of Shams. He held a love so pure – as to be self dissolving – that they are unified in the highest state of love. This story of the embodiment and dissolution in pure love is told in other epic romances; Majnun became one and the same with Layla; we see the same Romeo with Juliet, Viz and Shamin, Heer and Ranjha.
“Either behold the light [of God] from the lamp of the last [saints], or behold His light from the candle of those who have gone before.”
It is said, “my teacher’s teacher is my teacher.” And so human love can rise to archetype of the true “True” Love.
The translations of Rumi have taken a Persian voice into an English one, but this is merely the succession of lamps; teachers and clerics, poets and empaths, those who bear the torch of mystic lineage. Irrespective of the transmission’s link in the chain, the source is the same. Love cannot be conveyed, shaped, or obscured by language – it stirs the heart and confuses the mind.
May God bless us in the direction of our attentions to the Truly existent; those messages from Mevlana which cannot be heard or seen, but passes through all mediums. Rumi’s poetry fills silence with deeper silence…only in this state do we directly hear the Beloved.
I came to draw You,
and with my own eyes,
You painted all the cosmos between us,
and then You opened my eyes,
and with the illusion of vision,
I imagined myself, imagining You.
You, Who we cannot see,
You, who requires us to be seen.
Every leaf in flight,
a finger of the invisible wind,
a metaphor to be interpreted.
We follow the invisible through it effects.
I encompass You,
Yet You are hidden within me.
A universe of beauty
slipped through my eyes
a parsec in a fraction of a second,
I dare not blink.
The less I know,
the more I know,
the more I long.
I read a friends accounting of her meeting with an artisan named Calisto, a traditional Hawai’ian woodworker. He drove up to her house one day to buy a wheelbarrow from her. Both she and Calisto immediately knew that their coming together was for more than a financial transaction and they spoke of things well beyond words and mundane “accountings.” Their friendship burgeoned. Recently, he surprised her with a beautiful gift lovingly made from some tamarind wood she’d found and given him the day before. So moved, she gave him some bundled sage and a most auspicious feather she’d kept with her for years. As she watched him drive off in his truck, a beautiful owl came to roost on a fence post nearby. Intended for him, he returned the tamarind wood, sculpted and inlaid with a mirror. He gave her something formed from his own heart in which to reflect. And he took with him something quite dear to her heart.
I am moved by the story. I am moved by the gentle intersections of human paths. The transience and the eternity. What we remember is the flare of the flame as the flint of one strikes the frizzen of the other. Even after this, even if the flame returns to the sun, we are left living in the present with the persistence of its warmth and light. We become the effects of our engagements if we nourish ourselves in the graceful orbit of encountering objects.
Everything is a love affair and we often attach this to notions of the transient and carnal. And this habit of attachment causes us to miss the real Truth of love because we become caught in the gravity of falsity and we reason around illusion. One cannot wash away mud with mud. Whenever I meet a beloved, I am somehow breaking the binds of illusion. Love is water for the earth, sun for the leaf, air for flight.
She gave him a feather that she kept as if her own for so long. The falling feather has been a reoccurring omen and talisman in my life. And while I hold no idols for God, I do believe He manifests messages in all things that fall to earth. So I see everyone and everything as the word of One ultimate true Being…even idols.
So we give away what is loved the most. We return a golden fish to the river, a bird to the sky. The ocean is in the pearl we find in each oyster, we can remove the pearl from the shell, but never posses its greater essence. Each plume belongs in the wing of love… it is not ours to keep and does little unless part of that which allows us to fly. I’m grateful to meet people who let things go… truths given for greater truths.
So when I see an owl fly, a fish swim, or a beloved drift on, I am reminded of my indissoluble presence with the universe. She and Calisto are each feathers in the wing, and the wing is within each of them. Even me now.