Sacred paradoxes


Off with you!
Know that the lover’s religion is
contrary to other ways,
for false dealings from the Friend
are better than sincerity and kindliness.

What is unthinkable for Him is the actual state,
His chastisement the reward, all of His tyranny justice,
His slander equity.

His harshness is soft,
His synagogue the Kaaba
the thorn driven home by the Heart-ravisher
is sweeter than roses and basil.

When He is sour,
He is more excellent than a house of sugar;
when He comes to you in annoyance,
He is all affection and kisses.

When He says to you, “By God, I am sick of you!”,
that is Khidr’s elixir from the Fountain of Life.

When He says “No!”
a thousand yea’s are hidden within it;
in this religion of the selfless,
He becomes family
and self by remaining a stranger.

His unbelief is faith, His stones all coral,
His miserliness generosity, His offenses all forgiveness.

If you taunt me and say,
“Your religion is bent out of shape!”
well, I have bought the religion of His bent
eyebrow for the price of my spirit.

This bent religion has made me drunk! Enough!
I will shut my lips you continue,
oh illuminated heart, and
recite the rest silently!

Oh Beloved ! Oh my Shams of God Tabrizi!
What sugar you pour down!
You voice a hundred arguments and
proofs from my mouth!

~ Rumi
Ghazal 1869,
from the Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi
Translation by William C. Chittick
“The Sufi Path of Love – The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi”
State University of New York Press, Albany, 1983
Art by Semmick Photo