August 8th, 2011

Inside This New Love, Die! -- Rumi on Silence and Emptiness II

Inside this new love, die
Your way begins on the other side
Become the sky
Take an axe to the prison wall
Walk out like someone suddenly
born into colour
Do it now
You're covered with thick cloud
Slide out the side.
Die, and be quiet
Quietness is the surest sign
that you have died
Your old life was a frantic running
from silence
The speechless full moon comes out now.

-- Jalaluddin Rumi, great Sufi Saint poet
Inside This New Love, Die! -- Rumi Poem/Video : my utterances blogs on sulekha, Poetry blogs, my utterances blog from india

A Just-Finishing Candle: Rumi on Silence and Emptiness III

A candle is made to become entirely flame.
In that annihilating moment
it has no shadow.

It is nothing but a tongue of light
describing a refuge.

Look at this
just-finishing candle stub
as someone who is finally safe
from virtue and vice,

the pride and the shame
we claim from those.

Rumi, from Book V of The Masnavi, translated by Coleman Barks.
RUMI DAYS: A Just-Finishing Candle

Intoxication, Fire, Death, and Love, Part I, Drunks

                                                                  Don't forget who's taking you home
                                                                  and in whose arms you're going to be.
                                                                  Darlin', save the last dance for me.
                                                                                                           Doc Pomus
                                                                    I could (yet can't) break out of this prison for drunks
                                                                    I did not come here of my own accord, and i cannot leave that way
                                                                    Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

When the great Judeo-Christian-Islamic flood subsided, a vineyard was planted and grapes were grown and pressed into wine.  We are told these things mainly to get to Noah's intoxication, which seems to have been the first significant event in this "new" world.  We are not told whether God approved of this; but according to legend, Ham took offense at his Father's condition and was cursed with eternal servitude,

Legend also has it that Jesus' first miracle was turning water to wine.  Wine was served at the Passover meal.  (How much wine? well we know that none of the apostles could stay awake while Jesus prayed.)  Passersby thought the followers of Jesus were drunk at Pentacost, and Peter agreed that receiving the Holy Spirit seemed a lot like intoxication.

It is the Sufi poet/mystics who make the greatest use of wine and intoxication as metaphors for spiritual experience, nor is it mere metaphor,  Drinking and dancing and celebrating have been a part of religious experience throughout time and space.  In the Western Hemisphere, alcohol was less often used but mescaline and coca leaves took their place as promptors of religious and spiritual experience.  The real or fictional Yaqui shaman who mentored the experiences of Carlos Casteneda finally admitted to him that Peyote was not necessary to produce these experiences, but that people sometimes need Peyote to prove to themselves that mystical experiences are real.

Since i came from that minority of believers (mostly Buddhists, Muslims  and Fundamentalist Protestants) who make it a practice to avoid alcohol and drugs in the spiritual experience, my adventures with "strong drink" have been mainly secular and too often negative.  Had i not been lucky enough to become a diabetic at an early age, i'm fairly sure that i would have proven myself to be an alcoholic (and believe me, i have enough problems already.)  I was often embarrassed, thrice nearly injured, twice came close to losing jobs, and once almost got arrested (i probably could have lost my job that time also.)  So i will never discover for myself whether intoxication can enhance spiritual experience.

But that's o.k., it isn't the wine, Rumi suggests, that draws and warms the lovers heart, it is love itself; and no existing thing, no drink, no woman, no-thing can satisfy the lover's need for love.  But love can be satisfied by the non-existent ground of existence, by Allah, by the Tao.