” When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the Goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the Struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the Golden Crown.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.”
A handful of people are known ‘Sufis’ – mystics who rather prefer to live in seclusion.
A small percentage of Sufis become revered Sufi saints.
And an even smaller percentage of Sufi saints are known worldwide for their poetry.
Mevlana Rumi is among the smaller percentage of Sufi mystics, whose mysticism tears down the walls of religions, whose poetry inflames a deep fire we run away from daily, whose love for God and his master is deep and soulful.
Simple, to the point, and lyrical, the fountain of poetry exploded in Rumi’s heart when he came in contact with his master, Shams-e-Tabriz.
As it turns out, Rumi was a popular scholar turned poet, whose poetic genious was revealed to him after his unquenchable thirst for God was ignited by his master.
“I used to want buyers for my words,
Now I wish someone would buy me away from words”.
Story-telling, a craft used by Sufis, offers an amusing lesson to the reader, in the most shocking way.
Here’s an interesting poem picked up from “The Essential Rumi” by Coleman Barks .
It is about a Sufi mystic who is overtly worried about his old donkey, and requests the servant repeatedly to give the donkey a proper meal and care.
The assurances given by the servant were all in vain, when the Sufi later realizes that the donkey wasn’t tended to as promised.
The ordinary story is not so ordinary.
It is the lesson in the ordinary things in life that’s become the essence of Sufism.
And here’s how the poem unfolds, giving the reader an advice on life:
“There are such vicious and empty flatterers in your life.
Do the careful, donkey-tending work.
Don’t trust that to anyone else.
There are hypocrites who will praise you,but who do not care about the healthof your heart-donkey.
Be concentrated and leonine in the hunt for what is your true nourishment.
Don’t be distracted by blandishment-noises, of any sort.”
– After the Meditation, Rumi 🙂
(Note: The picture has been sourced from the net. No infringement intended.)
Nostalgia is a sweet ailment. Only twisted minds savour the bitter-sweet taste of past. But, sometimes, it is all you can do. Especially when you get to stay in your home town again.
Staying in this idyllic city of Nangal made my childhood an extraordinary experience.
But, I didn’t know it at that time. I was busy daydreaming about the “perfect adult life”. Yet, I still had moments of absolute calm and happiness:
an adventurous hike to the school, cycling around the beautiful town lined by the gigantic river Satluj, the hospital nearby where we played hide and seek (maternity ward is the safest spot!), a passionate Biology teacher who took us to multiple bio-hikes (he could tell the name of each and every plant in the town and beyond), and a teacher of English literature who didn’t just read poetry.
He savoured every word of a poem, created a big spectacle out of it, and made me fall in love with English literature every single day.
I remember a poem that he narrated to us. It felt like the poem was the only thing that mattered at that moment.
The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes:
“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees. The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas. The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor, And the highwayman came riding— …”
“The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor”, has stayed with me for longer than I imagined. But the best was yet to come;
“One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I’m after a prize to-night, But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light; Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day, Then look for me by moonlight, Watch for me by moonlight, I’ll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way.”
I can still hear the suppressed giggling of my classmates when he decided to dramatically blow a kiss.
I guess that’s what nostalgia is all about! Many of my classmates have gone ahead, and became engineers and doctors.
Yet I still find myself there, sitting in that class over and over again : awestruck, giggling, trying to memorise every single word in the “Oxford dictionary”, and falling in love with poetry as we know it.
The epic movie “Dead poet’s society” is as close as it can get, to the kind of passionate childhood we got to live. Sir Prasad to me, is an epitome of the art of teaching, and in his own ways, he clearly conveyed the “secret” to those of us who were listening:
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute.
We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.
And the human race is filled with passion.
And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.
“To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’
Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.
What will your verse be?”
The question is still relevant,.“What will your verse be?”
I remember it. My first glimpse of Sufism. An unusual book was lying on the table, with the name “Bulleh Shah” printed on it. The name struck a chord. Just like the name “Rumi” did later on. Bit by bit, poem by poem, the love for his poetry solidified into supreme devotion, and a new gate opened for me – the golden gate of Sufi ecstasy!
So, who is a Sufi ?
Is he the one immersed in deep meditative silence? Or is he the one whirling in a divine ecstasy? Or perhaps the one whose dance has solidified into a deep silence?
As waves upon my head the circling curl,So in the sacred dance weave ye and whirl.Dance then, O heart, a whirling circle be.Burn this flame - is not the candle he?
A Sufi can be just anybody: a wanderer, a saint, a beggar, a poet, an ascetic. He can easily fit into any of these categories. Or he can transcended all these mind-imposed categories & move into the realm of nothingness.
“The Guest House” by Rumi is a stroke of genius, an enchanting lyric, a masterpiece that started a life-long addiction to Rumi and his works.
The Guesthouse by Mewlava Jallaludin Rumi
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.A joy, a depression, a meanness,some momentary awareness comes As an unexpected visitor.Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they're a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.The dark thought, the shame, the malice,meet them at the door laughing,and invite them in.Be grateful for whoever comes,because each has been sentas a guide from beyond.
Note: The image has been sourced from the Internet. No infringement intended.