Discourse 41

Discourse 41

We are like bowls on the surface of the water. The direction a bowl moves is controlled not by the bowl, but by the water.

Someone said: “That is a general statement. But some people know they are on the surface of the water, while some do not know.”

Rumi said: If that is a general statement, then the specific statement, “The heart of the believer is between two fingers of the All-Merciful” would mean nothing. It was also said, “The All-Merciful has taught the Koran.” This cannot be a general statement. God taught all the sciences, so what is this particular reference to the Koran?

Similarly, “He created the heavens and the earth.” Why specifically the heavens and the earth, since He created all things? True, all bowls travel on the surface of the water of Omnipotence and Divine Will, but it is poor manners to refer to God as “O Creator of dung and farting and wind-breaking.” Instead we say, “O Creator of the heavens,” and “O Creator of intelligence.” So this distinction, although general, is an indication of choiceness and value.

The upshot is that the bowls travel on the surface of the water, and the water carries one bowl so that every other bowl gazes upon it. The water carries another bowl so that every bowl runs away instinctively, and feels ashamed seeing it. The water inspires them to run away and implants in them the power to move away, saying, “O God, take us farther away.” But in the first case they say, “O God, bring us closer to this one.”

The person who thinks this is a general situation says, “Both bowls are equally controlled by the water.” We say, “If only you saw the grace, beauty and pretty sauntering of this bowl on the water, you would have no desire to call such movement general.” In the same way, it would never occur to a lover to say, “My beloved and I are co-partners in the work and filth that results from two people sharing a certain space with bodies that decay.” How could anyone apply such a cold description to their beloved?

Since you only recognize the general attributes, not seeing our particular beauty, it is not proper arguing with you, for our words are commingled with beauty and it is wrong to reveal beauty to those who do not love beauty.

This is the science of potential, it is not the science of argumentation. Roses and fruit-blossoms do not bloom in the autumn, for that would confront and compete with autumn. It is not in the nature of the rose to confront autumn. If the sun has done its work, the rose comes out in its proper season, otherwise it draws in its head and retires within its stem. Autumn says to it, “If you are not barren, confront me!” The rose says, “In your presence I am barren and a coward. Say whatever you will!”

O monarch of all truthful folk,

How can I be called a hypocrite?

With living people I am alive,

And with the dead as dead I sit.

If some old crone without any teeth, her face all wrinkled like the back of a lizard, came to you and said, “If you are a man and a true youth, behold, I have come before you! Behold the horse and the fair one that sits upon it. Behold the open field. Show manliness, if you are a man!” You would say, “God be my refuge! I am no man. What they have told you is all lies. If you are the mate, unmanliness is most attractive!”

A scorpion comes and raises its stinger against your leg, saying, “I have heard you are someone who laughs and is happy. Laugh, so that I can hear your laughter.” In such a case you would say, “Now that you have come I have no laughter. What they have told you is lies. My desire to laugh has been replaced with the hope that you will go far away!”

Someone said to Rumi: “When you sighed a moment ago, the ecstasy departed. Do not sigh, so the ecstasy will not leave.”

Rumi answered: Sometimes that ecstasy departs if you do not sigh. Otherwise, Mohammed would not have said,

“Abraham was a man who sighed, a merciful man.”

Nor would it be right to show any act of obedience to God, for all displays of obedience are ecstasy.

You say this because you want the ecstasy to continue. When someone induces ecstasy, you look after them to continue your experience. This is like shouting to a sleeper, “Arise! It is day. The caravan is off.” Others say, “Don’t shout. She is in ecstasy. You will drive her ecstasy away.” You answer, “That ecstasy of sleep is destruction, this ecstasy of wakefulness is birth and growth.” They say, “Don’t make a confusion, for this shouting is disturbing.” You answer, “This shouting will make the sleeper think. How can she think while sleeping?”

So shouting is of two kinds. If the shouters are greater in knowledge, their shouting will cause an increase in thought. Since they are people of knowledge and of wakefulness, when they awaken others out of their slumber they show the sleepers their own world and draw them higher. However, when the awakener is lower in awareness and awakens others, the gaze of those sleeping is pulled down. Since the shouter’s knowledge is lower down, inevitably the gaze of those shouted at drops downward to the lower world.